The Customized Cash Rewards credit card from Bank of America is a great way for cardholders who spend across different categories to still earn serious rewards on their purchases. Learn more about what kinds of scenarios make this card worth it — or not — for you.
If you use a cash back credit card, it’s almost certain your goal is to earn the most cash back possible from your everyday spending. When choosing a cash back card, you usually have to choose between flat-rate cash back cards, which give you cash back at a lower rate but on all purchases, or bonus category cards, which provide boosted rewards based on select categories like travel or groceries.
However, with the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, you can earn bonus cash back on one of six categories of your choice, which you can change every month.
This flexible cash back card alleviates the need to change cards when your spending habits change, since you can easily adjust which category will earn the highest rewards rate. Nevertheless, for some types of cardholders this card will be easier to maximize and for others it wouldn’t be worth it in the long run.
When is the Bank of America Customized Cash card worth it?
When you spend across different categories
Rather than offer cash back on a few fixed bonus categories, the Customized Cash Rewards card gives you a 3 percent bonus for one of six categories that you can choose from. These categories are as follows:
- Online shopping
- Home improvement and furnishings
And the best part: You change your choice category up to once a month. So, if one month you do a lot of online shopping revamping your wardrobe, then the next month you buy a lot of furniture decorating your apartment, this card is a deal for you.
Its benefits don’t stop there. Outside its choice category, it gives bonus cash back on two useful everyday categories — 2 percent cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases. And 1 percent cash back on other purchases. Keep in mind though, the 2 percent and 3 percent categories have a $2,500 spend cap per quarter. Once you reach that limit, all purchases still earn 1 percent cash back.
When you bank with Bank of America or Merrill
Anyone who holds a bank account with Bank of America or an investment account with Merrill may be eligible to become a Preferred Rewards member. As a member, you can earn up to 75 percent more cash back, depending on the number of accounts and the amount you have invested at the banks.
To get a 75 percent boost on your cash back rates, you must qualify for at least the Platinum Honors tier, which requires a minimum of a $100,000 daily average across your accounts for three months. That boost could be incredibly lucrative — boosting your cash back rates from 3 percent to 5.25 percent and from 2 percent to 3.5 percent. With those increased rates, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card could be quite valuable to have in your pocket.
When you have some credit card debt
For cardholders who have a little debt from another high-interest card, the Bank of America Customized Cash credit card is a great card to resolve that quickly.
This card offers 18 billing cycles of 0 percent intro APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days, with a 3 percent balance transfer fee. After the intro period, the regular APR of 18.24 percent to 28.24 percent variable will apply.
When is the Bank of America Customized Cash card not worth it?
When you travel abroad often
Despite its high rewards potential, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card’s redemption possibilities are quite limited. The options include cash back, statement credit and direct deposit into an account. Unfortunately, redeeming for travel is not possible — unlike a few other cash back cards out there like the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card or the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
Another reason this card isn’t ideal for traveling abroad is its 3 percent foreign transaction fee. Though it may not seem like a lot, a 3 percent charge on every purchase you make while in a foreign country can quickly pile up. If you prioritize travel, you should shop for a more flexible cash back card or a travel credit card.
When you consistently spend in one or two categories
If most of your purchases are contained to a few categories, like dining or groceries, then you should consider a different card. Even though the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card allows you to change its choice category up to once a month, you could technically use the card like a fixed category card by keeping your choice category the same month after month. However, that’s not the best way to use it.
For those who often spend in the same category, there’s no point in getting a flexible category card. Instead, you could go for a card with fixed bonus categories and even higher cash back rates, such as a dining card or a grocery card. That way, you’d have an easier time maximizing rewards and potentially earn even more cash back.
Should you get the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card?
When it comes down to it, the Bank of America Customized Cash works best for modest spenders. The $2,500 spending cap per quarter comes out to around $833 a month, which may feel like a restraint to some consumers.
If that monthly spend is below your usual credit card statement, then we suggest looking for a different fixed bonus card with higher spending caps or a flat-rate cash back card with no spending limit at all. Some cards you may want to consider include the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express or the Citi Double Cash® Card.
However, if $833 is close to or above your monthly budget, then the Customized Cash card is a great way to maximize your spending. Doing the math and based on an average annual spend of $15,900 — earning 3 percent on $2,500 per quarter and 1 percent on all other purchases — you could end up with $359 in cash back. Including a welcome offer of $200, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card could give you $559 cash back in the first year, if you’re able to maximize it.
|Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card potential maximum cash back|
|3 percent choice category||$2,500 X 4 (quarters) X 0.03 (3 percent) = $300|
|1 percent on all other purchases||($15,900 (average annual spend) – $10,000 ($2,500 X 4)) X 0.01 (1 percent) = $59|
|Total cash back in first year||$559|
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card offers a new twist on the concept of earning extra cash back for certain purchases. It allows you to select the categories that you’d like to receive a bonus on, and you can change it as often as every month.
For some cash back cardholders, it will be better to have those categories selected automatically if you’re not good at predicting your month’s spending. But if you enjoy having the flexibility to plan ahead and select those categories yourself, the Customized Cash Rewards card is certainly worth considering.