The Customized Cash Rewards credit card from Bank of America offers a new twist on the concept of earning extra cash back for certain purchases. This card allows you to select the categories that you’d like to receive a bonus on, and you can change your choice as frequently as every month.
If you use a cash back credit card, then it’s almost certainly your goal to earn the most cash back possible from your everyday spending. When choosing a cash back credit card, you usually have to choose between cards that offer bonuses for various kinds of purchases, such as ones that reward travel more heavily or offer higher bonus earnings on everyday purchases like gas and groceries.
But with the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, you can earn a bonus 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 simply adjust which category will earn the highest rewards rate.
A cash back card targeting everyday rewards
Rather than offer fixed rates of bonus cash back for purchases from predetermined merchant categories, the Customized Cash Rewards card gives you a 3% bonus for one of six categories that you can choose from. These categories are as follows:
- Online shopping
- Home improvement and furnishings
This card also offers you 2% cash back at grocery stores and at wholesale clubs and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The 3% and 2% cash back rewards are earned on the first $2,500 spent in combined purchases from these categories each quarter, then they earn 1%.
You also have the choice of changing your designated category as often as once per month. Or, you can leave it alone and continue to earn 3% cash back in that category month after month. And if you’re a Preferred Rewards member with Bank of America, you can earn 25% to 75% more cash back, depending on the number of accounts and the amount you have invested through Bank of America.
This card also offers new cardholders $200 in online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within 90 days of account opening. Other benefits include 15 billing cycles of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days, with a 3% balance transfer fee (or $10, whichever is higher). After the intro period, the regular APR of 13.99% to 23.99% variable will apply.
There’s no annual fee for this card, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee imposed on charges processed outside the U.S.
Adding it up
To decide if a particular cash back credit card is worth applying for, it can help to add up the potential rewards it offers. Suppose you’re able to use the 3% custom bonus categories for an average of $300 per month of spending and that you spend an average of $400 per month on groceries. With those spending habits, you’d earn $108 each year from the 3% categories and $96 each year from the 2% categories of grocery stores and warehouse clubs. And if you also earned the $200 sign-up bonus, then you’d receive a total of $404 in cash back rewards during your account’s first year, plus $204 in cash back each year after that. That doesn’t even include the 1% cash back rewards earned on all other purchases.
To better evaluate this offer, it can also help to compare it to similar competing cards. For example, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, with 1% cash back thereafter. Citi’s eligible categories are restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment. And instead of preselecting the bonus categories, the Citi Custom Cash automatically gives you the bonus on the category that you spend the most on each billing cycle.
Suppose that you spent $350 in eligible purchases on a single category each month. With the Citi Custom Cash, you’d earn 5% cash back on that amount, which would be $17.50 per month, or $210 per year. This is approximately as much annual cash back as you’d earn from the Bank of America Custom Cash card in the above scenario.
However, the Citi Custom Cash doesn’t offer a new account bonus, so you’ll be much better off with the Bank of America Customized Cash card during the first year. If you know your budget, you can calculate your own earnings ahead of time for your specific spending situation. Neither card has an annual fee, and both cards offer 1% cash back on all purchases that don’t qualify for a bonus.
Both cards also feature very similar promotional financing offers: a 0% APR offer for 15 months (Citi Custom Cash) or 15 billing cycles (Bank of America Customized Cash) on both new purchases and balance transfers. The Citi Custom Cash comes with a balance transfer fee of 5% or $5, whichever is greater, and a regular APR of 13.99% to 23.99% variable after the intro period. Meanwhile, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards’ balance transfer must be made in the first 60 days and is paired with a 3% or $10 fee (whichever is greater), followed by its regular APR of 13.99% to 23.99% variable.
The Customized Cash Rewards Card from Bank of America 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 credit card users, 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, then the Customized Cash Rewards card is certainly worth considering.