Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students review

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students review

Updated: April 11, 2022
Updated: April 11, 2022
Ratings Policy
Student Rating:
3.2 rating
3.2 rating
3.2 / 5
Intro Offer5.0
Interest and Fees1.4
Rewards Programs4.0
Features3.0
Issuer Customer Experience5.0

In a Nutshell:

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students offers a generous rewards rate of up to 3% back with a $200 cash bonus offer.

Rewards rate

  • 3% in a category of your choice
  • 2% back at grocery and wholesale stores
  • 1% back on all other purchases
Very Good

Sign-up Bonus

$200 when you spend $1,000 within 90 days of account opening

Very Good

Annual Bonus

None

Poor

Annual Fee

None

Excellent

Average Rewards Value (assumes average rewards rate of 1.65%, $1,325 monthly spend)

$292

Average

APR

14.24% to 24.24% (variable)

Average

Customer Experience

  • J.D. power 2021 Customer Satisfaction rating: 805
  • 24/7 customer service? No
  • Online Chat available? No
  • Google Play Store mobile app rating: 4.6/5
  • Apple Store mobile app rating: 4.8/5
Excellent

Other Notable Features: Credit tracking tools, education tools, free FICO score

If you’re a student new to building credit and want to earn rewards, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students could be a great fit, especially if you spend consistently in the card’s higher-earning rewards categories. This card is great for individuals with a limited credit history because it offers tiered cash back for each dollar you spend for no annual fee. The best part? You get to pick the category you earn 3% back in, and you’ll earn 2% back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores, giving you the flexibility to earn great rewards across a range of categories.

Additionally, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students even gives you 0% APR on purchases and eligible balance transfers for 15 billing cycles (after which a variable APR of 14.24% to 24.24% applies).

Why you might want the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students stands out for a few reasons. Including the fact you get to customize your own top-earning rate, new customers are also eligible for a generous welcome offer, and the card’s introductory APR can help you save on purchases if you plan to carry a balance month-to-month while you work towards paying it off.

Pick your own top rewards category

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students lets you pick which category you earn 3% in, with options including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores and home improvement/furnishings. You can even change your category up to once per calendar month depending on your mood or your spending habits if you anticipate higher spending in one category over others.

Cardholders also earn 2% back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores, which makes this an excellent credit card in the student category for food spending. Keep in mind, however, that both your 3% and 2% categories are limited to a combined total spending limit of $2,500 each quarter, meaning all purchases in both rewards tiers will earn only 1% back once you spend more than that limit.

That said, 2% cash back cards and flexible earning cards have emerged as common rewards structures on credit cards in the good to excellent credit score range. It’s apparent that the Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students is offering top-tier rates to student cardholders who may have neither credit history nor an impressive credit background. Additionally, the $2,500 limit on rewards earning in the card’s top categories is – even for the average, non-student cardholder – a fair and reasonable limit.

Generous bonus offer

Students can also earn $200 in online bonus cash when they sign up and spend $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of account opening. The minimum spending threshold for this welcome bonus can be fairly easy for most people to reach considering it calls for a spending requirement of at least $334 every 30 days for the first three months as a customer.

To break that down a little further, consider how you partition your spending and think critically about how you can realistically meet that spending requirement without overspending. Students don’t typically have many expenses focused on one category, but their spending is spread across a range of categories. In fact, some students have even used credit cards to pay college costs. But students mostly use credit cards for online purchases, at stores with co-branded cards or for high priced items. While big purchases are great to get you over the threshold for a welcome bonus, it’s not advisable that you spend haphazardly just to earn the bonus.

It’s important to adopt a credit card strategy that organizes your spending by category rather than using a credit card for sporadic purchases. With incentives at play to spend, it’s easy to have a lapse in judgment and spend more than you can pay off, so plan accordingly and remember that you have 90 days. Not only will a plan organize your credit journey effectively, but if done correctly, it will also net you the highest amount of rewards and prevent you from overspending in the pursuit of a welcome offer like the one on this card.

Intro APR for purchases and balance transfers

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students also comes with 0% APR on purchases and eligible balance transfers for 15 billing cycles after account opening. Note that balance transfers need to take place within 60 days of account opening for the introductory rate to apply, so be sure to move your balance over as soon as possible. Not only will this decrease the chance you miss the 60-day window, but you will take full advantage of the intro APR for all 15 billing cycles.

If you don’t have a balance to transfer, but you do in fact need to spend more than you can pay off in one billing cycle on a large purchase, this card’s introductory rate can help you save on interest for over a year. This is an incredibly generous offer on a student card and definitely worth taking advantage of if you’re in a position to do so.

Keep in mind though that you’ll be crunching your available credit with any balance you carry over and any purchase you don’t pay off right away. Depending on your credit limit with your Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students, if you utilize much of it with a due balance combined between a transfer and a large purchase, you could potentially struggle to meet the spend requirement for the welcome offer because your available credit will be eaten up by what you owe. This is especially the case for cardholders looking to transfer large balances from their current card.

So be wary of how much credit is available to you and be sure not to utilize too much of it. Doing so may put you at risk of negatively impacting your credit score with high credit utilization.

Why you might want a different card

While the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students is a solid student credit card, there are reasons to consider other options. For example, caps on bonus spending can limit your rewards, and the card’s bonus categories may not even be a good fit for some college students.

Also, be aware that redemption choices for your rewards are pretty limited, whereas some other student cards let you cash in your points for more options.

Caps on bonus earnings

The biggest downside of this card is the fact you only earn 3% back and 2% back on up to $2,500 in combined spending per quarter. If you spent the entire $2,500 in your chosen 3% back category each billing cycle, the most you could earn in bonus rewards each quarter is capped at $75. This would, of course, be the best strategy to maximize your rewards with your card, but it’s disappointing to see the rewards potential stymied by a limit shared between a broad range of categories.

Splitting the soft cap between categories is also a major downside because some student cardholders spend consistently across each of the highest-earning categories and could certainly hit that $2,500 cap earlier than others. To determine whether the card is right for you, the largest contributing factor will depend on your personal spending habits. Be sure to calculate your quarterly expenses on average and see how they might fit into a spending strategy in your chosen 3% and the card’s 2% categories.

If you see yourself spending less than $2,500 each quarter combined between those earning rates, then the card is still a good option. However, if you’re spending over that amount, then you might want to consider other card options or consider pairing this card with another credit card that can pick up the slack each quarter should you exceed the spending limit on your Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students.

Bonus categories may be a poor fit

Also, ask yourself whether this card’s bonus categories even make sense for your spending. If you eat all your meals using your college meal plan, for example, earning 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs won’t do you a lot of good. In the meantime, earning 3% back on gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement and furnishings may not pertain to your situation at all.

If you don’t spend a lot in this card’s bonus categories, you may be better off with another student credit card or – if you can qualify for it – a non-student card that offers a higher flat rate of cash back on all your purchases. An option like this will earn a decent flat rate on every purchase you make without a limit. Not only could this net you more rewards in the long run, but it makes it a lot easier for you to track how much you earn and takes the burden of calculative spending off your shoulders.

Limited redemptions for rewards

Finally, note that you can only cash in your rewards in a few different ways. Options include statement credits, deposits into a Bank of America checking or savings account or credits to eligible accounts with Merrill.

On the other hand, other student credit cards let you use rewards for cash back, gift cards, merchandise, travel and more.

While for most this may not be a big deal, it’s still nice to have as many options as possible to redeem your rewards because you never know when or how you might need your money.

How does the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students compare to other student credit cards?

If you’re a college student who is looking for ways to build credit while getting something in return for your spending, you should compare several of the top student credit cards before you apply. The three below are definitely worth considering and comparing to the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students.

Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Card for Students

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Rewards rate

Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases

Rewards rate

Earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases

Rewards rate

Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in rotating bonus categories each quarter (then 1% back) and 1% back on all other purchases

Sign-up bonus

$200 when you spend $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of account opening

Sign-up bonus

$50 when you make a first purchase within three months of account opening

Sign-up bonus

Discover will double all rewards earned after the first year

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Other things to know

  • 0% APR on purchases and eligible balance transfers for 15 months (followed by a variable APR of 14.24% to 24.24%)
  • Free credit score
Other things to know

  • Receive a Good Standing Rewards worth 2,000 points (or $20) after each account anniversary year for the first 5 years
  •  Qualify for a credit limit increase with at least five on-time payments within the first 10 months of account opening
  • Receive three free months of DashPass membership from DoorDash
  • Free credit score
Other things to know

  • No credit score required to apply
  • Free credit score

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students vs. Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students skips over the bonus categories in favor of a flat 1.5% cash back for everything you buy. Most of the same features apply, including the same introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers.

This card can be a better option for students who don’t want to keep track of bonus categories, as well as those who don’t spend a lot in the 3% and 2% back categories offered by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students. You’ll earn 1.5% back on every purchase you make, giving you the flexibility to use your credit card everywhere without worrying about whether you’re earning the most back that you possibly can. Additionally, you’ll earn rewards at the same flat rate without a soft cap that will ultimately limit how much you earn back.

However, to make this card worth it over the Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students you’ll want to ensure that you’re using it in categories not offered in the Customized Cash Rewards card’s high earning categories. But if you’re comparing both cards for spending in a category like gasoline, remember that you can earn 3% back (up to $2,500) each quarter with the Customized Cash Rewards card for Students in a category of your choice, including gas. This is double what the Unlimited Cash Rewards card can earn. Plus, even though the 3% rate is capped each quarter at $2,500 it’ll still earn 1% back unlimitedly. You’ll need to spend at least $10,000 quarterly with the Unlimited Cash Rewards card before the card would start earning more than the Customized Cash Rewards card for Students.

Since the average consumer spends roughly $2,000 annually on gasoline in a typical year according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s very unlikely that unlimited cash at a flat rate of 1.5% back will be more valuable to the average cardholder than 3% back capped quarterly at $2,500.

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students vs. Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card

The Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card only offers 1% cash back for each dollar you spend, but cardholders can redeem their points for more options overall. For example, points from Chase are redeemable for cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, travel through Chase and more. This card also offers a $20 bonus each year you’re in good standing for the first five years.

If you’re looking for convenience in your redemptions, this is an ideal option, but it earns far less back on every purchase you make than the Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students does. However, the $20 bonus for remaining in good standing is a nice incentive to keep your account in good standing that doesn’t require any spending. This is a great, low-maintenance way to build up your credit and establish a positive history that will qualify you for better cards down the road.

For cardholders who don’t plan on using their credit card very much but still want to build credit, this should be your first choice because it has an easily attainable sign-up bonus of $50 that doesn’t have a high spending requirement and each year for the first five years – even if you spend just $1 with your Chase Freedom Student Credit Card and pay it off – you’ll be awarded $20 for remaining in good standing.

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students vs. Discover it® Student Cash Back

Also, consider the Discover it® Student Cash Back, which lets you earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in spending in quarterly rotating categories. For example, you can earn 5% back at gas stations and Target from April through June of 2022, at restaurants and on PayPal purchases from July through September of 2022, and on Amazon.com spending and digital wallet purchases from October through December of 2022. You’ll earn 1% back on all other purchases, and Discover will even double all rewards earned after the first year.

From a rewards standpoint, this is the most competitive card when compared with the Customized Cash Rewards card for Students. Earning 5% back on up to $1,500 quarterly is a great rate with a similarly limited rewards structure. Although $1,500 is a lower limit, for cardholders who don’t plan to spend more than that each quarter it’ll certainly be rewarding. However, you have to keep in mind that the 5% rate only applies to the quarterly categories that you don’t get to choose.

Students typically don’t exactly have the most regular spending habits to effectively organize their rewards strategy on a card with rotating bonus categories. But if you have the financial flexibility to partition your spending quarterly across different cards, then it’s recommended you prioritize using the Discover it Student Cash Back card in its quarterly bonus categories then use another card that can pick up rewards on all your other purchases. You’ll have to adjust accordingly each quarter, but a strategy like this limits gaps in your rewards potential.

How to use the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students

  • Make sure to pick the category you want to earn 3% back in right away, and feel free to change your pick every calendar month based on upcoming purchases.
  • Use your card for all your grocery store and wholesale club purchases in order to earn 2% back.
  • Once you have spent $2,500 in your 3% and 2% back categories within a quarter, switch to another rewards card that offers more than 1% cash back on regular spending.
  • Make sure to spend $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of account opening so you can earn the welcome offer.
  • If you plan to take advantage of the introductory APR, make sure you’re able to pay your balances off within 15 billing cycles after account opening.
  • Pay your credit card bill on time each month.
  • Keep your credit utilization at a reasonable level (preferably below 30% of your available credit) in order to boost your credit score.

Is the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students right for you?

If your regular spending aligns with the bonus categories on the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students, it makes sense to sign up for the card. After all, you’ll earn bonus rewards on the first $2,500 in combined spending in the 3% and 2% back categories every quarter (then 1% back) with no annual fee. You can even earn a cash bonus of $200 within 90 days of account opening if you spend $1,000, which is very generous among student cards.

That said, it never hurts to compare other student credit cards to find the right fit. You can also consider pairing this card with another flat-rate rewards card that offers more than 1% back on regular spending and bills. Or, if you’re particularly interested in creating a rewards strategy that earns as much as back as possible, consider pairing the card with the Discover it Student Cash Back card to earn 5% in Discover’s rotating categories each quarter while using the Customized Cash Rewards card for Students to earn 3% or 2% back on other purchases.

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