Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card review

Published: December 2, 2019

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Published: December 2, 2019

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Ratings Policy
Balance Transfer Rating:
3.5 rating
3.5 rating
3.5 / 5
Introductory Offer: 3.9
Net Value: 2.5
Features: 2.0
Customer Experience 1.6

In a Nutshell:

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers new cardholders a modest balance transfer fee and attractive perks for everyday spending; however, its APR is high for cardholders with less-than-perfect credit.

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Introductory Period
15 billing cycles

Transfer Fee
$10 or 3% (whichever is higher)

Introductory Purchase APR

0% for 15 billing cycles

Regular APR
15.49%- 25.49% (variable)

Annual Fee
$0

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Fraud protection, overdraft protection, paperless statements, account alerts, mobile banking, text banking

Cash Back Rating:
4 rating
4 rating
4 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.3
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 2.0
Customer Experience 1.6

In a Nutshell:

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers an exceptional rewards rate on a category of the user’s choice, allowing increased flexibility. But a $2,500 spending cap on bonus category rewards limits how much cardholders can earn.

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Rewards Rate

  • 3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings)
  • 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases
  • $2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter
  • 1% cash back on other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
$200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days

Annual Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend, 3 year average)
$325

APR
15.49%- 25.49%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Cash back doesn’t expire
  • No rotating categories to keep track of
  • Minimum redemption amount is low ($25)
  • Redeem cash as deposit, statement credit and more
  • Set up automatic redemption into a Bank of America account

Cons

  • $2,500 limit on bonus rewards each quarter
  • No other rewards options besides cash back

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Fraud protection, overdraft protection, paperless statements, account alerts, mobile banking, text banking

Low Interest Rating:
3.1 rating
3.1 rating
3.1 / 5
Rates, Fees, Penalties: 3.2
Rewards: 2.9
Features: 2.0
Customer Experience 1.6

In a Nutshell:

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card’s regular APR is fairly low, plus it offers a long introductory period on balance transfers and new purchases, potentially sparing you a lot of interest in your first year of membership.

Learn more about this card

Regular APR
15.49%- 25.49% (variable)

Introductory Purchase APR

0% for 15 billing cycles

Introductory Balance Transfer APR
0% for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Fees

  • No annual fee
  • 3% balance transfer fee (or $10, whichever is larger)
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • 3% fee (or $10, whichever is larger) for direct deposit and check cash advances
  • 5% fee (or $10, whichever is larger) for ATM, over-the-counter, same-day online and cash equivalent cash advances

Penalties

  • Up to $39 late payment fee
  • 29.99% penalty APR
  • Up to $28 returned payment fee

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Fraud protection, overdraft protection, paperless statements, account alerts, mobile banking, text banking

Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card Review: More Details

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card’s unique rewards earning scheme is appealing for cardholders seeking flexibility, but the purchase cap on bonus categories limits its potential value. While it can be a good option for moderate spenders looking to earn rewards on everyday purchases, it is not the best option for big spenders looking to maximize cash back.

Earning rate

One appealing feature of the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is a flexible rewards rate that lets users choose their own bonus category. The card awards 3 percent cash back on a category of choice – gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings. The card also includes 2 percent cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases and 1 percent cash back on general purchases. Just keep in mind that there is a $2,500 combined purchase limit on 2 and 3 percent categories each quarter.

The ability to choose your own bonus category makes the card extremely customizable, especially because you can change your selection once each calendar month. That means if you are planning a trip one month, you can opt for the travel option – and then switch the following month to a category you’ll spend more in like gas or dining. This unique feature might be common among business cards, but the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is one of very few personal cards offering the perk.

See Related: How to maximize the Bank of America Cash Rewards card’s 3-percent bonus in 2019

The 3 percent bonus category can be very lucrative, as it includes options that typically are a bigger part of your budget – like gas purchases. Plus, the online shopping category is incredibly flexible, as it includes both web and app purchases.

Tip: To help you determine which category is the best choice for you, Bank of America provides regular reports on your spending across the six options. You can look at this to figure out where you spend the most money – and where you can earn the most rewards. You should also keep an eye on how each purchase codes on your statement to know exactly what will earn you a bonus.

Unfortunately, you’ll be limited on how much you can earn with a $2,500 quarterly purchase limit on the 2 percent and 3 percent bonus categories (you’ll still earn 1 percent after you meet the cap). With this restriction in mind, we estimate the average earning rate on the Cash Rewards card to be around 1.63 percent cash back. This places it slightly below the average cash back card.

Sign-up bonus

On the plus side, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers one of the highest sign-up bonuses available on a card with no annual fee. Cardholders can earn $200 online cash rewards for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. This is a relatively easy spend threshold to reach too, only requiring about $334 a month.

Preferred Rewards program

One unique feature that can add significant value to the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is the Preferred Rewards program. The program is available to Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Merrill Edge account holders and comes with a slew of benefits – including a rewards boost on any Bank of America credit card. Depending on your account balance, you could earn 25 percent – 75 percent more cash back on every purchase.

Preferred Rewards tiers and rewards boost

Tier Balance required Rewards boost Average earning rate
Gold $20,000-$49,999 25% 2.04%
Platinum $50,000-$99,999 50% 2.45%
Platinum Honors $100,000+ 75% 2.85%

As you can see from the chart above, Preferred Rewards customers, even at the lowest level, earn a very competitive rate of cash back with the rewards boost. We estimate that the average Gold level customer would earn 2.04 percent cash back with the Bank of America Cash card – a rate that beats most other cash back cards, including the Citi Double Cash Card.

Tip: The rewards boost applies to most Bank of America personal credit cards, including alternatives like the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. If you prefer earning points to cash back, that is another good option for those wanting to earn Preferred Rewards benefits.

Redeeming cash back

Once you’ve racked up rewards with your Bank of America Cash Rewards card, redeeming cash back is pretty simple. You’ll need a minimum of $25 to redeem, but once you’ve reached the threshold, you can opt for a statement credit or direct deposit into an eligible Bank of America checking or savings account. You can also set up automatic redemptions starting at $25. Also, rewards don’t expire, so there’s no rush to redeem your cash back in case you haven’t reached the $25 threshold.

Balance transfer offer

In addition to a flexible rewards rate, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card comes with a decent balance transfer offer. Cardholders can enjoy a 0 percent introductory APR for the first 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days (15.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable thereafter). The card does charge a balance transfer fee of 3 percent (minimum $10), but that is pretty standard for a balance transfer. Additionally, you must request transfers within the first 60 days to qualify for the intro period.

This is one of the longer introductory periods you can find. Note, if you’re looking to get the biggest savings on a balance transfer offer, some cards allow you to transfer a balance without a balance transfer fee, possibly saving you hundreds of dollars. However, if you are looking for a way to pay down some debt without racking up interest – but don’t want to sacrifice rewards – the Bank of America Cash card could be a good option.

See Related: How to transfer a balance to a Bank of America credit card

Introductory APR offer on new purchases

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card also include a generous introductory APR on new purchases – 0 percent for the first 15 billing cycles (15.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable thereafter). If you are looking for a way to finance a large purchase over several months without paying interest, this is a pretty decent offer.

Other benefits on the Bank of America Cash Rewards card

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card doesn’t have many additional benefits, but it does come with a few extras that can add value to the card.

  • Extended warranty – For eligible purchases made entirely on your card, you can double the manufacturers’ warranty up to one extra year.
  • Car rental insurance – If your rental car is damaged or stolen, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card can reimburse you in excess of the company’s insurance policy.

Unfortunately, the card’s travel benefits are lacking, and it charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee. If you are a frequent traveler, the Bank of America Cash card is probably not the best choice for you.

BankAmeriDeals

For cardholders looking to maximize their rewards potential, Bank of America offers a card-linked offers program called BankAmeriDeals. The program is designed to rewards users for everyday spending by offering cash back at a wide range of popular restaurants, clothing stores, gas stations and more. In fact, you might be able to earn up to 15 percent cash back.

To take advantage of one of these deals, you simply need to add them to your Bank of America Cash Rewards card and use it to pay when you visit the merchant. Funds will automatically be credited to your account. As you activate and redeem offers, you’ll also earn coins to advance through levels and unlock additional cash bonuses.

Approval odds

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card is designed for users with good to excellent credit (above 670), so ensure you meet these requirements before you apply. If you are hoping to transfer a balance, you should also keep in mind that balance transfers are approved separately from your card application – based on your available credit limit.

Customer service

Among major issuers, Bank of America does not have the best customer service reputation. In J.D. Power’s 2019 customer satisfaction survey, the bank rated 798, ranking eight out of 11 major banks. The bank’s app also rates fairly well among users, rating 4.5 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.6 out of 5 in the Apple App Store.

How does the Bank of America card compare to other cash back cards?

While the Bank of America Cash Rewards card does offer some valuable benefits in terms of flexibility, it might not be the best option for all spenders. Here are a few of our most popular cash back alternatives:

Citi Double Cash
Citi® Double Cash Card
Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom
Discover it Chrome
Discover it® chrome
Rewards rate

  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • Additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases
Rewards rate

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that you must activate each quarter (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Rewards rate

  • 2% cash back on restaurant and gas station purchases (on up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter)
  • 1% unlimited cash back on general purchases
Sign-up bonus

None

Sign-up bonus

$150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months

Sign-up bonus

Matches cash back earned at the end of first year

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Other things to know

  • Rewards expire if card is not used over 12 months
  • 18-month introductory period for balance transfers (then 15.49% – 25.49% variable APR)
Other things to know

  • Transfer points to other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to potentially boost point value
  • 15-month introductory period for balance transfers and new purchases (16.49-25.24% variable APR thereafter)
Other things to know

  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No late fee for first late payment
  • 14-month introductory period for balance transfers and new purchases (13.49-24.49% variable APR thereafter)

Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash Card is one of the highest earning flat-rate cards available, and it doesn’t come with an annual fee. The downside is that it doesn’t come with a sign-up bonus either, so you’ll have to hang onto the card for a while to see its long-term value. Despite the lack of introductory offer, the Citi Double Cash Card can easily outpace the Bank of America Cash Rewards card’s earning rate for most cardholders.

Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom requires a bit more effort on behalf of the cardholder to earn significant rewards, but it can be very lucrative for savvy spenders. The card offers 5 percent cash back in rotating bonus categories that you activate each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1 percent cash back). This is a great rewards rate, but the spend cap is relatively low.

See Related: Bank of America Cash Rewards vs. Chase Freedom

However, you can also transfer rewards earned on the Chase Freedom to another Chase Ultimate Rewards card – like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card – which gets a 50 percent higher point value when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Discover it chrome

The most eye-catching feature of the Discover it chrome is its unique introductory offer – which matches all the cash back you earn at the end of the first year. For an average spender who charges $1,325 per month to their card, that comes out to around $410 in rewards in the first year alone. As an added bonus for frequent travelers, the Discover card also doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.

Why get the Bank of America Cash Rewards card?

  • You have Bank of America checking or savings account with a significant balance and can qualify for a Preferred Rewards boost.
  • You don’t want to pay an annual fee – but still want a decent sign-up bonus and rewards rate.
  • You want a flexible rewards program that can shift as your spending does.
  • You prefer cash back to points or miles.

How to use the Bank of America Cash Rewards card:

  • Spend at least $1,000 in the first 90 days to earn the sign-up bonus.
  • Enroll in the Preferred Rewards program if you qualify to receive a higher reward rate.
  • Use your card for all choice category and grocery purchases – at least until you hit the spending limit for bonus category purchases.
  • Take a look at your spending each month to see if another 3 percent bonus category could earn more rewards.
  • Pair the Cash Rewards card with the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card to earn extra rewards on your travel and dining purchases.

See Related: Guide to the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Is the Bank of America Cash Rewards card worth it?

If you are a moderate spender who is looking for a flexible rewards card that doesn’t charge an annual fee, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is a solid option. The card is also particularly valuable for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch checking and savings account holders, who can boost their rewards earning with the Preferred Rewards program.

However, true cash back enthusiasts are probably better off opting for a card that doesn’t impose such steep restrictions on bonus category earning.

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All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

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