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Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card review

Published: February 6, 2019

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Published: February 6, 2019

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Ratings Policy
Balance Transfer Rating:
3.1 rating
3.1 rating
3.1 / 5
Introductory Offer: 3.4
Net Value: 2.5
Features: 1.0
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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0% Introductory Period
12 billing cycles

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

Introductory Purchase APR
0% for 12 billing cycles

Regular APR
16.24-26.24% (variable)

Annual Fee
$0

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Private online shopping through ShopSafe, fraud protection, overdraft protection, paperless statements, account alerts, mobile banking, text banking

Cash Back Rating:
3.4 rating
3.4 rating
3.4 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.1
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.2
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 1.0
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 groceries and wholesale club purchases
  • $2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter
  • 1% cash back on other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
$150 online cash rewards if you spend $500 in first 90 days

Annual Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$309

APR
16.24-26.24% (variable)

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: Private online shopping through ShopSafe, fraud protection, overdraft protection, paperless statements, account alerts, mobile banking, text banking

Low Interest Rating:
2.4 rating
2.4 rating
2.4 / 5
Rates, Fees, Penalties: 2.4
Rewards: 2.9
Features: 1.0
Customer Experience 1.6

In a Nutshell:

While the Bank of America Cash Rewards card’s regular APR is fairly low, its introductory period on balance transfers and new purchases is relatively short.

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Regular APR
16.24-26.24% (variable)

Introductory Purchase APR
0% for 12 billing cycles

Introductory Balance Transfer APR
0% for 12 billing cycles 

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: Private online shopping through ShopSafe, fraud protection, overdraft protection, paperless statements, account alerts, mobile banking, text banking

For cardholders on a budget, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is a good value. It offers bonus points on everyday purchases, such as gas and groceries, so cardholders don’t have to go out of their way to earn a decent return on spending. It also makes earning bonus rewards a lot easier than similar cash back cards. The ability to choose your bonus rewards category allows customization as your spending changes, so you can continue to earn great rewards throughout the year.

Cardholders hoping to earn a substantial amount of cash back may be disappointed, though, by the card’s restrictions. This is a basic cash-back card for relatively modest spenders.

Large bonus with a low threshold

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers a $150 online cash rewards bonus to new cardholders currently one of the largest sign-up bonuses among cash back cards – and it comes with a very reasonable spending requirement. Cardholders only need to spend $500 in the card’s first 90 days  roughly $167 a month. This combined with the card’s generous bonus categories may make the Bank of America Cash Rewards card especially appealing card to rewards card users looking to maximize their cash back earnings.

High earning rate on flexible rewards

Thanks to a choose-your-own-adventure style rewards program, Bank of America Cash Rewards cardholders should have no trouble racking up a significant amount of cash with this rewards credit card. Users get to choose from six categories to earn 3 percent cash back – including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement and furnishings. If you don’t choose another category, you’ll default to 3 percent cash back on gas.

As an added bonus, you can change this category once per calendar month to keep up with changes in your spending patterns. If you prefer to take a more hands-off approach, whatever choice you made the previous month will roll over to the following one.

In addition, cardholders receive 2 percent cash back on groceries, including those purchased at wholesale clubs, which is a big draw for families with a lot of mouths to feed. (There is a $2,500 quarterly spending cap on the 2 and 3 percent bonuses combined – read the next section for more details.)

Relatively low ceiling on bonus-awards spending

The biggest downside to the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is that it substantially limits how much money you can earn by capping bonus-awards spending at $2,500 per quarter – or roughly $833 a month. That means if you spend more than $2,500 in a quarter on your chosen 3 percent category or groceries, you’ll receive just 1 percent cash back on any excess spending. The $2,500 cap probably won’t bother families who don’t typically spend much more than that anyway. But if you’re a heavy spender looking to maximize your savings, you’re better off looking at a card that doesn’t impose a rewards limit.

Hassle-free rewards structure

One of our favorite features of the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is its low maintenance rewards structure, which makes it an ideal card for consumers who don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about their credit card. The Bank of America Cash rewards card doesn’t force cardholders to keep track of a rotating list of quarterly bonus categories. Even if you don’t choose your own 3 percent cash back category each month, you’ll still earn great rewards on gas and groceries every quarter. Even better, the rewards don’t expire, so you don’t have to worry about missing out if you’re slow to redeem your earnings.

Extra perks for Bank of America account holders

For consumers who already have an account with Bank of America, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is an exceptionally good deal – especially if cardholders optimize their earnings by maxing out the total amount of bonuses they receive. Preferred Rewards cardholders with a substantial bank balance are eligible to earn a steeper bonus – in some cases as high as 25 to 75 percent.

Why get the Bank of America Cash Rewards card?

  • You already have a Bank of America checking or savings account.
  • You spend a moderate amount on groceries and want a good return on your purchases.
  • You want rewards without spending money on an annual fee.
  • You prefer cash back instead of rewards points or miles.
  • You want a flexible rewards program that can shift as your spending does.

How to use the Bank of America Cash Rewards card:

  • Use this as your primary card for the first 90 days so you earn the sign-up bonus.
  • 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.

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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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