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Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card review

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Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card at a Glance

  • Maximize your cash back in a category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings.
  • Earn 3 percent back in your choice category, 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1 percent back on all other purchases.
  • You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the mobile banking app or online banking; or do nothing and it stays the same.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Essentials

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is a unicorn among tiered cash-back rewards cards in that you earn cash-back rewards in tiered categories and you get to pick from among a list of six categories where you'd like to earn your top-tier rewards. Since you can change your pick once each calendar month, this card is truly a hybrid of a tiered rewards card and a rotating categories card rolled into one shiny red package.

When you figure in the opportunity Preferred Rewards clients have to earn up to a 75 percent cash-back bonus on EVERY purchase, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card becomes the highest earning cash-back rewards card on the market. Plus, new cardholders can earn a $150 online cash rewards bonus after spending $500 on the card in the first 90 days of card membership.

Take a look at the rewards structure for the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card:

  • Earn 3 percent cash back in the category of your choice from among a list of six: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. You may change your category once per calendar month or do nothing and it remains the same.
  • Earn 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. (The 2 and 3 percent earning rate applies to the first $2,500 spent in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter; after reaching that cap, you'll earn 1 percent on those purchases).
  • Earn 1 percent back on all your other purchases.

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card doesn't charge an annual fee, so all the cash back you earn can go directly back into your pocket. Furthermore, this card may even be able to save you money since it offers an introductory 0 percent APR for 12 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days (then, 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR on purchases and 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR on balance transfers).

What Our Editors Like Most about the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card performs well as a cash-back rewards card for just about anyone thanks to the opportunity to choose your top-earning category and the lack of an annual fee; however, this card truly shines for existing customers of Bank of America who qualify for the bank's Preferred Rewards program. Those customers can earn anywhere from a 25-75 percent bonus on EVERY purchase depending upon your Preferred Rewards tier, which is determined by your three-month average combined balance across qualifying Bank of America and/or Merrill Edge® and Merrill Lynch® investment accounts.

  • Gold Tier clients have a combined balance of $25,000-$50,000 and earn a 25 percent bonus on every purchase with their Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card (as well as with some other Bank of America credit cards).
  • Platinum Tier clients maintain a combined balance of between $50,000 and $100,000 and earn a 50 percent bonus on each credit card purchase.
  • Platinum Honors customers maintain a combined balance from $100,000-$250,000 and earn a 75 percent rewards bonus on all their purchase.

Given that certain investment account balances can count toward your combined balance, it's easy to see a path to earning Preferred Rewards status even if your regular deposit accounts never approach those lofty balances. And having even Gold Tier status means that every $100 you earn in cash back is actually worth $125. Not bad for a no-annual-fee card.

Even if you don't see Preferred Rewards status in your near future, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is still a great option to have in your wallet thanks to the opportunity to decide each month where you'll earn top rewards. Planning a couple of road trips? Make sure to select "gas" as your 3 percent category. Working on redecorating your living room? Consider naming "home improvement/furnishings" as your top category. Notice you'll be eating out a lot in the coming month thanks to a busy schedule? Make sure you update your 3 percent category to "restaurants." A little planning and effort on your part could mean major cash-back rewards rolling in soon.

In addition to the cash-back rewards opportunities, cardholders also enjoy some nice perks like ShopSafe® protection, overdraft protection and access to Bank of America banking centers and ATMs. And, while cash advances from an ATM are rarely a good idea given the interest charged, it's nice to know they are an option in an emergency and your Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card comes equipped with a PIN so you can access cash via an ATM if that emergency arises.

Who Should Get the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card?

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is a fantastic option for cardholders who like the idea of earning big cash back in categories that change, but don't necessarily like the categories offered by traditional rotating categories cards. There's a lot of control available here and with just a little extra effort, you could be earning top cash back in the perfect category for you.

By the way, it's simple to adjust your 3 percent category choice via the Bank of America mobile app, so you can change your category on the go in the blink of an eye (though, remember you can only change it once per calendar month).

Existing Bank of America customers who qualify for the Preferred Rewards program in particular should give this no-annual-fee cash-back rewards card a good, long look. Then, start dreaming about what you could do with that 25-75 percent bonus cash back on every purchase.

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