Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card review: Choose your bonus category
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings.
- Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
- Earn a $200 online cash back bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening. Plus, enjoy 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. (After the intro APR offer ends, 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR will apply.)
- This offer is very competitive, but earning additional bonus cash back (25-75% more on each purchase) is reserved for those who are Preferred Rewards clients.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Bank of America® Cash Rewards Categories
- Bank of America® Cash Rewards Redemption Options
- Bank of America® Cash Rewards Foreign Transaction Fee and Other Drawbacks
- Bank of America® Cardholder Scores
- How Bank of America® Cash Rewards Compares to Other Cards
- Is Bank of America® Cash Rewards a Good Card?
With no annual fee, a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend just $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening, and the ability to choose which category you'll earn 3% back in, it's hard to beat the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card.
It's a straight-forward, simple credit card. Rewards don't expire, there is no annual fee, and categories for earning your 3% back don't change unless you want them to. It doesn't get much easier than that.
The categories in which you can earn cash back rewards with the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card are on a tiered system.
- The first one is the 3% cash back tier where you can earn 3% cash back in one of the following six categories: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. You choose which category depending on where you spend the most money.
- The second tier is 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
- The last tier is 1% cash back on all other purchases.
In addition to these three tiers of cash back rewards, if you’re a Bank of America Premier Rewards member you could earn up to 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase made. That means the 3% choice category rewards could be worth as much as 5.25% and the 2% categories could be worth as much as 3.5% back! That’s a steal for a card with no annual fee.
- Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
- 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
- 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
- 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
- 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
- Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
- Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
- Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
- $95 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
Just as the name says, this is a cash back rewards-based card. Rewards don't expire. They can be redeemed as a credit on your statement, deposited directly into your Bank of America accounts, or to eligible Merrill accounts.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, so if you frequently travel abroad, you might want to consider bringing another card along for your international purchases. This fee might not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but think about it this way: if you spend $3,000 on a trip abroad with your Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, you’ll be looking at an extra $90 in fees. This might not be a huge deal to if you rarely travel internationally, especially because this card has no annual fee, however, if you’re taking multiple trips abroad each year, the extra money you’ll spend because of this fee can quickly add up.
Another potential downside of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card also depends on your spending habits. You do get to choose the category you want your cash back rewards in, but the cap is $2,500 per quarter. Do the math, do your homework, and make sure it's worth it for you. You don't want to leave money on the table if you could earn more with another card.
Finally, unless you're a Preferred Rewards member, you won't be able to unlock every benefit of the card, including the 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase.
CardRatings conducts a survey annually to learn what actual cardholders think of their cards. Here are the results:
|2020 Scores||2019 Scores|
|Rewards Program Satisfaction||8.9||8.5|
|Likelihood of Continuing to Use||9.2||8.8|
|Recommend to a Friend/Colleague||8.5||8.2|
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card vs. Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
If you're looking to make a large purchase and earn cash back on it, you might want to consider the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer as its terms slightly edge out the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card because of its intro APR offer.
With the Citi card you'll get 18 months of introductory 0% APR, where most credit cards within the cash back category have, at most, a 12-month introductory offer of 0% APR, which is pretty generous. After the intro period, the APR jumps to 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable). If you have a major purchase on the horizon that would be easier to pay off in smaller increments, the extended balance transfer intro could be appealing.
One unique thing about the Citi® Double Cash Card is that it earns you 1% cash back when you buy and 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases (whether you pay your balance in full or over time, though you must make the minimum payment on time to earn cash back). So while the structure is different than the Bank of America card that offers tiered reward levels of 3%, 2%, and 1%, the Citi card gives you double the opportunity to earn cash back on every purchase made.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card vs. Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
If it’s the foreign transaction fees that make you weary of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card might be a suitable alternative as it does not charge the 3% fee that the cash rewards card does.
The other main difference between these two cards is that the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card gives rewards in points, not in cash. Its welcome offer has the same low spend threshold of $1,000 spent in the first 90 days that the account is open; however, instead of getting $200 cash as you would with the cash back rewards card, you earn 25,000 points, which is worth $250 toward travel.
Neither card has an annual fee, and rewards on both cards don't expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. The decision between these two will likely be the question of whether you frequently travel or keep closer to home.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card vs. Chase Freedom Flex℠
These two cards showcase a couple of similar features, but their reward structures are vastly different.
Let's start with the similarities. Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers new cardholders a $200 cash-back bonus after spending $500 within three months, which is a lower spending threshold. Neither card charges an annual fee, but both charge a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases made abroad.
Now for the differences: The primary difference between these two cash back cards is the structure of categories. Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers 5% cash back when you activate on up to $1,500 spent in combined purchases in bonus categories that rotate each quarter. The differing quarterly categories could make the decision between which card is best for each cardholder. Sure, you earn a higher percentage back with the Chase card, but you don't get to select the category. You'll have to decide how much control you want when it comes to your rewards earning power if your decision boils down to these two cards.
If you like having choices and flexibility and don’t plan to frequently make foreign transactions, Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card could be a good fit for you. To make the most of it though, you need to be on top of your spending habits and know which category would be the best in terms of earning cash back.
This card is also great if you are not the type of person who wants to spend all of their rewards. Instead, you could use it as a savings tool by depositing your cash back rewards into one of your Bank of America accounts.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is also a sweet deal for Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients as this status helps you to earn additional cash back on every dollar you spend.
Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2020 to conduct surveys among 1,746 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2020-Aug. 31, 2020 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were added to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted.