Bank of America banking customers will get the most out of this card, especially those who spend a large portion of the budget they do have on the bonus categories. But note that if you’re not a Bank of America customer with a large deposit in a Bank of America or Merrill account, you might be better off with a card that gives you a flat 2% cash back on all of your purchases.
Lucrative bonus categories
Very competitive perks
Not as simple as a flat-rate cash-back card
Limited ways to redeem your points
- Lucrative bonus categories: We like the fact that the top earning category is an ongoing 3%. You might see a higher top rate on other rewards cards, but it’s often for a category that lasts only one quarter or it’s associated with a card that has an annual fee. Also, if you have a large chunk of money in Bank of America and Merrill accounts, you could earn up to 5.25% back.
- Adaptable rewards: You choose which category gives you 3% back, and you can even change your category each month.
- Very competitive perks: The card gives you more travel and shopping benefits than many competing cash-back cards offer (more on that below).
- Earning caps: The card’s 3% and 2% bonus categories are limited to $2,500 in combined spending each quarter. This drastically limits the rewards you can earn in these categories, although you will earn 1% back once you max them out and on all other purchases.
- Not as simple as a flat-rate cash-back card: Earning 3% back is always nice, but this card is more complicated than cash-back cards that give you 1.5% or 2% back on all of your spending. You have to keep up with the earning caps each quarter, and to get the most out of the card, you should anticipate what you’ll spend money on in the following month and perhaps change your 3% category.
- Limited ways to redeem your points: You can redeem points for statement credits and cash deposits, but not for anything else.
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card Sign-up Bonus
The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a sign-up bonus that is higher than many cash-back credit cards with no annual fee—$200 after spending $1,000 on your card in the first 90 days of account opening.
Earning Points & Rewards
The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card lets you earn 3% cash back in a category of your choosing (among gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings) and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Cash back is limited to the first $2,500 spent in both of these categories each quarter (then 1%). You also get the option to change your 3% category every month, and you’ll earn 1% back on all other purchases. Your cash rewards never expire.
Let’s say you spend $1,500 per quarter on dining out—your chosen 3% category—and $1,000 at grocery stores or wholesale clubs, along with $3,000 on other purchases for a total of $5,500 spent every three months.
In that case, you would earn $95 each quarter—$45 on dining, $20 at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and $30 on regular spending. That’s $380 in rewards within a year.
While $380 in cash back is not bad, if you spent the same amount on a flat-rate cash-back card that gives you 2% back on everything, you would make $440 in a year.
But you can earn more rewards if you’re a Bank of America customer or you plan to become one. That’s because the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program lets you earn “bonus rewards points” based on how much money you keep in qualified Bank of America and Merrill accounts:
- $20,000 to $49,999 on deposit (Gold): Earn 25% more rewards
- $50,000 to $99,999 on deposit (Platinum): Earn 50% more rewards
- $100,000+ on deposit (Platinum Honors): Earn 75% more rewards
That means on the top bonus categories, you could earn up to 5.25% back. That’s near the top of the cash-back earnings you’ll find with other credit cards.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card means it when it says it’s a cash-back credit card—there aren’t a lot of ways to redeem your rewards. You can’t cash them in for travel, for example, nor can you use them for gift cards or merchandise purchased through Bank of America.
You do have the following options:
- Cash in your rewards for statement credits in any amount.
- Redeem rewards for a deposit to your Bank of America checking or savings account, or an eligible Merrill Lynch or Merrill Edge account.
- Contribute your rewards to a qualifying 529 college savings account with Merrill Lynch or Merrill Edge in increments starting at $25.
You can set up automatic redemptions starting at $25 into an eligible Merrill Lynch, Merrill Edge, or Bank of America account.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
You’ll maximize your earnings on this credit card if you join Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. But you need to have at least $20,000 on deposit in a qualified account to be eligible for those bonus earnings.
In addition, you’ll want to spend $1,000 on your card as quickly as possible so you get the $200 bonus cash right away. From there, make sure you put all your purchases from the bonus categories on this card, at least until you hit the $2,500 quarterly limit for bonus points.
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card’s Excellent Perks
This is a basic cash-back card, so you wouldn’t expect a lot of exceptional perks, but it does come with one benefit that our editors have deemed “excellent.”
Travel accident insurance: This coverage is automatic when you purchase travel with a common carrier by sea, land, or air.
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card’s Other Features
It’s unclear what other perks might be included with this card. At the time of this writing, the website mentions purchase benefits and auto rental benefits, but no further details are available. We reached out to Bank of America for clarification but were told that the company does not provide information about perks until you receive the card and the accompanying guide to benefits.
Bank of America has a popular mobile app that it says was named by J.D. Power as providing an “outstanding customer experience.” But Bank of America didn’t fare particularly well in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The bank ranked 7th out of 11 issuers and scored 798 out of 1,000 points—lower than the industry average of 806.
Bank of America does offer a free FICO score that you can access online or through the mobile app.
Bank of America offers standard security features for a credit card. It does let you set up account alerts so you’re updated about payments, due dates, and more. Those could help you spot fraudulent charges.
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card’s Fees
None of the fees that come with this card stand out from what competitors charge. Travel bugs take note that there is a 3% foreign transaction fee, so you’ll want to use a different card for purchases in other countries.