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HomepageFinanceCredit CardsBank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card Review
Last updated on Feb 28, 2020

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

A no-annual-fee card with a complex but mostly beneficial rewards system ​
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4 cards compared

7 features evaluated

20 hours researched

Michelle Clardie

By Michelle Clardie Contributing Writer

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a strong rewards program with no annual fee and 0% introductory APR for 15 billing cycles (15.49% to 25.49% variable APR after the introductory period). With the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, you earn 3% cash back on the category of your choice (online shopping, travel, dining, gas, drug stores, or home improvement), plus 2% cash back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores and 1% back on all other purchases. You can also change your 3% category quarterly to match your planned spending. On top of this, you can earn an impressive $200 cash reward when you spend $1,000 in the first three months.

The potential drawback is the complexity of the rewards program. While the flexibility of choosing your own 3% category is nice, you could drive yourself crazy trying to maximize your rewards each quarter strategically. If you’d like a more straightforward rewards system, you may be better off with a credit card that offers a flat cash back percentage for all purchases.

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card Overview

Rewards rate: 3% cash back on a category you choose (travel, online shopping, gas, dining, home improvement, and drug stores), 2% cash back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores,

1% cash back on all others

Sign-up bonus: $200 cash reward after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days Annual fee: $0 APR: 15.49% to 25.49% variable (0% introductory APR for 15 billing cycles) Additional fees:
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $10 or 3% (whichever is greater)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
Recommended credit score: Bank of America doesn’t provide a recommended credit score for this card, but as with all rewards cards, you are more likely to qualify if you have a fair amount of credit history and a good track record of managing credit responsibly. Features
  • You choose which category you want to earn 3% on (and you can change your selection quarterly)
  • $200 cash bonus when you spend $1,000 within the first three months
  • The option to redeem your cash rewards as a contribution to a 529 account with Merrill
Pros
  • Strong rewards program: Earn up to 3% on a category of your choice
  • Impressive sign-up bonus: $200 cash reward for spending just $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • No annual fee: Cards offering up to 3% cash back often come with an annual fee
Cons
  • Complicated rewards structure: With multiple categories earning different rates, it may be difficult to maximize your rewards
  • Rewards caps: The 3% back on your chosen category and 2% back at supermarkets each have a combined quarterly cap of $2,500

Who Should Get the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card?

Best for: People with a good understanding of their spending habits. When you’re aware of how much you spend in each category every quarter, you can adjust your chosen 3% category to maximize your rewards. Not for: People who want a simple rewards program so they can easily estimate their rewards earnings. If you don’t strategically plan your spending to maximize your rewards, you may be leaving money on the table.

Main Benefits

Strong rewards program

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a strong 3% back on the category that you get to choose. You can pick the category (gas, travel, dining, drug stores, online shopping, or home improvement) in which you plan to spend the most money over the coming quarter. And you can change your selection each quarter to match your planned spending. You also get an automatic 2% back at supermarkets and wholesale clubs, plus 1% back on everything else.

Impressive sign-up bonus

Earning a $200 bonus for spending $1,000 during the first three months is a generous sign-up offer. Some cards may offer a higher sign-up bonus, but the cards typically require you to spend more than $1,000 to reach that bonus. Spending $1,000 over three months is a relatively manageable amount to spend if you put the bulk of your daily expenses on your credit card.

No annual fee

Many cards with cash back rates as high as 3% in certain categories charge annual fees. These fees are typically around $95. However, the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card generously offers 3% back on your chosen category, plus 2% back on supermarket and wholesale club purchases with no annual fee.

Possible Drawbacks

Complicated rewards structure

Varied rates for different spending categories can quickly complicate a rewards structure, especially when there are quarterly caps on the category spending. And while it’s nice to be able to personalize your rewards by choosing your 3% category each quarter, this can be a source of stress or annoyance for people who worry about leaving money on the table.

Rewards caps

The 3% rewards on your chosen category, plus your 2% rewards on supermarket spending combined, are capped at $2,500 per quarter. After you reach $2,500 per quarter, your rate will reduce to 1% for the remainder of the quarter. This cap might not be overly restrictive, but it’s something to be aware of, particularly if you spend a lot on groceries and in your chosen 3% category.

The Competition

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Citi® Double Cash Card
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Rewards Rate
  • 3% cash back on the category you choose (drug stores, travel, gas, online shopping, dining, or home improvement)
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all others
  • 1% cash back on everyday spending
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in spending per year)
  • 6% cash back on select streaming services
  • 3% cash back on gas and transit
  • 1% cash back on purchases
  • Plus another 1% cash back on your payments for those purchases
  • 1% cash back on everyday spending
  • 4% back on dining and entertainment
  • 2% back on supermarkets
  • Sign-up Bonus
    $200 cash reward after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
    $250 back (in the form of a statement credit) after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months)
    N/A
    $300 cash bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
    Annual Fee
    $0
    $95
    $0
    $0 for the first year, $95 after
    APR
    15.49% to 25.49% variable (0% introductory APR for 15 billing cycles)
    14.49% to 25.49% variable (0% introductory APR for 12 months)
    15.49% to 25.49% variable (0% introductory APR for 18 months)
    15.99% to 24.99% variable
    All information accurate as of 02/28/2020.

    Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card Compared to American Express Blue Cash Preferred

    With up to 6% back at grocery stores (up to $6,000 in spending per year) and on select streaming services, plus 3% back on transit and gas, and 1% back on everything else, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card boasts a better rewards program than the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. But there are a couple of cases in which the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card would still be the better option.

    First, if you won’t spend enough to offset the American Express Blue Preferred Card’s $95 annual fee, the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card would be a better fit for you. And if you plan to spend a fair amount of money in one of the Cash Rewards’ personalized 3% categories, like home improvement, while spending little on groceries and gas, you may come out ahead with the Bank of America Cash Rewards card.

    Earning Rewards

    It’s never been easier to earn perks on your everyday purchases. With Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can earn points by:

    • Spending as usual for 1% back
    • Spending at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for 2% back
    • Spending on a specific category of your choice for 3% back

    The Bottom Line

    The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a substantial upside with little downside. On the upside, you get up to 3% back on your chosen category, plus 2% back on groceries and 1% back on everything else—all with no annual fee and a 0% APR for 15 billing cycles. On the downside, the complicated rewards system might be too much for some people to keep up with. If you can make peace with the complexity of the rewards system, this card is a reliable option.

    3% cash back on the category you choose (drug stores, travel, gas, online shopping, dining, or home improvement)

    2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs

    1% cash back on all others