Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for Students review

Lidia Davis  in  Student How we rate our cards  |  Advertiser Disclosure
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Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Regular APR:
15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Bankrate Rating

Commonly used for: 0% Introductory APR, Auto Rental Insurance, Balance Transfer, Cash Back, EMV, Excellent Credit, Extended Warranty Program, FICO Score, Gas, Lost Luggage Reimbursement, Mobile Pay Ready, No Annual Fee, Popular, Purchase Protection, Rewards, Travel Accident Insurance, Unsecured credit card, World Mastercard®, Zero Fraud Liability.

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If you’re a part- or full-time student looking to build credit, the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is a solid option. In fact, the credit requirements are more lenient than other cash-back rewards cards, making it easier for people with little or no credit history to apply.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for Students: Details and benefits

You won’t need to be a seasoned credit expert to qualify for this card, although you will need at least fair credit. Regardless of where you are on your credit journey, this  card allows you to earn a good amount of cash rewards for spending money in a variety of categories. It’s easy to earn cash rewards with this card, especially if you’re a student looking to save on gas for your daily commute or stock up on groceries for meal prep.

Cardholders will get 3% cash back in their category of choice (options include gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement), 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% on all other purchases. You can earn 3% and 2% in those two categories on up to $2,500 in combined purchases per quarter. After that, rates in both categories will revert to 1%. 

There’s no annual fee on this card, which makes it a more affordable cash back card, especially when you factor in its modest sign-up bonus. New cardholders will get a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening an account. 

This card offers some leeway if you need to finance a purchase without having to worry about interest. Cardholders will enjoy an introductory purchase APR offer for the first 15 billing cycles before a 15.99% – 25.99% variable APR applies. A similar offer applies for balance transfers, in case you want to pay down some debt while avoiding high interest charges.

Advantages
  • 3% cash back in select categories, 2% back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined category spending per quarter) and 1% back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Earn $200 cash rewards bonus after making $1,000 worth in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account
  • Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles (15.99%-25.99% variable thereafter)
  • Track your credit with monthly FICO Score monitoring
Disadvantages
  • There are more lucrative rewards and travel credit cards out there with higher cash back (or miles) rates.
  • After the introductory period, the APR is on the higher end of the spectrum (15.99% - 25.99% variable APR).
  • No leeway on balance transfer fees during the intro period: If you transfer a balance, you’ll have to pay either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater (on transfers made in the first 60 days).
  • Penalty APR of up to 29.99% for late payments, based on creditworthiness
  • There’s a maximum amount of top-tier cash back rewards you can earn

Is the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card for Students worth it for you?

This card offers the same rewards structure as the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. As a busy student or someone looking to build credit, you’ll want to think about how to best leverage the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students rewards offerings.  To reap the most benefit each quarter, you’ll want to select the category in which you spend the most. (However, you can make changes to your calendar through online or mobile banking once per month or keep it the same for the entire quarter.)

Get the most value from the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card for Students

You’ll want to consider your personal spending habits before opting for this card. Do you commute every day? Frequently shop online? Are you renovating your apartment? This card can work with a busy student lifestyle, but you need to know what your heftiest costs are to reap the most rewards. Then again, you also don’t want to find yourself spending more than you normally would just to maximize your cash back earnings (which are valid for the life of the card and can be redeemed in the form of statement credits).

If you’re trying to build credit, the Bank of America Cash Rewards Student card can help you stay on track — know where you stand with free monthly FICO Score reports that you can view online or in the mobile app. And if you need help establishing a budget based on your spending habits, Bank of America provides insights and tips online to help you establish spending goals. Don’t forget that BofA Preferred Rewards members can see the value of their points increase by 25% – 75%. The Preferred Rewards boost is one of the keys to maximizing this card’s value.

How much are the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card for Students rewards worth?

This particular card didn’t make it into our lineup for the best student credit cards, mainly because our top picks are geared more toward cards requiring little or no credit history, have softer APRs, fees or, in some cases, more lucrative rewards structures.  But that doesn’t mean this card isn’t worthwhile for some people. You can start earning rewards after opening your account, and you can spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening your account to earn a $200 bonus.

While the sign-up bonus is on the modest end of the spectrum compared to premier rewards and travel cards, there’s no annual fee to factor into the equation.  Note, you’ll only be able to earn a certain amount of cash back from the 3% and 2% categories each month.  Say, for example, you spend $2,000 on your category of choice and $500 on groceries — that’s $60 back for your selected category and $10 back for grocery/wholesale club purchases. After that, all purchases in these categories will revert to a 1% cash back rate. This card is eligible for Preferred Rewards. This means if you have a qualifying BofA or Merrill account, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase.

There are a few travel perks, but if you’re studying abroad or spending your sabbatical in another country, we suggest opting for a dedicated travel credit card with no foreign transaction fee. The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card for Students offers a travel rewards option under the 3% choice category, which includes qualifying airlines, transportation and lodging merchants (for example: American Airlines, Uber and Airbnb, respectively). The Cash Rewards foreign transaction fee is 3% of the U.S. dollar amount of every transaction. 

How to redeem rewards

Cash back rewards for this card can be redeemed at any time and in any amount as a statement credit, deposits made directly into a Bank of America checking or savings account or for credit to an eligible Merrill account. Log into your account via desktop or mobile to redeem.

The information about the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card for Students has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.