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Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students review

 /  8 min
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Snapshot

3.4

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 3.4 stars out of 5

Bottom line

The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is an excellent choice for students seeking to earn cash back, save on interest, and properly manage their money using the financial management resources offered.

3.4
Rating: 3.4 stars out of 5
Bankrate score
Info
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Recommended Credit

$200

Intro offer

Info

1.5%

Rewards rate

Info

$0

Annual fee

19.24% - 29.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Regular APR

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students Overview

An excellent rewards rate and solid introductory APR offer make the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students a standout choice for students looking for a straightforward, low-cost way to earn rewards, finance purchases and build credit. Along with charging no annual fee, the card features a generous cash rewards welcome bonus and access to financial education tools that can help students learn how to build their credit.

That said, while the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is a smart choice if you are looking for a cash rewards card that is simple to use, its lack of student-centric benefits and limited cash back earning potential in specific spending categories are a slight drawback. Though the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for student is a solid option for those who more concerned with building their credit score than earning maximum rewards, it may not be the most lucrative cash rewards card for students on the market.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Offers unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, which is a very generous rate for general purchases on a credit-building card.

  • Checkmark

    Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers can offer much-needed flexibility for college students looking to save money and build credit.

  • Checkmark

    Students have free access to financial education tools and their FICO scores.

Cons

  • A 3 percent foreign transaction fee limits the cards appeal for students planning to travel or study abroad.

  • The $200 online cash rewards bonus offer (after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days) isn’t too competitive compared to most student cash rewards programs.

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases
  • Welcome offer: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro APR: 0 percent intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, a variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3 percent intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4 percent.
  • Regular APR: 19.24 percent to 29.24 percent (variable)

Current welcome offer

The Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students comes with a one-time welcome bonus worth $200 in online cash back rewards, but a student must spend $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of opening a new account to qualify. The anticipated cost of $1,000 for three months of purchases comes to roughly $333.33 per month, making it a very reasonable offer that is easily achievable for students via spending on everyday staples like groceries and dining.

Given that the Unlimited Cash Rewards Card for Students offers one of the highest cash back rates compared to other student cards such as the Chase Freedom® Student credit card* and the (Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is no longer available)  Journey Student Rewards from Capital One , both of which only offer 1 percent cash back on all purchases, it may not seem too difficult to spend $1,000 to earn $200 in online cash rewards. However, students should also consider if they can afford to repay $1,000 in purchases once the introductory APR period has ended.

Rewards rate

The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students allows you to earn streamlined cash back without the headache of tracking spending or enrolling in bonus categories, making it a great introduction to the world of credit card rewards for students.

How you earn

This student version of the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card earns unlimited cash back of 1.5 percent on all eligible purchases just like the non-student version of the card. In comparison with Chase Freedom Student Card, which earns 1 percent cash back on all purchases, this card’s 1.5 percent return rate is excellent for a student credit card.

How to redeem

This card offers several ways to redeem cash rewards. Among them are:

  • Deposit into your eligible Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • Credit into your eligible Merrill® accounts, including 529 accounts
  • Statement credit to your credit card

A minimum of $25 in cash back rewards can be redeemed with the card as statement credits, deposits directly into your eligible Bank of America checking or savings accounts or credit to a Merrill account. The minimum contribution to a Merrill 529 college savings plan is $25 as well, but you can only choose to contribute to a Merrill 529 account if you qualify. You can set up automatic deposits of at least $25 to an eligible Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account, but there is no minimum for one-time redemptions.

The best way to redeem cash rewards is by converting them to statement credits or depositing into a Bank of America checking or savings account, as it can be used to reimburse yourself for everyday expenses, but it would be great if students had a greater range of ways to redeem their rewards. The Discover it® Student Cash Back Card, for example, lets students redeem cash rewards as gift cards, at Amazon.com.

The Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for students doesn’t have the broadest range of redemption options and flexibility, but it offers a number of appealing features for students who are new to credit and wish to build credit and reduce the amount on their monthly statement.

Other cardholder perks

Generally, cash back cards with no annual fees don’t offer a lot of benefits—especially those designed specifically for students. Despite its excellent rewards program, Bank of America’s Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for students boasts a less robust set of benefits than its competitors. There aren’t many extra perks, except for access to Better Money Habits, which offers students credit management tips. Besides the basic benefits like contactless chip technology and account monitoring, there just aren’t any notable benefits that aren’t common with every student credit card.

Better Money Habits

With Better Money Habits from Bank of America, you can access free educational content and tools that deliver financial education in an easy-to-understand manner. It provides information that is tailored to young college-aged adults, such as budgeting, credit building, investing, and other topics—and it connects students with relevant resources, tips and guides that can help them build the knowledge they need to achieve their financial goals.

How much are the rewards worth?

Your earnings for the card’s unlimited base cash back are equal to your cash back percentage for each dollar spent. For every dollar you spend, you will earn 1.5 cents back in cash rewards.

Rates and fees

As with most student cards, the Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students does not charge an annual fee, so earning rewards won’t be affected by an annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3 percent and the intro balance transfer fee is 3 percent of the amount of each transaction (for the first 60 days your account is open; after the intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4 percent), but missed payments or carrying balances will result in having to pay higher fees.

With the card’s 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, you won’t have to worry about interest charges for your first 15 billing cycles, but after that, you’ll face a variable APR of 19.24 percent to 29.24 percent. That could be a bit lower than the average credit card interest rate, making this a relatively low-interest card for students.

How the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Student Card compares to other student credit cards

Image of Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students
Bankrate Score
Rating: 3.4 stars out of 5
3.4
Apply now Lock
on Bank of America's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200
Info

Rewards rate

1.5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Discover it® Student Cash Back
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Cashback Match
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info
Image of Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$50
Info

Rewards rate

1.5% - 10%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info

Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for students vs. Discover it® Student Cash Back Credit Card

The Discover it® Student Cash Back only offers unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases, but you can earn up to 5 percent cash back by enrolling in a rotating categories every quarter (up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1 percent). Furthermore, if you’re a new cardholder, the Discover it® Student Cash Back will automatically match all cash back earned at the end of the first year, which could be more rewarding than Bank of America’s cash rewards bonus welcome bonus.

Despite Discover’s big cash back earning potential, you are limited to $1,500 in spending every quarter for the elevated rewards rate on rotating categories. The Discover it® Student Cash Back could potentially provide you with a higher return on your cash rewards balance if the rotating categories align with your typical daily spending patterns, the card may be worth it.

Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students vs. Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card offers unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on purchases, but unlike the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students, there are no introductory APR offers. However, the Quicksilver Student Card outperforms the Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students in terms of benefits such as extended warranty protection. You can also redeem Quicksilver Student rewards for cash and gift cards, or use points to make purchases on Amazon.com or PayPal Pay, which might be more convenient than Bank of America’s redemption options.

Though the Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Card offers more flexibility in cash rewards redemption and more protection benefits than the Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students, you should be aware that the Quicksilver Student has a slightly higher APR of 19.99 percent to 29.99 percent (variable) (See Rates & Fees). This high-interest rate is higher than Bank of America’s APR, which may be exceedingly risky for students who have not yet completely grasped the ins and outs of credit cards. Whether you’re considering the Capital One Quicksilver Student card or the Unlimited Cash Rewards Card for Students, be sure you completely understand APR and what it implies before applying, as incurring substantial credit card debt as a new cardholder can quickly hinder your score.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Student Credit Card worth it?

The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is an excellent option for students looking for a credit card that makes earning unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases simple to understand and easy to attain. However, there are many other student credit cards that offer 1.5 percent cash back earnings or a 1.5 point reward value per dollar, and the perks of those other cards may be more beneficial to some students depending on their circumstances and buying habits. This card may not yield as much cash back as other premium student cards, but we feel it’s still a great offering for college students and can serve its purpose for credit building.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply. 

*The information about the Chase Freedom® Student credit card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Written by
Re'Dreyona Walker
Associate Editor, Credit Cards

Re’Dreyona Walker is an editor for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, focusing on product guides and reviews. As a personal finance expert, she is dedicated to providing honest product reviews as well as in-depth, comprehensive guides to assist readers in building credit and finding the best credit cards for their needs.

Edited by Senior Editor, Credit Cards
Reviewed by Writer, Credit Cards

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.