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- Both the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offer excellent rewards-earning opportunities for everyday purchases.
- These are tiered cash back rewards cards, so you need to keep up with different categories as well as spending caps to max out your rewards.
- Only the Blue Cash Preferred card charges an annual fee (after the first year), but you can likely offset it and more with earned rewards.
The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express are designed to help you earn rewards on everyday expenses. Both cards allow you to earn cash back for purchases made at grocery stores, gas stations and more, but the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards comes with more flexibility, while the Amex Blue Cash Preferred comes with exceptional rewards rates on select category purchases.
|Cards||Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card||Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express|
|Welcome bonus||$200 online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening||$250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months of account opening|
|Intro APR||0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers (18.24% to 28.24% variable APR thereafter); balance transfers must be made within the first 60 days and a 3% balance transfer fee applies||0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (19.24% to 29.99% variable APR thereafter); balance transfer must be requested within 60 days of account opening and a 3% balance transfer fee applies (min. $5)|
|Annual fee||$0||$95 ($0 intro annual fee for the first year)|
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards vs. Amex Blue Cash Preferred highlights
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards and Amex Blue Cash Preferred offer competitive rewards tailored to different spending categories, though both could fit well into the average American household. Here’s how the two cards compare in different categories.
Welcome bonus winner: Amex Blue Cash Preferred
With the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card, you can earn $200 in online cash rewards after you spend $1,000 during the first 90 days of account opening. With Amex Blue Cash Preferred, you can earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first six months.
We almost called this category a tie. Amex Blue Cash Preferred obviously offers a higher cash back bonus opportunity, but the qualifying spend is substantially higher than that required by the Customized Cash card. That said, you do get six months to meet that higher spend, which pushed Blue Cash Preferred into the winner’s circle.
Rewards rate winner: Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards
When it comes to rewards, the better choice for you will depend on your spending habits and how strategic you are with when and where you use your card. That’s because these cards both offer tiered cash back rewards opportunities with some spending caps, so you need to keep a close eye on your spending to ensure you max out your rewards.
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards offers a flexible 3 percent cash back on a spending category of your choice and 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on up to $2,500 in combined 3 and 2 percent category purchases each quarter, then 1 percent), but the Amex Blue Cash Preferred’s lack of a spending cap in most categories (besides the U.S. supermarket category) takes the cake and makes it our winner in this category.
As a reminder, Blue Cash Preferred offers 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent back), 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3 percent cash back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.
While the Blue Cash Preferred’s 6 percent cash back rate at U.S. supermarkets is three times the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card’s 2 percent cash back rate on groceries and wholesale clubs, you’ll have to consider whether your primary food shopping locations qualify. If Amex covers your local supermarket, the 6 percent cash back will add up — especially for large families.
One thing to keep in mind is that Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients earn 25 to 75 percent more on each purchase depending on their membership tier. Membership tiers in the Preferred Rewards program are based on your combined average three-month balance across qualifying Bank of America and Merrill investing accounts. At the lowest tier, you would earn 3.75 percent cash back on your choice category purchases, and at the highest tier, you would earn 5.25 percent back on those purchases.
Annual fee winner: Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards
The previous categories leave room for individual preference and spending habits, but the annual fee winner is clear-cut. The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card does not charge an annual fee, while the Amex Blue Cash Preferred charges $95 per year ($0 intro annual fee for the first year).
Foreign transaction fee winner: Amex Blue Cash Preferred
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred charges a 2.7 percent fee on foreign transactions, whereas the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee.
Neither is your best choice for traveling abroad or making online purchases in foreign currency. Instead, globetrotters should reach for a card with no foreign transaction fees.
Intro APR winner: Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card is the clear winner when it comes to 0 percent intro APR offers. This card offers a 0 percent intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers (18.24 percent to 28.24 percent variable APR thereafter). Note that balance transfers must be made within the first 60 days and a 3 percent balance transfer fee applies.
In comparison, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers a 0 percent intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (19.24 percent to 29.99 percent variable APR thereafter).
Which card earns the most?
How much you’ll earn depends on your spending habits and ability to max out each card’s yearly or quarterly spending caps. Let’s take a look at a spending example.
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards vs. Amex Blue Cash Preferred spending example
During your first year with the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards, say you spend $10,000, maxing out the $2,500 spending cap each quarter with spending only in your 3 percent category:
- $10,000 in the 3 percent category per year ($2,500 per quarter), earning you $300 in cash back
- $4,000 in other purchases, earning 1 percent per year ($1,000 per quarter), earning you $40 in cash back
That’s a total of $340 in cash back rewards for the year.
We’ll use the same $10,000 in annual spending for the Amex Blue Cash Preferred:
- $6,000 at U.S. supermarkets per year, earning you $360 in cash back
- $600 on eligible streaming services per year ($50 per month), earning you $36 in cash back
- $1,200 at U.S. gas stations per year, earning you $36 in cash back
- $2,200 on non-category purchases per year ($183 per month), earning you $22 in cash back
That’s a total of $454 in cash back earnings for the first year, and you won’t need to subtract an annual fee since there’s a $0 intro annual fee for the first year. For the second year, you’ll net $359 in rewards on this same spending after you subtract the $95 annual fee.
Why should you get the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards?
In addition to no annual fee and intro APR offers, it’s worth noting that Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards allows you to swap your preferred spending category once a month based on your spending patterns. Let’s say one month you plan to make more online purchases than usual, and another month you plan a vacation and have higher travel expenses. With the Customized Cash Rewards card, you’ll be able to choose accordingly to optimize your rewards. If you’re looking for a flexible rewards credit card, this card could definitely be worth it, but it will take some planning to maximize the offerings.
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card offers benefits like access to BankAmeriDeals and Museums on Us, along with Visa Signature perks (see your benefits guide for details). And if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you could earn 25 percent to 75 percent more rewards in each category, depending on your membership tier.
Rewards earned with this card can be redeemed for statement credits, direct deposits to an eligible Bank of America account or credits to an eligible Merrill account.
Recommended credit score
Why should you get the Amex Blue Cash Preferred?
If your spending habits align with Amex Blue Cash Preferred, and if you’re able to spend enough each year to recoup the cost of the annual fee (after the first year), this card could certainly be worth it for you.
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card benefits include return protection, purchase protection, extended warranty protection and car rental loss and damage coverage.
It’s worth noting that return protection is a rarer benefit these days. With this benefit, if you cannot return an item to a merchant within 90 days of purchase, Blue Cash Preferred may offer you a refund of the full purchase price, excluding shipping and handling. Return protection covers up to $300 per item and a maximum of $1,000 each calendar year.
Cash back rewards are earned in the form of reward dollars, which can be redeemed for statement credits.
Recommended credit score
To qualify for the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card, it’s recommended that you have a credit score in the good to excellent range.
The bottom line
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card may be worth it if you value the flexibility to choose which categories you earn rewards in, or if you are a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member. On the other hand, if you spend a significant amount on groceries and gas and don’t mind paying an annual fee (after the first year), Amex Blue Cash Preferred may be a better choice.
The information about the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards was updated on Sept. 22, 2023.