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Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards vs. Amex Blue Cash Preferred

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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, with added flexibility from the Customized Cash Rewards card and an exceptional rewards rate for purchases at U.S. supermarkets from the Blue Cash Preferred.

Main details

Cards Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Annual fee $0 $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95
Welcome bonus $200 online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months
Rewards
  • 3% cash back on category purchases of choice, including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstore or home improvement
  • 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 of combined 3 and 2 percent category purchases each quarter, then 1 percent)
  • 1% back on all other purchases
  • 6% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%)
  • 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% back on transit
  • 3% back on U.S. gas station purchases
  • 1% back on all other purchases
APR offer
  • 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days
  • Note, a 3% balance transfer fee applies (minimum $10)
  • (14.24% to 24.24% variable APR thereafter)
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months
  • (14.74% to 24.27% variable APR thereafter)

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards vs. Amex Blue Cash Preferred highlights

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card and Amex Blue Cash Preferred offer competitive rewards tailored to different spending categories. The following benefits comparison can help you choose the better fit between them.

Welcome bonus winner: Amex Blue Cash Preferred

With the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card, you’ll get $200 in online cash rewards after you spend $1,000 during the first 90 days of account opening. On the other hand, with the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, you can earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first six months.

Rewards rate winner: Amex Blue Cash Preferred

When it comes to rewards, the best choice will depend on your spending patterns. While the Bank of America card offers a flexible 3 percent cash back on a spending category of your choice plus 2 percent on grocery stores and wholesale clubs, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred’s lack of a spending cap on most categories (besides the U.S. supermarket category) takes the cake.

Note that while the Blue Cash Preferred’s 6 percent cash back rate on U.S. supermarkets is double the Customized Cash Rewards card’s 3 percent cash back rate, you’ll have to consider whether your primary food shopping locations qualify.

An incomplete list of qualifying U.S. supermarkets for the Blue Cash Preferred includes: Aldi, A&P, Amazon Fresh, FreshDirect, Gristedes, ShopRight, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Stop & Shop and Wegmans. Superstores such as Walmart and Costco do not qualify. If Amex covers your local supermarket, the 6 percent cashback may add up—especially for large families. Amex also offers 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (such as rideshares and trains).

Annual Fee winner: Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards

While the previous categories leave room for individual preference, the annual fee winner is clear-cut. The Customized Cash Rewards card does not charge an annual fee, while the Blue Cash Preferred charges $95 per year after the introductory year.

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 an introductory APR. This card offers a 0 percent introductory APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers (14.24 percent to 24.24 percent variable APR thereafter). Note that balance transfers must be made within the first 60 days, and a 3 percent fee (minimum $10) applies.

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers an introductory 0 percent APR on purchases for 12 months (14.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR thereafter).

Which card earns the most?

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:

  • $6,000 in the 3 percent category (while staying within the spending cap each quarter), earning you $180 in cash back rewards
  • $4,000 in the 2 percent category, earning you $80 in cash back rewards

That’s a total of $260 in cash back rewards for the year.

We’ll use similar dollar amounts to compare these numbers with the Amex Blue Cash Preferred. Let’s say you spend:

  • $6,000 at U.S. supermarkets throughout the year, earning you $360 in cash back
  • $50 a month on streaming service subscriptions ($600 per year), earning you an additional $36 in cash back
  • $1,000 on gas throughout the year, earning you $30 in cash back
  • $200 a month on non-category purchases, earning you $24 in cash back

That’s a total of $450 in cash back earnings for the year, or $355 if you subtract the $95 annual fee.

Of course, how much you earn depends on your spending habits and ability to max out each card’s yearly or quarterly spending caps.

Why should you get the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards?

Additional benefits

This Bank of America credit card allows you to swap your preferred spending category once per 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.

There are also balance transfer benefits to consider with this card. Balance transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening receive an introductory 0 percent APR for 15 billing cycles (14.24 percent to 24.24 percent variable APR thereafter). Note, balance transfers are subject to a 3 percent fee or a minimum of $10 per transfer, whichever is greater.

If you plan on making a large purchase with the card, the 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles is also worth mentioning. (Note, the same 14.24 percent to 24.24 percent variable APR applies after the introductory period ends.)

Lastly, the Customized Cash Rewards card also grants you free general admission to hundreds of museums and cultural institutions during the first full weekend of every month.

Redemption options

Rewards earned with this card can be redeemed for statement credits, direct deposits to a Bank of America checking or savings account, or credit to an eligible Merrill account (with a $25 minimum per request).

Recommended credit score

Applicants with a credit score of at least 670 may qualify for this card.

Why should you get the Amex Blue Cash Preferred?

Additional benefits

If you cannot return an item to a merchant within 90 days of purchasing it, the 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 per calendar year.

This card also offers purchase protection for up to 90 days after the purchase is made and up to $1,000 per occurrence (with a $50,000 maximum pay out per year).

You also get a free ShopRunner membership (a $79 annual membership), giving you free two-day shipping and returns from over 100 retailers.

Redemption options

Cash back rewards earned with Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as statement credit.

Recommended credit score

To qualify for the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card, you need a FICO Score of 670 to 850 or a VantageScore of 661 to 850.

The bottom line

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card is worth it if you value the flexibility to choose what you earn rewards on, or if you already bank and/or invest with Bank of America or Merrill Edge. On the other hand, if you spend a significant amount on groceries and gas and don’t mind paying an annual fee, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card may be a better choice.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card information was last updated on April 1st, 2022

Written by
Leeron Hoory
Leeron is a New York-based journalist and writer with experience covering finance, fintech and real estate. She has also reported on topics ranging from daily news, arts and culture and politics. 
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