Bank of America launches new 1.5 percent cash back card

1
vorDa/E+/Getty Images
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

On July 19, 2021, Bank of America announced the launch of the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card. The new product offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

The announcement is one of the less exciting ones we’ve seen this summer, which has brought countless upgrades and new products to the credit card market.

For instance, American Express has made changes to The Platinum Card® from American Express, one of its most popular products. Wells Fargo has announced plans to reshape its credit card strategy, starting with the launch of the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Credit Card. Citi has launched the innovative Citi Custom Cash℠ Card with a flexible 5 percent category and Chase has announced the new Slate Edge Card designed to encourage credit card debt repayment.

The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card, on the other hand, doesn’t offer anything new. Most major card issuers offer a 1.5 percent flat-rate card – or even up to 2 percent cash back on all purchases.

Still, the new Unlimited Cash Rewards card may be worth looking into for some current Bank of America customers, as they can earn cash back at higher rates with the new card.

What the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards offers

The new Unlimited Cash Rewards is a classic flat-rate cash back card that earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase. There’s no limit to how much cash back cardholders can earn, and it doesn’t expire. The card also doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Cardholders can redeem their cash rewards in several ways, including for statement credits to the card, direct deposits into their Bank of America checking or savings account or for credit to an eligible account with Merrill.

Currently, new applicants who get approved for the card can earn $200 in online cash rewards after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Also, it’s good to know that there are two other versions of this card. The secured and student versions have similar terms and also offer 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases. For this reason, The Bank of America Unlimited Card Rewards Secured Card could be considered one of the best secured credit cards currently available on the market.

Who should apply for the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards?

The new card might not be the best option for those not already banking with Bank of America.

All the cash back cardholders earn stays in the Bank of America ecosystem and can’t be redeemed for anything other than cash, which is rather restrictive.

To compare, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, another 1.5 percent cash back card, allows cardholders to use cash back to pay for Amazon and PayPal purchases or to buy gift cards. Further, with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, cardholders can deposit their cash back into most U.S. checking and savings accounts—not only Chase—or even use it to pay for travel.

The 1.5 percent cash back rate is also not the highest for a flat-rate cash back card anymore. The new Wells Fargo Active Cash, for instance, earns 2 percent back on all purchases. The redemption options are somewhat better too, including gift cards, purchases and travel through the Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards program.

That said, the new product could be of interest to some existing Bank of America customers, namely Preferred Rewards members who can earn 25 percent to 75 percent more cash back on every purchase. This translates to up to 2.62 percent cash back on every purchase with the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card. This rate is higher than any other flat-rate cash back card can offer. Here’s the full breakdown and eligibility requirements:

Preferred Rewards tier Minimum balance requirement (across Bank of America and/or Merrill accounts) Total cash back rate (with the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card)
Gold $20,000-$49,999 1.87%
Platinum $50,000-$99,999 2.25%
Platinum Honors $100,000+ 2.62%

As you can see, it requires quite a bit of capital to qualify for the highest cash back rate in the Preferred Rewards program. But, for cardholders who do, the 2.62 percent flat rate on all purchases is unbeatable.

The bottom line

The new Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards can be a good choice for loyal Bank of America customers, especially those who are Preferred Rewards members and can get a higher cash back rate than the regular 1.5 percent.

Other potential cardmembers, however, may find the new product uninspiring. Many flat-rate cash back cards offer a better deal—from better redemption options to better value overall.

Written by
Aja McClanahan
Personal Finance Writer
Aja McClanahan is an author, blogger and speaker on personal finance and entrepreneurship. Aja is the author of "How a Mother Should Talk About Money with Her Daughter."
Edited by
Senior Editor, Credit Card Product News