Comparing a card that offers rewards to a card that doesn’t might feel like apples-to-oranges. But both the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card and BankAmericard® credit card primarily serve the same type of consumers — those who are looking to consolidate high-interest credit card debt via a balance transfer or finance an upcoming purchase without paying interest.
That said, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards does offer a welcome bonus and 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, which can make it a more attractive option than the BankAmericard, which doesn’t offer a welcome bonus or ongoing rewards. However, both cards have their pros and cons, so let’s dig into the details.
|Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards||BankAmericard|
|Welcome bonus||$200 online bonus cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days||None|
|Rewards rate||1.5% cash back on all purchases||None|
|Regular APR||16.24% to 26.24% variable||14.24% to 24.24% variable|
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards vs. BankAmericard highlights
Welcome bonus winner: Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card offers a $200 welcome bonus, with a required spending total of $1,000 within the first 90 days. This easily makes the Unlimited Cash Rewards card the winner, seeing as the BankAmericard doesn’t offer a welcome bonus.
Rewards rate winner: Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards offers an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases. This category has a clear winner, too, since the BankAmericard doesn’t have a rewards program.
0% intro APR winner: BankAmericard
For both balance transfers and purchases, the BankAmericard offers a lengthier 0 percent introductory APR for the first 21 billing cycles (variable APR of 14.24 percent to 24.24 percent thereafter), whereas the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards offers a 0 percent intro APR for 18 billing cycles (variable APR of 16.24 percent to 26.24 percent thereafter). Additionally, both cards impose a 3 percent balance transfer fee (minimum $10), and you must complete the transfer within the first 60 days.
Regular APR winner: BankAmericard
Both cards offer lower-than-average variable interest rates, but BankAmericard’s variable APR is better at 14.24 percent to 24.24 percent variable, versus the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards’ 16.24 percent to 26.24 percent variable. Note that your actual APR is based on your creditworthiness.
Annual fee winner: Tie
Neither card charges an annual fee, so they tie in this category.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie
Both the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card and BankAmericard carry a 3 percent foreign transaction fee, so they also tie in this category.
Which card earns more?
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards allows you to earn a flat 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, whereas the BankAmericard doesn’t offer a rewards program. So, if you spend about $1,000 per month ($12,000 per year) with the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards, you’ll earn $15 per month ($180 per year) in rewards. If you spend the same amount per month with the BankAmericard, you won’t earn any rewards on that same spending.
Which card is better for balance transfers?
The BankAmericard offers a 0 percent intro APR for three months longer than what the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards provides. But are these three extra months really critical to your balance transfer strategy? If not, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards will be more valuable to you in the long run, since it offers ongoing rewards. Thus, despite the longer intro APR period with the BankAmericard, you may ultimately be better off with the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards.
However, if paying a smaller amount each month over a longer period of time would be more helpful for you, the BankAmericard would be the better option.
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards vs. BankAmericard balance transfer example
Let’s say you want to pay off $5,000 in credit card debt. With the BankAmericard, you’d pay a balance transfer fee of 3 percent, making your starting balance $5,150. To pay off that debt before the 0 percent intro period ends, you’d need to pay just over $245 per month for 21 months.
Now let’s say you want to pay off $5,000 in debt with the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards instead. You’d pay the same balance transfer fee of 3 percent, which starts you off with the same $5,150. However, with this card, you’ll only have 18 billing cycles to pay off that debt. So, you’d need to pay just over $286 per month to be debt-free by the time the intro period ends.
Why should you get the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards?
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards may be a great fit if you’re interested in a 0 percent introductory APR for balance transfers or purchases (or both) while also looking to earn rewards on your purchases in the long run. Plus, the cash back you can earn is unlimited.
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards benefits include FICO credit score access, $0 fraud liability and account alerts. You’ll also receive access to Bank of America’s Museums on Us — which allows you to get free access to select museums during the first weekend of every month — and BankAmeriDeals, which lets you earn cash back on activated, limited-time offers with participating merchants.
Otherwise, if you’re eligible to become a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, the advantage of the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards over the BankAmericard is even more pronounced. Depending on the tier you qualify for, being a Preferred Rewards member will boost your card’s 1.5 percent cash back rate to 1.87 percent, 2.25 percent or 2.62 percent cash back.
To qualify for Preferred Rewards, customers must have an eligible Bank of America checking account and a three-month average daily balance of $20,000 or more in eligible Bank of America or Merrill accounts.
You can easily redeem rewards for a statement credit to reduce your card balance. You can also redeem cash back as a direct deposit to a Bank of America checking or savings account or a credit to an eligible Merrill account.
Recommended credit score
The minimum recommended FICO score to qualify for the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards is 670.
Why should you get the BankAmericard?
There aren’t many compelling reasons to choose the BankAmericard over the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards. Still, if you really need a longer 0 percent introductory APR period and don’t care about rewards or welcome bonuses, the BankAmericard may be worth it for you. Plus, since the BankAmericard has a lower regular variable APR of 14.24 percent to 24.24 percent, you might want that safety net in case you can’t pay off your balance completely during the introductory period.
Like the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards, BankAmericard benefits are basic and include account alerts, $0 fraud liability and FICO credit score access. You’ll also have access to the BankAmeriDeals program and Museums on Us.
Since there’s no rewards program for this card, there are no redemption options available.
Recommended credit score
The minimum recommended FICO score for the BankAmericard is 670.
The bottom line
Ultimately, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards offers better long-term value, while still providing a pretty long zero-interest offer.
However, the best way to enjoy cash back or other rewards is to avoid credit card debt entirely. Consumers who aren’t able to pay off their balance every month would be better off with the BankAmericard due to its lengthier 0 percent introductory APR and lower variable APR.
Information about the Bank of America credit cards was last updated on Sept. 20, 2022.