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Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards vs. BankAmericard

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Comparing a card that offers rewards to a card that doesn’t offer rewards might feel like comparing apples and oranges. But both the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card and the 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 (or purchases) without paying interest.

That said, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards does offer a better welcome bonus and 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, which can make it a more attractive option than the BankAmericard, which offers a lower welcome bonus and no rewards program. However, both cards have their pros and cons, so let’s dig into the details.

Main details

Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards BankAmericard
Welcome bonus $200 bonus after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days $100 bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days
Rewards rate 1.5% cash back on all purchases None
Intro APR
  • 0% intro APR for purchases for 15 billing cycles
  • 0% intro APR for balance transfers for 15 billing cycles for transfers made in the first 60 days (a 3% balance transfer fee (min. $10) applies)
  • 0% intro APR for purchases for 18 billing cycles
  • 0% intro APR for balance transfers for 18 billing cycles for transfers made in the first 60 days (a 3% balance transfer fee (min. $10) applies)
Regular APR 14.74% to 24.74% (variable) 13.74% to 23.74% (variable)
Annual fee $0 $0

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, while the BankAmericard credit card offers a $100 welcome bonus. Both cards require spending $1,000 within the first 90 days to earn the 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 18 billing cycles (variable APR of 13.74 percent to 23.74 percent thereafter), whereas the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards offers a 0 percent intro APR for 15 billing cycles (variable APR of 14.74 percent to 24.74 percent thereafter). Additionally, both cards impose a 3 percent balance transfer fee (min. $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 13.74 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR versus the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards’ 14.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR. 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 the most?

The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards allows you to earn a flat 1.5 percent 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 18 billing cycles, which is three months longer than the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards provides. Are these three extra months really critical to your balance transfer strategy? If not, then the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards will be more valuable to you since its welcome bonus is $100 more and you’ll be earning decent rewards after your balance is paid off. 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, then 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 $286.11 per month for 18 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 15 billing cycles to pay off that debt. So, you’d need to pay $343.33 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.

Additional benefits

This card includes basic benefits like 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 and/or Merrill accounts.

Redemption options

Rewards can easily be redeemed 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 as to why you might want 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 higher welcome bonuses, then the BankAmericard may be worth it for you. Plus, since the BankAmericard has a lower regular variable APR of 13.74 percent to 23.74 percent, you might want that safety net in case you can’t pay off your balance completely during the 0 percent introductory APR period.

Additional benefits

Like the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards, the BankAmericard includes basic card benefits like account alerts, $0 fraud liability and FICO credit score access. You’ll also have access to the BankAmeriDeals program and Museums on Us.

Redemption options

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 has a better welcome bonus and a solid rewards program. This card’s rewards program is a major benefit that makes it a better long-term card, even after the cardholder is done paying off their balance.

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 regular variable APR

Written by
Andy Shuman
Contributor
Andy Shuman is a contributing writer to Bankrate. He is a New York-based freelance writer with strong expertise in consumer credit and travel loyalty programs.
Edited by
Associate Editor