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In 2021, Bank of America unveiled a new flat-rate cash back card: The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card, which offers an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases. But how does this card compare to the bank’s other cash back card, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card?
The better card for you all depends on your spending habits and how involved you want to be when it comes to earning rewards. Keep reading to find out how the Unlimited Cash compares to the Customized Cash in terms of rewards, bonuses, perks and more.
|Cards||Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card||Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card|
|Welcome bonus||$200 online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening||$200 online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening|
Bank of America Unlimited Cash vs. Bank of America Customized Cash highlights
Both the Bank of America Unlimited Cash and the Bank of America Customized Cash offer identical welcome bonuses, intro APR offers and no annual fee. Despite so many similarities, it’s mainly their rewards rates that set them apart from one another. Let’s take a closer look at how these two cash back cards stack up.
Welcome bonus winner: Tie
Both cards offer the same $200 welcome bonus after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days after account opening. This spending requirement translates to approximately $333 in monthly spending for the first three months to earn the bonus. This $200 bonus is on par with other cash back cards’ welcome offers. However, Bank of America’s spending threshold for earning the welcome bonus is higher than what some other card issuers require.
For example, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card only requires you to spend $500 in the first three months to earn a $200 bonus. With the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, you can earn 20,000 ThankYou points — worth $200 in cash back — after spending $1,500 in the first six months. So, while Bank of America’s Unlimited Cash and Customized Cash cards have the same welcome offer, it’s slightly more difficult to attain than offers from competing cash back cards.
Rewards rate winner: Bank of America Customized Cash
The Customized Cash provides 3 percent cash back on purchases in a category of your choice. Eligible categories include gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement. You’ll also get 2 percent back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases, along with 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. However, the 2 percent and 3 percent categories are limited to $2,500 in combined quarterly spending. After that limit is met, those categories will earn 1 percent back.
As a Customized Cash cardholder, you can change your rewards category once per month. For example, you might have your 3 percent cash back category set to home improvement while you’re working on a renovation project, and then you might switch to travel before booking a big vacation.
While the Unlimited Cash card offers a no-fuss, flat cash back rate of 1.5 percent, the Customized Cash offers more rewarding cash back rates than the Unlimited Cash. That means you’ll likely earn more with the Customized Cash.
Bank of America Preferred Rewards
Bank of America provides Preferred Rewards members with a sweet deal that can make both cards more rewarding. Depending on your membership tier, you can earn a 25 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent cash back boost.
For the Unlimited Cash card, this means your 1.5 percent cash back rate could be boosted to 1.87 percent, 2.25 percent or 2.62 percent. With the Customized Cash card, your 3 percent category could earn 3.75 percent, 4.5 percent or 5.25 percent depending on your tier. The 2 percent category could earn 2.5 percent, 3 percent or 3.5 percent, and the 1 percent category could earn 1.25 percent, 1.5 percent or 1.75 percent.
However, while these cash back rates are phenomenal, the boosted rewards rates may be out of reach for most spenders. For example, to unlock the 75 percent cash back boost, you need to reach the Platinum Honors tier of membership, which requires maintaining a cash balance of at least $100,000 in eligible Bank of America accounts.
Intro APR winner: Tie
Both cards offer the same 0 percent introductory APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers. After this introductory period ends, a variable APR of 16.99 percent to 26.99 percent kicks in. Note that balance transfers must be made within the first 60 days to qualify for this intro offer and that a 3 percent (min. $10) balance transfer fee applies.
Annual fee winner: Tie
Both the Customized Cash and Unlimited Cash offer the same attractive $0 annual fee. If you’re a rewards maximizer, you won’t have to worry about making up for the annual fee in rewards earnings.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie
Both cards charge a 3 percent foreign transaction fee, so they tie in this category.
Which card earns the most?
In the following example, you could earn more cash back with the Customized Cash Rewards card than with the Unlimited Cash card.
Bank of America Unlimited Cash vs. Bank of America Customized Cash spending example
Let’s say you eat out frequently, so you select dining as your 3 percent rewards category on your Customized Cash card. During one quarter, you spend $1,500 at restaurants and $1,000 at grocery stores, maxing out your 3 percent and 2 percent rewards categories. You’ll earn $45 in cash back for your restaurant spending and $20 back for your grocery store spending, for a total of $65 in cash back.
With the Customized Cash, say you also spend $1,500 during that quarter on miscellaneous purchases. This will earn you 1 percent cash back, or $15 in rewards. That brings your total cash back to $80 for $4,000 in spending.
In comparison, you’d earn $60 back after spending $4,000 with the Unlimited Cash since it earns a flat rate of 1.5 percent.
Why should you get the Bank of America Unlimited Cash?
Unlike the Customized Cash card, the Unlimited Cash card doesn’t restrict how much cash back you can earn, so you don’t have to worry about switching to a more rewarding card after hitting a certain spending threshold.
The Unlimited Cash is eligible for the Museums on Us program, which gives you free access once a month to more than 225 museums and cultural institutions across the country. It also offers access to BankAmeriDeals, which features promotional cash back offers from rotating merchants.
Bank of America provides several ways to redeem cash rewards, including a direct deposit to your Bank of America checking or savings account, credit to an eligible Merrill account or a statement credit to your card.
Recommended credit score
Applicants with credit scores of at least 670 may qualify for this card.
Why should you get the Bank of America Customized Cash?
The flexibility of this card’s cash back program is difficult to beat. Many competitors’ cards offer high cash back rates for one or two preselected bonus categories, which can be useless if you don’t typically make those types of purchases. The Customized Cash Rewards card lets you not only choose your 3 percent category, but also lets you change it once per month.
The Customized Cash comes with the same card benefits as the Unlimited Cash. These benefits include Visa Signature perks and access to Museums on Us and BankAmeriDeals.
Like the Unlimited Cash, you can redeem cash back for a statement credit, a direct deposit to a Bank of America account or a credit to an eligible Merrill account.
Recommended credit score
Applicants who are considering the Customized Cash should have a credit score of at least 670.
The bottom line
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash is as simple as it gets for a rewards card, but it has a lower rewards rate. The Bank of America Customized Cash is more rewarding, but it has its limits. The better option for you depends on your spending habits and needs. You may even want to use these cards together, especially since they don’t impose an annual fee.
In that case, use the Customized Cash for the 3 percent category that you spend the most in, and be sure to use the card at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Then, use the Unlimited Cash for all other types of purchases and for category purchases after you reach the $2,500 quarterly limit.
The Bank of America content in this post was last updated on Oct. 28, 2022.