Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students review
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Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students Overview
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is ideal for young adults who want to earn rewards on their spending and build credit without an annual fee. Applicants also get the chance to benefit from a 0 percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles (variable APR of 16.24 percent to 26.24 percent thereafter), which can be useful if you need to pay down a large purchase or want to consolidate high-interest credit card debt.
The $200 cash bonus this card offers is easy to earn with just $1,000 in spending within 90 days of account opening, and you’ll even get a free FICO credit score with your monthly credit card statement. When it comes to student credit cards, the value proposition the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students offers is hard to beat.
What are the pros and cons?
- Limited rewards redemption options
- Bonus categories come with a $2,500 cap per quarter
- Light on cardholder benefits
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards Rate: Earn 3 percent back in a category of your choosing among gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement/furnishings, 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1 percent back on other purchases; 2 percent and 3 percent categories are capped on the first $2,500 in combined spending each quarter, after which you’ll earn 1 percent back
- Welcome Offer: $200 cash bonus when you spend $1,000 on your card within 90 days of account opening
- Annual Fee: $0
- Purchase Intro APR: 0 percent for 15 billing cycles
- Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0 percent for 15 billing cycles for balances transferred within 60 days of opening your account
- Regular APR: 16.24% to 26.24% (variable)
Current sign-up bonus
The Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students offers an initial bonus that should be relatively easy for most people to earn. Once you sign up, you’ll earn a cash bonus of $200 when you spend $1,000 on your card within 90 days of account opening. That only works out to around $334 in spending per month during that time, which should be easy to reach if you use your credit card for regular purchases and bills.
Generally speaking, this offer is generous when compared to other student credit cards, many of which don’t offer a sign-up bonus at all.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students offers a tiered earning structure that makes it unique among student credit cards. Best of all, you actually get to pick the category you earn the most in each quarter of the year.
Earning cash back
When you sign up for this card, you’ll earn 3 percent back in a category of your choosing among gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement/furnishings. You’ll also earn 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1 percent back on other purchases.
However, you should note that the 2 percent and 3 percent bonus rewards only apply to the first $2,500 in combined spending each quarter, after which you’ll earn 1 percent back.
Redeeming cash back
As a cash back credit card, the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students comes with a fairly limited selection of redemption options. You can redeem your rewards for cash back in any amount as statement credits made to your credit card account, for a deposit into a Bank of America checking or savings account, or into an eligible account with Merrill, such as a 529 college savings account.
The main benefit you’ll receive with the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students is the ability to earn rewards on your spending. Not only will you earn 1 to 3 percent back on your purchases, but you’ll also be eligible for an initial bonus of $200 when you spend just $1,000 on your card within 90 days of account opening.
How much are points worth?
This card offers cash back as a percentage of your spending in lieu of rewards “points.” For each $100 you spend, you’ll earn $3 in rewards in the 3 percent bonus categories, $2 in rewards in the 2 percent categories and $1 in rewards on all other purchases.
Other benefits you’ll receive with this card include:
Free FICO score report
If you’re trying to build your credit score with a student credit card, you’ll be happy to know this card gives you free FICO score access each month. You can monitor this score over time to see the progress you make as you build a history of responsible credit use.
Zero percent fraud liability
You won’t be liable for any fraudulent purchases charged to your credit card.
Set up alerts that inform you when a purchase is made on your card, payment becomes due or a payment has been made. These alerts can help you stay on top of your spending and upcoming due dates on your credit card.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection.
Rates and fees
The Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students doesn’t charge an annual fee, which makes it similar to other student credit cards. You’ll also avoid interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles, although you’ll pay a variable APR of 16.24 percent to 26.24 percent after that.
If you do decide to transfer a balance, you should know that a 3 percent (minimum $10) balance transfer fee will apply.
How the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students compares to other student credit cards
There are a lot of starter credit cards for students on the market today, and many of them have similar benefits. The following chart shows how this card stacks up to two other top student credit cards in terms of fees and rewards.
As you can see, the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is the only card in our student credit card comparison that offers a real sign-up bonus. The Discover it® Student Cash Back will match all the rewards you earn after the first year, but you have to wait a full 12 months to receive this bonus, and it’s entirely dependent on how much you spend on your card.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students also stands out in terms of its 3 percent and 2 percent back bonus categories, although these categories are capped each quarter (the 3 percent and 2 percent categories share a $2,500 spending limit, then 1 percent back). Note that the Discover it Student Cash Back does offer 5 percent back (activation required) in quarterly rotating bonus categories like dining and Amazon.com (then 1 percent), but this category is also capped at $1,500 in spending each quarter.
Perhaps one of the best student cards to launch in recent years is the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card, which carries the same impressive cash back power as the full-fledged Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. Its unlimited 3 percent cash back on key student categories like dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) for no annual fee certainly make it a top choice. That said, both the Discover it Student Cash Back and Bank of America student cash back cards offer much lower interest rates in case you ever have an emergency expense and need to carry a balance.
Best cards to pair the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students with
Your focus should be to build credit with your student card and upgrading to a full credit card rather than maximizing rewards. However, if you have access to another student card, a flat-rate cash back card would be the perfect partner since it can earn boosted cash back on bonus category transactions beyond your quarterly spending limit and on all other purchases. The new Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card might be the best example since it’s a streamlined, low-fee option that earns unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on almost any major student expense you’ll find.
Bankrate’s Take — Is the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students worth it?
The Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students is definitely worth considering if you’re a student who wants to earn rewards while building your credit score. You’ll get the chance to earn a bonus of $200 within the first 90 days of account opening after you spend $1,000, and you’ll earn a minimum of 1 percent back for each dollar you spend.
This card is somewhat light in terms of the cardholder benefits you’ll receive, but that’s pretty common for credit cards geared to students. At the end of the day, the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students is a solid offering with plenty of perks and rewards for those just getting started on their credit journey. Also, remember that your student credit card is just a starting point. After you have built up your credit score and your credit history, you can take the leap and sign up for one of the top travel and rewards credit cards on the market today.
The information about the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.