Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card review
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Overview
The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card is one of the few cash back cards on the market that allows you to not only pick one of six 3 percent cash back bonus categories, but also swap out your choice once per month. This can be incredibly helpful for both big purchases on the horizon and a range of everyday expenses—especially once you consider the card’s ongoing 2 percent cash back rate at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
However, there’s a catch that could be a deal-breaker for big spenders. Your 3 percent and 2 percent categories share a $2,500 spending limit on combined purchases per quarter before dropping to 1 percent cash back. Read on to see if the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card’s benefits outweigh this drawback.
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What are the advantages and disadvantages?
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 3 percent cash back on category purchases of choice, including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstore or home improvement; 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 of combined 3 and 2 percent category purchases each quarter, then 1 percent), plus 1 percent on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: $200 online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 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 any balance transfers (if made within the first 60 days, a 3 percent fee [minimum $10] applies)
- Regular APR: 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent (variable)
Current welcome offer
You can earn $200 online bonus cash back by spending at least $1,000 in combined purchases during your first 90 days.
That’s a solid payday and the spending requirement should be easy to meet for most cardholders. That said, several other competing cards award the same $200 sign-up bonus in the same timeframe for half the spending requirement—such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited® ($200 cash bonus when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening).
But if you’re looking to transfer your balance to a new card, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards takes a huge lead thanks to its 15-billing cycle 0 percent intro APR on any balance transfers made within the first 60 days and on purchases (13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR after the introductory period ends).
Cash rewards rate
Although bonus category cash back cards are a dime a dozen, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card has the distinct advantage of allowing you to change your 3 percent category each month. That makes it more flexible than rewards cards with quarterly rotating categories that you must activate every three months. If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25 percent to 75 percent more cash back on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 5.25 percent cash back on purchases in your choice category.
Earning cash back
You can choose to earn 3 percent cash back on gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstore or home improvement/furnishing purchases. You’ll also earn 2 percent back at eligible grocery stores and at wholesale clubs—which can be a hard-to-come-by category for ongoing rewards (up to $2,500 in combined choice category, grocery store and wholesale club quarterly purchases). Naturally, you’ll net 1 percent cash back on all other purchases, too.
Bank of America also defines its bonus categories much more broadly than many other issuers. The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards has established itself as one of the best cards for online shopping because its bonus category encompasses a variety of retailers in addition to staples like Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com, including specialty merchants like Etsy and Ticketmaster.com.
If you want to make the most of your Customized Cash Rewards card and you have an eligible Bank of America, Merrill or Merrill Edge account, aim for a Bank of America Preferred Rewards membership. On top of a pile of other benefits, you can earn up to 25 percent to 75 percent more cash back on all purchases depending on your membership tier.
Redeeming cash back
True to its name, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card only allows you to redeem for cash rewards. You can redeem your rewards at any time or amount for statement credits, direct deposits to a Bank of America checking or savings account or for credit to an eligible Merrill account.
How much are the rewards worth?
Like other cash back programs, your Bank of America cash back rewards are worth 1 cent per 1 percent earned. For example, your 3 percent category purchases will earn 3 cents per dollar.
You’ll need a minimum of $25 to redeem for automatic Bank of America account direct deposits or a qualifying Merrill 529 account, however.
Other cardholder perks
BankAmeriDeals is Bank of America’s version of a card-linked limited-time offer program like Amex Offers or Chase Offers. By logging into your account and activating certain promotional offers, you can typically earn 5 to 15 percent extra cash back at select restaurants and other participating merchants. BankAmeriDeals also grants you “coins” for using the program, which allow you to access even better deals.
Although you won’t make stacks of cash back with BankAmeriDeals, it can provide an extra sprinkle of rewards.
Visa Signature Benefits
Since the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards is a Visa Signature credit card, you have access to a roster of Visa perks based on your credit limit, annual fee and other factors. Contact your issuer to be certain of which features your card carries.
Stepping up to the Visa Signature level grants you purchase protections like extended warranty coverage, purchase security, concierge, roadside dispatch, lost luggage reimbursement and travel and emergency assistance.
Museums On Us
This benefit is a bit on the obscure side, but frequent museum visitors will be sure to love it. For over 20 years, all Bank of America credit cards and debit cards have provided free general admission to 225-plus “cultural institutions” during the first weekend of every month. All you have to do is present your Bank of America card and a valid photo ID.
Rates and Fees
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card is a relatively low-cost card—there is no annual fee, a 15-billing-cycles 0 percent intro APR on purchases and any balance transfers (made within the first 60 days) and a reasonable 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable ongoing APR.
Its intro APR periods provide enough wiggle room to make the Customized Cash Rewards card a viable balance transfer card, and the regular low interest rate that follows is below the current average credit card interest rate. There’s a standard 3 percent ($10 minimum, whichever is greater) balance transfer fee to watch out for, as well as a 3 percent foreign transaction fee.
How this card compares to other cash back cards
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card stands out among no annual fee credit cards for its versatile rewards program, but the card’s $2,500 quarterly spending cap in 2 and 3 percent rewards categories and sparse benefits may hinder your reward goals.
Perhaps the closest in cash back structure is the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card* with its 5 percent back on two choice categories (up to $2,000 in purchases per quarter) and 2 percent on either gas station, grocery store or restaurant purchases. However, the U.S. Bank card can only swap categories once per quarter and you only get one 2 percent category.
If you don’t mind paying a $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for one year), the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of the best options for cash back on everyday expenses. But if you’d like to avoid an annual fee, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a prime choice for its unlimited cash back in several categories on top of its 1.5 percent base cash back rate for all purchases and platter of valuable perks. For starters, you’ll rake in an extra 5 percent cash back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel and Lyft rides (Lyft offer through March 2022) and 3 percent on dining and drug store purchases. These rewards can then be redeemed for up to 50 percent more value toward travel when paired with an eligible Ultimate Rewards credit card.
If you’re a big spender, however, many bonus category cards like Bank of America Customized Cash pose quarterly or yearly spending caps that can curtail your potential rewards. Luckily, Bank of America’s newly launched flat-rate cash back card, the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card, is a worthy option to consider if you’re a Preferred Rewards member. Achieving the top-tier Platinum Honors status catapults the Unlimited Cash card’s 1.5 percent rate to a chart-topping 2.62 percent unlimited cash back on all purchases. However, Preferred Rewards status may be hard to secure, so the Freedom Unlimited card may still be the better choice otherwise.
|Card||Annual fee||Rewards||Welcome offers|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||$0||
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||$95 ($0 intro annual fee for the first year)||
|U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card||$0||
Best cards to pair the Customized Cash card with
A one-size-fits-all card like the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is great for picking up purchases that aren’t covered by the Customized Cash Rewards card’s categories or when its categories are maxed out. Plus, the Premium Rewards card’s reward rates can also be boosted if you’re a Preferred Rewards member. Similarly, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash is an excellent choice for raking in boosted rewards beyond the Customized Cash card’s spending limits and any retailers that aren’t covered by typical bonus categories—like Walmart, Target and other grocery-carrying superstores, for example.
Otherwise, a flat-rate cash back card or a rewards card from another issuer that covers any of your major spending categories that the Customized Cash Rewards card misses could be a solid play.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards worth it?
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card is an excellent no-annual-fee card if you wouldn’t spend enough with a 1.5 percent flat-rate cash back card to outpace the total rewards you’d earn by maximizing this card’s higher bonus categories.
If you’re not concerned about the quarterly spending limit, the Customized Cash Rewards card should be a winning choice thanks to its intro APR offers, broadly defined bonus categories, Bank of America Preferred Rewards member bonus cash back and ability to swap bonus categories each month.
*The information about the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.