The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card is a strong choice among flat-rate cash back card with no annual fee, especially due to its potential for boosted rewards through the Preferred Rewards program. However, individuals that are loyal to another bank or do not qualify for the higher tiers of this program may find more value from other cards in this category.
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards vs. Capital One Quicksilver
The Capital One Quicksilver comes as close to a “standard” flat-rate cash back card as you could expect, offering unlimited 1.5 percent cash back, a solid $200 sign-up bonus (after spending $500 within the first three months) and a still-decent 15-month 0 percent intro purchase and balance transfer APR (then 19.99 percent to 29.99 percent variable APR; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months or at a promotional APR that Capital One may offer you at any other time. No fee for amounts transferred at the Transfer APR). (See Capital One Quicksilver's Rates and Fees). Comparatively, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash is a stronger card thanks to its lower ongoing APR, decent benefits and potentially higher cash back potential with the Preferred Rewards program. The Quicksilver has a slight advantage in specific use cases, such as abroad and online, since it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and offers virtual credit card numbers. (See Capital One Quicksilver's Rates and Fees)
The clincher for whether you should consider the Unlimited Cash card is whether you bank with Bank of America and would qualify for Preferred Rewards status. Unlimited 2.62 percent cash back would be the best flat-rate cash back rate on the market, but many cardholders may not qualify for Gold status, let alone Platinum Honors to reach that rate. If you don’t have the account balances needed to qualify for at least Platinum status, there are a few 2 percent flat-rate cash back cards that will earn you more cash back on all of your spending, such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card (earns 2% cash rewards).
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited
Other credit cards that carry higher cash back rates with bonus categories, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, may also be more valuable reward-wise depending on how much you spend. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ average yearly spending data and a $15,900 budget, we estimate that the Unlimited Cash card earns around $239 per year while the Freedom Unlimited rakes in $353 per year due to its additional unlimited 5 percent and 3 percent bonus categories.
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards vs. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards
Similarly, the Unlimited Cash card’s sibling, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, may earn more cash back based on your spending habits and gives you more flexibility than the competition. It lets you choose from one of the 3 percent cash back categories that can be swapped each month, plus 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. The only drawback is that the 3 percent and 2 percent categories share a $2,500 quarterly spending limit, after which you’ll earn 1 percent back. Even so, maximizing these categories (with the remaining spend earning 1 percent) would net you $359 per year. You’d need to spend about $8,034 more per year to earn that much cash back with the Unlimited Cash card.
Best cards to pair with this card
In order to maximize your flat-rate cash back card, your best move would be to pair it with a credit card that earns higher cash back on your most popular bonus categories. If you bank with Bank of America or are a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, the Customized Cash Rewards card is a prime partner. Its choice category flexibility allows you to squeeze the most cash back from your biggest expenses, while the Unlimited Cash card can earn more cash back on purchases outside your categories or beyond the quarterly spending cap.