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Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card review: Top-notch flat-rate rewards

One of your best options when you’re eligible for Preferred Rewards.

 /  10 min
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Snapshot

3.8

Bankrate rating
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Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5

Bottom line

The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card is free to keep in your wallet, so there’s not much risk in applying. However, unless you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member with a large balance across your checking, savings and eligible investment accounts, the card’s value will likely be eclipsed by other flat-rate cash back options.

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18 Billing Cycles Intro APR | Best for Bank of America customers

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

Rewards rate

1.5%
Info

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200
Info

Regular APR

18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card overview

If you’re a Bank of America customer with significant checking, savings or investment account balances, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card will prove quite valuable thanks to the Preferred Rewards program. This exclusive Bank of America perk can boost your Unlimited Cash Rewards card’s flat rate up to 2.62 percent. This increased rate would make the Unlimited Cash Rewards card not just one of the best flat-rate cash back cards, but possibly the highest-earning flat-rate card on the market today.

However, anyone who doesn’t qualify for the higher tiers of the Preferred Rewards program might want to consider a 2 percent flat-rate card or a tiered rewards card. Continue reading to learn more about the Unlimited Cash Rewards card’s best features, where it stands among competing cards and whether it’s a good fit for your wallet.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • Checkmark

    1.5 percent cash back on all purchases with no spending limit

  • Checkmark

    No annual fee means you won’t have to use earnings to offset the added cost that comes with some premium rewards cards

  • Checkmark

    Preferred Rewards members earn 25 to 75 percent more cash back on all purchases

Cons

  • This card doesn’t offer many unique benefits to distinguish itself from other 1.5 percent flat-rate cash back cards

  • Carrying $25,000 to $100,000 across Bank of America accounts to qualify for Preferred Rewards status might not be attainable for many cardholders that need a no annual fee card

  • 3 percent foreign transaction fee on purchases abroad

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases
  • Welcome offer: $200 online bonus cash rewards after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: 0 percent for 18 billing cycles
  • Balance transfer intro APR: 0 percent for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. A 3 percent fee (min. $10) applies.
  • Regular APR: 18.24 percent - 28.24 percent Variable

Current welcome offer

You can earn a $200 online cash rewards welcome bonus when you spend $1,000 on purchases within your first 90 days with the card. As a standard sign-up bonus for a no-annual-fee cash back card, this is a relatively easy threshold to meet. Although, you can find lower spending requirements for the same bonus value. Some cards, like the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, offer a $200 bonus for spending $500 within the first three months.

Rewards rate

The Bank of America Unlimited Cash is a flat-rate cash back card. This is the perfect cash back style to choose if you prefer a no-hassle rewards program or your spending falls outside of typical bonus categories and the spending limits that accompany them.

How you earn

Earning rewards with the Unlimited Cash card couldn’t be easier. You can collect 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, no matter how much you spend, where you shop or what you buy.

The only expenses that generally won’t earn rewards are account costs like balance transfers, cash advances, fees, interest charges and fraudulent charges (naturally). Gambling-related purchases — like lottery tickets — generally don’t earn rewards either. Check with Bank of America for specific reward restrictions related to your card.

How to redeem

Bank of America provides a solid list of redemption options for your cash rewards:

  • A direct deposit to your Bank of America checking or savings account
  • A credit to an eligible Merrill account, including 529 accounts
  • A statement credit to your card

Although you won’t be able to redeem for other cash back options like gift cards, merchandise or travel — as you can with issuers like Chase these aren’t typically the most practical options for cash back anyway.

In order to redeem for a qualifying Merrill 529 account credit, you’ll need to have at least $25 in cash rewards. Automatic redemptions are also available starting at $25, but only for eligible Bank of America account direct deposits and contributions to non-529 Merrill accounts.

How much are the rewards worth?

As with most cash back cards, each percentage point of your cash back rate will earn you 1 cent per dollar of your purchase. That means you’ll earn 1.5 cents per dollar spent with the Unlimited Cash card.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards members will earn slightly more per dollar spent based on which tier they qualify for in the Preferred Rewards program. With the Unlimited Cash Rewards card, Preferred Rewards member rates can be either 1.87 cents, 2.25 cents or 2.62 cents per dollar spent, instead of the base 1.5 cents.

Other cardholder perks

Bank of America cards typically don’t carry a heavy roster of benefits outside of Visa card features, but the Preferred Rewards and BankAmeriDeals programs can sprinkle a bit more cash back onto your spending.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards

Perhaps the most valuable benefit with Bank of America credit cards is the boosted rewards rate you’ll earn if you’re eligible to become a Preferred Rewards member. By keeping a certain minimum three-month average balance across your Bank of America accounts, you may automatically qualify for one of three status levels that award you a bevy of banking benefits, including a 25 to 75 percent rewards rate bonus on your Bank of America credit card:

  • Preferred Rewards Gold (at least a $20,000 balance): 25 percent boost for 1.87 percent cash back on all purchases
  • Preferred Rewards Platinum (at least a $50,000 balance): 50 percent boost for 2.25 percent cash back on all purchases
  • Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors (at least a $100,000 balance): 75 percent boost for 2.62 percent cash back on all purchases

Visa Signature perks

The Unlimited Cash is branded as a Visa Signature card and comes with a few staple perks. Bank of America states you’ll receive extended warranty coverage, 24/7 pay-per-use Roadside Dispatch, travel and emergency assistance services along with ID Navigator credit monitoring via NortonLifeLock. The total list of Visa Signature benefits includes special privileges and discounts with select merchants, so be sure to contact Bank of America to confirm your card’s benefits.

BankAmeriDeals and Museums on Us

These two exclusive benefits come with all Bank of America credit cards. BankAmeriDeals is the issuer’s limited-time offer program, similar to Amex Offers or Chase Offers, which lets you activate promotional offers in your account to get an extra 5 to 15 percent cash back at participating merchants (like select restaurants). You’ll also be able to earn “coins” that unlock higher reward offers for regularly using the program.

Museums On Us is a bit more niche, but it’s also available for Bank of America debit cards and perfect for museum lovers. Simply presenting your Bank of America card and a valid photo ID during the first weekend of every month has provided cardholders free admission to over 225 “cultural institutions” for more than 20 years.

Rates and fees

The Unlimited Cash card doesn’t charge an annual fee, so you don’t have to worry about earning enough rewards to make the card worthwhile.

If you’re considering transferring debt to a Bank of America credit card, the card is a great option since its 0 percent intro APR for balance transfers (made within the first 60 days) and purchases is longer than the 12 month intro APR offers you’ll find on many competing cards. The 17.74 percent to 27.74 percent variable APR applied after this period is also lower than some competitors.’ The low end is even below the current average interest rate.

Just be aware of the 3 percent (or $10, whichever is greater) balance transfer fee. There’s also a 3 percent foreign transaction fee in case you decide to use your card while you travel, which would more than eat through any cash back you’d earn.

How the Unlimited Cash Rewards card compares to other cash back cards

The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card is a strong choice among flat-rate cash back cards with no annual fee, especially due to its potential for boosted rewards through the Preferred Rewards program. However, people who 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.

Image of Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
On Bank of America's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200
Info

Rewards rate

1.5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back
Info

Rewards rate

1.5% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
On Bank of America's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 3%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

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 be more valuable to certain cardholders. Deciding between both will depend on how much you spend, where you spend it and if your spending weighs toward specific categories.

The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card is ideal for people who cast a wide net on spending and can benefit most from earning on all purchases. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of the most lucrative rewards cards available if you spend highly on travel and are a fan of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal. Both cards are fairly cost-effective since neither has an annual fee and the barrier of entry is the same for both cards. You’ll need at least good to excellent credit for feasible approval (a score between 670 and 850 on the FICO scale).

When it comes to getting a break on interest, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards is the better choice. The card’s intro APR offers on both balance transfers and purchases are three months longer than the Chase Freedom Unlimited card’s offer. The ongoing APR is also slightly lower for the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards, though it would still be fairly costly to carry a balance on either card once the APR offers end. It’s also worth noting that even though Chase will reward you higher for travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, the card still charges a foreign transaction fee. That makes it a less ideal payment option once you reach any international destination.

The deciding factor between these cards should come down to your spending habits. If you spend broadly across categories and you’re able to qualify for Preferred Rewards, the Bank of America Unlimited Rewards card can be more valuable. If you want to earn a higher rewards rate in key spending categories like travel and dining, you may earn more with the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards vs. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards

The Unlimited Cash Rewards card’s sibling, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, may earn more cash back based on your spending habits. Plus, you’ll have more flexibility with customized rewards than with a different tiered rewards card.

Bank of America lets you choose one of six 3 percent cash back categories that can be swapped each month, while rewarding 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. The only drawback is that your 3 percent and 2 percent categories share a $2,500 quarterly spending limit, after which you’ll earn 1 percent back. Even so, maxing out 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.

If you value a bit more flexibility and autonomy when it comes to where you earn the most on your spending, we’d recommend going with the Customized Cash Rewards card, as you’ll be able to pick your highest-earning spending category from the eligible options. You’d also benefit even more if you qualify for Preferred Rewards, as this perk extends to both the Customized Cash Rewards and the Unlimited Cash Rewards cards. Both cards have the same ongoing APR and the same intro APR offers, so you won’t see much difference between cards when it comes to carrying a balance. Again, if you want to earn a bit more across all of your purchases, with no spending caps to worry about, the Unlimited Cash Rewards may be the better choice for you.

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 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.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Unlimited Cash Rewards card worth it?

The Bank of America Unlimited Cash card lands a notch below what’s considered a standard flat-rate cash back card. Still, the unique advantages Bank of America offers to set itself apart from the crowd are its Preferred Rewards, BankAmeriDeals and Museums On Us programs.

The Unlimited Cash might be the best unlimited flat-rate cash back card available if you have at least $50,000 sitting in the bank. This will qualify you to earn 2.25 percent cash back with Platinum Preferred Rewards status (up to 2.62 percent with $100,000 and Platinum Honors status). However, many cardholders looking for a no-annua-fee card may not have that much money in their accounts, so a cash back card with a 2 percent flat rate or higher bonus category rates is probably a more worthwhile option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Written by
Garrett Yarbrough
Credit Card Reviews Writer

Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit card guides focused on cash back, credit scores and card offers.

Edited by Senior Credit Cards Editor
Reviewed by Editor

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.