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Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card review: Top flat rewards rate for money savers

Perhaps the highest flat cash back rate on the market for top Bank of America Preferred Rewards® status holders.

 /  15 min
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Snapshot

3.8

Bankrate rating
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Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5

Bottom line

This card has no annual fee to worry about, so there’s not much risk in applying if you want a flat rewards rate. 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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15 Billing Cycles Intro APR | Best for Bank of America customers
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on Bank of America's secure site
  • Rewards value
    Rating: 2 stars out of 5
    2 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5
    4.8 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
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Recommended Credit
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Intro offer

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1.5%

Rewards rate

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Annual fee

Regular APR

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card Overview

If you’re a Bank of America customer with a substantial checking, savings or investment account balance, you may find the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card to be quite valuable thanks to the Preferred Rewards program. This exclusive Bank of America perk can boost your Unlimited Cash Rewards card’s flat rate by 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.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • Unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases
    • Can increase this flat rate to 1.87 percent, 2.25 percent or 2.62 percent with Preferred Rewards status, depending on the tier earned

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • $200 online cash rewards bonus after at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Apr

    0% intro APR offer

    • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 18.24% - 28.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
    • 18.24 percent to 28.24 percent variable ongoing APR

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • Annual fee: None
    • Foreign transaction fee: 3 percent
    • Balance transfer fee: 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
    • Late payment fee: See Terms
    • Cash advance APR: See Terms
    • Penalty APR: See Terms

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • Bank of America Preferred Rewards program benefits, including rewards rate increases
    • BankAmeriDeals® 
    • Visa Signature benefits, including Visa Signature® Concierge, roadside dispatch and travel and emergency assistance
    • Museums on Us admission

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

Bank of America Unlimited Cash pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    You can earn a straightforward, unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, which also has the rare option to redeem automatically.

  • Checkmark

    This card has no annual fee, so you won’t have to offset the added cost with rewards earnings.

  • Checkmark

    Bank of America Preferred Rewards® members can earn 25 to 75 percent more rewards on all purchases, which could add up to perhaps the highest flat cash back rate on the market.

Cons

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

  • Preferred Rewards status requirements might not be easily accessible for many cardholders that need a no-annual-fee card.

  • The welcome offer requires double the spending for the same rewards value as competing cards.

Why you might want the Bank of America Unlimited Cash

The Unlimited Cash card is already a solid card with its well-rounded perks, sign-up bonus and intro APR offers, but the unique Preferred Rewards program could amp up this card’s flat rewards rate enough to out-earn many other flat-rate cash back cards.

Preferred Rewards program: Leading flat cash back rate for savers

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

  • 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
  • Preferred Rewards Diamond (at least a $1 million balance): 75 percent boost for 2.62 percent cash back on all purchases

If you’re able to qualify for Platinum Honors status, the Unlimited Cash card would earn perhaps the highest flat cash back rate on the market — even surpassing the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card and its top-ranking rate. However, the lofty Diamond status doesn’t increase your rewards rate beyond the 75 percent boost, so it shouldn’t be a big concern (especially considering the jaw-dropping $1 million balance it requires).

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Bankrate Insight

The Preferred Rewards program also provides improved savings account rates, loan rates and other exceptional perks. These benefits could help you save more money faster and climb the status tiers.

Redemption: Flexible options

The Bank of America Unlimited Cash card earns a decent 1.5 percent flat cash back rate, but the redemption options are even better. The cash back choices are more diverse than what competing cards provide, including:

  • 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
  • Automatic redemption into your Bank of America checking or savings account or a qualifying Merrill Lynch account
  • Pay for purchases when you shop at Amazon or check out with PayPal

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, and the automatic redemption is a rare feature that makes this card even more low maintenance. 

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Bankrate Insight

In order to redeem cash rewards 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.

Perks: Decent for a no-annual-fee card

Bank of America cards typically don’t carry a heavy roster of benefits outside of the Preferred Rewards and Visa card features, but the BankAmeriDeals and Museums On Us programs can sprinkle on a bit more value than a handful of competing cards’ perks.

These main 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 to get extra cash back at participating merchants (like select restaurants). Typically, these limited-time offers are for one-time purchases.

Museums On Us is more niche, but it’s perfect for museum lovers. Simply presenting your Bank of America debit or credit card and a valid photo ID during the first weekend of every month provides cardholders free admission to over 225 cultural institutions. This benefit is much more unique than BankAmeriDeals, and it could save you a bit of money if you’re a fan of museums and weekend trips.

Additionally, the Unlimited Cash is branded as a Visa Signature card and comes with a few other staple perks rewards cards usually carry. You’ll typically receive extended warranty coverage, 24/7 pay-per-use roadside dispatch, travel and emergency assistance services and ID Navigator credit monitoring via NortonLifeLock. The total list of Visa Signature benefits may differ depending on the card, so be sure to contact Bank of America to confirm your card’s benefits.

Intro APR: Solid offers on purchases and balance transfers

If you’re considering transferring debt to a Bank of America credit card or you need time to pay off upcoming purchases, this card is a good option since its intro APR for balance transfers and purchases is on par with the 15-month intro APR offers you’ll find on many competing cards. 

You could also qualify for an ongoing APR after this period that is lower than many other cash back card rates, and even below the current average interest rate (currently hovering around a high 20 percent).

Rates and fees: No annual fee to offset

Like many competing flat-rate cards, 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. Just be aware of the balance transfer fee, which is 3 percent intro of the amount of each transaction for 60 days from account opening, then 4 percent. There’s also a 3 percent foreign transaction fee in case you use your card abroad, which would more than eat through any cash back you’d earn. These fees are typical for a card in this class, and the balance transfer fee is actually on the low side considering some competing cards charge 5 percent.

Why you might want a different cash back card

Despite well-rounded features and quality cash back options, this card isn’t as lucrative as several other flat-rate cards unless you’re eligible for a top Preferred Rewards tier, which might not be accessible for many people due to the amount of money you’d need saved.

Rewards: May not be worthwhile without Preferred Rewards status 

The flat-rate cash back structure may be perfect if you prefer a no-hassle rewards program or your spending falls outside of typical bonus categories or their spending caps.

However, the rewards potential can’t compete with rival cards unless you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member. The Preferred Rewards program’s stellar perks are a key selling point for the Unlimited Cash card, but the average person might have a hard time obtaining even the base Gold Tier status. 

The most recent Consumer Finances Survey by the Federal Reserve showed the median value of transaction accounts to be around $8,000 across savings, checking, money market and call accounts. This is a far cry from the at least $50,000 three-month average balance across eligible accounts needed to make the Bank of America Unlimited Cash a competitive cash back card. 

Unless you have a clear route to Preferred Rewards status, you may want to consider a flat-rate or bonus category card with higher rewards rates.

Welcome offer: Fair value but with a high spending requirement

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. If you meet the spending requirement, instead of receiving a statement credit or direct deposit, the intro offer will be posted to your online rewards balance within eight to 12 weeks after you qualify.

This is a standard sign-up bonus for a no-annual-fee cash back card, although you can find lower spending requirements for the same bonus value. Several cards, like the similar Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (See Rates & Fees), offers a $200 bonus for spending $500 within the first three months. 

The higher spending requirement might not be a deal-breaker since it should still be easy to meet for many people. However, it's another small factor that adds up if you’re on the fence between the Bank of Unlimited Cash and another credit card.

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

Travel rewards can be terrific, but there are other factors to consider when deciding which card to carry. That’s why this card has been in the wallet of Nick Ewen, a credit card expert at The Points Guy, for nearly two decades.

"I love traveling the globe using my credit card rewards — but that wouldn’t be possible without exceptional credit. This card was the very first one I opened on my own after graduating college (previously I had only been an authorized user on my parents’ cards). Since it has no annual fee, I keep it open to increase my average age of accounts and show my extensive credit history — though I make sure to charge something to it every few months so it doesn’t get closed for inactivity."

— Nick Ewan, Director of Content, The Points Guy

How the Bank of America Unlimited Cash 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, would earn more rewards with bonus categories or do not qualify for the higher Preferred Rewards tiers may find more value from other cards in this category.

Image of Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card
Bankrate Score
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Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200
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Rewards rate

1.5%
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Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
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Image of Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Bankrate Score
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on Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Up to $300 cash back
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Rewards rate

1.5% - 5%
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Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
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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
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Rewards rate

1% - 3%
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Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best cards to pair with the Bank of America Unlimited Cash

One of the best ways to maximize a flat-rate cash back card is to pair it with a cash back credit card that earns higher cash back on your most popular bonus categories. Since you can’t pool rewards between Bank of America travel and cash back cards, and Bank of America travel rewards don't increase in value through transfer partners, feel free to choose a rewards card from another issuer.

Who is the Bank of America Unlimited Cash right for?

As a flat-rate cash back card, this card is naturally a great fit for fans of a simple rewards experience. However, the card isn’t particularly appealing without the Preferred Rewards program, so this card is mainly worth it for people with a lot of Bank of America savings.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Bank of America Unlimited Cash worth it?

The Bank of America Unlimited Cash card is well-rounded enough to be a decent card, but its basic features rank it with the Capital One Quicksilver as a notch below frontrunning flat-rate cash back cards like the Citi Double Cash. However, this card catapults to the top of the leaderboard for cardholders who can take advantage of the Preferred Rewards program and other unique Bank of America benefits.

In fact, the Unlimited Cash might be the best unlimited flat-rate cash back card available if you can reach Platinum status This will allow you to earn 2.25 percent cash back (or up to 2.62 percent with Platinum Honors). 

However, many cardholders looking for a no-annual-fee card may not have that much money in their accounts, so a cash back card with a flat 2 percent rate or higher bonus category rates is probably a more practical option.

How we rated this card

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We rate credit cards using a proprietary card scoring system that ranks each card’s estimated average rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more against those of other cards in its primary category.

Each card feature is assigned a weighting based on how important it is to people looking for a card in a given category. These features are then scored based on how they rank relative to the features on other cards in the category. Based on these calculations, each card receives an overall rating of 1-5 stars (with 5 being the highest possible score and 1 being the lowest). 

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular rewards and cash back cards to determine where each stacked up based on their value, cost, benefits and more. Here are some of the key factors that influenced this card’s overall score and how the score influenced our review:

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Written by
Garrett Yarbrough
Writer, Credit Cards

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 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 Editor II, Credit Cards
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* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

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.