Why I love the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card
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- The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card features cash back rewards categories that you can customize each month
- There’s no yearly cost for holding the card, and it can double as a low-cost travel credit card option
- You’ll also have access to a zero-interest promotional offer, should you have existing credit card debt to pay off or are planning for a large, upcoming purchase
You never forget your first credit card. I got the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card while I was in college after my financial guru (aka Mom) taught me about the importance of building credit.
At that time, I didn’t know much about credit cards, so I went with one of Bank of America’s credit cards simply because I had a checking account with them. A decade later, I make a living advising others on credit cards, and I still have the Customized Cash Rewards card in my wallet.
And you know what? It’s still one of the cards I reach for most often. Here’s why.
Flexible cash back categories
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card’s main draw is its flexible cash back categories. You can receive 3 percent cash back on category purchases of your choice, including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement. You also get 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on up to $2,500 of combined 3 percent and 2 percent category purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) and 1 percent back on all other purchases. For my lifestyle, I’ve only ever selected online shopping or travel.
Unlike some cash back cards that offer high cash back percentages only for specific rotating categories every quarter, the Customized Cash Rewards card doesn’t come with gimmicks. I’m always rewarded for purchases that I make, rather than for very specific spending categories that are useless to me.
I love that this card gives me the freedom to change my cash back categories once per calendar month. When I booked a trip to Mexico City at the end of June several years ago, I switched my rewards category from online shopping to travel minutes before booking my flight, and I was able to switch it back on July 1.
My cash back hack
I’m a sucker for a discount, and I never make a purchase without looking for coupons. I like to think of my 3 percent cash back earnings as a further discount on top of whatever I’m already saving. Sometimes, I’ll even buy things online instead of in the store so that the transaction counts as online shopping.
For example, when I had to buy a new MacBook last year, I went to my local Apple Store to compare my options. After I chose a laptop, I purchased it online with my Customized Cash Rewards card (set to the online shopping rewards category) and received 3 percent cash back. With the rewards I received from the purchase, I essentially got a $30 discount on my new laptop.
A downside to this card is the $2,500 quarterly spending cap for 3 percent and 2 percent rewards categories each quarter (then 1 percent), which means there’s a $300 maximum you can earn each year for the higher rewards categories. On the very rare occasions that I reach that limit, however, I still earn 1 percent for my purchases and can always refer to the cheat sheet I have in my wallet to find the next best credit card for my purchases.
No annual fee and generous intro APR periods
I also like that the Customized Cash Rewards card has no annual fee, meaning I don’t have to earn enough each year to justify the cost of card membership.
It also includes a 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles (if made within the first 60 days, a 3 percent fee [minimum $10] applies). After that, you’ll be charged a variable APR between 17.74 percent and 27.74 percent. Upon opening the card, I could rest easy knowing there was a zero-interest period available should I have a large, unexpected expense come up.
Unfortunately, in terms of other fees, the card charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside of the United States. When traveling abroad or buying from overseas merchants, I use my Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card on purchases, since there are no foreign transaction fees associated with that card.
Fuss-free travel card for U.S. excursions
When traveling within the U.S. this year, I probably won’t open another travel-specific credit card and will instead use my Customized Cash Rewards card (set to earn 3 percent cash back in the travel category). Why? Many travel cards have annual fees, and the Customized Cash Rewards card does not. That’ll save me about $100 that I can put toward a vacation.
In addition, most travel cards give you points, which I find more complicated in terms of redemption. Cash back is simple and doesn’t lock me into using my rewards on a specific airline or hotel chain.
For traveling abroad, however, my strategy is to use my Customized Cash Rewards card to book flights and accommodations, and then use my SavorOne card for on-the-ground purchases to avoid the Customized Cash’s 3 percent foreign transaction fee.
The bottom line
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card has been my go-to for a decade, and it will remain a favorite for years to come thanks to its flexible rewards categories, lack of an annual fee and more.
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card information was last updated on April 3, 2023.