Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards for Students: Useful Benefits, If You Qualify

Earn 3% cash back in a category you choose each month, plus 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% everywhere else. But there are limits to how much extra cash back you can earn.
By Sara Rathner 

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

The card offers bonus cash-back categories that are both useful and broad. However, you need good credit to qualify, which can be a roadblock for many students.

Jump to: Full Review
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
18.24%-28.24% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% intro APR on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Rec. credit score
690-850 (Good - Excellent)
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Rotating bonus categories

  • Relationship rewards for customers

  • Intro APR period

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • Complicated rewards

  • Spending caps on bonus rewards

  • Best rewards limited to certain customers

Alternate Pick: Automatic Rewards
Venmo Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 
Venmo Credit Card
Venmo App Required

Automatically earn 3% cash back in your top eligible spending category for the month, and 2% cash back in your second-highest eligible spending category. Other purchases earn 1% back.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

18.24%-28.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

17.24%-26.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

17.24%-26.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
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Full Review

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students offers extra cash back on your choice of spending category, from a list of useful options. You can change your category each month, too, allowing you to line up the card with whatever you plan to buy in the near future. Add to that a sign-up bonus and a $0 annual fee, and you’re looking at a solid option for students who are relatively new to using rewards cards.

However, there are some limitations to keep in mind. First, you need to have good or excellent credit (a FICO score between 690 and 850) to qualify for the card. Second, you can only earn the elevated cash-back rate on up to $2,500 in quarterly spending. After that, you’ll earn just 1% cash back. 

🤓Nerdy Tip

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students is essentially identical to the non-student version of the card, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card. Both cards require good credit or higher. Check out our guide to all four of Bank of America®'s student credit cards.

Card name

Rewards

Sign-up bonus

APR

BankAmericard® credit card for Students

BankAmericard® for Students
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

None.

None.

0% intro APR on Purchases for 21 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 21 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 16.24%-26.24% Variable APR.

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

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

0% intro APR on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-28.24% Variable APR.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students

Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card for Students
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More
  • 1.5 points per $1 spent on purchases.

  • 3 points per $1 spent on eligible travel booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center.

25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

0% intro APR on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-28.24% Variable APR.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More
  • 3% back on a category of your choice from a list of 6, and 2% back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 of combined bonus category/grocery store/wholesale club spending per quarter.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

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

0% intro APR on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-28.24% Variable APR.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students: The basics

Card type: Cash back.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Ongoing rewards:

  • 3% back on a category of your choice, from the options listed below.

  • 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

You’ll only earn 3% and 2% cash back for the first $2,500 of combined spending on your bonus category, grocery store and wholesale club spending per quarter. After hitting that limit, you’ll earn 1% back on those purchases.

The 3% back bonus categories to choose from are:

  • Gas.

  • Online shopping.

  • Dining.

  • Travel.

  • Drugstores.

  • Home improvement and furnishings.

You can change this category once each calendar month, and your selected category will remain the same from month to month, unless you change it. If you don't make a selection, the default 3% cash-back category will be set to gas.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you’re a Bank of America® Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% to 75% more cash back on each purchase with this card, depending on which membership tier you’ve attained. But to qualify, you must have a balance of at least $20,000 in an eligible Bank of America® account. Keeping that kind of money in a checking account is tough to do at any age, especially when you’re a student and may be working limited hours or have an entry-level job — if you're employed at all.

APR: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-28.24% Variable APR

Other benefits:

Benefits of the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students

Useful 3% categories

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students offers a broad range of student-friendly 3% cash-back categories to choose from. 

For example, the “online shopping” category includes merchants such as Apple.com, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Bestbuy.com and Target.com. And the “home improvement and furnishings” category includes merchants such as IKEA and Bed Bath & Beyond. That’s helpful for anyone who’s outfitting a dorm room or apartment, or purchasing a laptop.

Sign-up bonus

A welcome offer allows you to get even more value out of a card in the first year you have it. With the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students, you’ll earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Flexible reward redemptions

If you redeem your cash back for a statement credit, or a direct deposit into a Bank of America® checking or savings account or eligible Merrill account, you can redeem any amount. There’s no need to earn a minimum amount of cash back first.

You can also opt to redeem a minimum of $25 worth of rewards for a check, or as a contribution to a qualifying Merrill 529 account. Or set up automatic contributions to eligible Bank of America® or Merrill accounts whenever you accumulate $25 in cash back. (Note that you can’t set up automatic contributions to 529 accounts, or automatically get a statement credit or check.)

Introductory no-interest offer

If you’re planning on using your card to make a major purchase, you have a long time to make payments at 0% interest. Pay 0% intro APR on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-28.24% Variable APR

Drawbacks and alternatives

Good credit required

For students who are new to building credit, this can be a hurdle. But there are a number of student credit cards for fair credit, as well as other cards for fair credit, which may be more appropriate for you while you establish your credit history. The $0-annual-fee Discover it® Student Cash Back earns 5% cash back on spending categories that rotate each quarter. After you spend $1,500 in the bonus category, you’ll earn the base rate of 1% back. 

You must choose categories

If you neglect to select a 3% category when you first get the card, the default category is gas — not helpful if you spend more in other areas, or you don’t have a car with you on campus. And last month’s category will roll over into the next month, unless you change it, so you’ll need to be on top of your spending plans enough to know which category to choose going forward. 

The Venmo Credit Card automatically earns 3% cash back on your top eligible spending category, 2% cash back on your second most-spent category, and 1% on everything else. Eligible bonus categories include transportation, travel, groceries, entertainment, dining, bills and utilities, health and beauty, and gas. The annual fee is $0.

Spending cap limits rewards

Once you spend $2,500 for the quarter in your 3% and 2% categories combined, you’ll earn just 1% cash back. That means one major purchase, like a laptop, can leave you stuck at 1% back for three months. The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card earns an unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, purchases at grocery stores and popular streaming services. Other purchases earn 1% cash back. The annual fee is $0.

Should you get the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students?

For many students, the appeal of a student-specific credit card is that it generally has a lower credit score bar for entry. But in this case, you'll have to already have good to excellent credit in order to get approved. This is a perfectly fine choice, but if your credit score is at least 690, you can qualify for other cards that may be more rewarding.

And if you're still building credit, you have other options available that might be easier to get. Check out our picks for best student credit cards for fair credit.

on Bank of America's website

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.
Frequently asked questions

You can select a new 3% cash-back category each month from a list of eligible categories. The default category on a new card is gas. If you don’t change the category from the previous month, it will stay the same the next month.

You can change the 3% cash-back category once a month with the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students.

The annual fee for the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students is $0.

You need good credit to qualify for the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students, which corresponds to a FICO score of at least 690.

You must be at least 18 years old, or at least 21 years old if you’re a permanent resident of Puerto Rico.