Editorial Review

Bank of America Cash Rewards Review: Card’s Value Depends on Your Bank Balances

Cardholders get bonus rewards at gas stations, grocery stores and wholesale clubs. But to unlock maximum rewards, you must be a Bank of America® banking customer.

At NerdWallet, we adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Our Take

3.6

NerdWallet rating

The Bottom Line: The cash-back program is complicated, with a bonus cap that covers multiple categories. If you qualify for the Preferred Rewards program, though, it's worth the effort.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

on Bank of America's secure website, or call (877) 754-6706

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles and 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles and 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No annual fee
  • Cash bonus offer
  • Cash rewards
Cons
  • If you're a big spender with excellent credit and willing to pay an annual fee, there are cards with higher rewards

recommended credit score

Alternate Pick: Big rewards for families

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Bigger and simpler rewards — for a fee

This card pays 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 a year in spending), 3% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% on everything else. Terms apply. The high reward rates make the $95 annual fee worth it for many families.

Read our review

Full Review

Loyalty pays when you carry the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. This $0-annual-fee cash-back card can earn a dazzling rewards rate on gas, groceries and wholesale club spending — but only if you have a lot of money in Bank of America® affiliated accounts. If that’s not the case, the card will fetch only so-so rewards.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card: Benefits

  • High rewards for certain Bank of America® and Merrill Lynch customers. The cash-back rates for gas, grocery stores and warehouse clubs are nice, but not too compelling. You get 3% on gas and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 in combined gas/grocery/wholesale club spending per quarter. All other purchases earn 1%. Bank of America® checking or savings customers get a 10% bonus on redemption, pushing the effective reward rates to 3.3%, 2.2% and 1.1%. But things really get good if you have at least $20,000 in combined accounts at Bank of America®, Merrill Lynch or Merrill Edge. That allows you to join the Preferred Rewards program and earn bonuses of 25% to 75%:
  • A decent sign-up bonus. The $200 bonus is in line with what other

    $0-annual-fee cash-back cards offer.

  • A 0% intro APR period. Need time to pay down a major purchase interest-free? This card has an APR of 0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles and 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR. Just be sure to make on-time payments. A single late payment could cut the card’s introductory period short.

» MORE: Bank of America® credit cards mobile app review

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card: Drawbacks

  • Lower rewards for non-customers. As mentioned, if you’re a Bank of America® checking or savings customer and especially a member of Preferred Rewards, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit cardis a definite winner. If you’re not a customer, though, the value proposition is a lot weaker.
  • Bonus rewards are complicated and capped. Quick: How much did you spend on groceries, gas and wholesale clubs combined in the last three-month block of the year? Limiting how much spending is eligible for bonus rewards is a downer, but it gets worse when you have to track your spending in multiple categories. A card with a simpler rewards structure might be less of a headache.
  • The 0% period isn’t as long as it could be. Several other no-fee cash-back cards offer longer 0% periods on purchases.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card: Alternatives

For a simple, high uncapped rewards rate: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer gives you 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay it off — with no caps on how much you can earn. Use it for everything, and you’re almost guaranteed to collect more in rewards than you would get with the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card (assuming you aren’t a Preferred Rewards member). The annual fee is $0.

For a bigger new-cardmember bonus: Discover it® Cash Back

Most credit-card sign-up bonuses work like the one on the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card: Spend a certain amount in your first few months with the card, then collect the bonus. The Discover it® Cash Back does things differently: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. That puts you in charge of your bonus. This card earns 5% cash back on rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 a quarter in spending, and 1% on everything else. Bonus categories in recent years have been common merchants like supermarkets, gas stations and Amazon.com. The annual fee is $0. Additionally, this card has an intro APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.

In addition, you can see how this card compares with other cash-back cards by visiting our top credit cards page.