The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card is a solid alternative to transferrable points earning cards. It offers lots of cash back and the option to select your top-earning category. Your cash back can rise even more if you have a Bank of America (BOFA) or Merrill Lynch bank or investment account.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card has no annual fee and it can be very lucrative for those who want to earn cash back. It’s a great card for flexibility, especially if you choose a category that you can’t earn more with another card.

 

Earning

The Cash Rewards Card has a sign-up bonus worth $200 and no annual fee. This bonus can be earned after spending just $500 in the first three months. The $200 is nice, but other cards have more valuable bonuses, especially if the bonus comes in the form of transferrable points.

Where the Cash Rewards Card truly shines is its earning structure. You can earn 3% cash back on one of the following categories:

  • Dining
  • Gas
  • Home Improvement / Furnishing Stores
  • Online Shopping
  • Pharmacies
  • Travel

Having the ability to choose a 3% category is fantastic. This makes the Cash Rewards Card extremely versatile, giving you the ability to fit it around your existing cards. Travelers might select travel, gas, or dining, depending on their other cards. Select whichever category you spend the most in to maximize your cash back.

But that’s not all. You will also receive 2% cash back at Wholesale Clubs and Grocery Stores. All non-bonus spend will earn just 1%.

While that’s a nice structure for all cardholders, it’s even better if you bank with BOFA.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program

BOFA’s Preferred Rewards Program increases rewards earned on BOFA credit cards. Those with BOFA accounts will see their rewards increase by a certain percentage depending on how much they have in their account. If a cardholder has multiple accounts, the bank takes the total amount in all accounts to determine the percentage.

Use the following table to determine your percentage and revised multipliers:

Level Minimum Amount Required Percentage 3% Category 2% Categories 1% Non-Bonus Spend
Member $0 10% 3.30% 2.20% 1.10%
Gold Preferred $20,000 25% 3.75% 2.50% 1.25%
Platinum Preferred $50,000 50% 4.50% 3.00% 1.50%
Platinum Honors Preferred $100,000 75% 5.25% 3.50% 1.75%

 

Having a bank account (or several) with BOFA is nice depending on how you use your Cash Rewards Card. Using it for just the 2% and 3% categories will net you loads of cash back, especially at the Platinum Preferred Level and higher. At those levels, your return will rival some of the best cash back cards on the market.

This card is not worth it for general expenses because there are 2% cards that would net you more. For travelers, there are many transferrable points cards that offer higher multipliers for travel and dining. If you like a certain issuer’s transfer partners, that issuer’s “ecosystem” might be worth looking at instead.

 

Burning

Cash back cards are generally simpler than travel cards in the way of redemption. The Cash Rewards Card is nice because BOFA lets you redeem your cash back how you want.

The simplest way to redeem your cash back is on a statement credit. This method lets you simply use your rewards towards purchases or your next bill. For travelers, this is nice because there are some travel purchases that cannot be paid for with transferrable points. I suggest having a small balance of cash back to pay for these special purchases. Helicopter rides and museum tours are great examples.

My preferred method is to put the cash into a BOFA bank account. This is because you can invest the cash back in a 529 Savings Account or any Merrill Lynch or Merrill Edge account. With the right investments, you can grow your cash back into something much larger.

Redeeming for gift cards is another option. But its not the smartest one because your points will go a longer way with investing.

 

Benefits

Despite being a no annual fee cash back card, the BOFA Cash Rewards Card has a few decent benefits to boot.

Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance

This benefit comes automatically when you purchase travel tickets for a common carrier using the card. It’s not very useful because it only covers you if you die. The odds of that happening on a common carrier are slim to none.

Free Monthly FICO Score

Having a Free Monthly FICO Score nice because it lets you know how your credit is doing each month. This is huge because you can use that number and a summary to help you strategize your next credit move.

 

Similar Cards

Check out the following cards if the BOFA Cash Rewards Card is not right for you:

Chase Freedom Unlimited

This card is a better option for those with more varied expenses and those who want to earn transferrable points. The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points per dollar for all purchases. It comes with a sign-up bonus worth 15,000 UR points that can be earned after spending just $500.

This card can also serve as a foundational card for your credit history and for earning points. It has no annual fee and lots of potential.

Citi Double Cash

The Citi Double Cash is the most generous no annual fee cash back card for general expenses. It has no sign-up bonus, but it earns up to 2% cash back for all purchases. As its name implies, you get paid twice. You get 1% cash back upon making a purchase and another 1% upon paying your bill. This principle emphasizes the point of paying in full each month.

The Double Cash card could also be a complement for the Cash Rewards Card. You can use the latter for the 3% category and the former for everything else.

 

Susan G. Komen Card

This card is a variant of the BOFA Cash Rewards Card that’s co-branded with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The sign-up bonus, earning, burning, and perks are the same between this version and the regular version. However, a small portion of all purchases gets donated to the Komen Foundation. This card is an easy way to earn cash back and donate to charity.

 

Final Draw

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card is a fantastic option for cash back lovers and those with BOFA accounts. Travelers with unusual expenses will also benefit.

The earnings become very enticing if you’re part of the BOFA Preferred Rewards Program, especially at the Platinum Preferred level or higher. If you have at least $50,000 saved, invested, or waiting in a retirement or education fund, moving to BOFA and getting this card might pay off big time.

 

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