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The Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Card vs. The Discover it® Cash Back

6 min read
Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Dec 11, 2014 | Updated Apr 29, 2020

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review) and the Discover it® Cash Back (Review) are both popular and valuable cash back rewards credit cards.

The BofA Cash Rewards card provides 3% cash back in the category of your choice every month, out of six options, while the Discover it® Cash Back has rotating cash back categories that change throughout the year. Each card offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for a relatively long period, and neither one has an annual fee.

The first is good for the kinds of purchases most of us typically make pretty often, while the second will be better for different kinds of purchases as the year goes on. Read on to learn if one of them might be a good card for you.

Bank of America Cash Rewards Discover it® Cash Back
Introductory bonus $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days Cashback Match: New cardmembers get double cash back in the first year (awarded after the first year)
Earning power
  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice: Gas, Online shopping, Dining, Travel, Drugstores, or Home improvement/furnishings stores
  • 2% cash back at Grocery stores and Wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on everything else
  • Spending limit: 3% and 2% rewards only up to $2,500 per quarter, then 1%
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate every three months (see calendar below), up to $1,500 spent per quarter (activation required)
  • 1% cash back on everything else
Perks
  • Account Alerts
  • Mobile Banking
  • Text Banking
  • Fraud Protection
  • Overdraft Protection
  • Personalize Your Card
  • Pay Up Until Midnight
  • Temporarily Freeze Your Account
  • Card Replacement
  • Spend Analyzer Tool
  • $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee
  • Cash at Checkout
Annual fee $0 $0

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR16.24%–26.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • NEW OFFER: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
  • Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the Mobile Banking app or Online Banking, or do nothing and it stays the same
  • No expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.24% – 26.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% – 75% more cash back on every purchase

Discover it® Cash Back

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APRSee Terms

The information related to Discover it® Cash Back has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

The Rewards

Bank of America Cash Rewards

You’ll get:

Spending Rewards
  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice:
    • Gas
    • Online shopping
    • Dining
    • Travel
    • Drugstores
    • Home improvement/furnishings stores
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Grocery stores
    • Wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Spending limit: 3% and 2% rewards only up to $2,500 per quarter, then 1%
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
    • Return on spend: 20%

Discover it® Cash Back

You’ll get:

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate every three months (see calendar below), up to $1,500 spent per quarter (activation required)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • Cashback Match: New cardmembers get double cash back in the first year (awarded after the first year)

The 5% cash back calendar for the Discover it® Cash Back for 2020 is:

Quarter 5% Cash Back Category
January – March Grocery Stores, Walgreens, CVS
April – June Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft, Wholesale Clubs
July – September Restaurants, PayPal
October – December Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com

You can redeem your points as a statement credit, which is the typical way, or you can use them to pay for purchases directly through Amazon.

The Verdict

These cards have very different reward structures. Would you rather get 3% back on a category of your choice (from a few preset choices) and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs? Or would you rather get 5% back (10% after it’s doubled) on different types of purchases throughout the year?

The BofA has a higher quarterly limit than the Discover it® Cash Back, which helps even out the earning potential after the Discover’s Cashback Match offer has come to an end. The most you can earn with either card’s bonus categories per quarter (after the first year) is $75, so the card that’s best for you basically comes down to your own spending habits. Which card would provide you with the most discounts?

Then, there are introductory offers to consider. The BofA card features a traditional intro offer, giving you $200 for spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening. That’s a great return on spend.

Cashback Match, which doubles the rewards you earn with the Discover it® Cash Back at the end of the first year, offers greater potential value, but you’d need to spend $2,000 in the card’s 5% rewards categories (which are then doubled to 10% during the first year) to match the BofA’s $2,000 bonus. Fortunately, you have the whole year to do it rather than just three months.

Can’t decide which rewards program you prefer? You can also consider using both cards. Use the Discover it® Cash Back any time you’ll be able to get 5% cash back, and then use the Cash Rewards card any other time. Using several credit cards isn’t bad for your credit – learn about the value of carrying multiple credit cards.

Insider tip
The Chase Freedom® (Review) is almost exactly like the Discover it® Cash Back, except it features a more typical introductory offer, if that’s your thing. Another notable difference is that the Freedom card’s 5% cash back categories aren’t revealed until a few weeks before the quarter begins.

The Benefits

Bank of America Cash Rewards

Account Management

  • Account Alerts: Get alerts about account information on your phone.
  • Mobile Banking: Pay your credit card bill online, transfer funds, check available credit and more.
  • Text Banking: Send a text and get important account information.

Security

  • Fraud Protection: You will not be held responsible for unauthorized use of your card.
  • Overdraft Protection: Link a Bank of America account to your card and prevent declined purchases and return checks if you take out too much money from your account.

Discover it® Cash Back

Account Management

  • Personalize Your Card: Choose from a number of different designs to personalize your card, including several chrome colors, a variety of designs, and a wide selection of NHL team logos.
  • Temporarily Freeze Your Account: Freeze your account when you lose your card, and unfreeze it when you find it. Use the Freeze button on the Discover website or mobile app, or call customer service.
  • Spend Analyzer Financial Tool: Use the Spend Analyzer tool to view your purchases by category and get insights into your spending habits.

Shopping

  • Cash at Checkout: When shopping at participating locations, you can get cash back immediately by charging an additional amount over your purchase.

The Verdict

Each of these cards offers a nice set of additional benefits, but the Discover it® Cash Back clearly wins in this category. The shopping and travel protections could really come in handy in certain situations, and you won’t get those with the Bank of America card.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the benefits offered by each card:

Bank of America Cash Rewards Discover it® Cash Back

Account Management:

  • Account Alerts
  • Mobile Banking
  • Text Banking

 

Security:

  • Fraud Protection
  • Overdraft Protection

Account Management:

  • Personalize Your Card
  • Pay Up Until Midnight
  • Temporarily Freeze Your Account
  • Card Replacement
  • Spend Analyzer Tool

 

Security:

  • $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee

 

Shopping:

  • Cash at Checkout

Terms & Fees

Card Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
Bank of America Cash Rewards 0% for 12 billing cycles, then 16.24%–26.24% Variable 0% for 12 billing cycles, then 16.24%–26.24% Variable 19.24%–27.24% Variable
Discover it® Cash Back See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms See Terms
Card Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
Bank of America Cash Rewards $0 3%
Discover it® Cash Back $0 None
Card Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
Bank of America Cash Rewards 3%, $10 minimum See Terms
Discover it® Cash Back See Terms See Terms
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Bank of America Cash Rewards Up to 29.99% Variable Up to $39 Up to $28
Discover it® Cash Back None See Terms See Terms

The Verdict

As you can see, these cards have very similar costs and fees.

The Discover it® Cash Back’s introductory APR offer lasts two months longer for both purchases and balance transfers, which is an advantage, but isn’t a huge difference.

The only other major differences here are the fact that Discover will neither charge for the first late payment nor apply a penalty APR for bad behavior.

This is a very important feature. The Cash Rewards card may apply the high penalty APR if you make a late payment, and this can last indefinitely. The Discover it® Cash Back can be more comfortable to carry for this reason, as it will never raise your APR.

Read more

Best 0% APR Credit Cards

Which Is Better: Bank of America Cash Rewards or Discover it Cash Back?

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review) and the Discover it® Cash Back (Review) both rank among the best credit cards with no annual fee, and they can be very valuable when used responsibly. The bottom line? Neither is necessarily better than the other.

Consider the rewards and benefits you’ll get with each credit card offer, because the interest rates and fees are about the same. Think about your personal shopping habits: would it be better for you to earn 3% back on a category of your choice plus 2% back at groceries and wholesale clubs all year round, or would it be better to get 5% cash back (10% after it’s doubled) in the four Discover it® Cash Back categories?

Don’t forget, it’s not a bad idea to have multiple credit cards. This would let you earn 5% back in the Discover it® Cash Back categories whenever they’re available, and then 3% and 2% back in the Bank of America card’s bonus categories when your purchases qualify.

If you use one of these cash back cards, how do you like it? Leave your own review of the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card or the Discover it® Cash Back card below, we’d love to hear from you!

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At a glance

The Discover it® Cash Back offers 5% cash back in rotating categories, while the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card boasts 3% back in a category you choose, plus 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. But which card is better? Ultimately, the answer depends on your spending habits. And who says you can’t use both at the same time?

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

The information related to Discover it® Cash Back has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

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