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The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card has recently been updated with a more flexible rewards program, allowing cardholders to choose their own 3% cash back category every month.
You’ll earn 3% cash back in your choice of one of the following six categories:
That online shopping category in particular is very valuable, because 3% cash back is probably the best rate you’ll find on a credit card for general online shopping.
You’ll also get 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. And there’s an excellent $200 cash rewards introductory bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
Bank of America bank account holders have an extra incentive to get this card, with a cash back bonus of 10–75% when redeeming into an eligible bank account.
There’s no annual fee to worry about paying, and cardholders get 12 months at 0% APR for both purchases and balance transfers before the regular rate of 16.24%–26.24% Variable kicks in.
The Cash Rewards is an interesting card that has become more rewarding thanks to this update, making it more useful in more situations. Read on to learn if you should be using it to earn a bit of cash back on your weekly spending.
We give this card 5 out of 5 Stars because it’s an easy way to earn cash back on gas and groceries, for no fee.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards can be a good option for many people, although it’s not the most rewarding card out there for some types of spending. Check out a few alternatives below, some of which offer more rewards for your spending but come with an annual fee.
This card can provide 1–3.3% cash back, depending on what you buy and how you redeem your cash back. Preferred Rewards members can earn up to 5.25% cash back, although this will require having $100k in the bank.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
Your 3% and 2% reward categories are limited to the first $2,500 in combined spending every quarter. After that you’ll earn 1% back in those categories. Limits like this are pretty common on credit cards. If you know you’ll be spending way more than that every quarter you should probably consider a different reward card.
This is a unique rewards program, offering you the ability to earn 3% cash back in your choice of one of six useful categories. The online shopping category is particularly interesting here, because 3% cash back is probably the best rate you’ll find for online shopping in general. That’s true for drugstores and home improvement stores as well.
The default 3% category is gas, so it will be set to that unless you change it. You’ll be able to choose a new category each month, or you can just set it once and leave it.
The welcome bonus is very good compared to most other credit cards, only requiring $1,000 in spending to earn a $200 cash bonus. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review), by comparison, requires $1,000 in spending within the first three months to earn a $150 bonus.
If you have a Bank of America bank account you can get at least 10% added to your cash back redemptions, as explained in the section below.
The BankAmerideals shopping portal provides discounts at a small selection of retailers, usually either 5% or 10% off. This discount is in addition to whatever cash back you would typically earn on the purchase.
You’ll also get one BankAmerideal “coin” for every deal you redeem. Every four coins you earn will grant you an additional cash reward. We’ll discuss this more below.
The offers you get will be based on your particular location, and they will change over time. You may find that it includes a majority of restaurants.
Some example offers are:
You won’t find as many retailers here as you would in some other credit card shopping portals, like those you get with the Amex EveryDay Card or Discover it (Review). But it’s interesting that Bank of America will use your location to find deals in your area, a feature that most other cards don’t offer. Check this selection now and then to see if you could save on an upcoming purchase.
Just add any particular deal to your card, and it will automatically be applied the next time you make a purchase from that merchant. Or you could add them all to your card just in case you happen to shop at one of the retailers.
Every deal you use will provide one BankAmerideals coin. After collecting four coins you’ll earn a cash reward. You’ll start at Level 1 in the coin program, which provides a $5 reward for earning four coins. The amount of the reward will depend on your level, with higher levels providing larger rewards. Every time you get four coins and get your reward, you’ll also move up a level.
Here are the levels, along with how much cash back you’ll earn at each one:
You won’t be able to earn a ton of extra cash back through the coin program, but it is a little extra incentive to use these BankAmerideals.
There are three redemption options to get your cash back:
This is the most valuable redemption method, but it requires having a qualifying bank account. We recommend using this method if possible.
Normally, cardholders will get a 10% bonus when redeeming cash back into an eligible account. That means you’ll be getting the equivalent of 3.3% cash back on gas with this card, 2.2% back in the other categories, and 1.1% back for all other purchases.
Take note that only the basic spending rewards are eligible for this bonus. The cash back you can earn through the signup bonus is not eligible.
The eligible bank account types are:
So, for example, if you have $100 in cash back saved up and you redeem in this way, you’ll end up getting $110 deposited into your account.
You can increase that bonus even more by signing up as a Preferred Rewards client. Preferred Rewards tiers are based on the combined balances in your eligible accounts: the larger your combined balances, the higher your tier and the bigger your bonus will be.
|Preferred Rewards Tier||Combined Balance Required||Cash Back Bonus||Max Cash Back Equivalent (Gas Category)|
|Not a member||No requirement||10%||3.3%|
Your cash back bonus will increase quite a bit as your balances grow. The last column above shows the maximum cash back rate you’ll be able to get, which is for spending in the gas category. If you were to redeem $100 as a Platinum Honors member, you’d end up with $175 deposited into your account.
That’s quite a nice bonus to the regular rewards rate. Redeem $100 as a Platinum Honors member and you’ll get $175 deposited into your account, for instance. It ends up being an excellent cash back equivalent at the higher end, especially for a no-annual-fee card like this. But it will take a very large bank account balance to get that deal. If you have that kind of money, it might be more worth your while to look for a higher-end reward card with better rewards and benefits.
Preferred Rewards members will also get some perks that are unrelated to credit cards. These include better interest rates on loans and savings accounts, reduced banking fees, and priority customer service.
You can redeem your cash back as a statement credit to simply reduce your account balance. This is quick and easy, and it will probably be the best method for anyone who doesn’t have a Bank of America bank account.
You can also have your cash back mailed to you as a personal check. This will take 14 days.
This method takes the longest, and requires the most work from you. But you may want to get a personal check if all three of the following apply:
If this is the case, you may want to get your cash back rather than just letting it sit in your account.
The benefits you get with this card will depend on your account type.
If you’re approved for this card with a credit limit below $5,000, you’ll get a standard Platinum Mastercard. If your credit limit is $5,000 or above you’ll get a World Mastercard.
A Platinum Mastercard account comes with a very basic set of benefits, while a World Mastercard account has slightly upgraded benefits.
The following benefits may be available to you, depending on your card account. Be sure to check your Guide to Benefits or contact customer support to find out the specific features of your card.
Every cardholder will get FICO Credit Score access, regardless of account type.
Use this card to monitor your FICO 8 Credit Score over time, based on your TransUnion credit report. You can sign up to get alerts when it’s updated every month.
You can see your score every month for the past year, along with how it compares to the national average. BofA will also show you the key factors affecting your FICO score, areas you could work on to improve your credit.
Many credit card issuers today allow you to monitor one of your credit scores for free. In some cases they may use VantageScore rather than FICO, or a different credit report other than TransUnion. The Citi Double Cash Card, for example, provides your FICO score from Equifax. And the Amex EveryDay Preferred tracks your FICO score from Experian.
Eligible purchases will have their manufacturer’s warranty doubled by up to one additional year. This benefit only applies to warranties of one year or less.
The purchase must be made entirely with the Cash Rewards card. Be sure to keep all records related to the purchase, like receipts, card statements, the warranty information, and any other documentation. Reimbursement is available up to the amount charged to your card, with a maximum of $10,000.
You must file a claim within 60 days of the failure of the product, or your claim might not be honored. To do so, call 1-800-MC-ASSIST and request a claim form. Then follow the instructions from the benefits administrator.
Many situations won’t be covered by this benefit, unfortunately. Here’s a partial list.
You probably can’t count on this benefit to always back up your purchases, given how many situations are excluded, but it does have the potential to save you some money. If something you buy with the card fails in some way covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty, it would be worth checking to see if you can take advantage of an extended warranty.
An extended warranty is one of the most common benefits to find on credit cards. Most other reward cards like this offer it.
Call Travel Assistance Services when you need help away from home. This benefit is available when traveling 50 miles or more away from home, unless you live in New York in which case there is no mileage requirement.
Just call 1-800-MC-ASSIST to speak with the benefits administrator. You must pay for any third-party services involved. There are four main categories of assistance included with this benefit:
If you get in trouble while traveling, it’s nice to know that you have a service like this backing you up.
Eligible rented vehicles are covered against damage and theft, as long as the rental company’s own insurance is declined.
Take note of some of the terms and conditions you’ll need to abide by:
This benefit covers damage and theft, along with certain other charges like towing to the nearest collision repair facility. Other associated costs are not covered, such as:
This benefit’s coverage is provided on a secondary basis, after your primary auto insurance.
Many types of vehicles are not covered, unfortunately. Trucks, moving vans, trailers, and antique vehicles are not covered, among several other types. Basic rental cars seem to be one of the few cases that are covered, the kind you might get after flying to a city away from home.
To file a claim, call 1-800-MC-ASSIST and follow their instructions. Be prepared to provide plenty of documentation, including a receipt, a card statement, copies of your license and personal insurance, police reports, and more. You may be required to send in an arm and/or leg.
Like the Extended Warranty, this is another benefit that you’ll find on most credit cards.
This card’s benefits will depend in part on your credit limit, which will determine the level of benefits you get from Mastercard.
You may get some other basic protections, like:
Be sure to check your Guide to Benefits to see which features your card has, and how to access them. If you’re not sure contact customer support.
|Intro Purchase and Balance Transfer APR||Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|0% for 12 billing cycles||16.24%–26.24% Variable||16.24%–26.24% Variable||19.24%–27.24% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$0||3%||3%, $10 minimum||See Terms|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Up to 29.99% Variable||Up to $39||Up to $28|
You’ll get 12 months at 0% APR with this card, giving you a year to pay off purchases without accumulating extra interest charges.
That rate also applies to balance transfers, so you can transfer a balance away from a different account with a high interest rate. Just divide that balance by 12, and it will give you how much you’ll need to pay each month to eliminate the debt before the intro period ends. We suggest dividing by 11, to make sure it’s paid off in time.
There’s no annual fee to pay for this card, letting you earn cash back potentially for free. After your 0% intro rate runs out you can still avoid interest charges by paying off your balance in full each billing period.
That will be good for you (and your credit) in several ways:
That’s why we recommend always paying your balance in full if you don’t have a 0% intro rate. If you do have a 0% rate, remember that you’ll still need to make minimum payments at the very least.
|Bank of America Customer Support||1-800-732-9194|
Customer support is an important but often overlooked aspect of credit cards. It doesn’t matter much when everything is just peachy, but if something goes wrong or you have a question about your account, this is where you’ll turn for help. If that time comes you’ll be glad to have good customer support backing you up.
Every year, J.D. Power conducts their Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, ranking the top credit card issuers in the country. Bank of America typically doesn’t do too well, usually placing in the lower half. In 2017 they ranked 6th out of 11 issuers, not a great showing.
However, we’ve usually had pretty good interactions with their customer support, and it’s a bit surprising to find them so low.
We called them recently to ask one specific question about the benefits that come with the Cash Rewards card. If you were originally approved with a credit line less than $5,000, you’d get a Platinum Mastercard with the most basic set of benefits available, as described above. But if your credit line is $5,000 or above you’ll get a World Mastercard version of the card, with a better set of benefits.
Our question was: What if you’re originally approved with a credit limit below $5,000, but then you increase your credit limit past $5,000 later on? Can you get a card upgrade? (This was actually my situation, and I was trying to improve my lot in life while doing research for this post. I call that extra credit.)
We had to wait on hold for a while as our rep investigated the possibility. But at least we had a chance to make a thorough study of the elevator waiting music.
To be fair, this is probably a question that very few people ever ask. You’d have to be a credit card insider to even try. Kudos to the rep we spoke with, who was patient and checked in to make sure we were still waiting, and to assure us that he was still working on it. That’s much better than some other calls we’ve been on, which have disconnected after being on hold for too long.
Finally we did get an answer, and it was just as we hoped. Bank of America may upgrade your account type if your credit limit reaches $5,000 or above, you just have to ask.
They won’t need to pull your credit to do this so you won’t get any hard inquiries, like you might when requesting a credit limit increase. All of your account history and card activity will transfer over to the new account. However, your card account number may change.
We were told that we’d get a response to this upgrade request within 7 days, and that a new card would arrive in 2–4 weeks.
Overall this was actually quite an easy customer support interaction. Although it took a little while to complete, card upgrades are a bit complicated and not as simple as just answering a question.
The rep we spoke to immediately understood our somewhat-complicated request, and he knew exactly what he was doing. We spent some time on hold, but it seemed understandable given the nature of our question. If you need to contact Bank of America, we expect that you’ll have a similar experience.
Bank of America provides a live web chat, whether you’re a cardholder or not, although this service is not always available. Occasionally you’ll find their chat box popping up on the screen as you browse their site. This is different than most other credit card issuers, which only provide a live chat for cardholders.
However, depending on the reason you contacted them, you still may be asked to call Bank of America to resolve your issue. The web chat isn’t a secure connection, so for any questions regarding your account they’ll probably ask you to give them a call.
We spoke to Bank of America reps through their web chat to learn a bit more about this card. We learned that BofA may check any one of your credit reports when you apply for one of their cards, from any of the three major credit reporting agencies.
They also told us how this card is currently issued as a Mastercard, but you can get a Visa if you call customer support and ask (after being approved). We also heard about how the benefits you get with this card will depend on your credit limit, as explained above. We inquired about upgrading our card from a Platinum Visa to a Visa Signature, and were told that we’d need to call, which makes sense. It was quick and easy to speak with them, and they seemed pretty knowledgeable too, answering our questions without much delay.
You can use Bank of America’s web chat to get general answers about their card offers. But if you need specific help with your account, we recommend you save yourself some time and call.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the better no-annual-fee cards available for frequent purchases of gas and groceries, and the extra 3% categories you can choose make this an even more appealing offer.
If you’re like most people you probably have those expenses fairly regularly, so you might as well get a bit of a discount on them. The 3% and 2% cash back might not seem like a whole lot, but over the years it can add up to a hefty sum. The ability to choose your own category is rare among credit cards, giving you the flexibility to earn more cash back in the categories you spend the most in, rather than being stuck with static categories.
This card rewards you more for being a Bank of America bank account holder, starting at a 10% bonus. If you don’t already have a BofA account, the cash back boost alone probably isn’t a good reason to open one. But if you do have a BofA account you’ll have an extra incentive to get this card, especially if you have a lot of money in the bank.
The extra benefits aren’t the most valuable, compared to some other rewards cards. But at the least you’ll get a basic set of shopping and travel protections, depending on your card account type. And you can check your FICO 8 Credit Score whenever you’d like.
You won’t need to pay an annual fee, giving you a way to earn cash back potentially for free. The 0% intro APR for 12 months will help you avoid interest, giving you some time to pay off purchases or a balance transfer. You won’t get an intro rate like that with every cash back card, though it’s not too uncommon either. After that period your regular rate will be 16.24%–26.24% Variable.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards might be the right card to help you earn some cash back on the kinds of purchases you make every week. But there are many other options for grocery and gas spending as well. Check out some of those alternatives below.
Click the Apply Now button below to go to Bank of America’s website to begin the application. Bank of America will check one of your credit reports from one of the major credit bureaus.
Most people will get an instant decision, approved or denied. But in some cases it may take a bit longer, or Bank of America may request more information from you.
This card will come as a Mastercard by default. After being approved you can contact customer support to request a Visa card instead, if you prefer. There probably aren’t any strong reasons why you might need to do this, as Visa and Mastercard are quite similar in most ways. The only differences will be in some minor details of the benefits.
This makes it a great option if you find yourself making credit card transactions almost every day, or if you want to have authorized users on the account as well. However, you’ll need to redeem your points for flights or certain gift cards if you want to get the best value for them.
This card probably only makes sense if you’re going to use it at least 30 times per month to get the 50% bonus. Do that and you’ll be earning 4.5X points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, and 3X points per dollar in the other bonus categories.
Your Membership Rewards points will be worth 1 cent each at the most when redeemed for flights or gift cards at certain merchants. If you redeem with other methods, like statement credits, you’ll get less per point. So this card is mainly designed for travelers, specifically people who will use their points to book flights or transfer to partner airlines or hotels.
You’ll be earning the equivalent of 3% cash back at supermarkets normally, but if you get that point bonus you’ll effectively be getting the equivalent of 4.5% cash back. The other categories will provide a 3% cash back equivalent, with a 1.5% equivalent for every other purchase.
You can also transfer your Membership Rewards points to a traveler loyalty program, where they might be more useful to you. If you like to fly with Virgin Atlantic Airways, for example, you can transfer your points and use them to book a flight. Or transfer them to a hotel partner like Hilton to book a stay. But the value you get for a point transfer will vary, and it may be more or less than 1 cent per point. If you end up getting more than 1 cent per point, you’ll be earning a proportionally higher cash back equivalent.
The Cash Rewards card can’t transfer rewards in any way, though it does provide a point bonus when depositing into a bank account.
You’ll get a more valuable set of extra benefits with the Amex EveryDay Preferred than you will with the Cash Rewards card.
The Amex card includes most of the perks that Bank of America provides, plus more. There are more shopping and travel protections, like Return Protection. It offers Guaranteed Lowest Hotel Rates when booking through Amex Travel and a Baggage Insurance Plan, both nice features to have for travelers.
Cardholders get access to the Amex Offers shopping portal, which is similar to the BankAmerideals portal but it has a wider selection. Some of the current Amex Offers are $20 back when spending $100 or more at Bloomingdale’s, and $20 back when spending $60 or more with the Google Express shopping service.
There are a few other minor perks as well. American Express typically provides a decent set of benefits with their cards, especially cards with annual fees like this one.
You’ll need to pay an annual fee of $95 for the EveryDay Preferred, unlike the Cash Rewards card. You can offset this fee by spending a minimum of $2,112 per year, assuming you earn at the 3X rate, get the 50% point bonus, and redeem points for 1 cent each. If you get a good deal on a point transfer it could take less spending than that.
The Amex card comes with a 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, just like the Cash Rewards. After that your regular rate will be 14.99%–24.99% Variable. The other terms and fees are pretty similar as well.
The EveryDay Preferred could be a great card if you will:
Most people probably won’t use a single credit card 30 times per month. But if that sounds like you, this card might fit into your spending habits quite nicely.
Read more in our Review of the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card
So this card provides 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (like grocery stores) and 2% back at U.S. gas stations, which is the opposite of what you can get with the Cash Rewards card. In this case you don’t have a reward category for wholesale clubs, but instead you get certain U.S. department stores.
The Cash Rewards card has a quarterly spending limit of $2,500 for its 2% and 3% bonus categories. But the spending limit on this Amex card only applies to purchases at U.S. supermarkets. That $6,000 yearly limit comes out to an average of $1,500 in spending per quarter.
The limit on the Amex card could work out better for you than that of the Bank of America card, depending on what you typically spend on groceries, gas, online shopping, and the other categories you can choose.
You’ll get $150 cash back for the introductory bonus of this card, just like the Cash Rewards. But in this case you’ll need to spend $1,000 to get it, twice as much as you’d need to spend with the Cash Rewards.
There is no opportunity for a cash back boost with this card, so the maximum you can earn is 3% back. You can get more than that from the 3% categories with the Cash Rewards, but only if you redeem into an eligible bank account.
The Blue Cash Everyday wins when it comes to the extra benefits. You’ll get some basic shopping and travel protections, like Purchase Protection. These will probably cover more situations than what you get with the Cash Rewards.
And more than that, cardholders also get access to the Amex Offers shopping portal. This is much like the BankAmerideals service, but it includes more merchants and may be more useful for you. American Express may offer personal loans through this service, depending on your creditworthiness, and discounts on certain utilities.
There’s also the Entertainment Access perk, providing presale and preferred tickets to certain live events. And complimentary ShopRunner membership, giving you free two-day shipping and returns at certain online merchants.
There’s no annual fee for the Blue Cash Everyday . It also comes with a 15-month 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers, three months longer than the Cash Rewards. After that your regular rate will be 14.49–25.49% Variable .
The Blue Cash Everyday and Cash Rewards cards are pretty similar overall, although the reward rates for groceries and gas are switched. But the Amex card also comes with better benefits, along with a slightly longer 0% APR period .
Read more in our Review of the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
So there are no bonus categories, and instead you’ll get a simple 2% back for every purchase you make. This card is also different than most because you get half your cash back when you charge a purchase to your card, and the other half when you pay for that purchase.
That’s about all there is to this cash back program.
Compared to the Bank of America Cash Rewards, you’ll be earning a bit less cash back on gas and the other 3% categories with the Double Cash. But you’ll earn just as much cash back on groceries and at wholesale clubs. And you’ll get twice as much cash back on every other purchase, making this card a bit more broadly useful than the Cash Rewards.
This is a general-use cash back card so it’s good for any kind of spending, without a particular focus. That makes it an excellent option to pair with other cards.
You could use the Cash Rewards whenever you’re making purchases in its bonus categories, for example, and the Double Cash for all other expenses. That would split up your spending between the two cards, which would be better for your credit utilization. And it would also ensure that you get 2% back or more for every purchase.
The Double Cash has slightly better benefits than the Cash Rewards card, but there are only a few that stand out.
Cardholders get a Personal Concierge to call for any non-emergency help they might need, like making reservations at restaurants or finding travel information. This may not be terribly useful for you, but it’s interesting to find this benefit on a no-annual-fee card like this. Usually it only comes at a price.
You can also check your FICO Bankcard Score 8 credit score for free whenever you’d like, just like the Cash Rewards card. Citi will use your Equifax credit report, however, rather than your TransUnion like BofA.
There’s no annual fee to use this card.
It comes with a 0% introductory offer for 18 months on Balance Transfers only, not purchases. So this is a good card offer if you want to transfer a balance away from an account with a high APR, giving you a year and a half to pay it off. You will be charged a balance transfer fee of 3%, however. After the introductory period ends your regular rate will be 15.49% – 25.49% (Variable).
The Cash Rewards card is more versatile here, offering a 12-month 0% APR for both purchases and balance transfers before the regular rate of 16.24%–26.24% Variable. It’s not quite as long, but since it applies to purchases as well you can also use it for the spending you do with the card.
Read more in our Review of the Citi Double Cash Card
The AARP Credit Card from Chase is one of the better card offers for anyone who just wants a way to earn cash back on gas, though it lacks most of the categories of the BofA card. You don’t need to be an AARP member to apply for this card.
So you’ll get just as much cash back for gas and dining, although you can earn unlimited cash back rewards with this card. The lack of a limit on bonus category spending is a nice feature to have, compared to being restricted to the first $2,500 in spending like the Cash Rewards card.
If you spend an above-average amount on gas, or if you want to sign up authorized users, the AARP is a good option to earn unlimited rewards on that spending.
The AARP card doesn’t have bonus categories for online shopping, grocery stores, wholesale clubs, and the other 3% categories you can choose with the Cash Rewards card. So if those are important to you this card might be off-limits. But you will have the same dining category, and in this case you can earn unlimited cash back at restaurants. This could be very valuable for anyone who goes out to eat frequently.
In addition, for every purchase you make at a restaurant with this card, Chase will donate 10 cents to the Drive to End Hunger. They’ve pledged to donate up to $1 million annually in this way, and have already donated over $8.7 million since 2011.
The $100 signup bonus for the AARP card is not quite as good as the one you’ll get from Bank of America, providing $50 less for the same amount of spending.
The extra benefits of the AARP card are mostly the same as the Cash Rewards. But the AARP card comes as a Visa, with no option to switch to Mastercard.
You’ll get either a Visa Platinum or Visa Signature version of this card, depending on your credit limit on approval. This is just like how the Cash Rewards card works.
The normal Visa Platinum level will include basic benefits like Roadside Dispatch and an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver.
An upgraded Visa Signature account has better perks, as you’d expect. In addition to the Platinum benefits, cardholders also get Extended Warranties and Travel and Emergency Assistance Services, among others.
Overall, there isn’t much to compare here because the benefits are going to be almost exactly the same between these cards.
There is no annual fee for the AARP credit card. It also doesn’t have a 0% introductory APR for purchases or balance transfers, so any expenses will start accruing interest unless you pay off your balance in full each month.
Other than the 0% intro rate, these cards are pretty similar in their costs and fees.
Do you use this card? How do you like it? Leave your own review of the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card.
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