2021 Review: Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card – Best For Online Shopping?
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The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card provides a flexible earning experience, allowing you to choose from six different categories to earn 3% cash back in. Additionally, you’ll earn 2% at supermarkets and wholesale clubs, and 1% everywhere else. You’ll also be able to check one of your credit scores, and will gain a few shopping and travel protections.
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The information related to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, and Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.
Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars
We give the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card 5 out of 5 Stars because it’s an easy way to earn cash back on gas and groceries, for no fee.
Why We Like It
- Choose a 3% cash back category each month to fit your spending as it changes throughout the year
- A 0% intro APR period for quite a while
- The welcome bonus is easy to get, compared to other cards
- Bonus cash back for depositing into an eligible bank account
- Free FICO Credit Score monitoring
- No annual fee
Why It Could Be Better
- You may be able to get a better rewards value with other cards for certain purchases
- The extra benefits are pretty basic for the most part
The Bank of America Customized 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:
- Online shopping
- Home improvement/furnishings stores
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 introductory bonus too.
Bank of America bank account holders have an extra incentive to get this card, with a cash back bonus of 25%–75% when redeeming into an eligible bank account.
There’s no annual fee to worry about paying, and cardholders get 15 billing cycles at 0% APR for both purchases and balance transfers before the regular rate of 13.99%–23.99% 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.
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card
- Pick your rewards: Choose your 3% category based on the type of spending you’ll do most: Gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores, or home improvement/furnishing stores. You can change this every month to keep up with your expected shopping plans.
- Reach the welcome bonus: $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
- Bring it all the way to the bank: Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can get a reward bonus of 25% or more. The more money you have in eligible BofA or Merrill Lynch accounts, the bigger your bonus.
- Keep an eye out for savings: Check the BankAmerideals offerings to find discounts of 5%–10% at nearby merchants.
- Take advantage of the intro offers: Use the 0% intro APR to pay off purchases over time at zero interest, or transfer a balance away from a card with a high APR.
- Keep tabs on your credit: Monitor your FICO Score 8 Credit Score using Bank of America’s free credit score service, based on your TransUnion credit report, and find tips to improve your credit scores.
This card can provide 1%–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 quite a bit of money in the bank.
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.
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 one of the best rates you’ll find for online shopping in general. That’s true for drugstores and home improvement stores as well.
If you have a Bank of America bank account you can get at least 25% added to your cash back, as explained in the section below.
BankAmerideals Shopping Portal
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 Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (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 two redemption options to get your cash back:
- Statement credit
- Mail a personal check
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.
Mail a Personal Check
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 both of the following apply:
- You have a $0 balance on your account, so you don’t need to use a statement credit
- You don’t plan on using the card for a while
If this is the case, you may want to get your cash back rather than just letting it sit in your account.
You may get some shopping and travel protections along with the benefits below. Check your Guide to Benefits or contact customer support to find out the specific features of your card.
- Preferred Rewards program: Earn a 25%–75% cash back bonus, determined by the balance of your Bank of America and Merill investment accounts. There are three tiers: Gold ($20,000+), Platinum ($50,000+), and Platinum Honors ($100,000+). Each one provides a higher bonus than the last.
- FICO Credit Score Monitoring: Use this card to monitor your FICO Score 8 over time, based on your TransUnion credit report.
- $0 Fraud Liability: To protect against unauthorized charges
- Identity Theft Resolution: Services to help if you become a victim of identity theft
The Terms & Fees
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable||0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable||16.99%–28.99% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|3%, $10 minimum||See Terms|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Up to 29.99% Variable||Up to $40||Up to $29|
You’ll get 15 billing cycles at 0% APR with this card, then it’ll be 13.99%–23.99% Variable. That gives you over 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 the number of billing cycles at 0% APR, 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 one fewer month, 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:
- Interest will never accrue on your account, helping you avoid soaring credit card debt
- It will keep your credit utilization lower, meaning higher credit scores for you
- You’ll never have late payments, which will show lenders that you’re a responsible credit user, also increasing your credit scores
- Your credit line will be freed up and ready to use again to earn more cash back
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.
The Bottom Line
The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards 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 25% bonus. If you don’t already have a BofA account, the cash back boost alone probably isn’t a good reason to open a new card. 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 Bank of America Customized 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.
How Do I Apply for the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card?
Click Apply Now 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.
What Credit Scores Do I Need to Qualify for the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card?
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card is designed for people with good credit.
If you’re within 670–739 for FICO or 700–749 for VantageScore, you’re considered to have good credit.
But approval relies on more than just credit scores. So it’s possible that if you have lower credit scores than what’s recommended, you may still get the card. Or, even if you have high credit scores, you might not.
Qualifications and Requirements
- Must be 18 to apply
- Personal information: SSN, email address, phone number
- Financial information: Total annual income, source of income, monthly mortgage/rent payment
Frequently Asked Questions
How does the Preferred Rewards program work?
Depending on the total of your Bank of America bank accounts balances and your Merrill investment accounts balances, you may qualify for three different membership tiers: Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Honors.
Gold tier begins at $20,000, Platinum at $50,000, and Platinum Honors begins at $100,000. Each tier provides better rewards than the last, including increased interest rates on your savings account and bonus reward earnings for your credit card: a 25% bonus, 50% bonus, and 75% bonus, respectively.
Instead of earning 3% cash back, for example, you’d be earning 3.75%, 4.5%, or 5.25% cash back based on your membership tier.
How do I redeem my cash back rewards?
You’ll have two redemption methods for your rewards: a statement credit, or they’ll mail you a personal check.
What are the reward categories I can choose from?
The six 3% cash back categories you can pick from are: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, and home improvement/furnishing stores.
Alternatives to the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card
The information related to Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.
American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.
The information related to Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.
Do you use this card? How do you like it? Leave a comment about the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card below.
Looking for other credit cards to earn points or cash back? Check out our picks for the Best Reward Credit Cards.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.
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