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Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Review: Flexibility to Earn Big Rewards

Review Updated
Lyle Daly
By: Lyle Daly

Our Credit Cards Expert

Nathan Alderman
Check IconFact Checked Nathan Alderman
Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card puts you in control of your card's top bonus category. You can also raise its cash back rates even higher if you have banking or investment accounts with Bank of America and qualify for its Preferred Rewards program. Get all the details in our Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card review.

Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Credit Score: Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Recommended Credit Score required for this offer is: Good/Excellent (670-850)
Credit Score Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Good/Excellent (670-850)

Intro APR Circle with letter I in it. 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases. 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 19.24% - 29.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers will apply. A 3% fee for 60 days from account opening, then 4% fee applies to all balance transfers.

Purchases: 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases

Balance Transfers: 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Regular APR

19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)

Rewards Circle with letter I in it. 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases, 1% on all other purchases.

1% - 3% cash back

Annual Fee

$0

Welcome Offer Circle with letter I in it. $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

$200 cash back

  • This card's wide range of extra cash back options speaks for itself, with a choice of six bonus categories you can change monthly for 3% earnings in the category of your choice. And you can earn 2% back automatically at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. No annual fee and a nice welcome bonus also make this one a winner. Plus, if you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, this card will be even more valuable for you.

    • Competitive welcome bonus
    • Bonus cash back in a category of your choice
    • No annual fee
    • Great 0% intro & transfer APR offer
    • Relationship rewards bonus
    • Foreign transaction fee
    • Limit on bonus cash back
    • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
    • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, automatic 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.
    • Choose 3% cash back on gas and EV charging station, online shopping/cable/internet/phone plan/streaming, dining, travel, drug store/pharmacy or home improvement/furnishings purchases.
    • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase. That means you could earn 3.75%-5.25% cash back on purchases in your choice category.
    • No annual fee and cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open.
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
    • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
    • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Full Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards review

This credit card is a good fit for: Cardholders who want control over where they earn bonus cash back. Bank of America banking and investment clients can unlock higher cash back rates through its Preferred Rewards program.

Features and benefits

Most cash back cards follow a few simple rules. The card issuer decides on the bonus categories and the cash back rates, and those rates normally don't change. With this Bank of America card, it's completely different. This makes it a much more flexible, and potentially more rewarding option.

You choose where you earn bonus cash back

This card's claim to fame is its customizable bonus categories. It earns 3% cash back in a category you choose from a list of six options:

  • Gas and EV charging stations
  • Online shopping, including cable, internet, phone plans, and streaming
  • Dining
  • Travel
  • Drug stores and pharmacies
  • Home improvement and furnishings

It also earns 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. The only downside is that the 3% and 2% rates are on your first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter across those categories. After that, it's the standard 1% rate.

Still, the option to choose a bonus category makes it easy to earn more cash back, especially because you can change your 3% category once each calendar month. This means you can pick the bonus category that best fits your upcoming plans. Here are a few examples of how this can help:

  • Need to do online shopping for the holidays? Make that your bonus category for the month. Personally, I love this category -- I've found that it covers practically any type of online purchase.
  • Going on a road trip? Pick gas and EV charging stations to earn extra every time you fill up at the pump (or plug).
  • About to start an HGTV-inspired home makeover? Go with home improvement and furnishings to earn 3% back on those upgrades.

A big boost to your cash back if you're a Preferred Rewards member

One of the best things about Bank of America is its Preferred Rewards program. If you have enough money (at least $20,000) saved or invested with it, you can become a Preferred Rewards member. That includes quite a few perks, including a credit card rewards bonus of 25% to 75%.

The bonus amount depends on which of the program's shiny tiers you land in. Each tier has minimum balance requirements. Balances in bank accounts with Bank of America and investment accounts with Merrill both qualify. Here's a quick breakdown of the tier requirements and each tier's rewards bonus:

  • Gold: $20,000 combined balance minimum, 25% bonus
  • Platinum: $50,000 combined balance minimum, 50% bonus
  • Platinum Honors: $100,000 combined balance minimum, 75% bonus
  • Diamond: $1 million combined balance minimum, 75% bonus

Even the bonus for the Gold tier is pretty good. And once you're in the Platinum and Platinum Honors tiers, you'll be earning some serious cash back: up to 5.25% in the bonus category you choose. At the highest level, you'll be earning rates that are unmatched, including by the top credit cards. Here's a handy table showing the exact rates this card earns in each Preferred Rewards tier:

Spending category Standard cash back rate Preferred Rewards Gold Preferred Rewards Platinum Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors
Your 3% choice category 3% 3.75% 4.5% 5.25%
Grocery stores and wholesale clubs 2% 2.5% 3% 3.5%
Other purchases 1% 1.25% 1.5% 1.75%
Data source: Bank of America, author's calculations.

Save on interest charges with a 0% intro APR

Cash back may be this card's best feature, but it's not the only benefit. It also has one of the longer 0% intro APR offers, a popular way to avoid interest charges.

The 0% APR lasts for the first 15 billing cycles, and it applies to purchases, as well as any balance transfers you make within the first 60 days. The go-to 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable) APR applies after your card's intro period ends.

I always recommend using this type of benefit with caution. It can be perfect in certain situations -- for example, when you have big purchases to make that you can't pay off right away. In that case, you could put them on this Bank of America card, earn a nice chunk of cash back, and have 15 billing cycles to pay off your balance.

But this kind of offer can also encourage you to spend more, just because there are no interest charges for a limited time. Some people make purchases they don't need and even end up with long-term credit card debt. Only carry a balance on your card if necessary, even if it has a 0% APR offer.

Drawbacks to know about

This card is great for earning cash back, especially for Preferred Rewards members. But it has a few limitations that could affect how much you're able to get out of it.

The bonus caps put a limit on your cash back

You can earn a lot of cash back with this card, until you hit the quarterly spending cap. That's $2,500, combined, across all its bonus categories. That comes out to about $834 per month and $10,000 per year.

If you don't expect to spend more than that in bonus categories, then this is no problem. But if you're a big spender, and you could spend over $1,000 a month on online shopping, dining, or any of the other bonus categories, then this isn't the card for you.

There are plenty of cards that have bonus categories with no spending caps. Now, most of them don't let you choose your bonus categories. You can't quite have it all, at least not yet. But you could find a card with bonus categories you like, without any limits on them, by checking out more credit card reviews.

A foreign transaction fee makes this the wrong card to use abroad

This Bank of America card doesn't travel well. It's a Visa card, so you could use it wherever Visa is accepted, but you'll pay extra. There's a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases outside the United States.

If you ever travel abroad, you're going to want a card with no foreign transaction fee. Otherwise, all those dinners, excursions, and souvenirs are going to cost extra.

RELATED: The Ascent's Travel Credit Cards Hub

Missing extra protections that other cash back cards offer

Bank of America used to offer a solid list of complimentary protections on this card. Not anymore. It got rid of auto rental insurance, purchase protection, and lost luggage reimbursement.

Changes like these often go unnoticed. Let's be honest, most of us aren't choosing a credit card based on which one has the best lost luggage insurance.

They're still a negative, though, especially because there are other cards offering these protections. If you're planning to buy a new iPad, you might want to pay with a card that covers new purchases for damage or theft. This Bank of America card no longer fits the bill.

Find the best credit card for your needs

Compare credit card rewards, fees, APRs, and more using our side-by-side comparison tool.

Suggested credit score

Good to excellent credit (generally a 670-plus FICO® Score) is suggested for the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card. Note, people with higher scores can be declined and people with lower scores may be approved. Credit scores are just one factor used to make a credit decision.

Case in point, Bank of America credit cards are unique in that on some denied applications, it has given "lack of deposits or investments" as a denial reason. Some applicants have also reported being offered the opportunity to get a credit card if they open a bank account with Bank of America first. Based on that evidence, it appears having a banking or investment account with Bank of America could help you get a card with this issuer.

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards is right for you if:

With all its perks and its flexibility, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card can help just about anyone save money. In particular, it's a great choice if any of the following are true:

  • You spend a lot of money in one of the bonus category options.
  • You have banking or investment accounts with Bank of America or Merrill and qualify for Preferred Rewards.
  • You're looking for a lucrative welcome bonus without having to spend that much to get it.
  • You want a 0% intro APR to finance purchases or consolidate credit card debt.

RELATED: Best Rewards Credit Cards

Credit card comparison

We recommend comparing options to ensure the card you're selecting is the best fit for you. To make your search easier, here's a short list of standout credit cards.

Offer Our Rating Welcome Offer Rewards Program APR Learn More
Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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= Excellent
= Good
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= Poor
Best for cash back on rotating categories
Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. Circle with letter I in it. N/A 1% - 5% Cashback Circle with letter I in it. Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.

Intro:

Purchases: 0%, 15 months

Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months

Regular: 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR

Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Best for cash back
Up to $300 cash back Circle with letter I in it. Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases. 1.5% - 5% cash back Circle with letter I in it. Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% on all other purchases

Intro: Circle with letter I in it. 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

Purchases: 0% Intro APR on Purchases, 15 months

Balance Transfers: 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers, 15 months

Regular: 20.49% - 29.24% Variable

Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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= Excellent
= Good
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= Poor
Best for earning travel rewards
75,000 Miles Circle with letter I in it. 75,000 Miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening 2X-5X miles Circle with letter I in it. Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Intro:

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: N/A

Regular: 19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)

Our credit card methodology

At The Motley Fool Ascent, we rate credit cards on a five-star scale (1 = poor, 5 = best). Our rating criteria includes rewards rates, welcome bonuses, fees, and perks like travel credits and 0% intro APR offers to evaluate our ratings.

We combine these factors with an evaluation of brand reputation and customer satisfaction to ensure you're getting the best card recommendations. Learn more about how The Ascent rates credit cards.

FAQs

  • The credit limit for the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card is usually at least $1,000 and can be much higher, with some cardholders reporting limits of over $50,000. Bank of America uses your income, credit profile, and other information to set your card's credit limit.

  • Bank of America cash rewards don't expire, as long as your card account remains open and in good standing.

  • Yes, you can use this card internationally. There's a foreign transaction fee of 3% for international purchases.

Our Credit Cards Experts