The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card is a cash back credit card that pays you more cash back in one category of your choosing. It also earns a decent flat rate otherwise. This card is especially great for online and everyday spending. For not having an annual fee, it’s hard to beat, and it gets even better for Preferred Rewards members. As long as the cash back caps won’t hold you back too much and you don’t mind foreign transaction fees, this card might be right for you.
In this Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card review, we’ll tell you what makes this card worth applying for and who can qualify. Then, we’ll compare it to a couple of other rewards cards with a lot to offer.
- Best for – People with good to excellent credit who want to choose how they earn cash back without activating offers, Bank of America Preferred Rewards members
- Intro offer/sign-up bonus – Earn a $200 cash bonus when you make $1,000 or more in qualifying purchases within 90 days of account opening
- Rewards – 3% cash back on one category of your choosing, 2% cash back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Annual fee – $0
- Intro APR – 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months from account opening
- Other unique features – Higher cash back rates for Preferred Rewards members, alternative secured and student options, longer intro period than other cards
Pros & cons
- Custom categories — You get to pick your top-earning bonus category for yourself, and categories don’t rotate or change unless you change them
- No annual fee — There’s no annual fee for this card, so nothing to hold you back from earning.
- Opportunity for more cash back — If you’re a member of Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program, you can get a 25%-75% rewards bonus.
- Point caps — Cash back isn’t unlimited for the highest-earning bonus categories, so you’ll need to be mindful of your spending to try to keep it under the $2,500 quarter cap.
- Foreign transaction fee — You’ll pay 3% more for every transaction you make out of the country.
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card benefits
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card is a rewards credit card that works differently from other cash back credit cards you may have heard of or used. It’s a category credit card, which means you’ll earn the most cash back on select bonus categories.
This card earns between 1% and 3% on everything. The rates are broken down like this:
- 3% cash back on one category of your choosing (on up to $2,500 per quarter, combined with 2%)
- 2% cash back at grocery stores (on up to $2,500 per quarter, combined with 3%)
- 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases
The most important thing to note is that there are limits for the highest two cash back categories. Each quarter or every three months, you’ll only be able to earn 2% or 3% cash back on up to $2,500. After that, you’ll automatically earn 1% on everything. Many category cards like this cap spending even sooner, often at $1,500 per quarter or $500 per statement period, so $2,500 isn’t bad at all.
1% cash back is unlimited, but this is a little lower than what you would earn on a flat-rate cash back card.
You can change your 3% category once per month if you know you can earn more with a different option, but once you’ve chosen a category, it won’t change unless you change it. Bonus categories don’t rotate so there are no timely offers you need to activate to keep earning as much as possible, and you’ll never be required to swap your chosen category for another.
The 3% cash back categories you can choose from are:
- Online shopping
- Drug stores
- Home improvement/furnishings
For online shopping, qualifying merchants include Amazon, Etsy, Target, Apple, and more. This is a unique bonus category that is far less restrictive than you might think. If you choose online shopping for your earning, it applies to clothing and apparel, electronics, retail store purchases, and many other types of stores.
You can redeem cash rewards for a statement credit or transfer them to a Bank of America account if you just want spending money. But you can also redeem your cash back for investment capital by transferring it into a qualifying Merrill account. You have the option to either initiate transfers yourself or set up automatic redemptions for at least $25. So each time your balance reaches a certain amount, it’ll be redeemed and sent to your chosen account.
This card pays even more cash back to Preferred Rewards members. The Preferred Rewards program is like a banking loyalty program. It rewards you for keeping higher balances with Bank of America and Merrill, and the more money you have across your Bank of America deposit accounts and Merrill investment accounts, the higher your tier and the more perks you’ll qualify for. Just one of these perks is higher cash back rates for qualifying credit cards.
As a Preferred Rewards member, you’ll earn between 25% and 75% more cash back on everything with the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card. How much more cash back you’re eligible to receive depends on your rewards tier. Here’s a breakdown of the bonuses for each of the four tiers:
- Gold Tier — 25% credit card rewards bonus (3.25% cash back on one category, 2.25% cash back on grocery stores, and 1.25% cash back on everything else)
- Platinum Tier — 50% credit card rewards bonus (3.50% cash back on one category, 2.50% cash back on grocery stores, and 1.50% on everything else)
- Platinum Honors Tier — 75% credit card rewards bonus
- Diamond Tier — 75% credit card rewards bonus
The restrictions are the same, so you’ll still only earn the highest rates on up to $2,500 per quarter.
There are no fees to become a Preferred Rewards member or membership fees to stay in the program, but there are steep balance requirements to qualify. For example, to make it to Gold Tier, you need a combined average daily balance of at least $20,000 across your bank and investment accounts for three months. For Platinum Tier, $50,000; Platinum Honors Tier, $100,000; and Diamond Tier, $1 million.
There are many other benefits of being part of this program aside from the credit card boost, including preferred rates on the Bank of America Advantage Savings account; rate discounts on auto loans and mortgages; and reduced fees for certain accounts and products.
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card is also not the only credit card that qualifies for a points bonus through Preferred Rewards. Here are a few others that are eligible:
- Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Elite Credit Card
Other types of cards
One of our favorite things about this card is that it’s just one of three options. If you like this card but aren’t sure it’s a good fit for you right now, there are two other Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards cards.
These are the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Secured card and the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards for Students. Neither of these charges an annual fee and both earn up to 3% cash back on one bonus category.
But for the secured card, you’ll need to make a security deposit of between $200 and $5,000 as collateral when you apply and you won’t qualify for the welcome bonus. As far as secured credit cards go, this is a really solid option with generous rewards and no annual fee, but it does have a really high interest rate of 27.74%. You can be approved with new or poor credit.
For the student card, you may need at least fair credit to qualify unless you have other factors like your income working in your favor. This is one of the best student credit cards we’ve seen for earning cash back, but it doesn’t offer as much credit-building support as we’d like.
Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus when you make $1,000 or more in qualifying purchases within 90 days of account opening. This is an online-only offer, meaning you can only redeem the bonus digitally.
This is a pretty standard welcome bonus offer for a no-annual-fee rewards card. Depending on how much you usually spend in a month, you should be able to reach the required spending minimum if you add most of your purchases to this card for the bonus period.
Fees and interest
You won’t pay an annual fee for the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card, but this is not a fee-free card.
The fees for the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card are nothing we haven’t seen before. Here are the main ones to keep an eye out for.
- Foreign transaction fee — 3%
- Balance transfer fee — 3%
- Cash advance fee — 3%
- Late payment fee — up to $40
The introductory APR period for this card, during which new cardmembers can make purchases and balance transfers without paying interest, lasts 18 months. The regular interest rate will apply after the intro rate.
The regular APR for this card is right around average for cards within this category and this is a longer intro period than many cards offer. Many cards that have intro APRs only give new cardmembers 15 months to take advantage. So if you’re looking for a card to make a balance transfer, this isn’t a bad option.
Who is it for?
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card is an objectively great card with a lot of features that make us like it more than others. But if you want specifics, here are just a few types of people who will get the most out of it.
It’s rare to find a credit card that will pay as much cash back on online purchases as this one. And with so many of us turning to online stores for just about everything we need, this is a good way to pay yourself back on some of your spending.
Preferred Rewards members
If you’re already part of the Preferred Rewards program, signing up for this card is a no-brainer. Even at the lowest tier, you can earn significantly more cash back with a card that’s already worth signing up for. Especially if you’ve had positive experiences with Bank of America, this card should be a great addition to your wallet.
People with good to excellent credit
If you have the credit to qualify for this card, you really don’t have anything to lose by applying. Even if you only use this card for online shopping and at grocery stores, it’s a good one to have on standby.
There are no surprise fees and no annual fee, the interest rate isn’t bad, and this is a better-than-average option for balance transfers. If you think you can qualify and know you’ll use it strategically, you might want to go for it.
Who is it not ideal for?
As much as we like this card, we wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Here are some people who would be better served by a different card.
This credit card was not made to see the world. It’s not a travel rewards card and doesn’t include travel benefits or perks. With a standard foreign transaction fee of 3% and no real travel benefits to speak of like travel insurance, this card doesn’t make sense for frequent travelers. It’s better if you choose travel as your 3% cash back category, but you may find the $2,500 per quarter to be restrictive for this and would miss out on earning more rewards on another part of your spending.
You won’t be able to qualify for the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card if you’re brand new to borrowing and this does not make an ideal first credit card. Instead, choose a credit card that will support you in building up a positive credit history and help you progress to better features. For example, a card with automatic credit line reviews or one that rewards you with a cash back boost each time you make your monthly payment on time.
That said, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards for Students and Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Secured cards are great options for beginners. Both charge no annual fee and have many of the same benefits, but they’re easier to qualify for.
People who will exceed caps
If there’s no doubt in your mind that your spending will far surpass the quarterly limit of $2,500 for the 3% and 2% cash back, then you might not get as much value out of this card as you would a flat-rate rewards card with a higher base earning rate. There are plenty of cards out there that earn 1.5% cash back on everything. And while 0.5% doesn’t seem like much, it can make a pretty substantial difference when you’re talking about free money.
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card vs. competitors
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card is an excellent credit card, but there could be a couple of alternatives that might be a better fit for you. Check out a couple of this card’s top competitors.
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is another great option that may be slightly better or worse than the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card depending on your spending habits.
With this card, you’ll earn 5% cash back in one eligible spend category on up to $500 per billing cycle and 1% cash back on everything else. The nice thing about the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is that it does the work for you. Instead of having to choose a bonus category for yourself and guess which one you’ll spend the most in, Citi adjusts your earnings for you so you’re always getting 5% cash back on whichever category you spend the most in. Eligible categories include dining, gas, grocery stores, and several others. There is no annual fee.
But although 5% is a lot higher than 3%, this card caps you at $1,500 per quarter and online shopping is not an eligible category. If you want to earn the most cash back on online purchases or think $500 a month is too low, choose the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card. Otherwise, you won’t be disappointed with this alternative from Citi.
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card
Although its rewards structure is different from the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a good choice for those looking for a high-earning rewards card who don’t mind a somewhat trickier program.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ Card earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 per quarter for one category, plus 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1% cash back on everything else. The 5% bonus categories rotate every quarter and you have to go in and activate an offer, choosing between a couple of choices, every three months.
With a lower quarterly maximum, no option to choose online shopping as your top category, and activation requirements, this card may have less to offer certain people than Bank of America’s custom rewards card. But if you plan to use your card for travel or know those 3% categories will make all the difference, you’re probably better off with this one.
If you’re looking for a cash-back card with more flexibility than the average rewards card, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. On paper and in real life, this is an excellent card for everyday purchases.