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Credit Cards

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards review: A credit card that lets you choose the bonus categories

The card has a $200 online cash rewards bonus and allows you to change your spending category each month.

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For cardholders wanting to maximize the rewards they earn from credit cards, choosing a card that aligns with their spending habits is essential. While travel credit cards are great for those who understand how to navigate different travel rewards programs, cash-back cards are great for those who want money and an uncomplicated rewards program.

If you want to earn cash back with flexible bonus categories the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card might be a great option for you. The card has no annual fee and cardholders can change their bonus spending categories each month. Bank of America also incentivizes cardholders who bank with them, so if you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% to 75% more cash back on each purchase. 

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

  • Rewards

    3% on a category of your choice and 2% on grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category and grocery stores purchases) and 1% on all other eligible purchases. However, you can earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase if you're a Preferred Rewards member.

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 online cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    Introductory 0% APR for your first 15 billing cycles on purchases and on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening.

  • Regular APR

    15.49% - 25.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $10 or 3%, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Introductory APR period on balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 billing cycles
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus
  • Have a choice of 6 different categories you can change monthly

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Can't receive a greater cash-back rate unless you're a Preferred Rewards member

Below, Select looks at some of the benefits and drawbacks of the Customized Cash Rewards card to help you figure out if it fits in your wallet.

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card review

Welcome bonus

The card doesn't have the largest welcome bonus on the market, but it's still solid, especially for a no-annual-fee card and for those who are not significant spenders. Customized Cash Rewards cardholders can earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.

The card also has a 15 month 0% introductory APR period on purchases and on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening (after, 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR). This 0% APR introductory period can be helpful for those who need to finance purchases but don't want to be hit with any interest charges immediately.

Benefits and perks

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card has a unique rewards structure: Cardholders will earn 3% on their choice category, 2% on grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on up to $2,500 on combined purchases in your choice category and on grocery purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% on all other eligible purchases. 

The major benefit of this card is that cardholders can choose their 3% bonus spending category each month from six broad categories: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores and home improvement and furnishings. Cardholders can change the category each month via online banking or through the mobile banking app.

If you choose a category like online shopping, you can earn cash back on everything from your grocery purchases on Amazon to buying clothing on Nordstrom.com, making it a good choice for anyone who makes a lot of purchases online. By maximizing cash-back on your choice categories, you could earn $75 each quarter on the 3% choice category alone.

Additionally, the Customized Cash Rewards card is an even better choice if you bank with Bank of America, as Preferred Reward Members can earn 25% to 75% more cash back on each purchase, depending on what tier you're in.

In order to become a Preferred Rewards member you'll need to have an eligible Bank of America checking account, a three month average balance of at least $20,000 in Bank of America deposit or Merrill investment accounts. The different tiers — Gold, Platinum and Platinum Honors — depend on the combined balances in your Bank of America deposit or Merrill investment accounts, with Gold requiring a minimum $20,000 in combined balances.

For example, if you are a Preferred Rewards Member and are in the Platinum tier, with the Customized cash card you'll earn 5.25% cash back in your choice category, 3.5% back at grocery stores and 1.75% on all other eligible purchases.

Beyond the cash back and welcome bonus, the Customized Cash Rewards credit card doesn't have many useful perks. Cardholders can use a virtual version of the card through Apple Pay®, Google Pay™ or Samsung Pay, receive a monthly FICO® Score, get $0 Liability Guarantee if there are fraudulent charges on the card and access online and mobile banking.

How to redeem cash back

With the Customized Cash Rewards card card, cardholders can redeem their cash back in multiple ways:

  • Deposits into a Bank of America checking or savings account
  • Credit to an eligible Merrill account
  • Contribution to a 529 savings plan with Merrill (minimum $25)
  • Check (minimum $25)

Rates and fees

The Customized Cash Rewards credit card has no annual fee. If you're travelling internationally regularly, you might opt for another card as the Customized Cash Rewards card has a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Who is this card best for

If you're looking for a cash-back card with rotating categories, the Customized Cash Rewards card is a solid option. You'll get the most out of the card if you have sizeable deposit and investment accounts with Bank of America, but if you want cash back and a card with bonus categories that you can control, the Customized Cash Rewards card can still be a good choice.

If you're the type of person who wants a card that will allow them to redeem rewards for travel or prefer a product that awards cash back at a flat rate, the Customized Cash Rewards card probably isn't the best choice for you.

Card comparison

The Customized Cash Rewards card is one of many cash-back cards with rotating categories currently on the market. But, does it beat out cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card?

It mostly comes down to whether you're earning the higher rewards as a Preferred Rewards Member.

Citi Custom Cash Card vs. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card

For example, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is a no-annual fee card that automatically gives cardholders 5% cash back (up to $500 and then 1%) on their top spending category each billing cycle. The categories are restaurants and grocery stores, gas stations, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment.

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on purchases in top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (then 1%); unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for first 15 months

  • Regular APR

    16.99% - 26.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer ($5 minimum)

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent, Good

Terms apply.

This means that cardholders can get $25 each billing cycle or around $75 each quarter if they're maximizing spend in their top category. The Customized Cash Rewards card will earn you the same amount, $75 each quarter, if you maximize spend in your choice category.

However, there are a couple of benefits of using the Custom Cash Card: Citi will automatically determine your top spending category and award you cash back accordingly so you don't have to manually activate any categories. Plus, you earn ThankYou® Points which you can redeem in a variety of different ways, like for travel or gift cards.

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Another card you might be considering is the Chase Freedom Flex, a no-annual fee card with quarterly rotating categories. These categories change each quarter and must be activated by the cardholder. Some past categories include gas stations and home improvement stores and select streaming services.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on drugstore purchases and on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services), 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    17.24% - 25.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Intro fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on the rotating category (up to $1,500) each quarter, 3% on drugstore purchases and on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. If you maximized cash back on the quarterly category, you would earn $75. The Freedom Flex also has a welcome bonus of $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.

While the Freedom Flex gives you higher rewards on drugstore and dining, a lower spend threshold to the score the welcome bonus and the ability to earn Ultimate Rewards® points which can be transferred to travel partners with an accompanying Sapphire card, the Freedom Flex isn't actually too different from the Customized Cash Rewards card. Ultimately, when you're deciding between the Custom Cash, the Freedom Flex, or the Customized Cash Rewards, you should consider how much effort you want to put into managing the spending categories and how you want to redeem your rewards.

Bottom line

The Customized Cash Rewards card offers great flexibility for cardholders who want to be able to choose their spending categories each month.

Cardholders who have significant amounts of money in their deposit accounts with Bank of America or investment accounts with Merrill will reap the most from this card due to the higher cash-back rates they get by being a Preferred Rewards member.

Information about the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
Plenty of rewards and benefits including 4X points per dollar for dining at restaurants worldwide
Enjoy an intro APR on purchases plus, Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.