The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, July 18, 2024

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card Review

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Editor: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Reviewer: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card Review

Our Rating 4.9 /5.0 ★★★★★

Bank of America issues excellent credit cards. If you have a Bank of America checking or savings account, getting one of its credit cards is a natural choice. But the offerings are so good that you should consider them even if you bank elsewhere.

In this review, we examine the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card and three competing cards with similar reward structures. If you’re looking for cash back rewards, one of these reviewed cards may suit you perfectly.

A Cash Back Card That Puts You in Control

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card caters to consumers who want to decide where they earn rewards. You choose your top-tier 3% reward from a list of eligible merchant categories. You can change the category each calendar month or leave it unchanged indefinitely.

You automatically earn the card’s middle rewards tier, 2%, on eligible purchases at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. The card limits bonus rewards to the first $2,500 of combined net purchases made each calendar quarter. All other eligible purchases earn an unlimited 1% cash back.

How to Qualify & Apply

You can see more details below and apply directly on the Bank of America website by clicking on the Apply Now button:

Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★

4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • $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.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
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 (Balance Transfer Fee 3% for 60 days from account opening, then 4%)
19.24% - 29.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
$0
Excellent/Good

Additional Disclosure: Bank of America is a CardRates advertiser.

You need to meet certain criteria to qualify for the card, including having a:

    • Good to excellent credit score: Typically, you need a good to excellent credit score, meaning a FICO score of 670 or higher. However, the exact score requirement can vary based on additional factors.

    • Stable income: You must disclose your employment status and demonstrate a stable source of income. The bank needs to verify that you can afford your monthly minimum payments.

    • Low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: Your DTI ratio, which is your monthly debt payments and housing costs divided by your gross monthly income, should be relatively low (i.e., below 36%). A low DTI ratio reassures the bank that you are not overextended and are likely to manage new credit responsibly.

You must also be at least 18 years old (19 in some states) and a legal resident of the United States to apply. You can apply for the card online, by phone, or in person at a Bank of America branch. You need to provide personal and financial information, including your Social Security number, income, and employment details.

Before applying, it’s a good idea to check your credit reports for inaccuracies. You can order copies of your reports from the three major credit bureaus and review them yourself.

Disputing and removing incorrect, obsolete, or unverifiable credit report items may quickly boost your credit score. And if you don’t have the time, you can hire a credit repair agency to do the heavy lifting.

Benefits & Drawbacks

Let’s take a closer look at the card’s pros and cons. It offers relatively generous benefits, considering its low fees.

Benefits

    • Cash back rewards: You can earn significant cash back on your eligible purchases. Specifically, you’ll earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (from a list the bank provides), 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Note that the 3% and 2% cash back rates apply on the first $2,500 in the combined choice category, grocery store, or wholesale club purchases each quarter.

    • Introductory APR offer: New cardowners benefit from a 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases. The same rate applies to any balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening the account. This introductory rate lasts for a set period after account opening. After which, a regular APR will apply.

    • Signup bonus: The card typically offers a one-time signup bonus for new cardholders who meet a specific spending threshold within the first three months of account opening.

    • Annual fee: This card comes with a $0 annual fee, so you have more money to spend on purchases.

    • Flexible redemption options: Your cash rewards don’t expire, and you can redeem them at any time and for any amount.

The Preferred Rewards program is lucrative for members. The exact bonus depends on your tier in the rewards program.

Drawbacks

    • Reward category limitations: The 3% cash back categories have limits. The bank caps your bonus rewards at $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter. After reaching this limit, the cash back rate drops to 1%.

    • Foreign transaction fees: It charges a fee for foreign transactions. This fee can add up quickly if you travel internationally or make purchases in foreign currencies.

    • Balance transfer fee. There is a fee for balance transfers, which will reduce the overall savings. As mentioned, only balance transfers you complete within the first 60 days receive the introductory APR.

    • Other fees: The card has a 19.24% - 29.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers. The rates may be higher for cash advances, and a fee applies for each advance. Don’t miss a payment, as you will have to cough up a late payment fee, and your regular APR may zoom up to around 30%. Of course, you can maintain a 0% purchase APR indefinitely by paying your entire balance each billing cycle.

    • Limited bonus categories: While you can choose your 3% cash back category, Bank of America limits your options. You won’t maximize your potential cash back if your major spending categories don’t align with the 3% options.

    • Requires good to excellent credit: Qualifying for this card typically requires a good to excellent credit score, which may currently be out of your reach.

    • Changing categories requires management: You must actively manage and select your preferred category if you want to optimize your 3% cash back. This task can be a hassle if you prefer a more set-it-and-forget-it type of rewards card.

Overall, the benefits of the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card seem to outweigh its drawbacks, although the balance depends on your particular requirements.

Other Cash Back Cards Worth Considering

The following three cards feature cash back rewards, introductory 0% APR promotions, and $0 annual fees. But its rewards programs differ from the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, and it’s up to you to determine which one makes the most sense for your everyday spending.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% 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; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • No annual fee – You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, alerts, and more.
  • Member FDIC
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
20.49% - 29.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card’s high rating stems from its excellent introductory promotions and extra cash back rewards on up to $20,000 of purchases in several common spending categories during the first year.

New cardowners receive a 0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months. This no-annual-fee card also provides purchase protection, extended warranties, and travel insurance.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match for all new cardmembers–only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • 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.
  • Redeem your rewards for cash at any time.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 18.24% to 28.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms and conditions apply.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good

The Discover it® Cash Back card delivers generous benefits to new cardowners. It provides bonus cash back, up to the quarterly limit, on rotating categories, including restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and other merchants.

You must activate the new category each quarter to earn the bonus rate. New cardmembers also get a 0% Intro APR (15 months) on eligible purchases and 0% Intro APR (15 months) on balance transfers, as well as unlimited Cashback Match at the end of the first year. Keep in mind, a regular APR will apply at the close of the promotional period. The card also provides valuable privacy and security protections.

Citi Custom Cash® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • 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.
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 19.24% - 29.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
    Special Travel Offer: Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.
  • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Citi will only issue one Citi Custom Cash® Card account per person.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% 15 months Purchases and Balance Transfers
0% 15 months Purchases and Balance Transfers
19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good, Fair

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

The Citi Custom Cash® Card lets you choose your merchant category each billing cycle to earn the top bonus rate on the first $500 you spend. Eligible categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, transit, streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, and live entertainment options.

The card features a $0 annual fee, a signup bonus, and an introductory 0% 15 months Purchases and Balance Transfers promotion. Its app can alert you to low balance levels, payment due dates, and attempts to spend beyond your credit limit.

Cardholder Reviews on Reddit

Online reviews of the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card are fairly positive. For example, MysteriousHedgehog23 gushes:

“The Bank of America Customized Cash card is great. I use the ‘Online’ category for my 3%, and it counts as an online purchase when I use the card via Apple Pay for gas & food purchases via the app. Groceries and Wholesale stores like Walmart automatically get you 2%. It’s a versatile card, and they’ve been very generous to me with credit line increases. Also, they just recently counted my cell phone bill payment as eligible for the 3% back online purchase.”

Several commentators mention the higher cash back rates available through the Preferred Rewards Program. chethrowaway1234 says: 

“The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card is a pretty mid-card by itself. That said, Bank of America has a lot of perks if you stash $100k or more in assets/cash with them, and that’s when the multiplier goes up to 5.25% cash back. Only then does it become a pretty sweet deal.”

Maximum-Excitement58 has a more ironic take on the Preferred Rewards Program:

The Customized Cash Card is great — all you need is $100,000 parked at Merrill Lynch/Bank of America, and you’ll get 5.25%.”

The consensus seems to be that affluent cardowners get the best value from this card. That’s a bit of a paradox since the same cardowners can easily afford luxury cards with much better perks.

FAQs: What is the Card’s Credit Limit?

The minimum credit limit for this Visa® Signature card is typically $5,000, but cardholders report limits of $50,000 or more. The Bank of America considers several factors when determining credit limits, including:

    • Your credit score: A higher credit score may qualify you for a higher credit limit because it indicates a strong credit history and lower default risk.

    • Income and employment: Your income and employment record are essential factors. You must show that you can afford the monthly minimum payments for your assigned credit limit.

    • Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: This is the ratio of your monthly debt payments to your monthly income. A lower debt-to-income ratio can allow the bank to issue you a higher credit limit.

    • Existing credit limits: Your current credit limits and how much of those limits you use play a role. Generally, you’ll benefit from a low credit utilization ratio (i.e., the percentage of credit used compared to credit available).

    • Bank of America’s lending policies: The bank’s internal policies and risk assessment procedures influence your credit limit.

The bank evaluates each application on a case-by-case basis, and the credit limit for one person may differ from that of another depending on their circumstances.

Which Categories are Eligible for the Top Rewards Rate?

The top rewards rate of the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card is 3%, which you earn on net purchases from merchants in one category you select. You can earn 3% in the choice category and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter. All other eligible purchases earn unlimited 1%.

Eligible merchants for 3% cash back include those whose primary line of business falls under the following choice categories:

    • Gas/electric vehicle (EV) charging stations: You can earn cash back on gas and electric vehicle charging station purchases on your road trip, your everyday commute, and beyond. Earn your cash back at the pump, service stations, marinas, and fuel dealers.

    • Online shopping: Cash back makes online shopping even more rewarding. This category includes cable, internet, and streaming service purchases, books and music, fashion, electronics, and toys, among others. You will earn the top cash back rate whether you shop online or through your mobile device.

    • Dining: Whether you dine in or take out, you can earn top cash back on dining purchases when someone else does the cooking.

    • Travel: This category includes your everyday travel purchases (e.g.,  parking, public transit, taxis, and rideshare) as well as getaways to visit family or new destinations. The top cash back rate applies to traditional travel, including airfare, hotels, tourist attractions, campgrounds, and boat rentals.

    • Drugstores: Includes your annual flu shot, prescriptions, health and beauty items, vitamins, and batteries. Earn top cash back when you buy these items at your local drugstore.

    • Home improvements and furnishings: This category Includes hardware store supplies, furniture, and accent pieces. It also includes contractors such as plumbers, electricians, landscapers, and carpenters.

When you open a new account, the default choice category is gas/EV charging stations. To change your category for future purchases, you must navigate to online banking or use the mobile banking app.

You can select a new category once per calendar month. The category will remain the same if you don’t change it.

How Do You Redeem Bank of America Cash Rewards?

You can redeem cash rewards for a check, statement credit, or deposit directly into a Bank of America demand account. You can also receive a credit to a qualifying 529 account or cash management account with Merrill Lynch.

Some redemptions may be subject to a minimum amount, such as $25. You can request redemptions at any time.

Rewards do not expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing. Unless specifically authorized by the bank, you will forfeit unredeemed cash rewards if you or the bank closes your card account.

You can get a 25% to 75% rewards bonus if you enroll in the Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program. You earn benefits based on your Bank of America and Merrill Lynch account balances.

The four reward tiers vary according to your three-month combined average daily balance:

    • Gold Tier ($20K to less than $50K): 25% rewards bonus

    • Platinum Tier ($50K to less than $100K): 50% rewards bonus

    • Platinum Honors Tier ($100K to less than $1M): 75% rewards bonus

    • Diamond Tier ($1M and up): 75% rewards bonus and no international transaction or ATM fees

You also get a better deal on mortgages, savings rates, brokerage and banking fees, home equity loans, and auto loans, among other financial products and incentives.

You must maintain a balance of $100,000 to earn the most lucrative rewards. Unless you are affluent, these rates may be out of reach.

Cash rewards do not expire as long as your card account remains open with active charging privileges. However, you must redeem the cash rewards within 90 days if you voluntarily close the card account or the bank closes the account for inactivity.

You will lose your cash rewards immediately if the bank closes your card account for any other reason.

How Does the Card Compare to the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card?

The following chart compares the key features of the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card with those of the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card:

FEATURE Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Rewards Program 3% cash back in the choice category, 2% at grocery stores/wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 quarterly), 1% on all other purchases Unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases
Sign-Up Bonus Cash bonus after meeting spending threshold in first few months Bonus points after meeting the spending threshold in the first few months
Annual Fee None None
Intro APR Offer 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases and 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (Balance Transfer Fee 3% for 60 days from account opening, then 4%), then a regular APR applies 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, then a regular APR applies
Regular APR 19.24% - 29.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers Variable, higher after the introductory period
Foreign Transaction Fee Yes None
Credit Score Requirement Good to Excellent Good to Excellent
Redemption Options Cash back, statement credits, deposits to Bank of America accounts, or Merrill contributions Travel credits, statement credits, or gift cards

You may want to consider owning both cards, one for your travel expenses and the other for your remaining spending. This arrangement can maximize your total rewards and benefits.

Is the Card Worth Getting If I Don’t Have a Bank of America Account?

You don’t need a Bank of America account to get the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, although having an existing relationship with the bank can be beneficial. Relationships may include having a checking or savings account, a mortgage, or another credit card with the bank.

If you bank elsewhere, consider these factors before getting the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card:

    • Rewards program: The card lets you choose the top rewards category. The card can be valuable regardless of your banking relationships if one of the available categories aligns with your spending habits.

    • Annual fee: Since the card has a $0 annual fee, it may be a cost-effective choice for earning rewards without the need for additional Bank of America accounts.

    • Redemption flexibility: You can redeem your cash rewards in several ways, including statement credits, deposits into Bank of America or Merrill Lynch accounts, and other options. Not having a Bank of America account means you can’t take advantage of the direct deposit options.

    • Introductory APR offer: You can benefit from the 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases and 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (Balance Transfer Fee 3% for 60 days from account opening, then 4%), then a regular APR applies, with or without a Bank of America account.

    • Missed additional bonuses: As a non-Bank of America customer, you miss out on the additional bonuses offered to Preferred Rewards members. Membership would significantly increase the cash back you earn.

Given these considerations, the card may be well worth owning regardless of your banking relationship with Bank of America if it fits your financial requirements.

This Card May Be For You If…

    • You have varied spending habits: This card allows you to choose your top earning category. You may want this flexibility if your spending varies and you want to earn higher cash back in various categories at different times.

    • You frequently spend at grocery stores or wholesale clubs: You benefit from 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

    • You prefer no annual fees: The card is a low-cost option if you want a rewards card without the burden of a yearly fee.

    • You are interested in introductory APR offers: Getting this card can save you money on interest if you’re planning a significant purchase or want to transfer a balance.

    • You’re a Bank of America customer or plan to be one: As a Bank of America customer, you can join the Preferred Rewards program and earn even higher cash back bonuses.

    • You value flexible redemptions: This card provides flexible redemption options for your rewards, including statement credits, deposits into Bank of America or Merrill accounts, and more.

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card is an obvious choice for bank customers who want control over their cash back rewards. If you bank elsewhere and have good to excellent credit, you would do well to compare the card with the three alternatives we reviewed earlier.

About the Author

Eric Bank
Eric Bank Finance Expert

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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