Review: Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card

Instant Approval?

While Bank of America does not offer any sort of guarantee on instant approval, most of its credit card applications do contain the following message near the top:

“Complete your application and get a response in as little as 60 seconds.”

So, when you apply for the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card, or almost any Bank of America card, you may be approved instantly if your credit history is good enough. Note, however, that you will not be able to actually use the card on the day you are approved; you will still need to wait for it to arrive by regular mail.

What It Offers

The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card is a competitive, no-annual-fee, cash-back credit card that could be your everyday go-to card or a good complement to other rewards cards. Where it shines is in the fact that it allows you to earn 3% in one spending category that you choose (from a list of potential categories supplied by Bank of America), and one of those potential 3% categories is “online shopping.” Online shopping obviously encompasses many different types of purchases, meaning you get a lot of flexibility to earn a generous reward.

However, there are limits to Bank of America’s generosity, so let’s break this card down further…

Rewards

You’ll earn:

  • 3% cash back in your choice of these categories: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings (If you fail to make a choice, gas will be your 3% category.)
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on any other purchases with the card


Limits

The 3% category earnings and 2% category earning are NOT unlimited. You’ll earn those enhanced cash-back percentages on the first $2,500 in purchases combined within those 3% and 2% categories each calendar quarter. Any purchases in those categories beyond $2500 in a quarter would revert to a 1% reward.

For example, if you chose “online shopping” as your 3% category, and you spent $900 on online purchases and $1600 on groceries, you’d earn $27 in cash back for the online purchases and $32 for the grocery purchases, but any further purchases in either category would earn just 1%.

This is important to note, because if you’re motivated by that 3% category, you might want to choose a different credit card for groceries (if you have another card that will give you 2%) so that you are maxing out the 3% reward and not hitting that $2500 cap based mostly on grocery store purchases.

New Cardholder Bonus Opportunity

You can earn a $200 bonus if you are approved for this card and make at least $1000 in purchases with it in the first 90 days after opening the account.

0% Interest for 12 Billing Cycles

You won’t pay any interest on your card purchases within the first 12 billing cycles after you get the card, even if you don’t fully pay off your balance by the due date. You can also transfer a balance from a different credit card to this card and pay no interest on that transferred balance for 12 billing cycles. There is, however, a balance transfer fee, equaling 3% of the amount transferred.

While these 0% offers are a nice side perk, be careful not to use them to build up balances that you can’t pay off before the 0% period ends. The standard interest rate on this card can be as high as 26.24%, depending on your credit history, so the interest could pile up fast once your standard rate kicks in.

Bottom Line

This is a competitive credit card in the cash-back space, with no annual fee, a nice potential bonus, and the opportunity for 3% in interesting spending categories. The cap on the 3%/2% categories is a clear downside, however.

If you are looking for an everyday card with the potential for instant approval, this could be a good choice.