By Marcy Bialeschki


5 Min. To Read

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Bank of America has some new rules for the cash back game. By allowing you to choose your 3% category, BOA is banking on a new team of players to populate their field. Their strategy is pretty smart, too -- offering extra rewards to Bank of America or Merrill investment customers. If you’re looking for a new credit card and possibly a new bank or investment firm, the BOA Cash Rewards Visa deserves a look. The BOA Cash Rewards card won't win any trophies for offering the most generous rewards. However, $200 cash back for making $1000 in purchases the first three months is an attainable amount for most people who would own this card. The 0% purchase APR for 12 months is also pretty standard, but especially helpful if you plan to make some larger purchases in the first few months.

The BOA Cash Rewards Visa is a category card, which is a plus for organized people who have a good handle on their spending patterns. On the other hand, some people feel category cards are too much trouble and would prefer a card with generous constant rewards.

If you fit the former's description, you will appreciate getting to choose your 3% category from the following list of options:


Online shopping



Drug stores

Home improvement and furnishings

If you are exceptionally organized, you will love the fact that you can change the 3% category as often as every month. Other cash back savings are 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% on all other purchases. As with most category cards, there is a limit to the 3% and 2% savings. After earning $2500 each quarter, your rewards slip down to 1% on all purchases.

The BOA Cash Back Rewards card offers exclusive rewards for Bank of America and Merrill investment customers. By having one of these eligible accounts, you can earn between 25% and 75% more cash back on every purchase with BOA's tiered rewards system.

Earning more cash back requires a BOA or Merrill account, and the amount in the account determines your extra cash back.

The Gold Tier requires at least $20,000 in combined BOA and Merrill qualifying accounts.

The Platinum Tier requires $50,000.

The Platinum Honors Tier requires $100,00.

As your qualifying balances grow, so do your rewards. If your account balances reach another tier, your benefits will automatically be adjusted.

The benefits in the Preferred Rewards program don’t just affect cash back. Each tier also has varied degrees of extras in the following areas:

Savings interest rate

Investment guidance savings

Reduced mortgage fees

Auto loan interest rate discounts

Reduced (eliminated) banking fees

Probably the best and most surprising feature of the BOA Cash Rewards card is no annual fee. It's challenging to find a card of this caliber without paying to use it. While this perk is quite alluring, the other costs and features are relatively standard.

No annual fee

3% foreign transaction fee

3% balance transfer fee

13.99% - 23.99% purchase APR

Penalty APR up to 29.99% (based on creditworthiness) applied to new transactions on the account if you make a late payment. The penalty APR applies indefinitely if APRs are increased.

Up to $40 late payment fee

Up to $29 returned payment fee

Cash advance fee $10 or 3%, whichever is greater

Cash advance APR 16.99% - 26.99% (based on creditworthiness)

The BOA Cash Rewards card offers basic but adequate security features. BOA will block potential fraudulent charges and scan for abnormal spending patterns to protect your account. They will always send e-mail or text message alerts for purchases they suspect you did not make. If someone does compromise your account, you will never be held responsible for fraudulent charges.

The Cash Rewards Visa is also enhanced with chip technology, which adds an extra layer of protection between you and thieves who want to access your account.

With the Cash Rewards Visa, you have the option to sign up for free access to your credit score every month without negative repercussions. In addition, this option gives you access to information surrounding your score, such as the key factors that are affecting it. This feature can be initiated by signing up on the mobile app or through your online account.

As a BOA Cash Rewards Visa cardholder, you can enjoy the convenience of Digital Wallet Technology. This technology allows you to add your BOA card to your device and pay with Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, or Google Pay.

Bank of America also offers overdraft protection as an optional service for cardholders. This service prevents declined purchases and protects you from extra charges connected to your BOA checking account. To prevent charges on returned checks and overdrafts, just link your BOA Cash Rewards card to your eligible BOA accounts.

Finally, upon request, you can go paperless and receive all statements online or through the mobile app.

This credit card requires an excellent credit score. It is estimated that only 40% of the people who have excellent credit will qualify for the BOA Cash Rewards card. So, weight your need for this particular card with the possible hit your credit score will take for applying and being denied.

Here are a few other points to consider before applying:

The Cash Rewards Visa is not a travel card because it does not highlight any travel features and has a 3% foreign transaction fee. You can designate travel as your 3% category, but travelers will need a dedicated travel card in addition to this one.

Make sure you are comfortable with the attention a category card requires or the Cash Rewards Visa from BOA -- like all other category cards -- will be more trouble than it's worth.

One huge benefit of this card is its connection with Bank of America and Merrill investments. If you get this card, consider using it to its full potential by opening a Bank of America or Merrill account. If you already have an account at one of these two institutions, this card is even more attractive.

You can redeem rewards the usual way -- statement credit. Bank of America and Merrill also offer direct deposit into a BOA savings or checking account or a Merrill account as long as the reward is at least $25.

The Bank of America Cash Reward card is shaking up the credit card game with a 3% rewards category done “your way.” But that’s not all! BOA and Merrill account holders have an advantage with three tiers of rewards that can earn even more cash back. And probably the best feature everyone appreciates is no annual fee.

If you have excellent credit, like the details of a category card, and especially if you have eligible BOA and Merrill accounts, the BOA Cash Rewards Visa is a wise credit card choice.

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