Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Card Review
Why trust us? Investor.com has no financial relationship with any of the credit card providers whose products we analyze and review. Our opinions are based solely on data and our own extensive independent research — that means unbiased guidance for consumers. Rewards cards in our cashback credit card calculator are listed in descending order according to how much money they pay out annually based on the inputs.
This is the BofA Customized Cash Rewards card’s plainer cousin. And sure, the flat 1.5% is easy money. But a better rewards rate is up for grabs if you’re willing to commit to a deeper financial relationship.
On the surface, the no-annual-fee, 1.5%-unlimited-cash-back-on-everything BofA Unlimited Cash Rewards card is average in every way… unless you’re already (or willing to become) financial BFFs with the bank. Your elevated relationship status if you qualify for the Preferred Rewards program gets you a cashback rewards rate boost of 25% to 75%. (That last one equates to a commitment-worthy 2.62% unlimited — yup, u-n-l-i-m-i-t-e-d — cashback rate.) It does, however, require having a BofA checking and/or Merrill investment account with a three-month combined average of $20,000 or more in it. Banking commitment-phobes need not apply.
The basics: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Earn $200 online cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening. Introductory 0% APR for first 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening. A 3% fee ($10 minimum) applies to balance transfers.
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards pros and cons
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
- Easy rewards math
- Higher cashback rate (1.87%-2.62%) available for BofA/Merrill Edge Preferred Rewards customers
- $200 sign-up bonus
- No annual fee
- 0% intro APR for 18 months on purchases/balance transfers
- We wouldn’t call the standard 1.5% cashback rate amazing
- Lack of bonus categories limits cashback payoff
- Qualifying for the Preferred Rewards program (and cashback rate booster) is a whole thing 🙄
- 3% foreign transaction fee
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards cashback rewards spending categories
The following table shows the cashback rewards rate per $1 spent in the six most common spending categories. The “Bonus Rate” refers to the amount you can earn in excess of the card’s standard rewards rate.
Some cashback cards limit the spending amount eligible for the bonus rate (a.k.a. the “Spend Cap”). Once you hit that cap (e.g. $1,500 spending in a particular category during a defined time period), the rewards rate on future purchases in that category reverts to the lower “Default Rate.”
|Category||Default Rate||Bonus Rate||Bonus Spend Cap||Bonus Spend Period (Months)|
Note: Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can qualify for a 25%-75% rewards rate booster shot by maintaining a minimum balance in a Bank of America deposit and/or Merrill investment account. A $20,000 minimum combined balance gets you a 1.87% cashback rate, a $50,000 balance bumps it up to 2.25%, and a $100,000 minimum balance buys you access to a 2.62% rewards rate. We’ve factored the higher rate into the calculator to show your potential earnings.
What we like
Unlimited across-the-board rewards rock! There’s no clock-watching for expiring rewards categories or ongoing calculations to see how close you are to a spending cap. It’s 1.5% cash back on everything. Period. (Or more, if you’re a BofA customer.)
No annual fee means it’s nbd to keep this card in your charging arsenal for when you hit those aforementioned caps on other cards. Not that you should collect cards willy-nilly. Applying for new lines of credit too often isn’t an attractive look in your credit file.
Existing BofA banking customers or Merrill investing ones may qualify for Preferred Rewards benefits, aka more cash back, as in a 25%, 50% or 75% booster to your rewards rate, depending on your other account balances. Note these rates require minimum banking/investing account balances of $20,000, $50,000 and $100,000 to unlock the respective rewards booster rates.
There’s a $200 sign-up bonus on the line if you put $1,000 on the card within 90 days. Hop to it (in a responsible, promise-to-pay-it-off-in-full-ASAP way, of course).
18 months is a nice long window for the 0% intro APR deal on purchases and balance transfers.
BofA Unlimited Cash Rewards redemption options include the usual (a statement credit) and the option to deposit your bounty into your eligible BofA checking or savings account or Merrill investment account (including a 529 college savings account).
What we don't like
A card with a flat cashback rate like this means there’s no opportunity for elevated rewards. 1.5% is what you see and all you get. (Its relative, the BofA Customized Cash Rewards card, lets you choose a new 3% cashback category every month, though there’s a quarterly spending cap.)
Keeping a minimum average of 20 Gs in a BofA checking and/or Merrill investment account is required to qualify for the higher cashback rates offered to Preferred Rewards customers. Great if you’re an existing customer or shopping for a place to park your cash (like an IRA, rollover 401(k) or a regular brokerage account). Otherwise, it’s all a bit much to earn just a few extra bucks in cashback rewards.
Other cards offer elevated rewards rates for merely opening a checking or savings account at the institution without requiring such a sizable ongoing balance.
p.s.: Don’t forget to actually sign up for the Preferred Rewards program. Enrollment isn’t automatic.
Cashback redemptions into a bank account are only allowed if that account happens to be at BofA. Clearly BofA really, really wants to keep you and your money in its orbit.
Tier One rewards (2.5% on purchases vs. Tier One’s 1.5% rate) don’t kick in until you’ve met eligibility requirements for an entire calendar quarter.
You’ve got just two months to move money onto the card to get the 0% APR on balance transfers deal. Note the 3% (minimum $10) fee on that, and the 18-month no-interest time limit.
The bottom line
Is the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards the best rewards card for your wallet? The answer depends entirely on your spending patterns. Let the numbers speak for themselves: Use the investor.com Cashback Credit Card Calculator to see which credit card pays back the highest rewards based on how much you spend each month.
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards fine print
Don your specs to check out the Unlimited Cash Rewards card rates, fees, rewards features and bugs. The Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program FAQs will help you decide if you’ve got what it takes (accounts-wise) to qualify for a higher cashback rate.
Does the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards charge an annual fee?
No, there is no annual fee for the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards.
Roughly 14% of the consumer cashback cards we track in our database charge an annual fee. The average annual fee is $72.60, while the median is $95.
Does the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards offer a welcome bonus?
Yes, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards has a welcome bonus of $200.
Of the more than 60 cashback credit cards in our database, 66% offer a welcome bonus. Currently, the average sign-up bonus on a new cashback card is $210.71, with the median being $200.
How much cashback can I earn with the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards?
The average American that spends $1000 per month will earn $180.00 in cash back per year using the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards. For comparison, the average annual rewards payout from the cashback credit cards in the investor.com database is $191.26, and $180 is the median.
These calculations are based on average consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the reward payout rates from the providers we track. Of course, you’re so much more than an average data point (aka “consumer unit,” in BLS parlance). The amount you can earn in cashback rewards using the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards depends entirely on your unique spending habits.
Find out exactly how much you’ll rake in with the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards by tailoring the spending inputs in the calculator above.
The results of the investor.com Credit Card Rewards Calculator are based on the monthly spending amounts you enter and the annual dollar value of the rewards each credit card program pays per $1 spent. Credit card companies often express this payout amount as a percentage (e.g., 1.5% of every dollar spent) or on a points basis (e.g. ,1.5 points for every dollar spent). We converted all of them to a dollar amount (“Cash Back Per Year”) to make comparing offers easier.
To calculate the amount of cash back you could earn per year, we factored in:
- Spend category inputs: The default dollar values for each “Spend Category” in the Best Cashback Credit Cards tool — gas, groceries, travel, restaurant, entertainment, pharmacy, other — are based on average American spending data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also include additional spend categories (such as streaming services, online shopping, utilities, transit, Amazon and more) to help you see which rewards cards are most closely aligned with your actual spending patterns. We encourage you to customize the monthly spend inputs for the most accurate results.
- Tiered rewards rates: If a rewards credit card pays higher cashback rates on certain spending categories (also called “Bonus Rewards”), that difference is reflected in the total “Cash Back Per Year” tally.
- Rewards spending caps: Some cards impose category- or time-based limits (monthly, quarterly, annually) that affect the amount of rewards you can earn. For example, a card may pay 3% cash back on groceries on up to $1,000 of spending each quarter, then revert to the base/default rewards rate until the following quarter. We accounted for bonus spending caps and timeframe in the calculations.
- Default rewards rates: Purchases that exceed a spending cap are usually subject to a lower default rewards rate (e.g., 1% or 1.5%). We mathed that out too.
- Annual fees: If a rewards card charges an annual fee, we deducted that amount from the “Cash Back Per Year” total to provide a true accounting of a card’s annual rewards payout.
What’s not included in the “Cash Back Per Year” total is the cash value of any sign-up/introductory bonus. We highlight any Welcome Bonus separately. While sign-up bonuses can be the most lucrative part of getting a new cashback rewards credit card, not everyone will want or be able to do what it takes to earn the extra cash. (It usually requires spending a certain amount in a specified time period after the card is activated.)
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