Why You Can Trust CNET Advertiser Disclosure
CNET Money's mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors' independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card: Choose Your Rewards

Choose which popular rewards categories suit your budget best.

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card offers cardholders more flexibility than most cards. 

You can choose a bonus category to earn 3% cash-back rewards for, in addition to earning 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. While the added flexibility is nice, rewards are limited to the first $2,500 spent each quarter on combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases before its rate decreases to 1% cash back. It's also worth noting that you don't need a Bank of America bank account to get this credit card.

The card's strength comes from its lack of an annual fee and the uniqueness of its bonus categories. Among the choices for 3% categories are online shopping and home improvement/furnishings, two categories that aren't often found on credit cards. 

The spending cap on rewards means it's not a great option for people who typically spend more than $2,500 on any of its reward categories combined every quarter, like gas and grocery stores. If that's the case, consider looking at the best reward cards to find one that better matches your spending.

That said, the Customized Cash Rewards Card can be a good choice for smaller spenders. It's relatively simple to use and can be paired with other credit cards to maximize rewards across all of your spending. Its welcome bonus is easy to unlock, and it includes an introductory APR for both purchases and balance transfers, but there are few other perks.

In this article

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

7.5/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro Offer$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
APR16.99% - 26.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee (min. $10) applies.
Balance Transfer APR16.99% - 26.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Late Payment Fee See Terms
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% APR
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

Our Take

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.

Rewards and redemption

The Customized Cash Rewards card is all about giving cardholders more control over which purchases they can earn rewards for. The cash-back categories cardholders can choose from include gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings.

If you don't have a card that offers rewards for purchases like gas and groceries -- things you need to buy regularly -- the Customized Cash Rewards card could fill that void. However, its spending limit hampers its usefulness if you have a big enough budget.

The 3% custom cash-back rewards and the 2% cash-back rewards for grocery stores and wholesale stores are limited to the first $2,500 spent in combined categories each quarter before rewards fall to 1% cash back. That makes it better for people who spend less than $2,500 quarterly on the custom 3% and 2% cash-back categories, and worse for people who spend more.

Cardholders can change their main reward category through their online account or the Bank of America mobile banking app -- at most once every calendar month. The default category is gas, so you must be sure to manually change it if you prefer something else.

If you spend more than $2,500 each quarter between grocery stores and your flex category, you'd likely be better off with a flat-rate rewards card or another rewards card with a higher spending limit. Even if the alternative card earns 2% cash back, it'll eventually out perform the Customized Cash Rewards card if it has no spending cap. However, you could also pair this card up with another cash-back credit card to maximize rewards across all your spending.

Once you've earned your rewards, you can redeem them for:

  • Statement credits 
  • Direct deposits into a Bank of America bank account (automatic redemptions into a Bank of America checking or savings account have a $25 minimum)
  • Credit to an eligible Merrill account (one-time redemptions for a contribution to a qualifying 529 or automatic redemptions into a qualifying Cash Management Account with Merrill have a $25 minimum)
  • Paper checks ($25 minimum)

Redeeming for statement credits or having the rewards deposited directly into your Bank of America bank account (if you have one) are going to be the best options. According to the card's terms, 1% cash back is equal to 1 cent per dollar. Statement credits reduce the balance of your credit account, while direct deposits increase the balance of your bank account.

The Customized Cash Rewards card earns good rewards for a card that doesn't have an annual fee, and cardholders could increase its rewards rate by 25% to 75% through Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program. To qualify for that program, you'll need a Bank of America banking account or a Merrill Investing account.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards

The Bank of America Preferred Rewards program gives benefits depending on the balance in clients' Bank of America bank accounts and Merrill Investing accounts. The greater the combined account balances, the greater the perks. You can also qualify for the program with a single account from either institution.

The program has three tiers, each one requiring a certain account balance to progress to the next level.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program

Preferred Rewards rank Combined account balance* Perks
Gold $20,000 to $49,999 • 25% bonus to credit card rewards
• 5% bonus to savings account APY
Platinum $50,000 to $99,999 • 50% bonus to credit card rewards
• 10% bonus to savings account APY
Platinum Honors $100,000 or more • 75% bonus to credit card rewards
• 20% bonus to savings account APY

Each tier also includes discounted rates for certain loans, including auto loans and home equity loans.

*Combined account balance is based on a three-month combined average daily balance

Welcome bonus

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card offers an easily obtainable welcome bonus of $200 online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening. If you're using the card for your gas or grocery spending, it won't be much of a challenge to qualify for.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spent $4,942 on groceries annually in 2020. With inflation running rampant, most households will likely spend even more than that in 2022. Considering that and your incentive to spend within your flex category on this card, spending $1,000 in the first 90 days begins to look all too easy.

Introductory APR offer

There's an introductory 0% APR for new purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles (then 16.99% to 26.99% variable). That means during that period you can finance a purchase and pay it down while avoiding interest charges.

Similarly, you're able to transfer a balance from another card and pay it down as a way to get rid of some credit card debt. Just keep in mind that you'll need to make any balance transfers within 60 days to qualify for the introductory APR, and there's a balance transfer fee of 3% ($10 minimum). But there are other balance transfer cards that would be a better choice.

Comparable cards

The Customized Cash Rewards Card isn't the only option for people who are seeking a bit of flexibility and versatility in their rewards credit card.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

If you're looking for a card that's versatile and potentially more rewarding than the Customized Cash card, consider the Freedom Flex. Its rewards include money back on plenty of purchases thanks to its rotating 5% cash-back categories (on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in quarterly bonus categories when you activate, then 1%) plus additional static cash-back categories.

While the Freedom Flex does have a lower spending limit, it only applies to its rotating categories that change every quarter, meaning you can still earn good rewards even after you reach the spending limit. Its 5% non-rotating cash-back category is travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and its 3% cash-back categories include dining and drug store purchases. You'll earn 1% on purchases that don't fall within those categories.

For information on the current rotating bonus category and other perks, see our full review of the Chase Freedom Flex.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express provides excellent rewards rates for everyday spending, especially for a card with no annual fee. It earns 3% cash back (on the first $6,000 spent each year, then 1%) on U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. online retail purchases. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

While it doesn't offer the same level of flexibility in terms of rewards that the Customized Cash Rewards has, it has a higher overall yearly spending limit for necessities making it a better choice for those who spend more than $2,500 quarterly at U.S. gas stations and supermarkets. 

For more information on this card's offer, check out our full review of the Blue Cash Everyday.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

FAQs

What's the difference between a cash-back credit card and a rewards credit card?

Cash-back credit cards and rewards credit cards are often used interchangeably, though there may be some technical differences. While cash-back credit cards primarily focus on giving you cash-back rewards -- typically in the form of a statement credit -- a "rewards" credit card includes any card that gives you cash back, points, miles or crypto rewards. Typically, you can redeem points and miles for travel, merchandise or gift cards, or you can opt to redeem them for a statement credit.

Should I use an introductory APR for online shopping?

If you have a lot of online shopping to do, an introductory APR may make sense to afford you some breathing room on your payments. However, it's easy to rack up credit card debt if you're not careful. If you use an introductory APR to finance online purchases, make sure that you'll be able to pay off the full balance by the end of the promotional period to avoid racking up interest charges.

Is the Customized Cash Rewards card worth it if you don't use the Preferred Rewards program?

The Customized Cash Rewards Card is still worth getting if you don't plan on using the Preferred Rewards program. The card's rewards are still relatively strong without the added bonus. That said, if you can reach the account balances required to qualify for the program, it's worth doing so, but the card's usefulness is not contingent on the Preferred Rewards program.

And while you don't need a Bank of America bank account to apply for the Customized Cash Rewards card, you would need one to qualify for Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program.

Will my Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card points expire?

Your points won't expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. So as long as you're making your monthly payments on time, you won't have to worry about your points expiring.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.