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Bank of America Credit Cards: An In-Depth Review

Bank of America has a wide range of credit cards to choose from. So many, in fact, that choosing the right card can be overwhelming. In this article, we're going to look at the three most popular Bank of America credit cards so that you can figure out what rewards, rates, and payment options are right for you. Using a credit card can help restore damaged credit, but only if it's used correctly. Knowing what to expect when you apply for a card will help you keep your head above water and keep you out of financial trouble.

About Bank of America

About Bank of America

Bank of America isn't just a bank. The company also issues credit cards that compete with some of the top reward cards out there. The three most popular cards are the BankAmericard Cash Rewards, the Bank Americard Travel Rewards, and the Bank Americard.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards

BankAmericard Cash Rewards

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card's rewards program is a great entry point into the world of cash back credit cards.

  • 3% cash back on gas
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchase up to $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter
  • No annual fee
  • 0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles
  • $150 cash bonus if you spend $500 within 90 days of opening the account

In addition to a nice 0% period for purchases, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card also provides a 60-day introductory period with 0% APR for balance transfers. Take advantage of this period of reduced interest and spend $500 within 90 days to receive a $150 cash back bonus. It's basically free money for you.

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You can get even more rewards by redeeming your cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings account. Every time you do this, you'll receive a 10% customer bonus. In other words, redeeming $200 cash back into your BoA account nets you $220. If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you could increase the bonus to anywhere from 25% to 75%.

Bank of America is the issuing bank for this credit card.

Rates and Fees

Rates and Fees

The cash rewards card has the following rates and fees.

  • After the introductory purchase APR period ends, the rate increases to anywhere from 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • After the 60 day introductory period for balance transfers end, the rate increases to that of the purchase APR.
  • Cash advances carry an APR of 16.99% to 25.99% for advances made into checking accounts, while bank cash advances have a set APR of 25.99%.
  • The card has no annual fee, but charges 3% of the US dollar amount for every foreign transaction.
  • Cash advance fees are $10 or 3% or 5% of the amount of the transaction depending on the type of the transaction.
  • Late payment fees can be as high as $38, while returned payment fees can be as high as $27.

Target Demographic

Target Demographic

The standard target demographic for most cash back cards is someone with a family, and this card is no different. Between soccer practice (gas), feeding the family (grocery stores), and other purchases, this card appeals to the needs of a busy mother or father. When you have a family, it's easy to spend $500 within three months, but the $150 cash back is roughly equivalent to a free trip to the grocery store.

BankAmericard Travel Rewards

BankAmericard Travel Rewards

The Bank of America Travel Rewards Card is designed with travelers in mind.

  • Unlimited 1.5x points for every dollar spent on all purchases
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 0% APR for 12 billing cycles
  • 20,000 bonus miles if you make $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of opening your account

Your points can be redeemed for flights, hotels, cruises, rental cars, and even vacation packages or baggage fees. If you have an active Bank of America checking or savings account, you'll receive a 10% bonus on points earned with every purchase. If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards Client, that extra bonus increases any from 25% to 75%.

Redeem those 20,000 bonus points with that added 10% and they're worth 22,000 points. Unlike the cash rewards card, the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card has no foreign transaction fee, making it perfect for use overseas.

Bank of America issues the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card.

Rates and Fees

Rates and Fees

The BankAmericard travel rewards card has the following rates and fees.

  • The purchase APR is 0% for 12 billing cycles, after which it increases to 15.99% to 23.99%.
  • The APR for balance transfers matches this rate.
  • Cash advances carry an APR from 18.99% to 23.99%, with a set APR of 25.99% for bank cash advances.
  • Cash advance fees are $10 or 3% or 5% of the amount of the transaction depending on the type of the transaction.
  • Late payment fees can be as high as $38, while returned payment fees can be as high as $27.

Target Demographic

Target Demographic

The target demographic for this card is undeniable people who travel frequently for work. With 1.5x rewards for every purchase and the ability to significantly increase the redemption bonus via Bank of America's Preferred Rewards system, cardholders can easily earn free flights, hotel stays, and more. That said, if someone uses the card often enough, these same rewards can be used to obtain vacation packages for the family.

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Bank of America BankAmericard

Bank of America BankAmericard

Bank of America's standard credit card is the go-to MasterCard for a number of people.

  • No annual fee
  • Introductory 0% APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases and balance transfers
  • No balance transfer fee for 60 days
  • No penalty APR

The BankAmericard is not a rewards credit card, unlike the other two items on this list. It's a standard credit card that has a few notable strengths. First of all, if you're struggling to pay off other credit cards, the BankAmericard is the perfect place to transfer your existing balance—with 0% APR for 15 months, you'll be able to focus on paying down the principle.

Another aspect to note is the lack of a penalty APR. If you miss a payment, you won't immediately face a high interest rate, nor will your existing interest rate be increased.

Rates and Fees

Rates and Fees

While many credit card companies have the same rates and fees across the board, Bank of America does not. Their rates and fees vary from card to card.

  • Once the introductory APR period ends, the rate will increase to 12.99% to 22.99% based on your credit. This rate is the same for both balance transfers and purchase APR.
  • The cash advance APR ranges from 15.99% to 25.99%, with bank cash advances having a set APR of 25.99%.
  • A late payment will result in up to a $38 penalty, while a returned payment can be as much as $27.
  • Cash advance fees are $10 or 3% of the transaction if performed via direct deposit or check cash, or 5% of the transaction if performed via ATM, over the counter, same-day online, or with a cash equivalent cash advance.

Target Demographic

Target Demographic

The BankAmericard is a good starter card for someone who has never before had a credit card. The lack of rewards means the eligibility requirements to apply are not as stringent, while the lack of a penalty APR will forgive a missed payment. The introductory rates also appeal to people struggling to pay down the principle on another card; if you're looking for a great balance transfer card, the BankAmericard competes with the best on the market.

Bank of America Credit Limits

Bank of America Credit Limits

If you've decided to apply for a Bank of America card, you'll want to know what the credit limits are—particularly if you intend to use the BankAmericard to transfer an existing balance. While there is no hard and fast limit to how much credit Bank of America gives its cardholders, there are several factors that come into play.

The first is your credit score. If you have a higher credit score, you'll likely be given a higher credit limit. How much you earn annually, your existing credit usage, and multiple other factors also play a role. Users report credit limits on the lower end of the spectrum, from $2,000 to $3,000 for unsecured cards and $10,000 for secured cards.

Bank of America Rewards

Bank of America offers rewards through its credit cards and also through its banking accounts. We'll break these down into two separate sections.

Credit Card Rewards

Credit Card Rewards

In addition to the cash back and miles rates the various BankAmericard credit cards hold, there are a number of benefits that come into play.

  • Bank of America provides a $0 liability guarantee. If someone fraudulently uses your account, you aren't responsible.
  • Bank of America checking accounts can be linked to credit cards for overdraft protection.
  • Your FICO score is updated monthly and can be viewed via your mobile banking app.
  • Bank of America cards work with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.
  • Bank of America will send a text message when payments are due.
  • Existing Bank of America customers earn 10% when redeeming points, and even more rewards than that as a Preferred Rewards client.

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Bank of America's cash back and travel rewards rates are competitive, but if you are a Bank of America customer, the rewards go from competitive to complete ahead of the pack—but only if you are at the top tier of the Preferred Rewards. We'll break that down below.

Preferred Rewards Program

Preferred Rewards Program

Preferred Rewards from Bank of America is a scaling system based on the combined balances of your Bank of America accounts and your Merrill Lynch and Merrill Edge investment accounts. There are three basic tiers: gold, platinum, and platinum honors.

Gold

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Gold tier members receive the following rewards.

  • 5% interest rate booster on a Rewards Money Market Savings account
  • 25% rewards bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards
  • Up to 12 no-fee ATM transactions per year
  • Up to 30 free Equity and ETF trades per month
  • Priority client service
  • $200 origination fee reduction on mortgages
  • 0.25% discount on auto loan interest rates
  • No fee banking

Platinum

Platinum

Platinum tier members receive the following rewards.

  • 10% interest rate booster on a Rewards Money Market Savings account
  • 50% rewards bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards
  • Up to 12 no-fee ATM transactions per year
  • Up to 30 free Equity and ETF trades per month
  • Priority client service
  • $400 origination fee reduction on mortgages
  • 0.35% discount on auto loan interest rates
  • No fee banking

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Platinum Honors

Platinum Honors

Platinum Honors tier members receive the following rewards.

  • 20% interest rate booster on a Rewards Money Market Savings account
  • 75% rewards bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards
  • Unlimited no-fee ATM transactions at non-Bank of America ATMs
  • Up to 100 free Equity and ETF trades per month
  • Priority client service
  • $600 origination fee reduction on mortgages
  • 0.50% discount on auto loan interest rates
  • No fee banking

While the rewards are impressive, there are strict requirements to join the Preferred Rewards program. Applicants must have an eligible Bank of America personal checking account and a 3-month average of combined balances of $20,000 or more between Bank of America accounts and Merrill Lynch/Merrill Edge investment accounts.

Gold tier is reached at $20,000. Platinum tier is reached at $50,000. Platinum Honors is reached at $100,000. While this program isn't required for a credit card, it can certainly improve the rewards. At the Platinum Honors tier, 1.5x miles per dollar spent becomes 2.6x miles per dollar spent, and 3% cash back becomes 5.25% cash back.

How to Apply

How to Apply

If you're an existing Bank of America customer, you can go into your local branch and apply for a credit card there. You can also apply online through the Bank of America website. Select the card you want, click "Apply Now," and you'll be taken to a page that requests the following information:

  • First and last name
  • Address
  • Primary phone number
  • Email
  • US citizenship status
  • Dual citizenship status
  • Country of residence
  • Date of birth
  • Employment status
  • Total annual income
  • Source of income
  • Liquid assets
  • Monthly housing payment

Once you've entered this information, you'll be asked to review it before going forward with the application.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility Requirements

Requirements for eligibility vary from card to card, but a few things remain constant. First, all applicants must be 18 years of age (or 21 if a permanent resident of Puerto Rico.) Second of all, while lack of employment does not necessarily disqualify you, it will severely limit your chances of approval.

Other factors such as employment history, your credit score, credit usage, and financial information will also be used to determine your eligibility. Credit cards with rewards plans have higher credit score requirements than a standard credit card.

Approval and Delivery Time

Approval and Delivery Time

In some cases, approval is instant. After you are approved for your card, it should arrive within 7 to 10 business days. However, if you are not approved instantly, you will be given a link upon submission of your application where you can view the status of the decision.

Online Account Management

Online Account Management

Bank of America's online account manage system allows cardholders to make payments, inform the company of travel plans, view paperless account statements, and much more. Just visit the Bank of America website and sign in through the Secure Sign-in box on the left side of the screen.

The mobile app allows you to manage your account on the go. Fingerless sign-in makes it easy to log in without typing in a password, and you can set up custom alerts for unexpected activity. You can also request a replacement card and lock or unlock your debit card if you're a Bank of America checking customer.

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Payment Options

Payment Options

The minimum payment for your Bank of America credit card will be based on your total balance amount, whether you have any outstanding balance to be paid off, and any associated fees or penalties. This amount will vary from person to person. You can pay your balance in a variety of ways.

  • You can sign into online banking and pay your balance using a Bank of America checking or savings account.
  • You can pay online using another financial institution's checking or money market account.
  • You can visit a Bank of America ATM and pay with check or cash.
  • You can pay by phone by calling 1-800-236-6497.
  • You can drop off your payment at any Bank of America financial center.
  • You can pay by mail.

PayPal cannot be used to pay your Bank of America balance.

Late Payments

Late Payments

If you miss a payment, you'll be charged a late payment fee that can be as high as $38. In addition, you may face penalty APRs up to 29.99%. Too many late payments can also mean defaulting on your payments, which will severely hurt your credit score.

Benefits

Here are a few ways Bank of America sets itself apart.

  • Cash Rewards Card icon

    Cash Rewards Card

    • Long 0% APR period perfect for paying off large balances
    • No annual fee
    • Potential increased redemption amounts through the Preferred Rewards Program
    • Rewards never expire
  • Travel Rewards Card icon

    Travel Rewards Card

    • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee
    • Flexibility in booking travel
    • Potential increased redemption amounts through the Preferred Rewards Program
    • Rewards never expire
  • BankAmericard icon

    BankAmericard

    • One of the best cards for balance transfers
    • No annual fee
    • Long 0% purchase APR

Drawbacks of Bank of America Credit Cards

Drawbacks of Bank of America Credit Cards

There are a few ways in which Bank of America doesn't meet the competition.

  • Credit limit increases are hard to obtain
  • The rewards are decent but not outstanding
  • The Preferred Rewards Program requires a huge amount of investment to be worthwhile

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Customer Reviews and Complaints

Here are what other customers had to say about Bank of America's credit cards.

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"This card is great I've had it for many years and save roughly $600 a year. I specifically use it for gas and groceries. However the best part of it all is that if you have preferred status you get an additional redemption bonus up to 75%! Meaning if you've earned $100 in cash back and redeem it to a checking or savings account you actually get $175! Plus no annual fee."

- Anonymous (Credit Karma)

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"Got a new credit card for travel abroad. Was told I had to open online banking in order to get PIN promptly. Went to bank. They also called in, learned that PIN had to be set up online. Worked with very helpful staff there for 2 hours, without success. Then was told that PIN cannot be set up online! Conclusion: totally incompetent company. Go elsewhere for your banking."

- Frida (Consumer Affairs)

The number one complaint from customers dealt with Bank of America's customer service. Almost every reviewer mentioned issues with customer service, specifically using the word "rude." Other concerning reviews centered on dishonest business practices. Bank of America, on multiple occasions, allegedly failed to honor agreements made with customers. Bank of America is a well-established company with a large customer base, but there's no doubt they carry a poor reputation. We searched through six pages without finding a single positive review.

FAQ

Here are the most commonly asked questions customers had about Bank of America.

What can I use my Bank of America credit card for?

You can use your Bank of America credit card for purchases at most retailers throughout the country.

How can I redeem my points?

Log into your online account and select your credit card, then select the Rewards tab. From there, you can choose how you want to redeem your points. You can also redeem points over the phone by calling 1-800-434-8313.

Can the card be used to make online purchases?

Bank of America credit cards can be used to shop online.

Can I use my Bank of America credit card anywhere?

You can use your Bank of America credit card anywhere credit cards are accepted.

Is the Bank of America credit card good for building credit?

A Bank of America credit card can be useful for building credit, particularly if you take advantage of introductory APR periods for balance transfers to help eliminate debt.

How long does it take Bank of America to refund your credit card?

For fraudulent transactions, Bank of America will refund your card quickly—often by the end of the next business day. However, if you are disputing a charge, it may take significantly longer as the bank investigates the events surrounding that charge.

How can I check my Bank of America credit card balance?

You can check your Bank of America credit card balance from the mobile app, by logging into your online account, calling the number on the back of the card, or visiting a Bank of America ATM.

How do I withdraw money from Bank of America credit card? Can cash be withdrawn from the card using an ATM?

You can withdraw money from an ATM using your Bank of America credit card as long as you have a PIN established. This withdrawal will be subjected to the cash advance APR and any associated fees.

Can I pay for my Bank of America credit card with debit card?

No, but you can pay using the checking account the debit card is associated with.

Can I use my Bank of America credit card without the card?

As long as you know the card information, you can use it online without physically having it present. However, you'll need the card to make any purchases in-store.

How to add an authorized user to Bank of America credit card?

Adding an authorized user is easy. Log into your Bank of America account and select the credit card you'd like to add a user to. From there, click on the "Information and Services" tab, then scroll to the "Services" section and click "Add an authorized user."

Can I upgrade Bank of America credit card?

Certain Bank of America credit cards may be eligible for upgrade to a cash back or a travel rewards card.

How soon can I use my Bank of America credit card once I receive it?

Once you receive your credit card in the mail and activate it, you can begin using it right away.

How to contact Bank of America credit card services?

Simply dial 1-800-732-9194 to reach Bank of America's card services. You can also dial the number on the back of your card.

How to register my Bank of America credit card online?

All you need to do to enroll in online banking is go to the registration page and enter the information it requests.

Can I get cash back from Bank of America credit card?

If you have one of the Bank of America credit cards that yields cash back, like the Cash Back rewards card.

How can I change my information on my Bank of America credit card?

Log into your Bank of America online account and select the credit card you'd like to edit. Find the "Information and Services" tab and then change the information.

How can I increase the credit limit on Bank of America credit card?

You can call card services and request a credit limit increase if you have had the card for six months or more and have not automatically been granted an increase.

How to report a stolen Bank of America credit card?

Dial 1-800-732-9194 to reach Bank of America's card services and report a stolen card.

How can I cancel my Bank of America credit card?

To cancel your Bank of America credit card, you need to contact Card Services. In many cases, you will need to submit a written request for cancellation, as well as for a Statement of Account to view any remaining balance you are responsible for.

Can someone co-sign for a Bank of America credit card?

Some Bank of America credit cards can be co-signed, but not all. Read the fine print on the card you're interested in to find out if co-signing is a possibility.

Can I use my card overseas/abroad? If yes, what are the related fees?

Your Bank of America card can be used overseas, but there may be a charge of 3% of the transaction. Some Bank of America credit cards do not charge foreign transaction fees.

Which credit bureaus does Bank of America credit card report to?

Bank of America reports to all three credit bureaus.

What are the security features of the card?

Bank of America monitors your card for unusual spending patterns and contacts you right away if something seems amiss. In addition, Bank of America offers their ShopSafe service to generate a temporary credit card number while your real number remains completely private.

Bank of America credit cards also have chip technology to double their security, and account alerts to notify you if something is wrong.

If the card is lost or stolen, will payments made using the card be refunded and if so, what is the procedure?

If your card is lost or stolen, you are not liable for any payments due to Bank of America's $0 Liability Guarantee. When you realize the card is missing, contact Card Services right away to report the card stolen and begin the process of obtaining a replacement and negating any fraudulent charges.

Our Verdict

Our Verdict

Bank of America offers a number of benefits that set them apart, like their ShopSafe service. That said, the rewards fall short when compared to other credit cards. If you're an existing Bank of America customer, especially one with large investment accounts, then the credit cards are a great choice. However, if you're just looking at getting a cash back or a travel rewards credit card, there are better options.


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