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Details released on the revamped Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, unveiled Dec. 10, will give cardholders more flexibility when it comes to earning higher rewards by expanding the number of categories and allowing cardholders to change them every month instead of every quarter.
The new card program will debut Jan. 14, 2019, and current cardholders will be automatically converted. We’ll look at the pros and cons of this card and review the Huntington Voice Credit Card® as a possible alternative.
What we like
Expanded cashback categories. The card will offer 3% cash back on spending in six categories: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores and home improvement and furnishings. The online shopping, drug stores and home improvement categories don’t usually fall under higher cash back, so these are welcome additions. Cashback for grocery stores and wholesale clubs remains at 2%, and everything else is at 1%.
Category flexibility. For the first month, the card will be set automatically to gas for higher cash back, which can be changed by the cardholder. Unlike other cashback cards that allow you to select categories for higher rewards every quarter, this one allows you to change it every month. So, if you know in advance you’re going to book a flight or hotel room, you can make travel your higher monthly category and earn more cash back.
Simple redemption. Redeem your cash back as a statement credit, check or an electronic deposit into a Bank of America checking or savings account, or to an eligible Cash Management Account® with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management® or Merrill Edge®. A new option is to redeem your cash back into an eligible 529 college savings plan account.
Bonus rewards. If you’re a Bank of America customer who belongs to the Preferred Rewards program, you get a 25% to 75% rewards bonus every time you use the card, depending on if you’re gold, platinum or platinum honors.
What we don’t like
Fewer rewards. There are other cashback credit cards that offer more robust rewards that don’t have quarterly spending caps.
Remember to change. If you want higher cash back in the six top categories, you must make the selection every month. Otherwise, it will stay in the last category chosen.
Higher cashback is capped. Like the old version, this card maximizes higher cash back at $2,500 per quarter. After you hit that maximum, you’ll only earn 1% cash back per dollar spent.
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Huntington Voice Credit Card®|
|Rewards||3% cash back in 1 of 6 categories: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement and furnishings; 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs; and unlimited 1% on all other purchases.||3X points in one of 10 categories (up to $2,000 per quarter or 6,000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.|
Compare it to the Huntington Voice Credit Card®
Maybe 3% cash back in six categories offered by the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card isn’t enough. A good alternative is the Huntington Voice Credit Card®, since it offers 3X points in one of 10 categories (up to $2,000 per quarter or 6,000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.
The categories that allow you to earn higher points with this card are: gas stations; travel and entertainment; restaurants; discount and warehouse stores; grocery stores; utilities and office supply stores; electronics, computer and camera stores; department, apparel and sporting goods stores; auto parts and service stores; and home improvement stores. This is much broader than what the Bank of America card offers.
However, while the Huntington Voice Credit Card® has more categories in which to use the card, you can only change them once a quarter, and you only earn those higher points on the first $2,000 you spend every quarter. After that, it drops to the lowest points per $1 spent.
Still, the Huntington Voice Credit Card® also doesn’t limit your redemption options like the Bank of America card. Redeem your points for cash, gift cards, retail merchandise or travel.
Check out our picks for the best cash back credit cards.
The bottom line
It’s always great news when credit card holders receive an upgrade on their benefits. The new Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card comes out swinging, with more categories that earn higher points, along with the chance to change them every month.
With proper planning, you can get the best cash back monthly in six categories. And the fact that you can still earn 2% cash back for grocery stores and wholesale clubs is good. However, this card doesn’t offer rewards that are as good as others in the cashback categories.
But if you’re a Bank of America customer, you can earn extra cash back if you belong to the Preferred Rewards program. The new card doesn’t come with any travel or purchase perks, and you can only redeem your cash back as a check, a statement credit or an electronic deposit into a Bank of America deposit account.
The Huntington Voice Credit Card® offers more categories and similar rewards to the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, but at a lower quarterly cap of $2,000. While there’s no opportunity to earn bonus points like the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, you’re not limited to just cash or statement credits when you redeem your rewards. This card also doesn’t come with any travel or purchase protection benefits.
When deciding between the two cards, it comes down to categories and redemption. If you want more flexibility in choosing categories, you don’t want to be tied down to quarterly changes and prefer to redeem rewards for cash or a statement credit, then the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is a good pick. If you want more categories to earn cash and more ways to redeem your rewards, then the Huntington Voice Credit Card® may be a better choice.