Last Reviewed: 1/10/2013
Note: the “5% offer” no longer appears to be available.
There are at least several offers available on the web for the Bank of America BankAmericard Cash Rewards Visa credit card. We’ve reviewed two of these offers below (and if you come across any others, please let us know and we can add to this post).
One of the offers provides 2% cashback on groceries, and 3% cashback on gas—we refer to this offer as the “standard” offer, as it is easily found right on the Bank of America website. The second offer we refer to as the “5% offer”, since you get 5% cashback on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases (albeit for only 6 months).
The bottom line is that neither of these offers really shine in the scheme of things, though they also aren’t complete dogs. If collecting sign-up bonuses is your game, you can certainly do a lot better than the $50 and $100 bonuses offered here. The 3% cash back on gas on the standard offer is decent, but you can get 5% cashback on gas with the PenFed Visa Platinum Card. The 5% cash back on gas, groceries and drugstore purchases on the alternate offer runs out after only 6 months, sort of like when the Avatar exits the Avatar state (forget the lousy motion picture, I’m talking about the Nickelodeon animated version, which really rocks.)
If for some reason you feel compelled to apply for BofA’s Cash Rewards Visa, then, broadly speaking, you should get the 5% offer if you plan to keep the card only a few years; if you plan to hold Cash Rewards for the long term (say, 5 years or more), then the standard offer will likely be the better choice (but you should verify this yourself using our GetDebit Ranking Engine, since each person has a unique spending profile which impacts the rate at which you earn rewards).
|Cash Rewards (“Standard Offer”)||Cash Rewards (“5% Offer”)|
|Base Rewards||1% cashback on all purchases||1% cashback on all purchases.|
|Bonus Rewards||2% cashback on groceries; 3% cashback on gas.||5% cashback on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases for 1st 6 months after account activation.|
|Spend Target Bonus||$50 cash bonus if you spend $100 within 60 days of account opening.||$100 cash bonus if you spend $500 within 90 days of account opening.|
|Redemption Bonus||10% bonus when you redeem into a BofA checking or savings account.||25% redemption bonus if you redeem in amounts of $300 or more.|
|Cash Back Caps||Bonus rewards earned only on fist $1,500 of combined spend per quarter on groceries and gas (after that, you earn just 1%).||None|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||3% after conversion to USD||3% after conversion to USD.|
|Balance Transfer Fee||$10 or 4%, whichever is greater.||$10 or 4%, whichever is greater.|
While both BankAmericard Cash Rewards offers provide 1% cash back on all purchases, the standard offer provides 2% cashback on groceries and 3% cashback on gas. That might seem like a pretty good deal, but there’s a catch: you are limited to $1,500 of spend per quarter (Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, etc) in the bonus categories, after which you just earn 1% even on those. So, assuming you could max out the $1,500 of spend in the gas category (where you earn the most bonus points), you’d only earn an additional $30 (2% * 1,500) above and beyond the base 1% cashback. If you split your spend 50-50 between supermarkets and gas stations, you’d only earn an additional $22.50 (1% *$750 + 2%*$750) per quarter. This type of cap can really reduce the performance of the card if you often exceed the $1,500 spend limit.
So, if we turn our attention to the 5% offer, we see that you earn a whopping 5% cashback on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases—but this time the catch is that this bonus comes crashing back to Earth (e.g. 1% cashback) after 6 months.
So Which Offer is Better?
Well, firstly, neither offer gets us excited here at GetDebit. But we did run the GetDebit ranking engine with the default spend profile. Of course, I’m sure no individual has this exact profile, so please go ahead and use the ranking engine yourself to validate.
As the table below shows, the standard offer lags the 5% offer during years 1-3, but then begins to overtake the 5% offer in years 4 and beyond. This should be expected, since the 5% offer runs out after 6 months and also benefits from a higher initial sign-up bonus ($100 versus $50) which gets washed out over time.
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4||Year 5|
Redeeming BankAmericard Cash Rewards
Both cards can redeem for straight cash back. The interesting twist is that the standard Bank Americard Cash Rewards Visa offer gives you a 10% bump up in the value of your redemptions if you deposit the rewards directly into a BofA checking or savings account (easy enough!).
However, the 5% offer gives you a much more robust 25% redemption bonus if you redeem in chunks of $300 or more (in years 2 and beyond, that translates to spending at least $30K on the card before redeeming—you’ll need to be patient like Buddha).
By the way, the GetDebit Ranking engine automatically assumes that for the standard offer you will deposit into a BofA account (thus earning the 10% bonus), and that for the 5% offer you will redeem in chunks of $30K.
GetDebit’s Final Analysis of 2 BofA Cash Rewards Visa Offers
Well, as we mentioned up-front, there’s nothing really “wow” about the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Visa (either offer). When we ran the GetDebit ranking engine just a few minutes ago (using the default spend settings), the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earned about 70% more rewards—so you may want to check that card out as well.