Janet Alvarez
Executive Editor

As Executive Editor of Wise Bread & an anchor for WHYY/NPR, Janet Alvarez is a formidable consumer advocate, personal finance and investing expert. She appears frequently in national media, including the Today Show, Good Morning Washington, ABC and CBS News, Bloomberg TV, Cheddar TV, and more.

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The Answer to Credit Card Juggling is Here

My Experience with the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card

By Janet Alvarez, Executive Editor
Advertorial Disclosure

As a certified financial planner candidate and financial writer, I’ve spent countless hours helping people optimize their earnings from credit card rewards programs. Until now, that meant juggling several credit cards for personal research. I’d get a different card for different rewards purposes – one for travel, another for dining out, yet another for online shopping, etc. While this maximized rewards, keeping track of multiple cards and redeeming through different programs was inconvenient and time-consuming.

That’s why I’m so happy (and frankly relieved) there’s a new card that allows you to stop the endless credit card juggling, all while maximizing your cash back in the category that matters the most to you – the Bank of America Cash Rewards card.

Your Choice of 3% Categories

This innovative new card allows you to earn a whopping 3% cash back on gas, or change it to the category of your choice. There are five other categories to choose from:

  • Online Shopping
  • Drug Stores
  • Dining
  • Travel
  • Home Improvement/furnishings

But here’s where it gets even better: You have the option change the 3% cash back category once every month, so you earn the most rewards on whatever you plan to spend on most aggressively. Or you can set it and forget it.

You also automatically earn 2% cash back at grocery stores/wholesale clubs, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. That’s about as flexible – and easy – as it gets.

My Favorite Categories

As a busy mom and financial writer constantly juggling deadlines, eating out is unfortunately a staple of my day. I grab coffee in between interviews, have working lunches at sandwich shops, and pick up salmon or pasta for dinner when I’m too busy. The 3% cash back in the dining category is a perfect fit for me – and would be a great choice for other foodies, busy professionals, and working moms.

Travel is another category I’m really excited about. Much of my extended family live overseas, and I often take trips for work and pleasure. In anticipation of an upcoming summer vacation, I’m planning ahead to select “travel” as my 3% cash back category this May, when I’ll book hotels and tickets.

The home improvement/furnishings category is a cash back category I rarely see - and earning 3% cash back is virtually unheard of. I plan on choosing this category later this year before I buy my munchkin his first “big boy” bed. I also plan on using this category when I spruce up the kitchen with a fresh coat of white paint and new drawer handles.

And, of course, for my son’s birthday last month, online shopping was my preferred category – as it will likely be again in December for my holiday shopping. It’s reassuring (and a little exciting) to know that I have a lot of ways to earn 3% cash back. And beyond that I’m also earning 2% cash back at grocery and wholesale clubs, as well as 1% for all other purchases.

Of course, your best categories might be different. A two-car family might focus on 3% cash back on gas; a savvy shopper might focus on 3% back for online shopping; DIY enthusiasts and empty nesters might want to redecorate with 3% back on home furnishings. The great thing is that everyone can design a personalized plan for optimizing rewards.

You might wonder if changing categories is tricky, but I’ve found it to be an incredibly easy and seamless process accomplished in seconds via the Bank of America website or mobile app. And because it’s already set to gas when you get the card, you have time to decide which category is right for you.

Other Great Perks

The card offers all kinds of other neat perks, too – for example, when you apply online you’ll get a $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. The low intro APR offer for the first 15 months is also great for big purchases – or qualifying balance transfers.

Best of all, if you are a Preferred Rewards member, you’ll earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase – which means your 3% choice category could go up to 5.25%.

My Final Take

Unlike most cards, this one really is for everyone – you can choose your preferred cash back category, change it as often as once a month if you wish, get a low intro APR, and even a cash rewards bonus.

With the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, you can stop paying annual fees on other rewards cards, lighten your card load, and focus your spending on one card that does it all. If flexibility and best-in-class rewards are your thing, then this is undoubtedly one card that lets you do it all.

This is a sponsored post by Bank of America as part of Wise Bread's continued partnership with them. My opinions are my own.