Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students Review: Build Credit, Earn Cash [2020]

With the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students you can earn earn significant cashback rewards, but does it offer everything a student wants?
Last updated Sep 17, 2020 | By Kevin Payne

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Most college students haven’t established any credit history yet, which can make getting your first credit card difficult. Thankfully, credit card issuers have created student credit cards to combat this issue. Student credit cards offer a chance to build your credit, but they are easier to qualify for than regular credit cards.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card gives students a chance to establish credit while also earning rewards in the process. Students can earn up to 3% cash back with this card, though there are spending caps in play. It will be important to analyze your future spending and determine whether it makes sense to apply for this Bank of America credit card.

Learn more about this card’s cashback potential, sign-up bonus, and more by reading this Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students review.

Build Credit and Earn Cash Back

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students

Benefits

  • $200 cash rewards sign-up offer
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • 3% cash back on your category choice
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • Has foreign transaction fee
  • No rewards for good grades

In this Bank Of America Cash Rewards Credit Card review

Who should get the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students?

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is perfect for college attendees who have a limited or no credit history. Through responsible spending and on-time payments, students can use this credit card to build up their credit history, which will benefit them in the future when applying for car loans, home loans, or other financial products.

If you’re a student and you’ve been declined for a regular credit card before, applying for a student credit card might be a good idea for you as student cards typically have less stringent requirements. This card also offers a sign-up bonus that will be easy to achieve on most student budgets.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is also a great credit card for those who want to earn cashback rewards. Not all credit cards earn rewards, but some of the best student credit cards do. Just be aware that you’ll earn only the 3% and 2% cashback rates on the first $2,500 combined that you spend in those categories every quarter. For most students, this won’t be an issue as your budget is not likely to be huge either. But whether this card is a best fit for you depends on your personal spending habits.

This card is not ideal for students traveling overseas, whether for school or pleasure, as it carries a 3% foreign transaction fee on all international purchases. Fees can add up quickly, especially if you’re living outside the U.S. for a semester or more. There are other cards that we would consider among the best credit cards for studying abroad.

Card basics

Card type Student
Card issuer Bank of America
Annual fee $0
Intro bonus $200 cash bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days
Reward rate 3% cash back in a category of your choice and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on up to $2,500 quarterly for these two categories combined); and 1% cash back on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good, Fair
Intro APR 0% for 12 billing statements on purchases; 0% for 12 billing statements on balance transfers
Foreign transaction fee 3%

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students benefits and perks

  • Generous sign-up bonus: New cardholders earn $200 after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days after account opening.
  • No annual fee: The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students has a $0 annual fee, so using this card doesn’t have to cost you anything.
  • Introductory APR: You can make large purchases or transfer a balance and pay them over time with 0% APR for 12 billing statements on purchases and 0% for 12 billing statements on balance transfers. This is helpful if you have existing credit card debt and want to pay it off over time without interest. It’s also handy if you have large school expenses coming up, such as a new laptop or furniture for your dorm or apartment. Just be aware that your balance transfers must occur within the first 60 days from account opening to get the special intro interest rate.
  • Mobile app: Use the Bank of America mobile banking app to manage both credit card and bank accounts, pay your bill, redeem rewards, and more. The app is available on both iOS and Android.
  • Free credit score: Bank of America credit card customers gain access to their credit score for free. Having tools like credit score access can help students understand how credit works and how they can build a good credit history.

Drawbacks to this card

  • Complicated rewards program: Although it has great reward rates, the spending caps can make it difficult to keep track of your spending and make the most of your rewards earning.
  • Foreign transaction fees: This card carries a 3% foreign transaction fee on all purchases outside of the U.S. Students traveling or studying abroad may prefer a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • No rewards for good grades: Some student credit cards offer bonus rewards for getting good grades over a set period of time. There is no such bonus with this Bank of America card.

Earning and redeeming cash back with Bank of America

Best ways to earn

Students can earn rewards in several ways with their Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students. Cash back is earned on all purchases, but the highest rewards rate is in specific categories.

Categories Rewards rate
Purchases in chosen category (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings), on up to $2,500 quarterly for this and 2% category combined 3%
Grocery stores and wholesale clubs, on up to $2,500 quarterly for this and 3% category combined 2%
All other purchases 1%

The card can be very versatile given that you get to choose your 3% category from the following:

  • Gas
  • Online shopping
  • Dining
  • Travel
  • Drug stores
  • Home improvement/furnishings

One cool feature is that you can switch your chosen bonus category monthly as well. So if you need to furnish your dorm room or apartment, switch your category to home improvements/furnishings to make the most of your spending. If you’re booking travel next month, then switch to the travel category. Being strategic with your spending can lead to an increase in your extra cashback rewards.

There is a catch to earning rewards with this credit card: there is a $2,500 spending cap for each quarter that applies to the 3% and 2% bonus categories combined. After you spend $2,500 in both of those categories, all your purchases will earn just 1% regardless of category. Although $2,500 spending quarterly may seem like a lot for a college student, that comes out to a little over $800 per month, and it’s plausible that you may spend that much on travel and groceries combined or a combo of dining and groceries.

Maximizing your redemptions

Bank of America offers several redemption options for students to consider. You can redeem your cashback rewards for a statement credit, a deposit into Bank of America accounts (such as a savings or checking account), a credit to a Merrill Cash Management Account or Merrill 529 account, or a paper check.

The following redemptions have no minimum redemption requirement:

  • Statement credits
  • Manual direct deposits
  • Credits to Merrill Cash Management Accounts

Redemptions with a $25 minimum redemption require include:

  • One-time 529 account contributions
  • Paper checks
  • Automatic redemptions for direct deposits
  • Automatic credits to Merrill Cash Management Accounts

Cashback rewards never expire as long as your account stays open and active.

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students FAQs

What's the difference between a student credit card and a regular credit card?

Typically student credit cards have both lower credit requirements and lower credit limits than regular credit cards. Some student cards also offer special perks, such as extra rewards for good grades.

Do you have to prove to Bank of America that you are a student?

Applicants for the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students will be asked to include information regarding their school affiliation on their application, but no documentation is required to prove you are a student.

What's the starting credit limit for the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students?

The starting credit limit for the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card for Students is determined by an applicant's creditworthiness. Your creditworthiness is determined by your credit score, payment history, credit history, and other factors. As you build your credit score, you can request a limit increase through your online account.

Can I get the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students with no credit history?

Bank of America makes its decisions based on the applicant’s overall credit history, ability to pay, and your application information. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be approved if you have no credit history, but it also isn’t the only factor considered.

Which Bank of America credit card is best for students?

The best credit card for students depends on each person’s personal preference and needs. The Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students is best for earning maximum rewards in specific categories.

For a more straightforward rewards structure, the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students offers unlimited 1.5X points per dollar spent on all purchases. It’s also great for frequent travelers because it has no foreign transaction fees.

The BankAmericard Credit Card for Students is perfect for people looking to transfer an existing credit card balance to a new card with a lower interest rate. This card comes with an introductory APR of 0% on balance transfers posted in the first 60 days that lasts for first 15 statement closing dates. Plus, there are no balance transfer fees for the first 60 days after card opening.

Can I keep my Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students after I’m no longer a student?

Yes, you can use your Bank of America student credit card long after your days in school. Because it has spending caps on rewards, you may outgrow the card as your spending increases in adulthood. A rewards credit card with a different rewards scheme may suit you better at that point. That said, many people hold the non-student version of this Bank of America card and find it useful, especially when coupled with Bank of America banking accounts.


Other cards to consider

Another student credit card to consider is the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card. Although it offers only 3% cashback rate for the first six months, it features more options for redeeming that cash, including booking travel. The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card also comes with cell phone protection. By paying your cell phone bill with the card, your phone is covered against theft or damage up to $600. This may be the best benefit offered to students by this credit card.

If your spending is mostly smaller purchases, the Citi Rewards+ Student Card might be a better fit. You can earn a sign-up bonus of 15,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after card opening. The real draw, however, is the rewards points rounding. Your bonus points round up to the nearest 10 points on all purchases. That means even a pack of gum could earn you 10 rewards points. So using the Citi Rewards Student Card is a great way to earn maximum rewards when your spending budget is limited.

Build Credit and Earn Cash Back

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students

Special Offer

$200 cash bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days

See how these cards compare:

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card
Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 6 months
  • 3% intro cash rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases
  • No annual fee
Citi Rewards+ Student Card
Citi Rewards+ Student Card
  • 15,000 ThankYou Point welcome offer
  • 2X ThankYou Points at supermarkets and gas stations
  • 10% ThankYou Points back for the first 100,000 redeemed per year
  • Automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on each purchase
  • No annual fee