Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured review
Build your credit and earn up to 3% cash back on your purchases.
- Get this card if you want to build credit and earn cash back.
- Pick something else if you can’t afford a $300 security deposit.
- Apply with a credit score between 300 and 669 to improve chances of approval.
Up to 3%
Purchase APR (variable)
Recommended credit score
|Rewards||3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases (on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter).|
|Purchase APR||23.99% variable|
|Balance transfer APR||23.99% variable|
|Recommended minimum credit score||300|
Kliment Dukovski is a credit cards writer. He's written over 600 articles to help readers find and compare the best credit cards. Kliment has also written on money transfers, home loans and more. Previously, he ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies.
With this card, you earn 3% back on one category you choose and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. The only drawback is, you’re limited to up to $2,500 in combined purchases in the 3% and 2% categories per quarter. After reaching the cap, and on all other purchases, you earn 1% cash back.
At first glance, this looks impressive. However, to be able to reach the cap, you either need a $900 deposit — which you must completely pay off before it’s due — or a $3,000 deposit, so you don’t go above 30% utilization rate. Of course, this could work with the minimum $300 required deposit to start using the card. But you’ll have to pay your balance as soon as you make the purchase. This way you can still have breathing room for new purchases and earning more cash back while keeping your utilization rate low.
But don’t fret if you can’t maximize your cash back. This card’s goal is to help you build credit anyway. Once you improve your credit score, Bank of America may return your deposit, thus turning the card into an unsecured one. As an alternative, you can always apply for a better card when the time comes. Because of these benefits, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured is definitely worth considering as a starter card.
How to apply for the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured
The application process is simple. Here’s how it works:
- Visit the Bank of America website.
- Find the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured.
- Click Apply now.
- Fill out the application form.
- Review the application and submit.
What credit score do I need?
We recommend applying with a fair credit score range, between 300 and 669, to improve your chances of approval.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured benefits
- Cash back. Earn 3% cash back on a category of your choice — gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements — and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. You earn 3% and 2% back on up to $2,500 in combined purchases each year. After that, and on all other purchases, earn 1% back.
- Solid security deposit amount. You can deposit anywhere between $300 and $4,900 to act as your credit line.
- Potential return of deposit. Bank of America will review your credit score and account activity from time to time. If they like what they see, you may qualify for a return of deposit, which will convert your secured card into an unsecured one.
- Free FICO access. Track your credit-building progress with free access to your FICO score. You can check your score via the Bank of America mobile app or through your online banking account.
- No annual fee. Enjoy this card’s cashback rewards and credit-building tools without paying an annual fee.
You can earn even more cash back
As a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn an additional 25%, 50% or 75% more cash back on your purchases. This essentially turns your 3% cashback rate into 3.75%, 4.5% and 5.25%. This is unheard of for a secured credit card.
However, the threshold to become a Preferred Rewards member is also high. To start off, you need:
- An active checking account with Bank of America
- A three-month combined average daily balance of $20,000 or more in qualifying deposits at Bank of America and/or Merrill investment accounts
What to watch out for
- Secured deposit. You can only use this card once you make a secured deposit that will act as your credit limit.
- Foreign transaction fees. Every purchase you make online with foreign merchants or abroad will cost you a 3% fee of the amount.
Compare secured credit cards
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured is one of the best secured cards for building credit because you get most of the benefits and rewards of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card without the need for a good credit score.
Other secured cards could also help you build credit with a lower secured deposit of $200.