Do you have serious credit problems? Do you feel like those shouldn’t hold you back from earning unlimited cash back on eligible credit card purchases?
If so, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card is for you. Here’s what you need to know to decide if it’s the right secured credit card for your needs.
What Is the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card?
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card is a secured credit card that still offers the ability to earn cash back without paying an annual fee.
You do need to provide a security deposit in order to use this card. The card has a $200 minimum and $5,000 maximum security deposit, which means the minimum security deposit is $200.
Upon approval, your maximum credit line will be determined by the amount of your security deposit, your income, and your ability to pay the credit line established. Bank of America will periodically review your account and may raise your credit limit based on how your credit history has changed in the interim
Of note: Many secured cards don’t earn rewards. Even though this card only earns 1.5% cash back, that’s more than many other similar cards offer. Plus, there are no rewards categories to keep track of, meaning less confusion for less experienced users.
Other cardmember benefits include overdraft protection on linked eligible Bank of America deposit accounts and free access to your FICO score. There is no annual fee for this card, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.
What Sets the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card Apart?
This card has several features that help it distinguish itself from other credit cards in its category.
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back. Many secured cards don’t earn rewards. Even though this card only earns 1.5% cash back, that’s more than many other similar cards offer. And there’s no limit on how much you can earn as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
- Overdraft protection. If you have an eligible Bank of America deposit account, this card offers an optional service to help prevent overdrafts. Fees and interest charges may apply.
- On-demand FICO score access. This card gives you on-demand access to your FICO scores for no extra charge. This is a useful feature if you’re keen on building credit quickly.
Key Features of the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card offers the ability to earn cash back and overdraft protection.
This card doesn’t currently offer a sign-up bonus. Check back often for updated offers.
This card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There is no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn and cash rewards don’t expire.
You can redeem your rewards for cash back in the form of a direct deposit into your Bank of America checking or savings account, as a credit card statement credit, or as a deposit into your eligible Merrill accounts, including 529 college savings accounts.
This card has no annual fee.
The balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount of each transaction. The cash advance fee is 3% to 5%, depending on how the advance occurs.
There is a foreign transaction fee of 3% of the U.S. dollar amount of each transaction and a late payment penalty fee of up to $40.
Overdraft Protection (Balance Connect)
You don’t need a Bank of America deposit account to get this card, but if you do have one or are in the market for one soon, know that you can link it to this credit card to protect against overdrafts. Known as Balance Connect, this feature is clutch for deposit account holders who live paycheck to paycheck (or close to it) but may come with additional fees.
This card is a secured card, which means you need to provide a security deposit in order to use the card. In general, even applicants with poor credit can be approved for this card, as long as they can come up with the $200 minimum security deposit.
Pros & Cons
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card has a lot to recommend it. However, it’s not perfect — no credit card is.
- Lenient underwriting standards
- No annual fee
- Unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases
- Requires a security deposit
- Has foreign transaction fees
- Rewards program may encourage overspending
This card has several advantages for cardholders with serious credit problems.
- Available to nearly anyone. With most secured credit cards, you merely have to prove your identity and have no current outstanding debt that’s in default or delinquency. Otherwise, underwriting standards are quite lenient here.
- No annual fee. Many credit cards designed for people with bad credit charge excessive, even predatory fees. This card doesn’t — it has no annual fee, and its other fees are in line with credit cards designed for people with good or excellent credit.
- Earn unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases. This card pays 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no limits. This is competitive with cards that are designed for people with good credit (though not category-leading by any means).
Before applying for this card, consider its drawbacks. They might not be dealbreakers, but you should still understand them before you apply.
- You must submit a refundable security deposit. Like all secured cards, this one requires you to come up with a deposit, which is only seized if you default. The minimum is $200 and the amount of the deposit becomes your credit limit.
- Foreign transaction fees. This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee, so it’s not a good card to use when traveling outside the U.S. There are other secured cards that don’t have this unnecessary fee.
- Cash back could encourage spending. If you have serious credit problems due to overspending, this card might not be for you. Earning cash back can tempt you to overspend and incur additional debt.
How the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Stacks Up
The card’s closest competitor is probably the Discover it Secured Credit Card. Here’s how the two cards compare.
|BofA Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured
|Discover it Secured
|Match of all cash back earned in the first year
|1.5% on all eligible purchases
|Up to 2% on select purchases
|0% Intro APR
|Foreign Transaction Fee
|3% of the transaction
|Poor or better
|Poor or better
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured card has a better overall rate of return despite Discover it Secured’s higher maximum cash-back rate. But it lacks a first-year new cardholder bonus. By contrast, Discover it Secured’s first-year bonus is theoretically uncapped.
For people with bad credit, this card seems to offer the best of both worlds. It has competitive rewards and low fees, but it’s still available to those with bad credit.
If there’s a catch, it’s that you’ll have to submit a refundable security deposit. But if you use this card responsibly, you’ll quickly build credit and have the chance to move to a standard unsecured card. You’ll then receive your security deposit back.
So if building your credit and earning cash back is your goal, then this card is a great way to get there.