The MLB™ BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ MasterCard® is a cash back credit card with a cool twist: You can customize its face with your favorite MLB team’s logo and color scheme. Aside from the baseball theme, this card is identical to the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card, which offers elevated cash back earning power on gas and grocery purchases. Many Bank of America customers choose to connect their MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards cards to Bank of America MLB Checking Accounts, which come with team-branded checks and debit cards.
MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards competes with a number of other popular cash back cards, including NHL Discover it (another great option for sports fans), flagship Discover it, Discover it Chrome, Chase Freedom, Barclaycard CashForward, Capital One Quicksilver, Citi Double Cash, American Express Blue Cash Everyday, and American Express Blue Cash Preferred.
- Sign-up Bonus: When you spend at least $500 within 90 days of signing up, you get a $100 cash back bonus.
- Earning Cash Back Rewards: The MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards MasterCard earns 3% cash back on gas purchases and 2% on grocery store purchases, up to a cumulative $2,500 per quarter in both categories. Above that limit, each $1 spent on gas and groceries earns an unlimited 1% cash back. All other purchases also earn an unlimited 1% cash back. Warehouse clubs such as Sam’s Club and superstores such as Target don’t count as grocery stores under this card’s terms.
- Redeeming Cash Back Rewards: Earned cash back is redeemable as a statement credit, paper check, deposit into a Bank of America checking or savings account, or deposit into a Merrill Lynch Cash Management account. Regardless of redemption method, the minimum redemption threshold is $25. If you redeem via Bank of America or Merrill Lynch deposit, you automatically get a 10% bonus on the redeemed amount. For instance, a $30 redemption would result in a total cash back deposit of $33.
- Preferred Rewards Benefit: If you’re a member of Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program, you’re entitled to a cash back bonus of up to 75% on all redemptions. There are three Preferred Rewards tiers: Gold ($20,000 to $50,000 on deposit with Bank of America, good for a 25% cash back bonus); Platinum ($50,000 to $100,000 on deposit, good for a 50% cash back bonus); and Platinum Honors ($100,000-plus on deposit, good for a 75% bonus).
- Overdraft Protection: If you’re a current Bank of America customer, you can link your checking account (including your MLB Checking Account, if you decide to go all-out with the baseball theme) to your MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards card for use as an overdraft protection mechanism. When an overdraft occurs, Bank of America charges a cash advance to your MLB BankAmericard to cover the shortfall in the checking account. Such advances are always charged in multiples of $100 – for instance, a $250 overdraft would result in a $300 advance. Overdraft protection advances cost $12 apiece (as opposed to the greater of $10 or 3% for regular cash advances) and accrue interest at the maximum cash advance rate (25.24% APR).
- Introductory APR: MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards MasterCard offers a 12-billing-cycle 0% introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers. Qualifying balance transfers must occur within 60 days of your account opening date.
- Regular APR: Following the end of the introductory period, the purchase and balance transfer APRs rise to range between 13.24% and 23.24%. The exact rate depends on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR ranges from 16.24% to 25.24% from day one, and the penalty APR ranges up to 29.99%, again based on your creditworthiness and prevailing rates.
- Important Fees: MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards MasterCard has no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount, while balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $10 or 3%. Late fees cost $37, and returned payment fees cost $27.
- Credit Required: This card requires good to excellent credit. Some minor credit dings likely won’t disqualify your application, but major blemishes are a no-no.
- No Annual Fee. MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards MasterCard doesn’t charge an annual fee. Many competing cash back gas and grocery credit cards, including American Express Blue Cash Preferred ($75) and EveryDay Preferred ($95), do have annual fees.
- Good Intro APR Deal. This card comes with a 12-billing-cycle 0% APR promotion on balance transfers and purchases. That’s awesome for new cardholders who need to make large upfront purchases – such as season tickets for their home team – or transfer high-interest balances from other accounts. Capital One Quicksilver, a popular competitor, only runs its balance transfer and purchase promotion for 9 months.
- No Manual Activation or Quarterly Categories. MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards doesn’t require you to manually activate your cash back earnings or keep track of quarterly spending categories. In fact, its cash back architecture never changes – you can always expect to earn the same amount of cash back in the same places, no matter what the calendar says. Chase Freedom and Discover it both require you to keep track of quarterly spending categories and activate your cash back four times per year.
- Attainable Sign-up Bonus. MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards’ sign-up bonus is fairly generous and easy to attain: $100 when you spend $500 in 90 days. That’s better than Citi Double Cash, which doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus at all.
- Benefits for Bank of America Accountholders. If you’re a current Bank of America or Merrill Lynch customer and have a deposit account in good standing, you get an automatic 10% bonus on your cash back earnings. This can add up: If you earn $200 in cash back this year, you’ve got $20 extra to spend at year-end. And, if you’re lucky enough to have deposits worth more than $20,000 in Bank of America accounts, you can earn cash back bonuses up to 75%. Some other popular credit cards with adjacent banks, such as Discover and Discover Bank, don’t offer any perks like this.
- Caps on Gas and Grocery Benefits. MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards’ gas and grocery cash back benefit is capped at a cumulative quarterly spending limit of $2,500, after which spending in those categories earns a mediocre 1% per $1 spent. In other words, if you spend $800 at the grocery store and $700 at the gas station in a given quarter, further purchases in either category earn 1% cash back. If you don’t spend much in these categories, this card is fine. Otherwise, consider one of the many grocery and gas credit cards out there with more generous benefits, such as American Express Blue Cash Preferred (3% back at gas stations and 6% at supermarkets, plus $75 annual fee) or the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Credit Card (unlimited 5% back at the pump).
- Need to Accrue at Least $25 to Redeem. This card has a minimum redemption threshold of $25, meaning you can’t redeem your cash back rewards until you reach that amount. If you don’t use your card very much, it can take months to earn $25 in cash back. By contrast, the Discover it family of cash back cards lets you redeem in any amount.
- Has a Penalty APR. This card comes with a 29.99% penalty APR, which is a big bummer if you occasionally miss payments. Chase Freedom and the Discover it cards don’t charge penalty interest, so they’re ideal alternatives.
- No Discounts on MLB Merchandise. MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards card’s only baseball-related benefit is a customizable card face that sports your favorite team’s visage. That’s a nice splash of color for your wallet, but it’s not exactly practical. By contrast, NHL Discover it – another cash back card for sports fans – has a customizable card face in addition to a 10% discount at the NHL’s official online retail portal.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. If you plan on taking a road trip to see the Toronto Blue Jays play at their home stadium, or want to visit the Caribbean for a look at the next generation of rising MLB stars, you need to pay a 3% fee on all transactions you make there. For international travel, consider a fee-free alternative, such as Capital One Quicksilver or Discover it.
- No Free Credit Score or Credit-Building Tools. MLB BankAmericard Cash Rewards doesn’t offer any credit-building tools or free credit scores – that’s a big drawback if you’re trying to build your personal credit. By contrast, Discover it offers a free FICO score with your monthly statement and in your online account dashboard. Capital One Quicksilver offers a free FICO score and a host of credit-building tools.
There’s something to be said for proudly flying your home team’s flag wherever you go. While there’s no practical difference between the MLB™ BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ MasterCard® and the regular BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card other than the customizable card face and color scheme, that’s actually a powerful incentive for many folks. When there’s no disincentive to do so, why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to show checkout clerks and dining partners where your baseball allegiances lie? It’s certainly a more subtle approach than wearing your favorite player’s jersey wherever you go.