The BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards card offers cardholders up to $100 in cash per year for their "responsible payment habits."
What does BofA consider responsible? Paying more than the monthly minimum on or before the due date.
Each time you meet these requirements for all three months in the quarter, you'll get $25 in cash back automatically credited to your account.
Carrying this card will, in fact, pay off for cardholders who already have responsible credit habits--by which we mean paying your balance in full and on time every month.
But consumers who use credit responsibly can find much easier ways to earn $100--or more--from a new credit card.
If you've fallen into the habit of only paying the monthly minimum in the past, this card won't help you get ahead. It will probably do the opposite.
It doesn't matter how much more you pay than the monthly minimum--if you pay $50.01 when you owe $50, you'll qualify for the cash back.
Since the card has a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months, you won't experience any consequences from paying just a penny over the monthly minimum for 12 months.
BofA will reward you while you rack up debt.
Balance transfers have a 0% APR for 12 months, too, if you don't mind paying the 3% balance transfer fee.
Once you hit month 13, however, the $100 in rewards you've accumulated for your "responsible payment habits" will vanish almost instantly as your interest rate shoots up to 11.99% to 21.99% variable, based on the prime rate and your creditworthiness when you open your account.
If you get stuck with the penalty APR because you make a late payment, you'll be paying 29.99% APR on new purchases--indefinitely.
The card's next trick?
If you have another qualifying BofA account, you can earn an extra $5 per quarter, for a total of $120 in cash back per year.
You're likely to pay more in fees just to have that account. BofA's checking accounts have monthly maintenance fees of $12 or $25, depending on your account type, if you don't meet the monthly direct deposit or minimum balance requirements.
Finally, when you do get a cash back reward, don't think it will offset your monthly minimum payment amount--it won't.
You also won't outsmart the credit card company's rewards program by getting approved for the card then stashing it in a drawer.
If your minimum monthly payment is $0 because you didn't make any purchases, you'll forfeit the bonus for the whole quarter.
You have to actually use the card--and incur the risk of missing a payment deadline--to get the rewards.
Late payments mean not only sacrificing your rewards, but paying $25 for the first late payment and $35 for any subsequent late payments within the next 6 billing cycles.
To its credit, the card doesn't have an annual fee.
And if you make a late payment when your balance is $100 or less, BofA won't charge you a late payment fee.
Otherwise, the most likely person to see a better balance from this card is the Bank of America genius who dreamed up this credit concept.