Bank of America Checking Account Review

Overall, the Bank of America is a suitable option for checking, but despite the name, branches and ATMs aren’t available across the country.

Min. Deposit
$100
Number of Fees
N/A
Free Transactions
N/A
SimpleScore
3.4 / 5.0
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SimpleScore Bank of America Advantage Plus 3.4
Min. Deposit 2
Overdraft Protection 3
Customer Satisfaction 3
Support 4
Additional Accounts 5

Bank of America offers three separate types of checking accounts with low or no fees if you meet certain account requirements. You have several great options when it comes to Bank of America checking accounts. Each account offers tailored benefits based on your unique needs. Some of the perks of the accounts include low minimum starting balances, low fees that are easily waivable and access to over 4,500 ATMs across the country. The interest APY is low and non-existent on lower-tier accounts, but the Bank of America checking account overall is an adequate option.

Bank of America was founded in 1998 and currently serves its customers out of the Charlotte, NC headquarters. The bank is currently the second largest in the country by assets, with over $2.38 trillion under management.

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In this article

    Bank of America at a glance

    BankMin. DepositATMJ.D. Power Survey ScoreKey Benefit
    Bank of America$25Over 4,5003/5 CirclesMultiple tailored account types

    What we like about it

    Anytime you’re working with a major bank like Bank of America, you can expect to get a quality and trustworthy experience. The bank has three different types of checking accounts to choose from, including SafeBalance Banking, Advantage Plus Banking and Advantage Relationship Banking.

    Each account comes with a digital chip debit card, Zelle access for online transfers and mobile app access. The top two tier accounts come with paper checks and overdraft protection, but that doesn’t mean you’re missing out with the first tier, SafeBalance Banking checking account. This Bank of America checking account has no fees at all on overdrafts or returned items, making it a great option for newer banking customers with lower balances.

    Things to consider

    Bank of America checking accounts only offer interest APY on the top-tier account. Even then, the rate for under $50,000 deposited is 0.01%. This increases to 0.02% when you invest over $50,000. While this is in the same ballpark as many traditional banks, it’s considerably lower than the rates you may be able to get with online banks.

    The ATM network is also considerably smaller than you’ll find with banks that are part of ATM networks. For example, Capital One checking accounts give you access to over 40,000 ATMs instead of just over 4,500 with Bank of America.

    What you need to know

    There are three separate Bank of America checking accounts — SafeBalance Banking, Advantage Plus Banking and Advantage Relationship Banking. Fees range from $4.95 to $25 but are all waivable by meeting certain requirements. Generally, these are account minimums or enrollment in the Preferred Rewards program.

    Customers also get access to Zelle, an online money-sending program, free of charge with all three account types. Additionally, all accounts get a chip-enabled debit card, a digital wallet and access to online banking. Paper checks are available to the two higher-tiered accounts, but only with purchase. Each account also comes with either no fees for overdrafts or the ability to link your account to another account with the bank for overdraft protection.

    Bank of America offers a full slate of banking services that can be used and integrated with any of the checking account options provided. This includes savings accounts, investments, mortgages, credit cards and auto loans.

    Mobile app

    One area where Bank of America shines is with the mobile app. According to J.D. Power, the app scored four out of five circles in the 2019 U.S. Banking Mobile App Satisfaction Study. This ranking was good for 6th place overall. The app gives users the ability to manage not only their checking accounts but any and all accounts they have with the bank. This includes loans, mortgages, savings accounts and investments.

    The mobile app comes with Erica, a virtual financial assistant. By using Erica, you can ask questions, find information or accomplish tasks with ease.

    Fees and penalties

    As you move up the tiers of the Bank of America checking accounts, the fees increase. In order, the monthly fees are $4.95, $12.00 and $25.00. But all of these fees are avoidable by meeting the criteria outlined by the bank. If you are a student under the age of 24, you may be eligible to get the fee waived on the first two tiers without the need to meet any other criteria. Other bankers can get the fees waived on all accounts by either joining Preferred Rewards, carrying a necessary minimum balance or by using direct deposits.

    The SafeBalance account does not charge a fee for overdrafts, nor does it allow you to link the account for overdraft protection. The other two Bank of America checking accounts charge $35 for an overdraft or returned item. You can also link these two account types to another Bank of America account for overdraft protection.

    Bank of America vs. Capital One

    If you’re okay with using an online bank, Capital one checking accounts might be a great option. The bank offers absolutely no fees, no account minimums, overdraft protection and access to over 40,000 ATMs at no cost. Additionally, all balances earn an APY rate of 0.10%. Compared to Bank of America, you can see quite a few benefits that dwarf the perks outlined. As long as you are okay without the ability to walk into a branch location and speak to someone, Capital One checking accounts might be the right option.

    Compare top bank accounts

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best checking accounts of 2020.

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

    However, it’s also possible for the same product from the same brand to have multiple SimpleScores. For instance, if we compare the savings account offered by Chase, it scores a 3.8 out of 5. However, when we compare the checking account offered by Chase with the checking account SimpleScore metrics, it scores a 4.4 out of 5. We change and tweak the methodologies for different categories based on industry standards to paint a complete picture of products and brands.

    Have questions about our methodology?

    Email Hayley Armstrong at hayley@thesimpledollar.com.

    Minimum deposit

    We awarded checking account providers that require low or no minimum deposits to open an account.

    Overdraft protection

    It sucks when your account gets overdrafted and you’re hit with fees. Brands that offer more overdraft protections are awarded higher SimpleScores.

    Customer satisfaction

    We leveraged J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study and 2020 U.S. Direct Banking Satisfaction Study to rate each brand for customer satisfaction. The higher the satisfaction score, the higher the SimpleScore.

    Customer support

    The checking account providers that have the most channels of customer support score higher than providers that don’t. We considered e-chat, email, phone, mobile app support and social media as channels of support for this metric.

    Additional products

    When it comes to banking, it’s nice to have options. If you want a checking and savings account in one place, that’s great, but we also considered other financial products like MMAs, CDs, IRAs, loans and more. Providers that have more additional products score higher.

    Jason Lee

    Contributing Writer

    Jason Lee is a U.S.-based freelance writer with a passion for writing about dating, banking, tech, personal growth, food and personal finance. As a business owner, relationship strategist, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base and skill sets with the rest of the world. Follow Jason on Facebook here

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Loans Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans. She is a former writer and contributing editor to Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, and elsewhere.