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Bank of America Checking Account Review
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.
Bank of America at a glance
|Bank||Min. Deposit||ATM||J.D. Power Survey Score||Key Benefit|
|Bank of America||$25||Over 4,500||3/5 Circles||Multiple 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.
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.