Bank of America Review

Bank of America is a multinational investment and financial services company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s the second-largest banking institution in the U.S. after JPMorgan Chase, and was formed in 1998 with the $62 billion acquisition of BankAmerica by NationsBank. As one of the largest banks in the U.S., Bank of America has both a huge physical and digital presence. The bank has about 4,500 branches, including branches in the country’s 30 top urban markets. They also have a mobile app that has a lot of capabilities and is easy to use.

This makes Bank of America a decent choice for managing household finances, regardless of your income level. However, if you run the risk of having a negative balance in your account or if you don’t receive regular direct deposits, you may want to look at more non-traditional options, as Bank of America’s fees are substantial. They also don’t offer very good interest rates on their savings and certificate of deposit (CD) accounts.

Bank of America at a glance

Bank Min Savings Deposit Max Savings APY 1-Year CD Rate J.D. Power Survey Score Key Benefit
Bank of America $100 0.03% 0.05% 839 Digital assistant, Erica, helps manage and track spending and savings accounts

What we like about Bank of America

As a large bank, Bank of America has some of the features you just can’t find at their smaller counterparts. They have a wide network of ATMs and branch offices — located in both major cities and the suburbs — and they have the financial backing to support an app that gives you a complete banking experience in the palm of your hand. Their app even includes a digital assistant named Erica®, along with their BankAmeriDeals® program, which gives you discounts at popular stores just for using their app.

You can use the Bank of America app to pay bills, transfer money, build a budget, deposit checks and even enable automatic “round-up” savings through their Keep the Change® program. You can also enable custom alerts on transactions that are over a specific amount or for transactions made online. Moreover, you can even create alerts for oncoming bills; this adds an extra layer of security and helps you avoid potential late fees from third parties.

Things to consider

Bank of America makes it easy to put money aside through their automatic savings program and their mobile app, but the money you save isn’t likely to appreciate much. Even if you reach the “Platinum Honors Tier” of their savings account, which requires a balance of at least $500,000, your annual percentage yield (APY) is still only 0.06%. While this APY is comparable to other savings accounts on the market, it still isn’t as high as some of the best options.

The biggest drawback to Bank of America is their fee structure, especially in regard to their checking accounts. In fact, its fees and the reviews surrounding them even made the news in 2018. Reviewers have also complained of poor customer service.

If you want a checking account that includes paper checks, it requires a $12 monthly maintenance fee. You can avoid it by maintaining a daily balance of $1,500 or by receiving at least a $250 direct deposit each month, but that isn’t always possible for some consumers.

Their overdraft fees are also some of the worst in the industry. For every charge over $1 that overdrafts your account, you’ll be hit with a fee of $35. You can receive up to four of these fees per day, for a total $140, in addition to the negative balance on your account. They also charge high fees for using out-of-network ATMs.

Bank of America checking & savings accounts

Bank of America no longer has a standard checking account. Instead, they offer three tiers of their “Bank of America Advantage Banking” account. They also offer a student banking account. For savings, they only have one choice, but they do offer a savings option for individuals under the age of 18.

1. Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking

  • Minimum opening balance: $25
  • Monthly fee: $4.95
  • No overdraft fees
  • No overdraft protection or services (all overdraft purchases declined for insufficient funds)
  • No paper checks

2. Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking

  • Minimum opening balance: $100
  • Monthly fee: $12
  • Overdraft fee: $35 (up to 4 times per day)
  • Student waiver available for the monthly fee

3. Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking

  • Minimum opening balance: $100
  • Monthly fee: $25
  • Overdraft fee: $35 (up to 4 times per day)
  • Option to get additional accounts with no monthly fees

4. Bank of America Advantage Savings

  • Minimum opening balance: $100
  • Monthly fee: $8
  • APY: 0.03% – 0.06%
  • Student waiver available for the monthly fee

5. Bank of America Minor Savings Accounts

  • Minimum opening balance: $25
  • Monthly fee: none
  • APY: variable
  • Only available to individuals under the age of 18
  • Automatically converts to Advantage Savings account on 18th birthday

Bank of America money market accounts

Bank of America does not offer money market accounts specifically. Instead, they offer CDs and investment accounts, as well as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) money market options. For customers looking for traditional money market accounts, consider  Citibank, which offers customers some of the highest APYS on this type of account.

Bank of America CDs

Bank of America currently offers two CD accounts. Their featured CD account has a fixed rate, providing you with a predictable return. However, this account requires a high minimum opening balance and you must schedule an appointment with a representative if you want to open it. Their standard CD account is much more accessible, but the yield isn’t particularly high.

1. Featured CD account

  • Minimum opening balance: $10,000
  • Annual fee: none
  • Transfer fee: none
  • APY: variable by location
  • Term length: 13, 25 or 37 months

2. Standard term CD account

  • Minimum opening balance: $1,000
  • Annual fee: none
  • Transfer fee: none
  • APY: 0.03% – 1.00%
  • Term length: 28 days to 10 years

Bank of America credit cards

As one of the largest banks in the U.S., Bank of America offers a wide variety of Visa and MasterCard options. Some of their cards will even give automatic donations to charities when you use them. They break their credit card offerings into five categories:

1. Cash rewards credit cards

Cash rewards cards allow you to earn cash back on specific purchases, or on purchases in specific categories depending on the card you choose. For example, you can earn cash back on purchases of groceries, purchases at restaurants or even purchases at wholesale clubs. Many of the cards in this category enable you to support charities like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Susan G. Komen.

2. Travel and airlines rewards cards

The cards in this category enable you to earn miles and rewards on airlines, train lines and even cruise lines. You can also sign up for credit cards that offer bonus points when you use them on travel and dining purchases.

3. Lower interest rate cards

At the time of this writing, Bank of America offers only one card in this category: the BankAmericard®. This card comes with the following features:

  • 0% APR for 15 billing cycles
  • $0 intro balance transfer fee for the first 60 days
  • No penalty APR
  • Free access to your FICO® Score

4. Points rewards cards

Some of Bank of America’s travel cards overlap in this category. These cards include general reward points cards and cards which reward points in specific categories.

5. Cards to build or rebuild credit

This category includes credit cards designed specifically for students as well as the BankAmericard® Secured option for regular bankers. BankAmericard® Secured requires a minimum security deposit of $300.

The student credit cards function much like any other credit cards, but they offer additional perks, such as no blackout dates and low-interest rates. These are specifically designed to help young people build credit.

Please Note: Information about these card have been collected independently by The Simple Dollar. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

The bottom line

Upon review, Bank of America is a relatively good choice for everyday banking. If you can avoid their monthly maintenance fees, their smartphone app and widely accessible ATM and branch network make them convenient and affordable. Additionally, their mobile tool for scheduling and paying bills is particularly useful.

However, Bank of America may not be a good choice for both low-income and high-income individuals.

Their overdraft fees can be brutal, especially if you don’t have much money on hand to begin with. Plus, your income is at risk of being chipped away at if you can’t avoid the account maintenance fees by maintaining a minimum balance or getting regular direct deposits. The bank’s only saving grace for low-income bankers is their collection of low interest credit cards, student credit cards and credit cards designed to repair credit, but you can apply for those without signing up for an account.

High-income individuals who want to invest and put money into a high-yield savings account should probably look elsewhere. The APY on Bank of America’s savings accounts and CDs are standard, but not impressive.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Loading Disqus Comments ...