Finding a perfect bank partner is not easy. That is why we are giving you this Bank of America review not just to know more about this popular financial institution, but for you to find out if it’s indeed the right one for you or not.
It’s already given — Bank of America is one of the country’s most sought after financial institutions. Not surprising at all as the size of the bank in itself is hard to underestimate.
Guess what? According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Bank of America holds about $1 out of every $10 deposit in the United States.
Do you see that? If you are looking for a credible and strong banking institution, definitely, Bank of America is one of the best choices.
But there’s more to know about this famous financial institution, and that is what we are going to talk about today.
In particular, we are going to tackle the following:
- Who is Bank of America?
- Who is Bank of America best for?
- What does Bank of America offer?
- What are the fees that Bank of America charges?
- How to do banking with Bank of America?
- How is Bank of America’s customer service?
- What are the highs and lows of Bank of America?
WHO IS BANK OF AMERICA?
According to Statista, the history of Bank of America can be traced back to 1904. Yes, that’s how long Bank of America has been around. Formerly known as Bank of Italy, what made it stand out then from other American banks was that it “offered financial services to immigrants arriving in the United States and not only wealthiest American citizens.”
The bank was only named Bank of America in 1998 after it was acquisitioned by Nations bank, which is the largest bank acquisition in history during that time.
After the acquisition, through the subsequent aggressive campaign, it has transformed Bank of America from being a regional player to a national giant — which is what it is today.
From its inception until today, Bank of America continues to grow. Currently, it boasts over 4,200 branches all over the United States, which makes it convenient for customers.
Furthermore, the bank is considered one of the “most valuable banking brands globally and one of the leading banks in terms of assets or market capitalization” according to Statista report.
In 2018, Bank of America is ranked fourth among the largest employers in the banking sector. The bank employs more than 136 thousand people.
Speaking of assets, Bank of America’s total asset as of 2018 was estimated at 2.35 trillion U.S. dollars. During the same year, the bank reported a net income of $28.15 billion, which was more than 80% of the bank revenue in the country at that time.
Although the bank is all over the place, it’s headquarter is situated in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Before moving on, sharing with you this informative review on Bank of America by Toply. This would definitely help as you decipher whether the bank is right for you or not.
WHO IS BANK OF AMERICA BEST FOR?
The very reason why we are making this Bank of America review is to help individuals discern if the bank is the right one for them.
If you are someone who is looking for a bank that is conveniently located wherever you are within the country, then Bank of America is perfect for you. With so many branches across the country, you will surely find one anywhere.
Furthermore, Bank of America is also suitable for those who:
- Want to do banking with a well-known, large financial institution
- Do not mind navigating a multifaceted system of rules
- Want a bank that has a wide variety of financial products to choose from
- Are not that concerned about earning a competitive rate on your savings account
- Are aware of the many fees and how to get out of them
If you see yourself in any of the above-mentioned, then Bank of America may be your perfect match.
WHAT DOES BANK OF AMERICA OFFER?
Just like in our other bank reviews, in this Bank of America review, we are going to share with you the different products and services that Bank of America offers. This way you get to have an idea not just about what they have, but also, to gauge any of these products and services fits your needs and preferences when it comes to banks.
Since Bank of America is a large bank, it is already given that they offer a wide range of products and services. With Bank of America, you can basically find anything you need to manage your money.
Here are the major products that Bank of America offer:
- Checking accounts
- Savings accounts
- Certificates of deposit
- Money market and CD IRAs
- Credit cards
When it comes to services, Bank of America offers online, mobile, and in-person banking, as well as customer service.
Now, let’s proceed to look through each of the major products of the bank.
Bank of America offers three different checking accounts to choose from. These are:
- Advantage SafeBalance Checking Account
- Advantage Plus Checking Account
- Advantage Relationship Checking Account
Advantage SafeBalance Checking Account
At first sight, this looks like a good checking account. It charges neither overdraft fees nor non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees. In addition to that, if you meet certain requirements, monthly fees are waived.
Sounds really good, right?
But as the saying goes, nothing is perfect. The problem comes in when you start looking into what under this checking account.
Now, to be able to qualify for the monthly fee waiver, you need to enroll in the Preferred Rewards program of the bank, which requires a three-month combined average balance of at least — guess how much? At least $20,000 across all your Bank of America and/or Merrill investment accounts.
Failure to meet such requirements means you will have to pay the $4.95 monthly maintenance fee for this particular account.
This checking account, just like most checking accounts out there pays zero interest. It does not come with checks as well. You can move money in and out still but only by using direct deposit, in-person deposit, and withdrawal, as well as through ATM, your debit card, and bank-to-bank transfers.
We know what you’re thinking. It’s kind of odd not having checks for a “checking” account.
Advantage Plus Checking Account
Unlike the SafeBalance, Bank of America’s Advantage Plus Checking Account is most likely what a lot of people will be interested in.
With this account, a minimum of $100 is required to open one. The Advantage Plus Checking Account also comes with the option to purchase paper checks.
Another thing to like about this account is that it is easier to meet the monthly requirements in order to have the $12 monthly fee waived. All you need to do is to:
- Keep an average of at least $1,500 daily balance
- Have an eligible direct deposit of at least $250
- Enroll in the Preferred Rewards program (with a minimum of $20,000 barrier to entry)
Just like any other checking accounts, it does not pay any interest as well. In addition, you can potentially be charged for an overdraft as well as NSF fees with this account if you overdraw it.
An overdraft fee costs $35 for every overdraft that is more than $1. However, the bank provides you an option to get into overdraft protection from your Bank of America savings account, but you will still be charged $12 for every transfer to cover the overdraft.
Advantage Relationship Checking Account
The Advantage Relationship Checking Account is ideal for people who tend to keep large amounts of money in their accounts. If you keep at least $10,000 into your linked Bank of America accounts every statement cycle, the $25 monthly fee will be automatically waived.
Furthermore, a waiver is also available if you sign up for the bank’s Preferred Rewards program.
Unlike the other two checking account options, the Advantage Relationship Checking Account pays you a bit of interest. A bit because it’s only 0.01%.
In addition, with Advantage Relationship Checking Account, you can also get to enjoy a few perks, which include free wire transfers, free checks, free overdraft protection transfers, as well as waived monthly fees on certain other bank accounts if you link them to this.
Just like its checking accounts, Bank of America also offers three different savings accounts, namely:
- Advantage Savings Account
- Minor Savings Account
- Custodial UTMA Savings Account
Let’s discuss each of them —
Advantage Savings Account
Unlike in other banks, Bank of America offers just one saving account for adults. Unfortunately, there’s not much to like about this particular account.
For one, the Advantage Savings Account only offers about 0.03% annual percentage yield (APY), and the rate varies by location. If you come to think of it, it’s too low that it’s negligible.
Two, sadly, the account comes with an $8 monthly fee. To be honest, we find it too much given the fact that to offset the monthly fee, you will need to keep several hundred thousand dollars in your account to earn interest.
Although the monthly fee can be waived provided you have an average of at least $500 daily balance in your account.
Minor Savings Account
As the account name suggests, Bank of America’s Minor Savings Account is intended for customers who are 18 years old and below.
The account requires a minimum deposit of $25 to open one and does not charge any monthly fees.
While it charges $1 if your child does go over six withdrawals in a statement cycle, the said fee can be waived as long as the account maintains a minimum balance of $300 at all times.
When it comes to the interest rate, it’s basically the same as the Advantage Savings, which means it does not earn so much as well.
Automatically, once the account holder turns 18 years old, the account will be switched over to the full Advantage Savings account — including all the fees that the account charges.
Custodial UTMA Savings Account
The Custodial UTMA Savings Account is similar to Minor Savings. What makes the difference is that instead of opening it jointly with your kid, you (parent or guardian) remain in full control over the account until your child reaches 18 years of age.
Only then will the account be completely theirs, and they will be allowed to do anything and everything they want with the money they saved.
Unlike Minor Savings though, the Custodial UTMA Savings Account requires a higher deposit to open. It requires $100 to open an account, and it also comes with an $8 monthly fee if you do not keep at least $500 in the account at all times.
CERTIFICATES OF DEPOSIT
Bank of America offers two options for regular, non-IRA CDs. These are Featured CDs and Standard Term CDs.
Standard Term CDs is ideal for those with a limited amount of money. With this option, you can start with as little as $1,000.
For Standard Term CDs, Bank of America offers a broad range of term lengths which start from 28 days up to 10 years!
Sadly, though, these CDs so not pay much interest, too — at least as of May 2020.
Now, if you have a bit more cash, specifically $10,000 or higher, then Featured CDs are ideal for you.
The thing about Featured CDs is that they offer better rates — at least as of May 2020. However, they are still a far cry from the best CD rates available from competing banks and credit unions.
Also, unlike other CDs, Featured CDs of Bank of America does not come in as many term lengths. They only have 7, 10, 13, 25, and 37 months.
MONEY MARKET AND CD IRAs
Monet Market IRA
There are many banks and credit unions that offer a money market account, which when compared to checking and savings accounts, are considered a hybrid.
Bank of America offers just one money market account, which they call Money Market IRA. With this account, you can save for your retirement within an FDIC-insured account.
You can start saving for as low as $100. This account can be opened within a traditional IRAor a Roth IRA.
Unlike when saving to an IRA CD, saving through a Money Market IRA allows you to withdraw money whenever you need it. However, for savers below 59 1/2, withdrawals may not be a good idea as the IRS will heavily penalize you for early IRA withdrawals.
To put it simply, withdrawals only makes sense if you are on your retirement age already.
IRA Certificate of Deposit
Bank of America offers you Standard Term IRA CDs and Featured IRA CDs when it comes to IRA CDs. While both are essentially the same thing, what makes the difference is that Featured IRA CD requires a slightly higher minimum deposit as compared to Standard Term IRA CD. It’s $2,000 versus $1,000.
But apart from the two, Bank of America offers one more option under IRA CDs. It’s the Variable IDA CD, which comes with an interest rate that changes over the CD’s term. The term ranges between 18 and 23 months. Also, this particular IRA CD requires a much smaller deposit, which amounts to $100. It’s also available as a traditional or Roth IRA.
As expected, Bank of America also offers a variety of credit card options. They offer 23 different cards to be exact. More so, the bank partners with many third-party companies to offer branded cards with corresponding perks.
Here’s what Bank of America offers:
Cash-Back Credit Cards
- Bank of America Cash Rewards
- Susan G. Komen Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card from Bank of America
- MLB Credit Cards
- World Wildlife Fund Credit Card
- U.S. Pride Credit Card
Travel Rewards Credit Cards
- Bank of America Travel Rewards
- Bank of America Premium Rewards
- Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card
- Norwegian Cruise Line World Mastercard
- Spirit Airlines World Mastercard
- Allegiant World Mastercard
- Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard
- Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard
- Sonesta World Mastercard
- Royal Caribbean Visa Signature Credit Card
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard
- Asiana Visa Signature Credit Card
- Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature Credit Card
Balance Transfer Credit Cards
Secured Credit Cards
- BankAmericard Secured Credit Card
Student Credit Cards
- Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students
- BankAmericard Travel Rewards for Students
- BankAmericard for Students
OTHER FINANCIAL PRODUCTS
Apart from the major products we discussed, Bank of America also offers the following:
- Auto loans
- Auto loan refinance
- Business banking services
- Financial advisors
- Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs)
- Investments through Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch
- Refinance mortgages
- Self-directed portfolios
- Managed portfolios
- Private banking
WHAT ARE THE FEES THAT BANK OF AMERICA CHARGES?
Of course, our Bank of America review will not be complete without us looking into the fees the bank charges.
As mentioned earlier while discussing each product of the bank, Bank of America charges a certain monthly fee. The amount varies depending on the type of account you have.
Meanwhile, when it comes to overdraft fees, they charge $35 as often as four times per day. So yeah, it’s quite expensive especially if you have a hard time keeping enough money in your account or accounts.
For negative balance, the bank does not charge anything for it, which is good news.
By the way, you can opt for overdraft protection, but it will cost you $12 per day that a transfer happens from a linked Bank of America savings or secondary checking account.
HOW TO DO BANKING WITH BANK OF AMERICA?
To apply for a bank account with Bank of America, you can either go online or visit a local branch near you.
In particular, it is recommended that you head to a branch if you have any of the following:
- Limited credit history
- Depositing more than $100,000
To open an account, you will need to provide personal information as required by federal law.
HOW IS BANK OF AMERICA’S CUSTOMER SERVICE?
Bank of America ranks below many other big banks when it comes to banking satisfaction.
Based on the 2019 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power, there are a few more banks that ranked even lower than Bank of America across different regions and states when it comes to customer service.
Bank of America offers basically offers most of what you’d expect from a bank as big as it is — mobile app, online banking, and of course, FDIC insurance.
The downside though is that it may be a little tricky getting ahold of someone from the bank as it does not offer 24/7 call-in support. However, it does offer chat support real best.
WHAT ARE THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF BANK OR AMERICA?
Our Bank of America review will not be complete without us summarizing the bank’s highs and lows – basically what we like and what we do not like about it.
Here it goes —
HIGHS: WHAT WE LIKE
- Bank of America is easily accessible across the country with about 4,200 branches and more than 16,000 ATMs.
- It provides an award-winning mobile banking app, and have really invested in digital technology.
- It provides a wide range of financial products and services to choose from.
- It offers useful perks such as a round-up savings feature and a cash-back program.
LOWS: WHAT WE DO NOT LIKE
- Both savings and CDs APY is low as compared to other banks.
- It comes with high monthly fees, which are avoidable but customers need to meet certain requirements.
- It has poor customer service ratings.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BANK OF AMERICA REVIEW
Bank of America is no-doubt a well-trusted and credible bank. With years in the banking industry, they surely know what they are doing.
Unfortunately though, as compared to other banks it is not as competitive when it comes to APY – most of its products.
So, do you think Bank of America is the right one for you?