Bank of America Review - Everything You Need to Know

See what we have to say about the second largest bank in the country

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Introduction

Founded in 1998, Bank of America is best for those who prefer to bank with a large financial institution and all that it entails, including various credit card and checking account options, more than 5,000 branches nationwide, and an impressive 16,000-plus ATMs.

Who is Bank of America Best For?

Bank of America is idea for customers who want to bank with a big bank and have access to many account options. It may also be a good fit for those who:

  • Prefer to bank in-person at a branch or need easy access to ATMs
  • Are students who need a checking account, savings account, credit card – or all three
  • Love to shop and pay bills via credit card (responsibly, of course) and take advantage of credit card reward and points

Pros

  • Plenty of branch and ATM locations

  • Various credit card options, including rewards cards

  • An impressive repertoire of cash reward credit cards

Cons

  • CD rates are low, and minimum opening balance requirements are high

  • Overdraft fees of $35 can be charged as many as four times daily (depending on account type)

  • Checking accounts have monthly maintenance fees, but can be avoided with a minimum direct deposit of average daily balance

Types of Accounts

Bank of America offers the following types of accounts:

  • Bank of America Advantage Banking
  • Student Banking
  • Rewards Savings
  • Child Savings
  • CDs
  • IRAs
  • Cash Rewards Credit Cards
  • Travel, Airlines & Points Rewards Credit Cards
  • Lower Interest Rate Cards
  • Cards to Build or Rebuild Credit
  • 529 College Savings Plans (via MerrillEdge)

Learn more about the types of accounts Bank of America offers below.

Bank of America also offers several small business banking tools, such as checking and savings accounts, business services like card payment and payroll services, as well as lending options, including secured loans and commercial real estate loans. For this review, we focused on personal banking products.

Bank of America Advantage Banking

The Bank of America Advantage Banking account is a personalizable checking account, perfect for those who want all the account features they need – and nothing they don’t. Choose between three different account options – Advantage SafeBalance, Advantage Plus, or Advantage Relationship. Account features include: 

  • Fraud protection
  • Mobile deposits
  • Debit lock/unlock feature
  • Custom alerts
  • Several options for digital payment, including via digital wallet or Zelle.
  • Minimum opening deposits range from $25 to $100

Avoid paying checking account fees by maintaining minimum balances or setting up a direct deposit of at least $250 monthly.

Student Banking

Bank of America’s Student Banking program is perfect for those just starting to build a financial footprint, as well as those who are already well-versed in the world of checking and savings accounts but just want a bit more.

The student banking program includes no-fee (for students under 24 and enrolled in school), checking and savings accounts, as well as credit cards. Other perks include:

  • Online and mobile banking, plus thousands of ATMs nationwide
  • Debit card has a $0 liability guarantee, which covers all fraudulent charges
  • The ability to securely send funds via Zelle
  • Access to the Keep the Change savings program
  • Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students offers one percent cash back on all purchases, plus other perks

Watch out for overdraft fees. With some accounts, you can be charged as many as four $35 fees per day.

Rewards Savings

Maximize your savings with one of Bank of America’s Rewards Savings accounts. Choose from a Tiered Savings, Preferred Rewards, BankAmeriDeals, or Keep the Change account. Other features include:

  • No monthly fees, as long as you meet certain stipulations, such as a minimum daily balance
  • Only $100 opening deposit requirement
  • APY ranging from 0.3 to 0.6 percent
  • FDIC-insured funds

Access to other resources, such as a spending and budgeting tool, Family Life Banking, and a Short-Term Savings Calculator. Because who doesn’t want to know how close they are to their next financial goal?

Child Savings Accounts

It’s never too early to start teaching financial responsibility. Bank of America has two options for kid-friendly savings accounts – a Minor Savings Account and a Custodial (UTMA) Savings Account.

Features of a Minor Savings Account are:

  • Joint ownership by parent/guardian and child
  • FDIC-insured, opening deposit of $25
  • No minimum daily balance and no fees if child is under 18
  • Ability to make automatic transfers

A Custodial (UTMA) Savings Account offers the following features:

  • Parent or guardian is the custodian of account
  • FDIC-insured, $100 minimum opening deposit
  • Required $500 minimum daily balance
  • $8 monthly fee (unless there’s a minimum daily balance of $500, then fee waived)
  • Ability to make automatic transfers

CDs

If you’re looking for a long-term savings tool, then you may consider a Certificate of Deposit (CD). Bank of America offers a Featured CD account, which has terms ranging from 12 to 37 months and APYs ranging from 0.07 to 2.36 percent with a $10,000 minimum opening deposit. Standard Term CDs are also offered. Features include:

  • 0.03 to 1 percent APY
  • Terms ranging from 28 days to 10 years
  • $1,000 minimum opening balance
  • FDIC-insured and automatically renewed

Bank of America’s CD rate are a bit low compared to other financial institutions. Do your homework and shop around before signing on the dotted line.

IRAs

Bank of America has several options when it comes to saving for retirement in an IRA. They offer savings IRAs, such as a Money Market IRA, a Featured CD IRA, or a Standard Term CD IRA. Or, if you like to invest your IRA and really get the most bang for your retirement buck, then consider an Investment IRA via Merrill Edge, Bank of America’s online, discount brokerage service.

Keep in mind that if you are researching an investment IRA on Bank of America’s website, it will redirect you to Merrill Edge’s site.

Most of Bank of America’s investment options are done via Merrill Edge, the financial institution’s discount brokerage service.

Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Looking for a cash rewards credit card? Then you’ve come to right place. Bank of America has upwards of six cash rewards credit cards, offering everything from one percent cash back on every purchase (Bank of America Cash Rewards card) to up to $200 in airline incidental and TSA Pre✓ and Global Entry credits (Bank of America Premium Rewards Card) and more.

Other features of cash rewards credit cards include:

  • Low introductory APR
  • 10 percent customer bonus when you redeem into a Bank of America checking or savings account
  • Customized offers tailored to your taste and spending habits

Travel & Airlines Rewards Credit Cards

Globetrotters, take notice. Bank of America’s lengthy list of travel and airlines rewards cards can help you travel the world in style – and accumulate points to put toward your next adventure. Offering a Bank of America Travel Rewards card, a Bank of America Premium Rewards card, as well as a long list of other airline, train, or cruise line-specific cards. Whether you like to travel by land, by air, or by sea, Bank of America has you covered.

Some credit card partners include (rewards point structure, redemption, and stipulations vary by travel partner):

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Allegiant Air
  • Amtrak
  • Air France
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Asiana Airlines

Lower Interest Rate Cards

If you need to cut out interest to pay off debt more quickly, then the BankAmericard is for you. This low-interest, no annual fee card offers several financially-smart features, such as:

  • Zero percent intro APR
  • $0 introduction balance transfer fee
  • Access to your FICO score for free, so you can rebuild – and keep an eye on – your credit

Cards to Build or Rebuild Credit

If you struggle with using credit cards responsibly or are just starting out and need to build credit, Bank of America has several options for cards to build or rebuild credit. The BankAmericard Secured is a great option for those who need to rebuild their credit. Features include:

  • No annual fee
  • Required minimum refundable security deposit of $300 (maximum is $4,900). Your credit limits for this card will be determined by this amount, among other factors.
  • Ability to access your FICO score monthly for free
  • 25.24 perecent APR (variable)
  • Access to credit education resources

For students who want to build credit Bank of America offers the Cash Rewards for Students Card, which includes:

  • One percent cash back on all purchases
  • Introductory APR of zero percent (for 12 billing cycles)
  • No annual fee

Other options for students include the Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students, which offers perks such as unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend, a zero percent introductory APR, and no annual fee.

529 College Savings Plans

Also through online investing firm Merrill Edge, Bank of America offers 529 College Savings Plans. Perks of these accounts are:

  • Tax-free growth
  • Parents or guardians have control over the account
  • No federal gift tax
  • High contribution limits

The NextGen Direct Plan has no annual account fee, no closeout fee, and only requires a $25 initial deposit. So there’s really no excuse for not getting started saving for college, is there?

Other Products

Bank of America also offers other financial products, including mortgages, refinancing options for your home, and home equity loans. Auto loans are another good perk, and we especially like the auto loan calculator, a great tool for ensuring you buy a card you can really afford.

How to Bank with Bank of America

To open an account, visit BankofAmerica.com or call 1-800-432-1000. You’ll need to provide some personal information to open an account, including:

  • Social Security number and date of birth of all account holders
  • Phone number and e-mail address
  • U.S. address (No P.O. boxes)
  • Funding information for your new account.

You’ll need to apply in person at the bank if you have limited credit history, have had problems with any accounts in the past, or are depositing more than $100,000.

Customer Service

Customer service for Bank of America can be accessed via their website, via phone at 844-432-1000, via social media (Twitter or Facebook), or you can write to them at Bank of America, PO Box 25118, Tampa, FL 33622-5118.

Customer service hours are good, with representatives available from Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, and Saturday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. The social media contact option is also a nice plus.

About Bank of America

Though Bank of America has a long and storied history, it was officially founded in 1998 as the first bicoastal bank in the U.S. Today, half of all households in the U.S. use Bank of America, along with many Fortune 500 companies.

Boasting $2.34 trillion in assets, Bank of America is the second largest bank in the U.S., after JP Morgan Chase & Co. It has more than 5,000 branches, 16,300 ATMs, and more than 150,000 employees. Bank of America is FDIC-insured for up to $250,000 per person. As far as security, Bank of America is an industry leader, with their global security team monitoring accounts 24/7.

The Bottom Line

Benefits Bank of America is a great option for those who like the security and options a bigger bank provides. Other pluses include the variety of checking and savings accounts, as well as rewards, points, and travel credit cards. And with more than 16,000 ATMs, and more than 5,000 branch locations, chances are, you’ll be able to find a Bank of America when you need one.

Drawbacks A big drawback for this financial institution are its CD rates, which are much lower than rates across the industry. Another negative? The overdraft fees can be hefty, with as many as four $35 fees added to an overdrawn account per day.