Bank of America Review 2019

Bank of America Logo

3.8/5

Bank of America is one of the largest financial institutions in the country. It’s a digital leader with a global presence and roughly 67 million customers.

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Bankrate's overall ratings for financial institutions comprise weighted averages up to five stars of five main categories: customer service, savings accounts, checking accounts, money market accounts (MMAs) and certificate of deposit (CDs).

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When a financial firm offers more than one checking, savings or MMA accounts, Bankrate reviews the account with the highest APY. Each bank is evaluated based on the 12-month certificate of deposit (CD) it offers.

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About Bank of America

What’s known today as Bank of America was originally the Bank of Italy, a local bank in San Francisco founded by Amadeo Peter Giannini to support immigrants who other financial institutions wouldn’t serve. What began as a local bank that opened in 1904 in San Francisco expanded until it became the only statewide bank in California. Offices were opened in Italy and other U.S. cities and by 1945, it was the world’s largest bank.

A merger with NationsBank in 1998 made Bank of America the first bank that operated from coast to coast. Today, the bank is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. It updated its logo in late 2018 and has a wide range of banking, small business and wealth management services.

Banking with Bank of America might make sense if you’re looking for an institution with top-notch digital features, an extensive branch network and plenty of ATMs. But bank elsewhere if you want to avoid bank fees or you’re trying to earn a high rate of return.

 Pros

  • The bank is accessible across the country and has about 4,400 retail financial centers and more than 16,000 ATMs.
  • It has an award-winning mobile banking app and has invested heavily in digital technology.
  • Customers have access to the person-to-person payment service Zelle, making it easier to transfer money directly into the bank accounts of friends and family.
  • Artificial intelligence-driven virtual assistant Erica makes budgeting, money management and tracking expenses easier.

 Cons

  • Fees are avoidable but could easily rack up for customers who can’t meet certain requirements.
  • Savings and CD yields are low.
  • Branches are being closed and certain areas of the country no longer have access to a physical bank location.
  • Unless they have the SafeBalance account that prevents overdrafts, customers hit repeatedly with overdraft charges could spend up to $140 per day on fees.

Bank of America Services

Savings Rating

3.3/5

Bank of America’s Rewards Savings account offers an APY that is lower than the national average. One of the ways to waive the monthly maintenance fee of $8 per month is by maintaining a minimum daily balance of at least $500 in the Rewards Savings account.

 Pros

  • Bank of America’s Keep the Change program helps to automate your savings by rounding up the your purchase when you use a Bank of America debit card -- connected to your Bank of America checking account -- and transferring the difference into your savings.
  • The mobile app can be used to deposit checks into your savings account.

 Cons

  • Bank of America’s highest APY on its Reward Savings account is less than the national average.

Savings accounts available from other banks

CDs Rating

3.8/5

Bank of America offers CDs with terms ranging from one month to 10 years. Customers have the choice between two different types of CDs. The standard CD has a low minimum deposit and the option to choose from multiple terms. The featured CD is available for customers interested in a short-term account. A penalty applies for early withdrawals. For CDs with terms between 12 months and five years, the penalty is 180 days of interest.

 Pros

  • Low minimum deposit to open a standard CD.
  • Customers can choose from a variety of different terms.

 Cons

  • Interest is compounded monthly, not daily.
  • Low yield compared to what online banks offer.
  • No special CDs available.

CDs available from other banks

2.10% APY
$5,000 MIN DEPOSIT
2.00% APY
$500 MIN DEPOSIT
2.15% APY
$0 MIN DEPOSIT
Checking Rating

2.6/5

Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking offers an interest-bearing checking account with a $100 minimum opening deposit. The $25 monthly maintenance fee is waived for those with a combined balance of $10,000 across eligible linked accounts or Preferred Rewards participants. Other options include the non-interest bearing Advantage SafeBalance Banking ($4.95 monthly fee, $25 opening balance and no paper checks) or the Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking (waivable $12 monthly fee and $100 minimum opening deposit).

 Pros

  • Tiered rates offer interest on all balances.
  • Participants can select to decline or return transactions if they don’t have enough money (or pay a $35 fee per item).

 Cons

  • Interest rates are relatively low.
  • Requirements to waive monthly fee relatively high.
  • $2.50 to use non-Bank of America ATMs.

Checking accounts available from other banks

MMAs Rating

3.5/5

The Bank of America Rewards Savings is classified as a Money Market Account because it has check-writing capability. There is a fee to order checks, but this fee is waived if you’re enrolled in Preferred Rewards.

 Pros

  • You only need $2,500 to earn Bank of America’s top-tiered APY.
  • You can waive the $8 monthly maintenance fee by maintaining a minimum daily balance of at least $500 or by linking the account to a Relationship Banking account or by being a Preferred Rewards customer.

 Cons

  • The top APY on this account -- in the Platinum Honors Tier -- is substantially lower than the national average for money market accounts.
  • There are much higher APYs out there at online banks.
  • Many online banks only have a low minimum balance requirement to waive a monthly maintenance fee. And many online banks don’t even have monthly maintenance fees.

MMAs available from other banks

Bank Experience Rating

4.8/5

At the megabank, you’ll have access to 16,089 ATMs and more than 4,450 branches. Bank of America’s mobile app experience also includes a few extra touches when compared to rivals. On the app, you can customize your dashboard as well as get insight and guidance from Erica, the bank’s virtual assistant. You can also reach customer service members seven days a week.

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