Bank of America Review: Online and In-Person Convenience

Bank of America has a wide reach and deep product bench.

Bank of America is one of the largest banks in the world, with a giant presence across America, as well as overseas services. The bank traces its roots back 240 years, incorporating many famous brands into its business over the decades — from NationsBank to Merrill Wealth Management.

As a full-service institution, Bank of America seeks to provide complete financial solutions to customers, from basic checking and savings accounts to wealth management, loans and other consumer-friendly products. The bank also holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Keep reading for an overview of the products and services offered by Bank of America, along with an exploration of who the bank might best serve. 

Here’s a quick look at what this Bank of America review covers:

Who Is Bank of America Best For?

Bank of America is best for customers looking for a big-name, international bank with a full suite of services. Wealthier customers fare better with an institution like Bank of America because many service fees are waived for customers with larger accounts or more extensive banking arrangements. 

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One of the main benefits of a large national bank like Bank of America is that you don’t have to worry about regional coverage. Bank of America boasts 4,300 branches and 16,800 ATMs, with services in 35 countries. If you’re ever in need of a teller or an in-branch representative, you probably won’t have to look too far to find a Bank of America branch. 

See: Best National Banks of 2020

Pros

  • Broad and deep range of accounts and services
  • Higher balances qualify for fee waivers for some accounts
  • Extensive branch and online capabilities
  • Weekend customer service available

Cons

  • High fees for low-value accounts
  • High overdraft fee 

For customers in need of the services offered by Bank of America, it’s easy to open an account online at the bank’s website.

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Who May Want To Skip Bank of America?

If you have narrow service needs — such as if you’re only seeking the highest-yielding savings account and nothing else — Bank of America might not be the right institution for you. Bank of America’s strength lies in its depth of service and account offerings, making it a good choice for those desiring an all-in-one banking experience, rather than those who prefer to cherry-pick the best single accounts.

Bank of America also comes up short for the average customer when it comes to fees. Whereas many online competitors offer high yields with no fees, Bank of America charges monthly maintenance fees on most checking and savings accounts unless you carry a high balance or meet other qualifying requirements. The bank also charges high out-of-network ATM fees.

In short, if you’re looking for accounts with the highest annual percentage rates and the lowest fees and don’t need the services of a physical branch, Bank of America might not be the right match for you.  

Who Is Bank of America Suitable For?
Best ForWorst For
All-in-one banking experienceSignature accounts with high APYs and no fees
Extensive branch networkCompletely online experience
High-value accountsLow-dollar, low-activity accounts

Find Out: 5 Ways To Avoid Bank of America’s Monthly Maintenance Fees

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Types of Accounts Available

Bank of America offers a wide variety of account types, as befitting its stature as a multinational bank. You’re likely to find any account type you need at Bank of America, from checking and savings accounts to money markets, CDs, IRAs, loans and investments. Here’s a look at Bank of America’s current account offerings.

Bank of America Product Line
ProductAPYFeesFeatures
Checking0.00%-0.02% $0-$25, depending on qualifying activity and balances Preferred Rewards Program and fee waivers available
Savings0.03%-0.06% $8; $0 with qualifying activity Lower fees and higher APYs available for certain Preferred Rewards Members
Money Market (IRA)Call 888-827-1812 for rates $0 Available in IRAs only, along with CDs and investments
CDs0.03%-1.50% $0 Numerous maturity options out to 10 years; Featured CDs available
IRAsUp to 1.50% for special-term IRA CDs $0 Lower minimum investment for Featured CDs
InvestmentsN/ASee bank for advisory fee/commission schedule; $0 online equity and ETF trades now available Wide range of investment options –from stocks and bonds to funds and exchange-traded funds — available through Merrill Edge platform 
LoansRates vary by locationMost have no origination feesPreferred customers can earn lower auto loan rates or reduced mortgage origination fees

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Checking

Bank of America technically only offers one type of checking account: the Advantage Checking account. However, there are three levels of this account: Advantage Safe Balance, Advantage Plus and Advantage Relationship. Only Advantage Relationship checking accounts pay interest, and a modest 0.01%-0.02% APY at that, depending on the size of your account. 

All Advantage Checking accounts have monthly maintenance fees, although they can be waived. Here are the monthly fees and waiver requirements by account type:

Bank of America Checking Accounts  
Account TypeMonthly FeeRequirements To Avoid FeeAPY  
Advantage Safe Balance$4.95Qualify for Gold, Platinum or Platinum Honors tier of Preferred Rewards programN/A
Advantage Plus$12Meet the Advantage Safe Balance requirements or have one monthly direct deposit of $250 — or a minimum daily balance of $1,500N/A
Advantage Relationship$25Meet the requirements of the Advantage Safe Balance tier or maintain a combined Bank of America daily balance of $10,000 Less than $50,000: 0.01%

$50,000 and over: 0.02%

Good To Know: How To Write a Check (With Visuals)

All checking account tiers offer a similar level of basic functionality, including the following perks and benefits: 

  • Fraud protection via a $0 liability guarantee
  • Mobile deposit capability via app
  • Interactive spending and budgeting tool
  • Fast, secure sign-in, including fingerprint access on enabled mobile devices
  • Custom alerts
  • Debit card controls

All accounts allow access via thousands of Bank of America ATMs or financial centers. Fees can be high, however. If you use your ATM at a non-Bank of America machine, you’ll face a fee that’s the greater of $5 or 3% of the value of the transaction, in addition to any terminal operator fee. If you use your ATM card internationally, you’ll face an additional 3% fee. 

Pros

  • Fee waivers available for account maintenance charges
  • Preferred Rewards program, offering perks like loan rate discounts and ATM fee rebates 

Cons

  • Overdraft fee of $35 
  • High non-Bank of America ATM fees of $5 or more  
  • International transaction fee of 3% 
  • Fees of up to $25 per month without qualifying account activity

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See: Best Checking Accounts of 2020

Savings

Bank of America offers a single primary savings account, the Advantage Savings account, in addition to two savings accounts for children. Here’s a quick overview of the characteristics of each type of account:

Bank of America Savings Account 
TypeMinimum To OpenAPYMonthly Fee
Advantage Savings$1000.03%-0.06% $8, or $0 with qualifying activities
Minor Savings Account$250.03%-0.06% $0 if child under age 18
Custodial (UTMA) Savings Account$1000.03%-0.06% $8, or $0 with minimum daily balance of $500

To avoid the monthly fee with the Advantage Savings account, you must either maintain a minimum daily balance of at least $500, link your account to an Advantage Relationship checking account or become a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client. APYs vary based on the type of relationship you have with Bank of America. For example, to earn the top-tier APY, you must be in the Platinum Honors tier of the Preferred Rewards program.

Compare: Best Savings Accounts of 2020

Pros

  • Two types of saving accounts for minors
  • $100 to open; $25 for Minor Savings account
  • ATM card access

Cons

  • Low APY, even at the Platinum Honors relationship tier
  • Need minimum balances or other requirements to avoid $8 monthly fee

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Money Market Accounts

Bank of America only offers a money market account for IRAs. See more in the IRA section below. 

See: Best Money Market Accounts of 2020

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Certificates of Deposit

Bank of America has two main types of CDs: fixed-term and featured. It also offers a line of IRA CDs, which are described in the “Individual Retirement Accounts” section. Fixed-Term CDs have a $1,000 minimum investment, while Featured CDs have a $10,000 minimum. All CDs come with no monthly service charge and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insurance. Rates and terms for Bank of America Featured CDs are as follows: 

Bank of America Featured CD Terms
TermMinimum To OpenAccount BalanceAPY
12 months$10,000All balances0.07%
13 months$10,000Less than $10,0001.50%
$10,000$10,000-$99,0001.50%
$10,000$100,000-$999,9991.50%
$10,000$1 million and over1.50%
25 months$10,000Less than $10,0001.00%
$10,000$10,000-$99,0001.00%
$10,000$100,000-$999,9991.00%
$10,000$1 million and over1.00%
37 months$10,000Less than $10,0001.00%
$10,000$10,000-$99,0001.00%
$10,000$100,000-$999,9991.00%
$10,000$1 million and over1.00%

Read Next: Best CD Accounts of 2020

Here are Bank of America’s Fixed-Term CD terms:

Bank of America Fixed-Term CDs
TermMinimum DepositAccount BalanceAPY
28-179 days$1,000Less than $10,0000.03%
28-179 days$1,000$10,000-$99,9990.03%
28-179 days$1,000$100,000 and over0.03%
6-11 months$1,000Less than $10,0000.03%
6-11 months$1,000$10,000-$99,9990.03%
6-11 months$1,000$100,000 and over0.03%
12-17 months$1,000Less than $10,0000.05%
12-17 months$1,000$10,000-$99,9990.05%
12-17 months$1,000$100,000 and over0.05%
18-23 months$1,000Less than $10,0000.07%
18-23 months$1,000$10,000-$99,9990.07%
18-23 months$1,000$100,000 and over0.07%
24-35 months$1,000Less than $10,0000.10%
24-35 months$1,000$10,000-$99,9990.10%
24-35 months$1,000$100,000 and over0.10%
36-47 months$1,000Less than $10,0000.55%
36-47 months$1,000$10,000-$99,9990.55%
36-47 months$1,000$100,000 and over0.55%
48-59 months$1,000Less than $10,0000.65%
48-59 months$1,000$10,000-$99,9990.65%
48-59 months$1,000$100,000 and over0.65%
60-119 months$1,000Less than $10,0000.75%
60-119 months$1,000$10,000-$99,9990.75%
60-119 months$1,000$100,000 and over0.75%
120 months$1,000Less than $10,0000.75%
120 months$1,000$10,000-$99,9990.75%
120 months$1,000$100,000 and over0.75%

All Bank of America CDs come with early withdrawal penalties. The amount of the penalty depends on the term of the original CD. Penalties are as follows: 

  • For terms of less than 90 days: the greater of seven days’ interest or the total interest earned
  • For terms of 90 days up to 12 months: 90 days’ interest
  • For terms of 12 months up to 60 months: 180 days’ interest
  • For terms of 60 months or longer: 365 days’ interest

Unless specifically stated otherwise, all Bank of America CDs automatically renew. 

Pros

  • Wide range of maturities available, including 10-year CDs
  • Featured CDs pay much higher APYs

Cons

  • Overall, very low standard fixed-term rates
  • High minimum investment for Featured CDs

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Individual Retirement Accounts

Bank of America offers both Roth and Traditional IRAs. Each of these broad account types can be either a savings IRA or an investment IRA. In a savings IRA, you can invest your funds in CDs or a money market account. In an investment IRA, you can choose from a broad range of investment options — from stocks and bonds to ETFs and mutual funds — all through Merrill Edge. For investment IRAs, you can also open SEP IRAs and Rollover IRAs. 

For savings IRAs, CD rates and terms are the same as the Fixed-Term and Featured CD options, which Bank of America offers in its taxable accounts. The only difference is that the investment minimum for a Featured CD in an IRA is just $2,000, as opposed to the $10,000 required in a taxable account. 

For Money Market IRAs, you must call 888-827-1812 to either get rates or open an account. To open a Featured CD IRA, you must schedule an appointment. Only Fixed CD IRAs can be opened online. Investment IRAs can be opened through the Merrill Edge website. 

Pros

  • Traditional, Roth, Rollover and SEP IRAs available
  • Savings and investment IRAs available
  • Lower minimums for Featured CDs in IRAs

Cons

  • Cannot open IRA accounts online

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Investment (Nonbank) Options

Bank of America offers investment options through its brokerage subsidiary, Merrill. With its Merrill Edge platform, Bank of America now combines the technology of an online broker with the ability to access full-service Merrill brokers.

Through Merrill Edge, Bank of America customers can access a wide variety of investments, including the following:  

  • Equities
  • Mutual funds
  • ETFs
  • Managed portfolios
  • Options
  • Margin

The bank also offers various retirement planning products, including 401(k) plans and SEP IRAs, along with extensive financial research and resources.  

Pros   

  • Convenience and pricing of an online broker
  • Wide variety of investment options
  • Access to Merrill financial advisors
  • Retirement planning options
  • Extensive financial education resources
  • 24/7 customer service 

Cons

  • May face upselling and cross-marketing between bank and brokerage

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Loans

Bank of America offers home loans and auto loans. For auto loans, terms between 12 months and 75 months are available. The bank publishes its auto loan rates for 60-month terms on its website. To get rates for other terms, however, you’ll have to complete an application. Here’s the breakdown of current rates and terms for both auto and home loans at Bank of America:

Bank of America Auto Loans
TypeTermRate
New car (dealer)60 months2.99% and up
Used car (dealer)60 months3.49% and up
Refinance60 months3.99% and up
Lease buyout60 months4.09% and up
Private party60 months6.29% and up

Here are the current rates for Bank of America home loans, based on a sample $250,000 purchase price with a $50,000 down payment in ZIP code 90277. Note that the APR includes the effect of points, which essentially allow you to “buy” a lower interest rate in exchange for an upfront payment.

Bank of America Home Loans
TermRateAPRPointsMonthly Payment
30-year fixed3.38%3.58%0.892$884
15-year fixed2.75%3.1%0.828$1,357
5/1 ARM variable2.75%3.82%0.766$816

Bank of America also offers home equity and refinancing loans. Speak with a representative for further details.  

Pros

  • Auto loans of 12 months to 75 months
  • Home loan prequalification available with The Bank of America Digital Mortgage Experience®
  • Various types of home loans available
  • Up to 0.50% rate discount on auto loans; up to $600 reduction in mortgage origination fee for qualifying customers

Cons

  • Limited rate data available online for auto loans 

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SeeBest Online Banks of 2020

How To Bank With Bank of America

You can open certain Bank of America accounts online, but for others, such as IRA accounts or investment accounts, you’ll need to call the bank or visit a branch. 

For checking and savings accounts, you can generally open an account online in about 10 minutes with the following information: 

  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Physical U.S. address
  • Bank account or debit card information for your funding source

If any of the following apply, you won’t be eligible to open an account online with Bank of America:

  • The bank has difficulty verifying your information, such as if you have a limited or nonexistent credit history
  • You don’t have a clean checking history
  • You are depositing more than $100,000

For certain types of IRAs, you must either schedule an appointment or call the bank to open an account. 

See: How Much Is Bank of America Worth?

Technology

Bank of America offers mobile apps for nearly any type of platform, from Apple and Android to Windows 10 and BlackBerry. You can use the app to log in to your account, deposit checks, set up alerts, send money and check your accounts. 

Some Bank of America ATMs have contactless readers that allow you to use your smartphone to initiate transactions, without the need for a physical ATM card. 

Customer Service

You can contact Bank of America in a number of ways. Via the bank’s website, you can schedule an in-branch appointment or use the financial center locator to find a branch near you. The bank has Facebook and Twitter accounts where you can reach representatives from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Saturday and 8 a.m. to p.m. EST on Sundays.

For telephone support, you can call the bank at 800-432-1000 or 315-724-4022 (international collect). Hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday. 

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Fees

Fees at Bank of America can be quite high. However, there are ways to avoid most fees. For example, the high ATM surcharge can be avoided if you stick to Bank of America ATMs. Similarly, the high overdraft fee is irrelevant to account holders who mind their balances and never overdraw their accounts. Monthly account maintenance fees on checking and savings accounts can be avoided through Preferred Rewards status or a high minimum balance. 

Learn: Here’s How To Find Your Bank of America Routing Number

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Availability of Funds

Bank of America offers ATM access for its checking and savings accounts. ATM access is not available for money market accounts, which are only available in Bank of America IRAs. The most you can withdraw from a Bank of America ATM is 40 bills. The specific amount you can withdraw from an ATM depends on your account type and availability of funds. If you’re setting up an ATM withdrawal on the mobile app, the daily withdrawal limit from an ATM is $800. 

Of course, if you’re near a Bank of America branch, you can also access your funds directly with a teller during normal operating hours.

Learn: Your Guide to Bank of America SWIFT Codes

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Bank of America in a Nutshell

If you’re still deciding about whether Bank of America is one of the best banks for you, here’s a quick review of the bank’s pros and cons. 

Benefits

If you’re looking for a full-service banking experience with a wide range of accounts and services available, Bank of America should be on your shortlist. In addition to offering everything from checking and savings accounts to a full roster of loan and investment options, including credit cards, Bank of America boasts 4,300 and 16,800 ATMs, and services are available in 35 countries.

In most spots across the nation, you won’t be far from a Bank of America branch, and even overseas, you might not be out of Bank of America reach. Plus, wherever you are, you can always open an account online in a matter of minutes directly with the bank. 

Drawbacks

Where Bank of America comes up short is in the low-fee, high APY domain of countless online banks. Although you can open some Bank of America accounts online, most of them have monthly fees unless you meet certain minimum requirements. Account APYs are quite low on the bank’s checking and savings accounts, even if you’re a top-tier Preferred Rewards member at Bank of America. Fees can be expensive as well, including the $5 — or more — ATM surcharge at non-Bank of America machines and the $35 overdraft charge.

Click through to learn more about the best Bank of America promotions and offers for 2020.

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Rates are subject to change; other information on accounts is accurate as of Feb. 7, 2020, unless otherwise noted. This content is not provided by Ally Bank. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Ally Bank.

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.