Bank of America Review 2021
- Access to branches
- Choice of account types
- Full-service banking
As one of the largest financial institutions in the United States, Bank of America has a lot to offer. The range of personal and business account options is impressive, and the availability of bank branches makes it extremely convenient.
BofA has had its share of controversies and its sheer size can sometimes make service inconsistent. In 2014, it was fined $16.65 billion for its role in the 2008 financial crisis. Additionally, some of the accounts are a bit lacking in features.
In 2021, a number of banks and fintech platforms eliminated overdraft fees but Bank of America has not joined them completely, though some accounts have this feature. If this is a service you need or want, BofA may not be the best choice for you. We’ve got some handy tips, though, on how to keep from overdrawing your accounts.
All that said, is Bank of America the right place for you to do your banking? Our deeper dive on what the bank offers will help you decide.
This Bank of America review looks at the bank’s checking and savings features for individuals and small businesses, as well as its overall convenience and mobile banking features. Note that Bank of America’s credit cards and lending products are not included in this review.
Bank of America offers three checking accounts, each with its own attributes.
Advantage SafeBalance Checking
- Low opening balance required
- Multiple ways to waive the monthly fee
- No overdraft fees
The AdvantageSafe Balance Checking account comes with $4.95 in monthly fees. Bank of America will waive this fee if you can check one of the following boxes:
- You enroll in the Preferred Rewards program. To qualify as a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you need a three-month combined average of $20,000 in your Bank of America and Merrill Edge/Merrill Lynch accounts. That can be a tall order for a lot of customers.
- You’re under 24 years old and in school.
Two More Checking Accounts
The next step up in BofA’s checking account offerings is Advantage Plus Checking. It comes with $12 in monthly fees, but it also has a couple more ways to avoid it. Besides enrolling in Preferred Rewards or qualifying as a student, you can avoid the monthly fee if you:
- Have at least one qualifying direct deposit of $250 or more, OR
- Maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance.
Even part-time employees are likely to make a direct deposit of at least $250, so the fee shouldn’t be a major nuisance. Unfortunately, neither the AdvantageSafe Balance Checking account nor the Advantage Plus checking account offers interest on your money.
To earn interest with a Bank of America checking account, you need to bump up to the Advantage Relationship checking account. This account offers 0.03% APY on your money, which is below the national average for interest checking accounts. You can get that increased if you join the Preferred Rewards program.
Advantage Relationship bank accounts have a hefty $25 in monthly fees attached, but it can be waived with a combined balance of at least $10,000 in eligible linked accounts.
Bank of America’s overdraft fee is $35 with as many as four possible per day. An additional $35 gets tacked on after five days of a continuous negative balance.
The overdraft protection option will cover overdrafts by withdrawing money from your savings account, but there’s a significant $10 per transaction fee. You’ll only be charged $10 once per day.
Bank of America’s basic savings account is a good beginner account and you can bump up to another level to receive more perks. There is also a savings account for minors.
Advantage Savings Account
- Low opening deposit
- No minimum daily balance
- Cash back deals
Bank of America’s basic savings account has a $100 minimum opening deposit. There’s also an $8 monthly fee that’s waived if:
- You maintain a minimum daily balance of $500.
- You’re a Preferred Rewards Member.
- You link your savings account to your Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking account (waiver applies to first four savings accounts).
More About Savings
If you’re looking to open a savings account for a minor, you’re in luck. BofA has a Minor Savings account. It only requires a $25 opening deposit, but there is no minimum balance requirement after that and no monthly maintenance fee. The interest rates are the same as for the Bank of America Advantage Savings account (0.03%), making it a perfect starter account to help get children in the habit of saving.
Other Bank of America Features
Because of its size — it has more than 200,000 employees and annual revenue in excess of $85 billion — Bank of America has many more features than smaller financial institutions. Here are some that we think you’d want to know about:
Keep the Change
We like the Keep the Change program. If you opt in to this feature, your debit card purchases will automatically be rounded up, and the leftover change is deposited into your Bank of America savings account. It’s a simple way to add to your savings without having to think about it, and the money can add up quickly.
Certificate of Deposit
If you’re looking for a certificate of deposit, you can start out with a minimum of $1,000. You can also choose your term from as little as 28 days up to 10 years. CD rates vary from 0.03% to 1% depending on the length of your term.
Small Business Banking
Bank of America has a dedicated site just for small business banking. The site makes it easy to track your account and keep on top of things. That said, there are some shortcomings to its services.
The Business Fundamentals Checking account isn’t interest-bearing and doesn’t list a minimum opening deposit amount. However, there is a $17 monthly service fee. This can be waived if you:
- Spend $250 in net new purchases on a business debit or credit card.
- Maintain an average monthly balance of $5,000 or more.
- Maintain a minimum daily balance of $3,000.
- Maintain a combined average monthly balance of $15,000 or more in your linked Bank of America accounts.
- Qualify and enroll in the Preferred Rewards for Business program (waiver applies on up to four eligible business checking accounts.)
You’ll get 200 free transactions per billing cycle and $7,500 worth of free cash deposits.
Bank of America’s next-level account for small business checking is called the Business Advantage Checking. This account comes with a $29.95 monthly fee. To get this waived, you need to:
- Spend $2,500 in net new purchases on a business credit card.
- Maintain an average monthly balance of $15,000 or more.
- Maintain a combined average monthly balance in your linked Bank of America accounts of at least $35,000.
- Actively use one or both of these business services: Bank of America Merchant Services or Payroll Services.
- Qualify for and enroll in the Preferred Rewards for Business program (first four checking accounts per enrolled business)
This account comes with 500 free transactions and no fees for the first $20,000 of cash deposits. As you can see, the Business Advantage Checking is designed for businesses with a little heavier cash flow.
BofA has 4,270 bank locations. That number has been decreasing in recent years, though. It’s not hard to find a BofA ATM either as there are 15,900 in existence, though that number is less than half what is available for many of the nation’s growing online banks.
As you would expect, Bank of America offers many modern-day banking conveniences like a phone app, online banking, and mobile deposits. It’s easy to forget just how powerful these features are until you have to go without them — particularly mobile deposits. Since paper checks are being used less and less these days, having to go to the bank to deposit one is a nuisance. Mobile deposit spares you that inconvenience.
As with most bigger banks, you can do a lot more than just checking and savings with Bank of America. You can get a mortgage, car loan, credit cards and even some investment accounts linked with Merrill Lynch. They even have a Better Money Habits web page that provides financial wellness tips for consumers.
The convenience is one of the best aspects of Bank of America, and one of the big reasons it gets picked over competitors. It’s everywhere, and offers nearly everything, so you don’t need to worry about maintaining accounts at multiple banks. That said, with the relatively poor interest rates on savings accounts, you may want to.
The BofA mobile banking app gets rave reviews. With a 4.8 out of 5 score in the Apple App Store and 4.6 of 5 in the Google Play Store, it doesn’t get much better.
Users comment on its ease of use, as well as features like money transfers, mobile alerts for low funds, and the ability to deactivate a lost or stolen card. Its fingerprint and face recognition features make it easy to log in and keep your account safe, as well.
Have you ever had your card declined because you are traveling? Bank of America’s phone app has a feature that you can turn on that will compare the location of your phone to where the transaction takes place. If your phone is nearby, they can assume it’s you and approve the transaction. That’s pretty slick and could save an enormous amount of hassle (unless the crook steals your phone and your card).
If you like to feel a personal connection to your banking app, you can even tap into Erica, BofA’s virtual assistant to walk you through your banking tasks. It’s not the most creative name for a virtual assistant, but she gets the job done.
Check out our current list of bank promotions for a chance to gain a monetary bonus when signing up for a new bank account.
Bank of America Review: The Pros and Cons
We’ve rounded up pros and cons for one of the nation’s largest banks.
- The Keep the Change feature lets you add to your savings without thinking about it because it rounds up each debit card transaction and deposits the change into your savings account.
- BoA’s mobile app is easy to use with some pretty advanced features you don’t find with a lot of banks, such as the ability to approve transactions as long as your phone is nearby.
- There are nearly 16,000 ATMS and more than 4,000 brick-and-mortar branches.
- Between the plentiful physical locations, solid mobile app, and the generally great Bank of America customer service, it’s easy to bank with BoA.
- Although a number of BoA accounts come with monthly fees, there are generally multiple ways to avoid them, such as by keeping a certain minimum balance.
- The standard overdraft fees are $35 with four possible per day. An additional $35 gets tacked on after five days of continuous negative balance. Overdraft protection comes with a $10 transaction fee.
- The APY rates for checking and savings accounts are well under average.
- There’s an $8 monthly fee for savings accounts that do not keep a minimum balance of $500.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Bank of America
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Bank of America, including a discussion of its reputation.
Bank of America offers many types of loans: auto loans, mortgages, small business loans, and a single personal finance loan option called Balance Assist. Balance Assist is the only personal loan option and is capped at $500, so if you need a larger personal loan, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Penny Hoarder contributor Dave Schafer has been writing professionally for nearly a decade, covering topics ranging from personal finance to software and consumer tech. Information from former contributor Tyler Omoth is included in this report.