Bank of America Review
We studied the ins and outs of Bank of America. Find out if its banking, business, and credit card services are the right fit for your needs.
Bank of America is great for convenience, but so-so for everything else
If there was one phrase to describe Bank of America, it would be "brick and mortar".
That's because it doesn't offer customers much other than its thousands of branch and ATM locations.
Unless you prefer to do all of your banking in person, you'll find that Bank of America leaves much to be desired what with its high fees, low interest rates (on savings products), and less than stellar credit card options.
And that comes in an age where online banks are offering customers tons of low-fee, high-return banking options.
Why You Should Consider Bank of America
Bank of America is a great option for those who value convenience
While Bank of America is best known for, well, its banking and credit card offerings, it's delved into the world of the arts.
One major sponsorship lately: teaming up with Ken Burns and Florentine Films.
Bank of America recently bankrolled Burns' latest and much talked about series, The Vietnam War, which premiered on PBS in September.
The film explores the war's impact on society and culture from the perspectives of soldiers, civilians, and protesters on all sides.
But, above all else, Bank of America serves customers looking for banking and credit services. To see if it's the right option for you, consider these questions:
- Do you visit physical branches and ATMs often?
- Do you have good to excellent credit?
- Would you prefer to have all financial services--savings/checking, credit cards, loans--all at one bank
- Do you have a lot of savings, which can offset some fees?
If you answered yes to most of these, then Bank of America might be the perfect option for you. If not, you may want to consider lower-fee options, such as Chase or you may want to look at the best online banks.
Why People Love Bank of America
Bank of America is a convenient, nationwide banking option
Tons of physical locations. If you live in the U.S., there's a good chance you have a Bank of America branch near you.
That's because Bank of America has a network of close to 5,000 branches and close to 16,000 free-to-use ATMs across 35 states.
Convenient mobile and online banking tools. Through Bank of America's online features, customers can check account balances and activity, review statements and transfer funds between accounts.
But perhaps more appealing is the Bank of America app which makes it seamless to deposit checks (simply snap a couple of pictures of the check — front and back), manage your account, redeem cash-back deals, and pay for purchases using a digital wallet.
High daily limits on withdrawals. Bank of America stands out above others banks like Chase and Wells Fargo in one major way: its standard daily limit is an industry-high of $1,000 on ATM cash withdrawals and $5,000 on debit purchases.
Intriguing offer for art enthusiasts. Bank of America's Museums On Us program allows debit and credit card holders to gain free weekend access to more than 150 galleries and museums.
On the first weekend of each month, each cardholder will get free admission into participating galleries, which include New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among many others.
Biggest Consumer Complaints
Bank of America customers aren't impressed with the company's customer service
Poorly reviewed customer service. Most customers who review Bank of America complain about lamentable customer service.
"Bank of America has its customer services totally inaccessible behind inapplicable menu choices both online and over the phone," says Beth from Ligonier, PA, on consumeraffairs.com.
Low interest rates on savings accounts. Like other big bank options, Bank of America offers barely any incentive to open a savings account with them with a .03% interest rate.
That's half the industry average, and well below the 1% or higher that some online banking options offer.
Chase bank offers an even lower rate for its savings accounts: .01%
Go for an online bank if you're looking for higher interest rates on your deposits.
A $2,000 deposit earns you low next to nothing. Put $2,000 into a Bank of America (BoA) savings account and in one year your money will earn you 60 cents in interest. That's sixty measly cents.
Compare that to the $25 you'd earn with Ally, an online banking option offering 1.25% APY.
High fees on checking accounts. Bank of America's basic checking account comes loaded with fees.
There's a monthly $12 fee if you can't maintain a daily balance of at least $1,500, a $35 overdraft fee (that can be charged up to four times daily), and a $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee which shoots up to $5 when you're out of the country.
Compare that to, say, Capital One's 360 Checking, which has no minimum requirement, no ATM fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no overdraft fees.
Bank of America competes with other big-name banks like Chase
Bank of America and Chase are two of the biggest names in banking. And, as such, not too much separates the two.
Similar fees on checking accounts. Chase is a tad more lenient in its overdraft fees, as it charges $34 (maximum three charges per day) compared to BoA's $35 (and up to four times a day).
Chase has a weak savings account interest rate. In fact, at .01%, it's worse than BoA's!
Wider coverage area. One of the hallmarks of Bank of America is its wide network of branches. And, in that respect, BoA operates in 35 states, whereas Chase is in only 26.
Lower-rated digital products. Bank of America, while it offers a robust line of digital tools, has worse ratings than those offered by Chase.
BoA has app ratings of 4.5 out of 5 stars for iOS and 4.4 stars for Android; Chase has 4.7 stars for iOS and 4.6 stars for Android.
If you like Bank of America, then here are four other competitors to consider
Better loan options at Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo is one of the top lenders in the personal loan space, as it allows joint applications for personal loans, which helps those with a low credit score.
Higher earning potential with Discover checking. Discover offers a lucrative, cash-back checking account; every qualifying debit card purchase earns 1% cash back, giving you the potential to earn up to $30 in rewards each month.
More appealing interest rates with Barclays. Another big-name bank, Barclays, offers similarly competitive high-yield savings options with 1.30% APY.
Less fees with Capital One 360 Checking. There's no minimum requirement, no ATM fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no overdraft fees.
The Question Everyone Is Asking Now:
"Why does Bank of America have a bad reputation?"
This is the most asked question about Bank of America, based on web research.
Bank of America gets bad reviews because of two things:
Poor customer service. Not only do customers complain about difficulties getting in contact with a human representative, they often relay the bad experiences when they finally do.
That ranges from not helping with the problem at hand, to rudeness and lost documentation.
Better options out there. Bank of America, compared to most other local and online banking options, offers some of the lowest interest rates for savings accounts, coupled with often outrageously high fees.
How Bank of America Works
Bank of America is a one-stop-shop for all of your personal and business banking needs
In terms of personal banking services, BoA offers savings, checking, credit cards, and loans.
Measly interest rates for savings accounts. Like most other big banks and especially compared to online banks, the interest rate for a savings account offered by BoA is weak.
As noted, the interest rate of .03% is half the industry average, and well below the 1% or higher that some online banking options offer.
High-fee checking accounts. BoA offers two different checking options.
The Bank of America Core Checking Account requires at least $25 to open and costs $12 in monthly fees.
The Interest Checking account with earn you modest interest (up to .02% APY), which the hefty $25 maintenance fee will most likely negate.
Standard credit card offerings
Bank of America doesn't have the greatest credit cards on the market, but they do offer cards that are appealing.
The top cards, which come with credit limits ranging from $2,000 for unsecured cards to $10,000 for secured cards, include:
The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card. This not-so-bad rewards card offers 3% cash back on gas, 2% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchase up to $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter.
Along with no annual fee, there's a sign-up bonus of $150 cash bonus if you spend $500 within 90 days of opening the account.
The Bank of America Travel Rewards Card. You'll earn 1.5x points for every dollar spent on all purchases with this credit card.
It also comes with a sign-up bonus of 20,000 bonus miles if you make $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of opening your account.
Competitive auto loans. If you're in the market for a new or used vehicle, BoA has favorable loan options, ranging from $5,000 to a maximum of $100,000 depending on a customer's creditworthiness.
For new cars, loans start at a 2.99% APR, 3.29% APR for used cars and leases, which is standard.
By the way, in case you need to quickly bump up that credit score of yours to improve your chances of getting approved, a smaller personal loan just might help. CreditLoan has been around since 1998 and we've helped more than 200,000 customers and we know we can help you too. Simply click here to get a personal loan.
Bank of America also has several business banking services
Basic business checking offers. BoA offers two options for business checking accounts, Fundamentals and Advantage.
Fundamentals includes 200 monthly transactions, a $14 monthly fee, $12 for additional account access, $15 per month for account management, and a $15 fee for each incoming wire transfer.
Advantage will run you $29.95 in monthly fees, but will get you 500 monthly transactions, free account management tools, and no fees for additional accounts or incoming wire transfers.
Appealing business credit card. The Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard from Bank of America earns your business 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% on purchases at restaurants, and 3% on purchases at gas stations and office supply stores (up to $250,000 each calendar year, 1% after that) — quite decent, especially considering there's no annual fee.
Key digital services
Bank of America's mobile offerings are customer favorites because of their ease of use
Convenient mobile and online banking tools. Through Bank of America's secure online portal, customers can access their account to view balances and activity, review statements and transfer funds between accounts.
Highly rated app. Bank of America's highly-rated mobile app (rated 4.6 out of 5 by users) makes it convenient to manage your account, redeem cash-back deals, pay for purchases using a digital wallet, and even deposit checks (by simply taking pictures of the front and back).
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I sign up for a Bank of America credit card?
Because Bank of America's customer service is so poorly rated, maybe your best option is to apply online via the bank's website.
How do I cancel a Bank of America card?
Dial 1-800-732-9194 to reach Bank of America's card services to cancel your card.
In many cases, you will need to submit a written request for cancellation, as well as for a Statement of Account to view any remaining balance you are responsible for.
How do I open a Bank of America account?
Your best option is to apply online for a checking account, savings account, CD or IRA. You'll receive approval in one or two business days.
What do I need for a Bank of America auto loan?
You'll most likely be asked for a range of forms, including a purchase agreement/bill of sale, registration, title, lease buyout instructions, proof of income, federal tax returns, W-2s and financial statements.
How long does it take for loan approval?
When requesting an auto loan from Bank of America, you'll be notified within 60 seconds of applying.
What overdraft protection is there for Bank of America checking accounts?
You can opt for Overdraft Protection, which will automatically transfer available funds from your linked savings or credit card to your checking account if you overdraw it.
Bank of America offers less-than-appealing personal and business banking options
Although it's a convienent option, due to its name recognition and plenty of ATM locations, Bank of America leaves much to be desired when it comes to many other aspects of banking.
Its lack-lustre savings offerings and numerous high fees can make newer, low-fee online options a much more appealing option.
Do you use Bank of America?
How has it worked out for you so far?
We'd love to hear what you think in the comments below.