Review: Bank of America Checking Accounts

Product Review Stamp

Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking

This account is free for students and "Preferred Rewards" customers, otherwise the fee is $4.95 a month. You can do everything with this checking account except write checks or overdraw the account.

Good For:

It’s a good choice for students who don’t write checks and would be disciplined about using Bank of America ATMs whenever they needed cash. For non-students, it’s a good choice if you don’t need to write checks, are disciplined to use Bank of America ATMs when you need cash and want an account that you cannot ever overdraw. While you won’t pay overdraft fees, the account costs $4.95 a month.

Bad For:

People that want to have a traditional checkbook so they can write checks if needed. It’s also bad for people who won’t be disciplined about using Bank of America ATMs because there’s a $2.50 fee for using another banks’ ATMs.

Bank of America Advantage Advantage Plus

This checking account has all the standard features you would expect. The monthly account fee is $12 a month if you don’t have a direct deposit of at least $250 or a minimum balance of $1,500. The fee can be waived if you enroll in the Preferred Rewards program.

Good For:

People that want a bank with branches in hundreds of markets, meet the requirements to waive the monthly account fee and can be disciplined about only using Bank of America ATMs.

Bad For:

People that don’t have direct deposits, aren’t conveniently located near Bank of America ATMs or won’t be disciplined about using only Bank of America ATMs.

Bank of America Advantage Relationship

This is Bank of America's premium checking account that offers the most features. It’ll cost $25 a month unless you maintain at least $10,000 in combined balances (checking, savings, CDs, IRAs) or enroll in Preferred Rewards.

Good For:

People that want a bank with branches in hundreds of markets, can maintain at least a $10,000 balance to waive the monthly account fee and want features like free printed checks and paper statements. It’s also good for people with Bank of America ATMs nearby and can be disciplined to only use the bank’s ATMs.

Bad For:

People that cannot maintain at least a $10,000 balance, don’t care about free printed checks or receiving paper statements and aren’t nearby Bank of America ATMs (or can’t be disciplined about only using the bank’s ATMs ($2.50 fee if you use another bank’s ATM).

About Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards Program: This program provides incentives to waive fees such as Monthly Account Fees and non-Bank of America ATM surcharge fees. There are 3 tiers of the program, based on combined balances: Gold is between $20,000 and $50,000, Platinum is between $50,000 and $100,000 and Platinum Honors is $100,000 or more.