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Bank of America Fees on Checking Accounts

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Almost every one of us has a checking account. And if you don’t have one, get on it — on top of safely storing your money, you could be eligible for a new-account bonus, free checks and other perks.

For many of us, the checking account is the way we pay our bills and budget for our lives. It’s not where we store an abundance of money, like a savings account. Instead it holds enough to cover regular expenditures, and ideally, a little buffer cash.

Often, banks with business checking accounts charge users a monthly fee to maintain this service. However, most banks offer general checking accounts for free to everyday customers who use it for personal expenses, with certain stipulations.

The hope is that — once they have you as a checking account customer — you’ll stick around for other services, such as savings accounts and loans. Perhaps you’ll refer family members and friends to do their banking with this business, as well.

Bank of America’s Account Fees

Bank of America used to be one of those institutions that offered a fee-free checking account to customers. This one account was available to users without maintenance or ATM fees.

Then, a couple years ago, some Bank of America customers who’d previously enjoyed a free eBanking (online banking) account got an unwelcome surprise.

Here’s what happened then — and where Bank of America fees stand today.

Bank of America and Monthly Maintenance Fee

For years, Bank of America offered an eBanking checking account that allowed consumers to keep a free checking account — if they agreed to go paperless and handle most transactions via ATM or online transfer. This was a pretty simple way for people to avoid monthly maintenance fees.

Then, in 2018, the bank changed course.

Bank of America eliminated its eBanking checking account and moved those customers to what it called a Core Checking Account. Members who didn’t fit certain criteria for this account could be charged a $12 monthly maintenance fee.

How Users Could Avoid the Bank of America Monthly Maintenance Fee

Back then, to avoid this fee, customers with a Core Checking Account would need to meet one of two guidelines:

  1. They’d need to have at least one direct deposit of $250 or more each month, or
  2. Maintain a minimum balance of at least $1,500.

In other words, Bank of America wanted to charge customers money for not having enough money with stiff overdraft fees.

Students under 24 years old who were enrolled in high school, college or a vocational program were exempt from these new Bank of America fees. Still, that left many people susceptible to paying this monthly charge.

How Customers Reacted to Bank of America’s Monthly Maintenance Fees

To be fair, checking accounts are expensive to maintain for banks. And more banks started charging monthly maintenance fees to customers who didn’t maintain a minimum daily balance.

But not everyone took this news lying down. There was a petition on Change.org asking Bank of America not to end its free checking. After it launched, the petition garnered over a whopping 380,000 signatures.

The decision wasn’t popular, to say the least.

So, what will Bank of America customers pay to maintain a checking account with the bank in 2021? It depends on a couple factors.

3 Types of Bank of America Checking Accounts in 2021

In the years since, Bank of America has altered its account offerings. (And there’s no longer a Core Checking account.) Today, the company has three primary checking accounts: Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking®, Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking® and Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking®.

Here’s a breakdown of each one:

Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking®

Required opening deposit: $25
Interest-bearing account: No
Option to add overdraft protection: No
Overdraft fees: No overdraft or insufficient funds fees
Monthly maintenance fee: $4.95 or $0

Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking®

Required opening deposit: $100
Interest-bearing account: No
Option to add overdraft protection: Yes
Overdraft fees: No overdraft or insufficient funds fees
Monthly maintenance fee: $12 or $0

Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking®

Required opening deposit: $100
Interest-bearing account: Yes (The annual percentage yield, or APY, will vary based on location and the amount in your account. For example, an account with less than $2,500 in it in West Central Florida will generate a 0.01% APY.)
Option to add overdraft protection: Yes
Overdraft fees: No overdraft or insufficient funds fees
Monthly maintenance fee: $25 or $0

Bank of America also offers a savings account — Bank of America Advantage Savings — though it requires an opening deposit of $100.

To hit that coveted “$0” maintenance fee for each checking account, here’s what you need to know.

How to Avoid Bank of America’s Maintenance Fees for Your Checking Account

Depending on the type of Bank of America account you choose, here’s how you can avoid the recurring fees:

Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking

The fee is waived for each statement cycle in which you’re enrolled in Preferred Rewards (this requires you to have an active and eligible BoA personal checking account and maintain a three-month combined average of $20,000, $50,000 or $100,000, depending on your tier).

Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking

The monthly service fee is waived for each statement cycle in which you are enrolled in Preferred Rewards, have a qualifying minimum direct deposit ($250) or maintain the minimum daily balance requirement ($1,500).

Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking

The monthly fee is waived for each statement cycle in which you are enrolled in Preferred Rewards or maintain the combined minimum balance ($10,000) in eligible linked accounts.

Like before, there is a student waiver for bank fees, too. To be eligible, the customer must:

  1. Be enrolled in high school or college, or a university or vocational program, and
  2. Be under 24 years old.

Note: Students may be asked to show proof of enrollment. They will also no longer be entitled to this waiver once they turn 24, if they leave school or are no longer the account owner.

So unless you’re an eligible student, you will need to be a Preferred Rewards program member or meet other qualifying balance or deposit requirements to avoid account fees.

How Lower-Tier Bank of America Accounts Compare

First, if you don’t want to switch banks, dig into your financial situation. For instance, does your employer offer direct deposits into your account? If so, that’s a qualifying direct deposit, and a Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking account may work for you. Otherwise, you might want to consider the Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking account.

Here’s a glance at the pros and cons of each account:

Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking Checking Account

Pros:

  • Low opening deposit
  • No overdraft or insufficient funds fees
  • Lowest monthly maintenance fee of all three accounts

Cons:

  • No checks
  • No option to add overdraft protection
  • You need a lot of funds in your account to become a Preferred Rewards program member and get the monthly service fee waived

Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking Checking Account

Pros:

  • No overdraft or insufficient funds fees
  • Option to add overdraft protection
  • Multiple ways to waive the monthly service fee

Cons:

  • $100 to open an account
  • $12 monthly maintenance fee if you don’t qualify for a waiver

Again, if you’re an eligible student under 24, you won’t pay monthly maintenance fees on any account.

If you’re not exempt from Bank of America’s monthly fees — or looking to avoid monthly service fees altogether — it might be time to consider other options.

What to Consider When Choosing a Checking Account

Whether you have a Bank of America or other account, switching banks can be a pain. But it’s worth it if it will save you cash — and headaches.

Not sure which bank is right for you? We graded 10 checking accounts so you don’t have to do the legwork to find a new place to store your money. You can choose from a variety of online-only and traditional banks. Bonus: Some banks can even help you get your paycheck faster.

Keeping in line with the theme of this article, you save money with this list of several free checking accounts. Most of these accounts take five minutes or less to sign up and some of these banks offer nice perks like a high-interest or rewards savings account. Just peep the fine print to make sure you’re aware of any ancillary costs. Other account fees or requirements might include:

  • Paying to replace or personalize your debit card,
  • Non-bank ATM or other banks’ ATM fees
  • A minimum daily balance and
  • Various other account fees

Whatever you do, don’t stand back and simply let your bank take nearly $60+ of your hard-earned money away from you every year. There are other banks, and far too many better, easier-to-manage options out there.






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