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Reviews

The best brick-and-mortar savings account for banking at Bank of America

CNBC Select reviews the Bank of America Advantage Savings so you can decide if it's right for you.

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Editor's Note: APYs listed in this article are up-to-date as of the time of publication. They may fluctuate (up or down) as the Fed rate changes. CNBC will update as changes are made public.

Generally, more Americans keep their savings account at a brick-and-mortar bank than at an online-only bank. The best brick-and-mortar savings accounts come from your big, traditional banks that have thousands of physical branches scattered across the country for all your in-person banking needs. But more than just one-on-one attention, you might also be able to build a relationship with the bank and possibly secure better loans in the future.

Bank of America has over 4,000 branches and 16,000-plus ATMs, but its best known for special rewards programs it offers to customers. The Bank of America Advantage Savings ranks on CNBC Select's list of the top brick-and-mortar savings accounts because it offers a virtual assistant, a cash-back program and a tiered membership rewards program.

If you use a Bank of America credit card or plan to open a Bank of America checking account in tandem with your savings account, this is a good option.

Below, we take a close look at the Bank of America Advantage Savings by breaking down its annual percentage yield (APY), access to your cash, perks and fees so you can decide if this brick-and-mortar savings account is right for you.

Bank of America Advantage Savings review

Bank of America Advantage Savings

Bank of America Advantage Savings
Information about the Bank of America Advantage Savings has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Bank of America is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.01%, with option to increase if a Preferred Rewards member

  • Minimum balance

    $100 to open

  • Monthly fee

    $8 per month, with options to waive. New account holders get the first six months with no monthly fees

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $10 when you make over 6 withdrawals in a month

  • Overdraft fees

    Overdraft protection when you link your savings account to your checking account

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have a Bank of America checking account

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Earn up to 15% cash back on select deals at stores, restaurants and more through BankAmeriDeals®
  • Save money from everyday purchases through Bank of America's Keep the Change® program
  • Get rewarded for having big balances through Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program
  • Access Erica® for customized and real-time virtual financial assistance
  • Bank of America has a vast network of ATMs
  • No monthly maintenance fee for first six months on new accounts
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

Cons

  • Has monthly maintenance fees
  • Higher-than-average minimum deposit to open an account
  • Low APY (and option to earn higher is high threshold)

Bank of America Advantage Savings APY

The current APY for the Bank of America Advantage Savings is 0.01%, which is what most brick-and-mortar savings accounts offer.

Customers have the option to increase their earnings if they are a Preferred Rewards member, though the threshold is high. There are three tiers to the Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program, and your three-month average daily balance across your Bank of America deposit and Merrill Lynch/Merrill Edge investment accounts determines which tier you qualify for. You must also have an eligible Bank of America personal checking account to qualify. The tiers include Gold, Platinum and Platinum Honors, and there's a $20,000 minimum balance required to start. Here's how else they differ.

  • Gold tier: Required 3-month average combined balance of $20,000 to under $50,000; 5% savings interest rate booster; 25% credit card rewards bonus
  • Platinum tier: Required 3-month average combined balance of $50,000 to under $100,000; 10% savings interest rate booster; 50% credit card rewards bonus
  • Platinum Honors tier: Required 3-month average combined balance of $100,000+; 20% savings interest rate booster; 75% credit card rewards bonus

If you do qualify and enroll in the Preferred Rewards program, you're also eligible for an elevated APY, ranging from 0.02% to 0.05% depending on which tier. Otherwise, the standard APY is 0.01%.

Access to your cash

Bank of America has over 4,000 branches and 16,000-plus ATMs throughout the country. There is a withdrawal limit fee of $10 applied for each withdrawal over six per month, and there is overdraft protection when you link your savings account to your checking account.

The six-per-month deposit and withdrawal limit is a federal law known as Regulation D that has been temporarily lifted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Perks

When using a Bank of America debit or credit card, account holders can earn up to 15% cash back on select eligible purchases at stores, restaurants and more with BankAmeriDeals®.

Savers who are looking to improve their savings habits should consider enrolling in Bank of America's Keep the Change® program, which allows account holders to round up their debit card purchases and deposit the difference into their savings account each day.

Bank of America also offers customers their own virtual financial assistant called Erica® through the bank's mobile app. Customers can receive customized and real-time help doing things like tracking their spending, receiving bill payment reminders, scheduling payments and staying up to date on their FICO credit score.

Fees

The Bank of America Advantage Savings account requires a $100 opening deposit, which is on the higher end for brick-and-mortar savings accounts. There is an $8-per-month maintenance fee that is waived for the first six months for new account holders. This is a perk not offered often, so something to consider if you are low on cash in the first few months of opening the account. While other big banks offer options to waive their monthly fees, none automatically waive it for new account holders as they start out. Monthly fees can range from $4 to $25, depending on the bank.

Bank of America customers can avoid paying the monthly fee after the intro period by maintaining a minimum daily balance of at least $500, linking their savings account to their Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking® checking account or becoming a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member. Students under age 24 who are enrolled in school may also qualify for a waiver.

Bottom line

The Bank of America Advantage Savings is a smart choice for those who live near one of the bank's thousands of physical branches. If you already use a Bank of America credit card, it is a good way to earn more cash back on your purchases, and if you have a large deposit to make you can qualify for its Preferred Rewards program.

For those who prefer banking with Wells Fargo or Chase Bank, consider their two brick-and-mortar savings accounts we rated as our favorites: WellsFargo Way2Save® Savings and Chase Premier Savings℠.

Learn more: How much cash should you keep in your savings and checking account? A financial planner weighs in

Our methodology

To determine which brick-and-mortar savings accounts offer the most convenience, CNBC Select analyzed dozens of U.S. savings accounts offered by the largest national banks and credit unions. We narrowed down our ranking by only considering those savings accounts that come from brick-and-mortar banks with broad availability, offering access to at least 2,000 physical branches and over 4,000 non-fee ATMs in the U.S.

While the accounts we chose in this article are from the largest banks, we compared each savings account on a range of features, including its fees, opportunities to earn interest higher rates, customer service and any other special offerings or programs. We also considered factors such as insurance policies, users' deposit options, other savings accounts being offered by the same bank and customer reviews when available.

All of the accounts included on this list are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. Note that the interest rates and fee structures for brick-and-mortar savings accounts are subject to change without notice. Product and feature availability vary by market so they may not be offered depending on where you live. Most brick-and-mortar banks require you to enter your zip code online for the correct account offerings. Any return on your savings depends on the associated fees and the balance you have in your brick-and-mortar savings account. To open a savings account, most banks and institutions require a deposit of new money, meaning you can't transfer money you already had in an account at that bank.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.