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How to Avoid Bank of America Checking Account Fees

Learn how you can avoid the monthly fees on Bank of America checking accounts either direct deposit or minimum balances.
Bank of America Checking Account Website
Bank of America Checking Account

On your hunt for a checking account, you might come across Bank of America, which isn't surprising when it is one of the biggest banks in the nation. 

More than likely, you're considering a Bank of America checking account because of the bank's presence and accessibility in your area. However, even their most basic accounts have monthly maintenance fees.

Here are a few points to note on how you can avoid monthly fees on Bank of America checking accounts.

Bank of America Checking Account Monthly Fees & Fee Waivers

Here are some of the more common Bank of America accounts, the monthly maintenance fees and how to get those fees waived.

Advantage Plus Banking

The Advantage Plus Banking has a $12 monthly fee unless you meet the following requirements:

  • Make one qualifying direct deposit of $250
  • Maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more
  • Be a student under age 24 while enrolled in high school, college, university or a vocational program

Advantage Relationship Banking

The Advantage Relationship Bank account has a $25 monthly fee. Here’s what you can do to avoid paying this fee:

  • Maintain a combined balance of $10,000 in eligible linked accounts

SafeBalance Banking

This account comes with a monthly fee of $4.95, but you don’t have to pay it if you meet one or more qualifications:

  • Account owner qualifies as a student
  • Account owner is under 18

Here’s what you need to know about the qualifications for the fee waivers:

Qualifying Direct Deposit

For accounts that require a qualifying deposit, you should know how BOA defines these deposits.

According to their site, qualifying direct deposits may consist of regular monthly income (such as a salary, pension, or Social Security benefits) that are made by your employer or other payer using your BOA account and routing numbers. These deposits qualify for the Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking monthly maintenance fee waiver.

These are the type of transactions that do not qualify you for the monthly fee waiver:

  • Teller deposits
  • Wire transfers
  • Online and Mobile Banking transfers
  • Transfers from one account to another
  • ATM transfers and deposits

Note, sometimes, a bank may consider incoming funds transfer from another bank as a direct deposit.

You can test this out by setting an alert for a direct deposit and then initiating an incoming transfer from another one of your bank accounts (not an account held with Bank of America).

Daily and Combined Balances

With an Advantage Relationship account, you should understand exactly how to meet the $10,000 balance requirement in one or more combined accounts to qualify for the monthly fee waiver. Combined balances include:

  • The average daily balance in eligible linked checking and savings accounts for the statement cycle
  • The current balances in linked personal CDs and IRAs at the end of the Advantage Relationship Banking statement cycle
  • The current balance (2 business days before the end of the Advantage Relationship Banking statement cycle) in your eligible linked Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts

The Advantage Plus checking requires you to maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 each statement cycle for the monthly fee waiver.

Preferred Rewards Program Enrollment

For all of the accounts above, there’s also one other thing you can do to opt-out of fees for all three of the accounts listed above.

If you become a member of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, you’ll get your monthly maintenance fees waived and receive other perks and benefits such as boosted credit card rewards and discounts on other BOA financial products.

In order to qualify, you must have an active, eligible personal checking account with Bank of America and maintain the balance required for one of the balance tiers in your combined qualifying Bank of America deposit accounts:

  • Checking
  • Savings
  • Certificate of deposit (CDs)
  • Merrill investment accounts like Cash Management Accounts and 529 plans).

You can satisfy the combined balance requirement for enrollment with either:

  1. A three-month combined average daily balance in your qualifying deposit and investment accounts or
  2. A current combined balance provided that you enroll at the time you open your first eligible personal checking account and satisfy the balance requirement at the end of at least one day within 30 days of opening that account.

If you qualify, your qualifying account balance will determine the tier you fall into:

  • Gold tier: At least $20,000
  • Platinum tier: At least $50,000
  • Platinum Honors tier: At least $100,000
  • Diamond tier: At least $1,000,000
  • Diamond Honors tier: $10,000,000

Avoiding the Monthly Fee

If you cannot meet fee waiver requirements, your checking account will end up being quite expensive.

Of the different ways that you can avoid the monthly fee, the direct deposit requirement has the most leeway.

Here’s how some Bank of America customers can cut the costs of maintaining a basic checking account:

  • ACH credit transfers are considered direct deposits

According to many Bank of America checking account holders, an ACH credit triggered a direct deposit account alert.

Because BofA doesn’t require a minimum amount on the direct deposit, customers can transfer a small amount of money from an online savings account, such as one from Ally Bank or a PayPal account. It would qualify as a fee-waiving transaction.

You can test this with your other external bank accounts by setting up an account alert for direct deposits and initiating a transfer.

Note: This step is possible only because Bank of America’s computer system recognizes ACH credits as direct deposits—a tweak in the system would nullify this method at any time (without notice).

Don't End Up Paying Monthly Fees

Over the course of a year, you can lose a decent chunk of change to monthly checking account fees. If you're paying monthly fees on a regular basis, it is time to look for a free alternative.

More than likely, you can find free checking accounts with online banks.

Consider Using an Online Bank

There are plenty of checking accounts without the monthly fees and minimum balance requirements—most often with online banks.

They tend to provide banking services with no-to-low fees because of lower overhead. They don’t have brick-and-mortar locations to maintain or tons of staff to pay, so they can pass the savings on to their customers.

With online checking accounts, you're likely to benefit from:

  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Earn interest on deposits
  • Large ATM network access
  • ATM fee refunds
  • Mobile check deposit

So, if you find yourself paying monthly maintenance charges, just know that there are plenty of cheaper (or free) options available.

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