Bank of America student account review: A thorough overview

TransferWise
01.31.20
6 minute read

If you’re looking for an account to help you manage your money while at school, college or university, you’re in the right place.

This guide will take a look at the accounts available for students from Bank of America - one of the largest retail banks in the US. We’ll also touch on an alternative option for comparison - the multi-currency account from TransferWise.

Getting your student account sorted means one less thing to worry about. Let’s get started.

Table of contents:

How to open a student account with Bank of America

Bank of America doesn’t offer specific student checking or saving accounts. Instead, it waives the monthly maintenance fees on some of the most popular - and appropriate - account products, for students aged under 24. This means you get access to some of the best standard account products for checking and saving, and won’t need to pay a maintenance fee until you turn 24 or finish your education.

It’s also possible to open an account with Bank of America in joint names, which means students who don’t want or need an account of their own can get a joint account with a parent or guardian for ease.¹

If you need a credit card, or want to build credit history while you study, you can also apply for a student specific credit card from Bank of America. More on that later.

Get free access to 40+ currencies and bank details to use as a local for US, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and UK with TransferWise

What kind of student bank account does Bank of America offer?

Here’s all you need to know about the different products recommended to students, from Bank of America.

Bank of America Advantage Banking

There are 2 different types of Advantage Banking checking accounts - and the monthly fee is waived on each of them for students under the age of 24. You’ll get access to mobile banking, easy domestic payments to friends using Zelle, and lots of resources to help manage your money.² Choose between:

  • Bank of America Advantage Safebalance Banking - non interest bearing with a minimum opening deposit of $25. You can’t get checks or an overdraft with this product
  • Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking - non interest bearing with a minimum opening deposit of $100

Other fees and charges apply for some services when you use these accounts - more on that a little later.

Bank of America Savings Accounts

Although there are no specific student savings accounts on offer, Bank of America will waive the monthly fee on some savings accounts for eligible students. You’ll need to be under 24 and enrolled in highschool, college, university or a vocational program to qualify.³

Bank of America Credit Cards for Students

Bank of America offers several credit cards which are specifically for students - you can choose the Cash Rewards Card, Travel Rewards Card or the BankAmericard for Students. Each card comes with different perks, features and fees, so read the small print before deciding which will work best for you.⁴

Overdrafts

If you choose to get a Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking account, you’ll have access to an overdraft facility. This means that if you run short of funds the bank will cover the cost of transactions - for a fee.⁵

You’ll be able to choose to have an Overdraft Protection service, where you link another account or credit card to your student account to cover payments when your balance is low, or use the regular overdraft service without protection. If you choose the Overdraft Protection service, you’ll pay an additional fee of $12 per transaction paid through a linked account, the regular service costs $35 for each item paid by the bank or returned unpaid.

Wire payments

You may need to pay a fee to send or receive both domestic and international wire payments from your Bank of America account. Bank of America doesn’t publish fees upfront, instead, you’ll be told the charges when you set up a wire transfer.⁵

It’s good to know that fees from traditional banks can be high when sending or receiving payments internationally. If you’re planning on sending money to an account based overseas, check the fee carefully to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. You’ll also want to look at the exchange rate you’re offered by Bank of America compared to the mid-market exchange rate, using an online currency converter.

Bank of America disclose in their schedule of fees that there’s a markup added to the exchange rate offered for international wires - here’s what they say:

“Markups associated with the currency conversion are included in the Bank of America exchange rate”⁵

While this isn’t uncommon, not all international payment providers add a markup to the exchange rate - which means you might find a better rate with a bit of research.

In many cases, customers find that they can get their cross border payment cheaper when using a currency specialist like TransferWise instead of their regular bank.

TransferWise Mastercard with balances

If you’re sending or receiving regular international payments, you might benefit even more from a multi-currency account from TransferWise. Hold your money in multiple currencies, receive fee free international payments, and send money around the globe using the mid-market exchange rate with no mark-up. It’s easy to manage your money with TransferWise - and can mean you’re left with more to spend on yourself.


What are the requirements to open a student bank account with Bank of America?

If you want to open an account with Bank of America, and benefit from the monthly fee waiver, you’ll need to be aged under 24 and in an eligible course at highschool, college or university. This option is open to those taking both academic and vocational courses. Accounts are available for non-US citizens, but you’ll need to provide proof of your legal residency as part of the application

If you don’t have a Social Security Number (SSN), or if you’re under 18, you’ll have to visit a branch to get your account opened. If you’re older, and have access to your SSN, you should be able to start to open your account online - although you might still have to call into a branch to show your paperwork.

Expect to be asked for the following documents:

  • Government issued ID such as a passport or driver’s license
  • A second form of ID such as a Social Security Card or credit or debit card from another US bank
  • Proof of student status, such as valid student ID, transcript or acceptance letter

Bank of America student account fees

As you’d expect, there are fees to pay for some services, even if your monthly charges are waived by the bank. Here’s what you need to know.

Service Fee⁵
Monthly maintenance fee Waived for eligible students aged under 24
ATM fees Bank of America ATMs can be used fee free Non Bank of America ATMs - $2.50 for each transaction, including withdrawals, inquiries and deposits International ATMs - $5 for each transaction, including withdrawals, inquiries and deposits + 3% international transaction fee
International transaction fee Applied when using your card overseas, shopping online with an international retailer, or making foreign currency cash withdrawals - 3% of total transaction amount
Overdraft facilities Overdraft Protection Service - link your account to another eligible checking or savings account, or a line of credit, to pay the shortfall if your student account runs low - $12 per transaction You can also link a credit card - fees vary by card Without overdraft protection - $35 per transaction or item returned unpaid
Wire payments Costs of sending or receiving wire payments are not disclosed However, Bank of America highlights the fact that international wires may incur fees from the recipient’s bank, other charges involved in the transfer process, and a markup on the exchange rate used. Check the details carefully before you commit to a transaction, and compare the overall cost with alternative providers like TransferWise
No foreign transaction fee and international ATM withdrawal fee ( up to $250 per month) with the TransferWise multi-currency Mastercard

There’s no doubt that getting a student account can save you money and make life a little easier. Doing some research into the different options - and thinking carefully about how you might use your account will make sure you get the best product for your personal needs. Don’t forget to look at modern alternatives such as the multi-currency account from TransferWise, to help you save money when traveling, sending or receiving money from overseas.


Sources:

  1. https://www.bankofamerica.com/deposits/student-accounts-faqs/
  2. https://www.bankofamerica.com/student-banking/checking/
  3. https://www.bankofamerica.com/deposits/savings/savings-accounts/?STUDENT_IND=Y
  4. https://www.bankofamerica.com/credit-cards/student-credit-cards/
  5. https://www.bankofamerica.com/deposits/resources/personal-schedule-fees.go

All sources last checked 15 January 2020


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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