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U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America: Which Is Better for You?


Picking the right bank to work with is an integral part of managing your financial life. Two of the largest banks in the country, U.S. Bank and Bank of America, are both excellent options if you prioritize accessibility. Whether you choose to open a checking account with U.S. Bank or with Bank of America, you will find impressive variety and breadth in account options along with a list of other perks. With about 4,800 FDIC-insured commercial banks in America, narrowing the decision down to U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America already puts you ahead. But the two corporations have several key similarities and differences, and it’s best to know how they measure up before making the leap to choose one.

Consider working with a financial advisor as you seek to coordinate your choice of a bank with your financial and retirement plans.

What to Know about U.S. Bank

U.S. Bancorp is the holding company for U.S. Bank, which can trace its origins to 1863 as First National Bank of Cincinnati. It is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., and stresses accessibility. It has a strong brick-and-mortar presence with more than 2,000 branches in 26 states. It offers five types of savings accounts and five types of checking accounts. Customers can manage their money via a large network of ATMs or accessing their accounts online using personal computers or mobile devices. Furthermore, U.S. Bank ranks very highly on the national scale when it comes to its specialty options for students. However, for the rest of the general public, the ease and accessibility of an account with U.S. Bank might not outweigh the bank’s main downside: its near-unavoidable monthly account fees.

U.S. Bank’s primary selling point might be its inclusiveness: if you’d most prefer to keep all your finances contained to one bank, U.S. Bank may be a great option. U.S. Bank staggers its checking accounts in terms of benefits. Essentially, if you’re looking for a wealth of viable options, U.S. Bank can deliver.

What to Know about Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the “Big Four” American bank chains, alongside JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. Indeed, Bank of America is the second-largest bank in the country, managing more than $2.5 trillion in assets. (U.S. Bank comes in fifth place, holding approximately $590 billion in total assets.) But for a bank of its size and recognition, BoA offers surprisingly low interest rates on your money. If you’re not particularly worried about capitalizing on your current savings, BoA could serve as a beneficial addition to your primary banking account.

To its credit, much like U.S. Bank, Bank of America does offer a wide range of unique banking products to customers, including two different kinds of savings accounts and nearly a dozen certificates of deposit (CDs). The value of having this many different types of accounts is far-reaching; regardless of whether you’re an avid spender or a frugal saver, Bank of America most likely offers a full-fledged account to suit your needs. But if your primary objective is accumulating an impressive lump of savings, your best bet is to keep looking.

In essence, opening an account with Bank of America ensures that your account needs will most likely be met in a more specific and focused way. Most banks, including U.S. Bank, cannot offer this precision to the same extent. Bank of America offers every retail bank product you can imagine—mortgage loans, student debt payments, credit and debit cards, financial advising—at higher qualities than most of its competitors.

U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America: Bank Accounts

U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America: Which Is Better for You?

In the U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America matchup, U.S. Bank may win on this front. It stacks up better in terms of types of bank accounts, at least for its attentiveness to certain demographics. U.S. Bank offers strong options for students looking to make one singular bank their financial home base. To that point, U.S. Bank offers several different checking account options created to suit the largest possible number of customers while still delivering prime service. Unfortunately, U.S. Bank comes up short on providing the net best deals for clients.

As mentioned earlier, U.S. Bank pays special attention to currently enrolled full-time college students and to people 65 or older. Members of these two groups are exempt from U.S. Bank’s fairly large monthly fees. If you don’t fall into either camp but are still looking to waive the fee, you may be out of luck: U.S. Bank requires much larger direct deposits than most of its competitors in order to accrue no-fee checking. The APY is 0.01% for its money market accounts and for its Savings account.

Similar to U.S. Bank, Bank of America charges its customers high interest on their bank accounts, regardless of the actual amount of money therein. Also similarly to U.S. Bank, Bank of America can provide you with any number of options for where to park your money. Bank of America names its savings account Bank of America Advantage Savings. It also names its checking accounts SafeBalance, Advantage Plus and Advantage Relationship. If you’re looking to talk with a real person about your finances, rather than an answering machine-type robot, Bank of America excels with its human-to-human troubleshooting program.

U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America: Fees

In making the U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America decision, it’s important to examine fees at both institutions. U.S. Bank offers a fairly expansive variety to its customers in terms of fees. These fees are staggered primarily based on which checking account plan you seek to use. There’s a $25 minimum initial deposit for both the Standard Savings and Bank Smartly Checking accounts. There’s a low $4 monthly fee, which can be waived if you have at least a $300 minimum daily balance or at least a $1,000 average monthly balance. U.S. Bank charges high fees for overdrafts and wire transfers, but if your deposit account is linked to your checking account, the overdraft fee is waived.

Bank of America’s fee situation functions totally differently. With a Bank of America Advantage savings account, you will be charged a $8 monthly fee, waivable under a certain set of circumstances, including maintaining a minimum daily balance of at least $500. The Minor savings account has no monthly fee and the Custodial savings account carries a monthly fee of $5, waivable with a minimum daily balance of at least $300. As far as a standing checking fee, BoA and U.S. Bank have more in common than they have differences. If you, like the majority of account holders (or prospective account holders) at either of the banks, will be receiving at least $500 in direct deposits, the standard checking fee will be $0 no matter where you elect to bank.

U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America: Rates

When put side-by-side with other top 10 banks, U.S. offers higher-earning interest rates, especially with its CD rates and money market accounts (MMAs). However, these rates don’t really compete with the high rates of banks that operate mostly online. So if you’re not picky about working with a big-name bank, you can probably substantially more by going the online route.

Bank of America loses this round. Bank of America has notoriously low interest rates, especially for a bank of their breath and expansive properties. Many online-only banks have them beat in terms of what they may offer customers in annual rates across several different accounts. This can be chalked up to the lack of costs needed to operate physical locations, on which the bank spends a great deal. It’s all well and good to prefer having physical locations to visit and discuss your finances with an in-house banker, but for Bank of America, this luxury comes at a cost—to you.

Bottom Line

U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America

Regardless of the intricacies, the U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America decsion will not present much different banking experiences to its customers. But all things considered, U.S. Bank takes the cake, just by an inch. Unless you’re a senior citizen or a student, you will reap roughly the same rewards from both corporations. That said, because U.S. Bank does indeed offer excellent deals to students and seniors, it just slightly tips the scale in its favor. But at the end of the day, neither U.S. Bank nor Bank of America can offer unique checking account privileges that are impossible to come by at the other bank.

If you’re a student or 65 or older, you should probably go with U.S. Bank. Otherwise, it all comes down to what best fits your particular financial situation. Before making any drastic money moves, be sure to consult with an expert financial advisor near you, and ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck when making the U.S. Bank vs. Bank of America choice.

Tips for Finding the Right Bank 

  • If you’re looking to bolster your retirement savings, just picking the right bank alone won’t get the job done. A financial advisor can offer valuable insight and guidance. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Before you pick a bank, make sure you totally understand your current situation. Do you need a free checking account? Do you have a firm enough financial ground to start contributing to a high-interest savings account? Consider your personal situation, and go from there.
  • Don’t forget about credit unions. Credit unions like Western Union and Navy Federal are much more likely to provide high rates than are big chains like Chase Bank or Citi, who must shoulder the cost of operating physical storefronts nationwide.

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