If you want to bank with a big and reputable name, both Chase and Bank of America are solid options. JPMorgan Chase has been in business for more than 200 years, with branches in 29 U.S. states and D.C. as well as international locations. Similarly, Bank of America’s history reaches back 240 years, and today you can find Bank of America locations in 37 states and D.C.
These two juggernauts each offer similar menus of account options, which may make it difficult to decide which bank is the better bet. After reviewing both bank’s offerings, we can safely say that perhaps neither is the best option, given their low rates on accounts like savings and CDs and their tendency to charge fees for accounts with low balances, unless banking with a recognizable name with physical branch locations is your top priority.
Chase vs. Bank of America: Which offers better rates?
Looking at rates on basic products like savings, checking and CDs, neither Chase nor Bank of America offer competitive interest rates on its standard accounts compared to the national average and far below what online banks offer. Still, it looks like Bank of America offers the better deals.
|Bank Account||Chase||Bank of America||National average||Online bank average|
|Savings||0.01% APY||0.03% APY||0.262% APY||1.52% APY|
|Checking||0.01% APY||0.01 - 0.02% APY||0.189% APY||0.41% APY|
|1-year CD||0.01% APY||0.05% APY||1.268% APY||2.09% APY|
|5-year CD||0.50% APY||1.00% APY||2.206% APY||2.70% APY|
These rates are accurate as of 1/21/2019
Bank of America comes out ahead in this matchup, but it’s worth noting that Chase does offer some opportunities for slight rate boosts. You can earn relationship rates on your Chase Premier Savings account if you link the account to a qualifying checking account and make at least five customer-initiated transactions each month with your linked checking account. So instead of earning at a 0.01% APY, you can earn between 0.04% and 0.11% APY, depending on your balance. You can also snag slightly higher relationship rates by linking a qualifying Chase checking account on a Chase CD.
Bank of America’s Rewards Savings account earns higher rates for Preferred Rewards customers. Depending on your level of enrollment (based on your qualifying combined Bank of America and/or Merrill Edge/Merrill Lynch balances), this can boost your standard rate to between 0.04% and 0.06% APY. The bank also offers a few Featured CD accounts which earn at slightly better rates than the standard.
Chase vs. Bank of America: Account options
Chase account options
Hands down, Chase offers more bank account options than Bank of America. At Chase, you can find two savings accounts and three personal checking accounts. The Chase Premier Savings and Chase Sapphire Checking accounts both require an opening deposit of at least $100, while the others only require at least $25. The bank also offers two student checking accounts, one for high school students and one for college students, where the main benefit is lower monthly fees. Chase doesn’t offer a money market account.
As for CDs, Chase offers a wide range of CD terms from one month to 120 months. There are also a number of Featured Terms, ranging from nine to 41 months. Each CD requires a minimum deposit of at least $1,000 to open. Although it was once an option, you can’t open a new Chase CD as an IRA anymore.
In addition to personal deposit accounts, Chase also offer auto loans, mortgages and home equity lines of credit, investment accounts and commercial banking.
Bank of America account options
In contrast to Chase’s deposit accounts spread, Bank of America offers only one main savings account, the Rewards Savings Account, although it earns at a higher standard rate than the savings accounts offered by Chase. You’ll need at least $100 to open the account. There are also a Minor Savings Account (designed for joint ownership between a minor and parent/guardian) and a Custodial (UTMA) Savings Account.
The bank technically offers one checking account, Bank of America Advantage Banking, but it comes in three different “settings” so you can choose your most ideal account based on your preferences. The first account, focused on no overdraft fees, requires a minimum opening deposit of at least $25. The two remaining settings require an opening deposit of at least $100 and include more features and the ability to earn interest on your balance.
Similar to Chase, Bank of America CDs range from 28 days to 120 months and require an opening deposit of at least $1,000. There are a few Featured CDs available that require at least $10,000 to open. Unlike Chase, however, Bank of America does allow you to open its CDs as IRAs. This includes Featured CD IRAs which require a lessened minimum opening deposit of $2,000. There is also a Money Market IRA option which requires at least $100 to open.
Other Bank of America offerings include auto loans, mortgages and home equity lines of credit, investment accounts (which are handled through Merrill Edge) and commercial banking.
Chase vs. Bank of America: Fees
|Chase||Bank of America|
|Standard savings account||$5||$8|
|Standard checking account||$12||$4.95|
|Non-bank ATM withdrawal fee||$2.50 each within the U.S.|
$5 each outside the U.S.
Waived for Chase Sapphire Checking
|$2.50 each within the U.S.|
$5 each outside the U.S.
|ATM refund?||With Chase Sapphire Checking||With Preferred Rewards Platinum or Platinum Honors|
|Overdraft fee||$34||$35, waived with Advantage SafeBalance Banking|
|Paper statement copy fee||$6 per copy||$5 per copy|
As is typical with brick-and-mortar banks, the more perks your account has, the higher the monthly fee will be. Chase and Bank of America are no different. For example, the Chase Savings account charges a $5 monthly fee while the Chase Premier Savings account, with relationship rates opportunities, charges a $25 monthly fee. The same is true for Bank of America’s Advantage Banking accounts, where the fees range from $4.95 to $25. The most expensive account setting, Advantage Relationship, earns interest on all balances.
Both banks do often give you the chance to waive monthly fees on all savings and checking accounts. You can typically do this by maintaining a minimum balance, linking accounts together or by making a certain number of transactions each month.
Of course, monthly account fees aren’t the only fees that banks charge, especially big banks like Chase and Bank of America. Check out some of the common fees you can run into.
Who should bank with Chase?
Chase offers its customers with a wider variety of account options, giving you more choices when looking for the right account. You’ll have your pick of three different checking accounts, each varying in fees and perks. The bank also allows you to pick your own CD term length (from one to 120 months), unlike most online banks which typically offer a limited number of options like nine different terms ranging from three to 60 months.
Because of its wide account offerings, Chase is a good option if you want to keep all your accounts with the same bank. That way, you don’t have to bounce from bank to bank to manage your money.
Since you’re looking for a brick-and-mortar bank, it’s important to note that Chase is largely absent from Midwestern and Southern U.S. states. If you don’t live in a state with Chase branches, it may not be worthwhile to open an account. You also shouldn’t bank with Chase if you’re looking for high interest rates. With its established reputation and thousands of branches to maintain, Chase does not offer competitve savings through its deposit accounts.
Who should bank with Bank of America
With locations in 37 states and D.C., mostly missing in the Western/Midwestern region of the country, Bank of America offers more widespread physical access to your money. This is helpful if you travel the country often, for example, and want a better chance of finding a branch. You can easily find the nearest branch or ATM online or on your Bank of America mobile app.
Bank of America has expanded its mobile features to include a virtual financial assistant called Erica. You can instruct Erica, through voice commands or text, to make transactions like transfers or take certain actions like locking a debit card. The feature also alerts you to periodic charges, provides routing numbers, schedules payments and more. So if you’re looking for added convenience in managing your bank accounts, Bank of America could be the solution.
Similar to the situation with Chase, you shouldn’t turn to Bank of America if you’re looking for the highest deposit account rates. If you need to choose between these two big banks, however, Bank of America offers marginally better rates on its accounts.