Bank of America Review

Updated Monday, March 22, 2010

Not recommended

Company Background:

The roots of Bank of America stretch back to 1904 when Amadeo Giannini founded the Bank of Italy in San Francisco, California.  Giannini then founded the Bank of America and Italy in 1922 and merged its operations with Bank of Italy.   In 1928, the Bank of Italy then merged with Bank of America Los Angeles and the combined entity was renamed Bank of America.

Bank of America is one of the world's largest diversified financial institutions, with businesses stretching from retail banking, mortgage lending, credit cards and wealth management.  The company's greatest financial innovation came in 1958 with the introduction of the BankAmericard, which was renamed VISA in 1975.

The recent history of the company is characterized by a steady stream of acquisitions. Some of the more prominent acquisitions include FleetBoston Financial, MBNA, US Trust, LaSalle Bank and Countrywide Financial.  In 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis, Bank of America acquired wealth manager Merrill Lynch.  The company's online trading website is now branded as Bank of America Online Investing, Powered by Merrill Lynch.

Bank of America is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange as BAC and currently has a market cap of $170 billion.  The company is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina with Brian Moynihan as CEO and Walter E. Massey as Chairman.

Review Summary:

Bank of America offers a standard web based trading platform.

The Bank of America registration process needs a major overhaul and trade execution and research tools are nothing special. Commissions and fees vary widely depending on a number of factors. Options trading commissions are too expensive regardless so we do not recommend the service at all for options traders. On top of this, I personally had an exceptionally poor customer service experience with the bank. In the end, there are far more reasons to be wary of Bank of America than reasons to recommend the service. Stay away from Bank of America Investment Services.

Detailed Reviews by Category:

Registration Grade: D
Stock Trading Grade: C
Charts Grade: B
Research Tools Grade: C
Commissions and Fees (Pass/Fail) ... Pass, but only for those that exempt from the general account fee and those that do not trade options
Margin Rates
Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs)
Tax Reporting Compatibility
Bank of America  Customer Service Anecdote

See our broker overall recommendation list to compare Bank of America with other brokers