I have previously covered my experience with Bank of America (or BofA for short).
BofA is the issuer of my first credit card: I opened a secured card with them in early January, 2012; this card graduated into a regular credit card a little over a month ago. This is one of the best secured credit cards in the market, a point I explained in the linked thread.
Bank of America also manages my primary checking account. Upon moving to Seattle from Colgate in summer 2011, I opened my BofA account, and set up direct deposits into the account when I started my job. So I’ve been their client for a year and a half now.
And Bank of America is now also my favorite bank! I’m always careful to say things like this, but time and time again, BofA has proved a reliable and customer-centered bank to me.
I’ve had experience with 4 personal bankers at BofA: one at the Blue Ridge branch whom I’ve never had a chance to see the second time, one at the ridiculously crowded 4th & Pike branch, and two at the less-visited, well-hidden Safeco Plaza branch. Since I work downtown, I can only realistically see the latter 3 people.
The first person, from Poughkeepsie, New York, helped me obtain a secured credit card. Since his office is so busy that you actually have to make reservations to meet with the bankers there, even though I would certainly enjoy a conversation with this cheerful and kind man, I didn’t want to return. Especially after I found a hidden gem, another Bank of America branch right in downtown Seattle that rarely has visitors. It was there that I met two very helpful personal bankers who also happen to be the branch manager and assistant manager.
For someone so new to dealing with financial matters, having personal guidance and assistance was extremely important. These two personal bankers have been at BofA for so long that they know almost everything about personal banking accounts, and a lot about credit in general.
It was from their advice that I applied for my first BofA regular credit card while waiting for my secured card to graduate. When my application was initially turned down, the manager connected me with the credit department which made it very easy for me to get them to manually approve my application. When I inquired about credit card sign-up bonuses, they contacted the credit department and got back to me. They have also helped me with a million other things. As a customer, I’m satisfied with the quality of their customer service.
2 days ago, I posted on my facebook page that the limit with my previously secured credit card had been raised from $2,000 to $12,000. A six-fold increase is impressive. A $10,000 increase is impressive. But what’s more impressive, they more than doubled the total credit limit on my entire credit card portfolio! This is probably never going to happen again.
2 days prior, I had actually requested a credit limit increase through my online BofA account. My request limit was $10,100. Normally a credit limit increase request would result in a credit inquiry, a small damage to the credit profile. Because of this, I wanted to push as far as I could. I expected to be turned down and counter-offered with a lower limit increase, but I’d have to start high to have more negotiating power. I totally did not foresee them giving more limit increase than I requested! They must find me reliable enough as a credit card user to extend this much credit to me. This event suggests that I have been doing a good job at managing credit and am on the right track to build a strong credit profile.
I’d like to think that I did a good job at building a banking relationship with BofA as well. Start with direct deposits, and try to maintain a good amount of managed assets with them. Then get to know a personal banker who understands your personal situation. As you start your financial journey, I think it is important to keep these points in mind.
I have had great success with my banking relationship with BofA – I think they are top notch and will probably expand my business with them in the future. I’ve had worse experience with Chase, and terrible experience with US Bank, but your experience may be different if you do business with different branches. It has a lot to do with whom you know.
BofA helped me build great credit thanks to useful credit cards, generosity with credit limits, and top-notch personal bankers who helped me apply for and manage credit. If you’re in Seattle, especially if you work downtown, I strongly recommend Bank of America.