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Bank of America Checking, Savings, CD, and IRA Account Reviews

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Bank of America checking account options

Bank of America Interest Checking® Account

Bank of America’s Interest Checking® Account offers a minuscule amount of interest and a few extra perks in exchange for a higher monthly fee.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.01%

$0 - $50,000

0.02%

$50,000+

  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $25 (waived if you meet certain requirements, detailed below)
  • ATM fees: No fee for using Bank of America ATMs. If you use an out-of-network ATM in the United States, you’ll pay $2.50 per transaction (plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner tacks on). If you use a foreign ATM, you’ll pay $5 per transaction, plus a 3% foreign transaction fee and any surcharge fees.
  • ATM fee refunds: If you’re a Preferred Rewards Platinum or Platinum Honors client, you won’t be charged the out-of-network ATM fees in the United States. Preferred Rewards Platinum clients will receive one surcharge fee refund per month, and Platinum Honors clients will receive unlimited surcharge fee refunds.
  • Overdraft fees: $35 per item

This checking account earns a minuscule amount of interest while charging a higher monthly fee than their Core Checking account. But, you can also get the monthly fee waived by doing one of the following:

  1. Keeping a combined balance of at least $10,000 in all of your Bank of America accounts.
  2. Enrolling in Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program and earn at least a Gold, Platinum or Platinum Honors tier.

The Interest Checking account also has a few other perks. If you do opt-in to the overdraft protection and have a linked savings account set up, any transfers to cover overdrafts are done free of charge (with the Core Checking account, this normally costs $12 per transfer). You’ll also get free checks, and you can choose to enroll in the BankAmeriDeals cashback rewards program and the Keep The Change savings program.

It only takes a few minutes to apply for Bank of America’s Interest Checking® Account. You’ll need to provide some basic personal information, such as your name, Social Security number and address. A credit check may be performed during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

Bank of America Core Checking® Account

This fee-heavy, no-interest-earning account isn’t one our favorites.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $12 (unless you meet requirements, detailed below)
  • ATM fees: No fee for using Bank of America ATMs. If you use an out-of-network ATM in the United States, you’ll pay $2.50 per transaction (plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner tacks on). If you use a foreign ATM, you’ll pay $5 per transaction, plus a 3% foreign transaction fee and any surcharge fees.
  • ATM fee refunds: If you’re a Preferred Rewards Platinum or Platinum Honors client, you won’t be charged the out-of-network ATM fees in the United States. Preferred Rewards Platinum clients will receive one surcharge fee refund per month, and Platinum Honors clients will receive unlimited surcharge fee refunds.
  • Overdraft fees: $35 per item

This is Bank of America’s go-to checking account for most people. Sadly, it doesn’t earn any interest and charges a monthly fee to boot. Check out our roundup of other great low-fee checking accounts. Still, it’s fairly easy to get this fee waived in one of four ways:

  1. Have at least one monthly direct deposit of $250
  2. Keep a daily balance of $1,500 in your account
  3. Enroll in their Preferred Rewards program and reach a Gold, Platinum or Platinum Honors tier
  4. Be a high school, college or vocational program student under age 24

When you opened a bank account before the 2008 financial crisis, it was common to be automatically enrolled in an overdraft program. Bank of America’s overdraft program works like this: If you don’t have a linked savings account and you overdraw your account, you’ll face a $35 overdraft fee per item, up to four times per day. If you do have a linked savings account, they’ll charge you a $12 transfer fee to cover the cost. Now, due to new federal regulations, you need to manually opt into this program when you open an account. If you don’t, you’ll instead face a $35 non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee for each item, which is basically the same as the overdraft fee anyway.

Although this is a fee-heavy account, it does come with a couple nice features. Their Keep The Change program automatically rounds up your purchases and deposits the difference into your savings account. You can also earn cashback rewards by shopping at certain retailers through the BankAmeriDeals program.

It only takes a few minutes to apply for Bank of America’s Core Checking® account. You’ll need to provide some basic personal information, such as your name, Social Security number and address. Bank of America may perform a credit check during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Bank of America’s checking accounts compare

This bank’s checking accounts, like accounts at most big banks, offer low interest rates and high fees, especially compared with the best online checking accounts out there. Only one of their checking accounts does offer interest, and it’s such a low rate that you’ll probably even forget it does offer interest. The monthly maintenance fees for these accounts are quite high, and while it is possible to skirt them rather easily, that still means you need to be on your toes to make sure you meet the requirements each month.

The one thing that we actually do like with these accounts is Bank of America’s Keep The Change feature, which rounds up your purchases and deposits the difference into your savings account. This is a unique feature for bank accounts and can really help you save more cash, but it’s also possible to find apps that do the same thing that don’t come with these restrictive accounts.

Bank of America’s savings account options

Rewards Savings

This savings account rewards you with a monthly fee and a super low interest rate.

Tier

APY

Standard

0.01%

Gold

0.04%

Platinum

0.05%

Platinum Honors

0.06%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $8 (waived if you meet certain requirements, detailed below)
  • ATM fees: No fee for using Bank of America ATMs. If you use an out-of-network ATM in the United States, you’ll pay $2.50 per transaction (plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner tacks on). If you use a foreign ATM, you’ll pay $5 per transaction, plus a 3% foreign transaction fee and any surcharge fees.
  • ATM fee refunds: If you’re a Preferred Rewards Platinum or Platinum Honors client, you won’t be charged the out-of-network ATM fees in the United States. Preferred Rewards Platinum clients will receive one surcharge fee refund per month, and Platinum Honors clients will receive unlimited surcharge fee refunds.
  • Overdraft fees: $35 per item

This is Bank of America’s basic savings account, and an option if you’re just looking for a basic, no-frills place to store your cash. Once again, this account comes with a monthly fee that you should be able to skirt around in one of three ways:

  1. Keep at least $500 in this account
  2. Link up your Bank of America Interest Checking® account
  3. Enroll in the Preferred Rewards program and earn at least a Gold, Platinum or Platinum honors tier.

It shouldn’t be too difficult, but remember to keep these rules in mind should you want to drain your savings account and use the cash.

In addition to the monthly maintenance fee, you’re also limited to six transfers and withdrawals per month, as per Federal Regulation D. If you go over that amount, Bank of America will charge you $10 per transaction, up to $60 per month (however, if you’re enrolled in the Preferred Rewards program or keep at least $20,000 in your account, this fee will be waived).

It only takes a few minutes to apply for Bank of America’s Rewards Savings account. You’ll need to provide some basic personal information, such as your name, Social Security number and address. A credit check may be performed during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

Minor Savings Account

A low-fee alternative to teach your children how to save.

Tier

APY

Standard

0.01%

Gold

0.04%

Platinum

0.05%

Platinum Honors

0.06%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fees: No fee for using Bank of America ATMs. If you use an out-of-network ATM in the United States, you’ll pay $2.50 per transaction (plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner tacks on). If you use a foreign ATM, you’ll pay $5 per transaction, plus a 3% foreign transaction fee and any surcharge fees.
  • ATM fee refunds: If you’re a Preferred Rewards Platinum or Platinum Honors client, you won’t be charged the out-of-network ATM fees in the United States. Preferred Rewards Platinum clients will receive one surcharge fee refund per month, and Platinum Honors clients will receive unlimited surcharge fee refunds.
  • Overdraft fees: $35 per item

If you’re looking to teach your kids about savings, this account is one option. Thankfully, Bank of America waives or lowers many of the fees associated with this account. For example, while you’d normally be charged a $10 fee for going over six withdrawals or transfers per month, the bank will only charge kids and teens $1 per occurrence, up to $6 per month, and only if they have less than $300 in their account. Another nice perk is that you, as a parent, can make automatic transfers into your child’s account.

Once the child reaches age 18, the account automatically converts into a regular Rewards Savings account with higher fees and requirements, so be prepared.

It only takes a few minutes to apply for Bank of America’s Minor Savings account. The account will be jointly owned by your and your child, and so you will both need to provide some basic personal information, such as your names, social security numbers, and addresses. A credit check may be performed during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

Custodial (UTMA) Savings Account

This custodial account operates under the rules of the Rewards Savings account.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.01%

$0

  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $8
  • ATM fees: No fee for using Bank of America ATMs. If you use an out-of-network ATM in the United States, you’ll pay $2.50 per transaction (plus whatever surcharge fees the ATM’s owner tacks on). If you use a foreign ATM, you’ll pay $5 per transaction, plus a 3% foreign transaction fee and any surcharge fees.
  • ATM fee refunds: If you’re a Preferred Rewards Platinum or Platinum Honors client, you won’t be charged the out-of-network ATM fees in the United States. Preferred Rewards Platinum clients will receive one surcharge fee refund per month, and Platinum Honors clients will receive unlimited surcharge fee refunds.
  • Overdraft fees: $35 per item

This savings account is meant for parents to save for their children’s expenses after they become adults, such as college, living expenses or a home down payment. Bank of America’s UTMA savings account works exactly like their Rewards Savings account, with one twist: it falls under UTMA regulations.

This means that the account is technically owned by the child, but the parent acts as a custodian and manages the account for them until they’re 18 or 21 (depending on the rules of the state you live in). After this point, the now-adult can access the money and do whatever they want with it, and you’re no longer in charge of the account.

It only takes a few minutes to apply for Bank of America’s Custodial Savings account. Both you and your child will be listed on the account, and so you will both need to provide some basic personal information, such as your names, Social Security numbers and addresses. Bank of America may perform a credit check during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Bank of America’s savings accounts compare

There’s no two ways about it: these savings accounts, on the whole, offer high fees and very low interest rates. If you’re banking on these savings accounts for your next vacation, it’ll be quite some time before you find yourself sipping mai tais on a Hawaiian beach. If you’re looking to earn more money with your savings account, a better option would be one of these top online savings accounts.

Bank of America’s CD rates

Featured CD account

Earn a slightly higher interest rate on a short-term CD by bringing 10x the cash to the table.

Term

APY

12 Months

0.07%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $10,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $0.01
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 180 days’ worth of interest on the amount that you withdraw.

If you’re looking for a shorter-term commitment and want to earn a slightly higher rate, you might consider Bank of America’s Featured CD. Still, you won’t earn much more; the interest rate on this featured CD barely edges out their regular 12-month CD, which itself pays out a very small amount of interest.

You also need to pony up a higher amount of cash for this minuscule interest rate increase: You’ll need at least $10,000 to open this CD, whereas you can open a normal CD with as little as $1,000.

It only takes a few minutes to apply for the Featured CD. You’ll need to provide some basic personal information, such as your name, Social Security number and address. Bank of America may perform a credit check during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

Standard Term CD account

The ability to choose your own CD term with a low opening deposit requirement makes this a great choice for people looking for flexibility.

Term

APY

28-179 Days

0.03%

6-11 Months

0.03%

12-17 Months

0.05%

18-23 Months

0.07%

24-35 Months

0.10%

36-47 Months

0.10%

48-59 Months

0.10%

60-119 Months

0.10%

120 Months

0.10%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $0.01
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • For CDs under 90 days, you’ll pay either all interest earned on the amount withdrawn, or 7 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn (whichever is more).
    • For CDs between 90 days up to 12 months, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.
    • For CDs between 12 months up to 60 months, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.
    • For CDs over 60 months, you’ll pay 365 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.

We like Bank of America’s CDs because they offer a ton of flexibility. You can choose any term length you want, from one month to 120 months. You only need $1,000 to open a CD, which is much lower than many other CDs at other banks. You’ll be able to choose how you get paid interest: you can have it reinvested back into the CD, deposited into your linked checking or savings account or have a check mailed to you every so often.

However, it’s not all roses and sunshine. The biggest thing that counts — the interest rate — is actually quite low with this account.

When your CD matures, it’ll be automatically rolled over into a new CD account with the same term length. Don’t worry, though: you have a short seven-day grace period where you can make any changes to the CD, including adding more money, changing the term length or withdrawing the cash.

It only takes a few minutes to apply for Bank of America’s Standard Term CD. You’ll need to provide some basic personal information, such as your name, Social Security number and address. A credit check may be performed during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Bank of America’s CD rates compare

While Bank of America does offer some pretty nifty features for their CDs (such as flexible term lengths and low minimum deposit amounts), we still can’t get over the fact that the interest rates offered on these CDs are much, much lower than the CDs that you can get elsewhere. These low rates could be worth it if you’re trying to pull off a creative CD ladder structure with odd term lengths, but if you’re looking for the highest interest rates out there, we suggest giving these CDs a pass.

Bank of America’s IRA rates

Featured CD IRA

This account is basically a copycat of Bank of America’s Featured CD, but within an IRA framework.

Term

APY

12 Months

0.07%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $0.01
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • For CDs under 90 days, you’ll pay either all interest earned on the amount withdrawn, or 7 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn (whichever is more).
    • For CDs between 90 days up to 12 months, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.
    • For CDs between 12 months up to 60 months, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.
    • For CDs over 60 months, you’ll pay 365 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.

Bank of America’s Featured IRA CD works exactly like their regular Featured CD, except that it operates within the framework of an IRA. Strangely, it requires a slightly smaller minimum opening deposit ($2,000) compared with the regular Featured CD, which requires at least $10,000 to open.

But, assuming you can manage that hurdle, you’ll still have the same options for dealing with interest payments and CD renewals. You can choose to have interest added onto your CD balance, or paid out to you via deposit into a linked Bank of America account or a check. When your CD matures, it’ll automatically roll over into another Featured CD, and you’ll still have a seven-day period where you can make any changes to your account, including withdrawing the cash.

It only takes a few minutes to apply for a Bank of America’s Featured CD IRA. You’ll need to provide some basic personal information, such as your name, Social Security number and address. A credit check may be performed during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

Standard Term IRA CD

Bank of America also offers their regular Standard Term CDs in IRA form.

Term

APY

6-11 Months

0.03%

12-17 Months

0.05%

18-23 Months

0.07%

24-35 Months

0.10%

36-47 Months

0.10%

48-59 Months

0.10%

60-119 Months

0.10%

120 Months

0.10%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $0.01
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • For CDs under 90 days, you’ll pay either all interest earned on the amount withdrawn, or 7 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn (whichever is more).
    • For CDs between 90 days up to 12 months, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.
    • For CDs between 12 months up to 60 months, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.
    • For CDs over 60 months, you’ll pay 365 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.

This account is also another copycat of Bank of America’s regular Standard Term CDs, but within an IRA account. If you open up one of these accounts, you’ll also get a seven-day grace period where you can make any changes to the CD after it matures. Otherwise, it’ll continue on as a rollover CD, with the same term length as before. You can also choose to have interest deposited back into the CD account, or paid out to you via check or electronic deposit into a linked Bank of America account.

Because these CDs are so flexible, it’s easy to choose a term that might fit better with your retirement savings plan. For example, if you just need a place to store your retirement funds for, say, 30 months (not 24 months or 36 months — two common CD terms), these Standard CD IRA accounts allow you to choose that term length. It’s an odd situation for sure, but if you do find yourself in this spot, these CD IRAs allow you that degree of flexibility.

It only takes a few minutes to apply for Bank of America’s Standard Term CD IRAs. You’ll need to provide some basic personal information, such as your name, Social Security number and address. Bank of America may perform a credit check during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

Variable Rate CD IRA

This CD IRA may — or may not — offer higher rates than their regular Standard Term CD IRAs.

Term

APY

18-23 Months

0.03%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $0.01
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • For CDs under 90 days, you’ll pay either all interest earned on the amount withdrawn, or 7 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn (whichever is more).
    • For CDs between 90 days up to 12 months, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.
    • For CDs between 12 months up to 60 months, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.
    • For CDs over 60 months, you’ll pay 365 days’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.

Theoretically, you should be able to earn a slightly higher interest rate by choosing a variable rate. However, sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way. As of the time of this writing, the interest rates offered on regular 18-23-month Standard Term CD IRAs is double that of these Variable Rate CD IRAs.

If interest rates should rise, it may be beneficial to open one of these CDs, which also automatically roll over, disperse interest and have the same policies toward a grace period as regular CDs. But, keep in mind that this bank can change — or not change — the interest rate on this CD at any time, making it a bit of a gamble. Right now, it looks like their Standard Term CD IRA is winning in the rate department.

It only takes a few minutes to apply for a Bank of America Variable Rate CD IRA. You’ll need to provide some basic personal information, such as your name, Social Security number and address. The bank may perform a credit check during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Bank of America’s CD IRA rates compare

Just like with their other accounts, Bank of America offers very low rates. If you’re hoping to grow your money as much as possible within an FDIC-insured environment, you might be better off choosing one of the current top IRA CDs. But, just as with their regular non-IRA CDs, we can still see how someone could find these CDs useful, especially if you need an IRA CD with a weird term length. But, fortunately, those cases are probably very rare, and you’re likely better off choosing a higher-interest-earning IRA CD.

Money Market IRA

Bank of America’s Money Market IRA lets you add more money at any time.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100

Even though Bank of America offers a wide range of CD terms, you still might prefer to keep your retirement savings in something a little more liquid in case you need to access it on short notice. If that’s the case, you might consider their Money Market IRA, which works similarly to a savings account. However, unlike their savings account, you can’t use this account to make withdrawals by check, debit card or draft.

You’ll have to call the bank to hear the rates associated with this account as well as to open this account. Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes to apply for a Bank of America Money Market IRA. You’ll need to provide some basic personal information, such as your name, Social Security number and address. Bank of America may perform a credit check during the application process, which should take 1-2 days. If approved, you’ll need to send in a signature form, and then you can fund your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Member FDIC

Overall review of Bank of America’s products

Bank of America does offer some truly neat features that we like, such as their many options for different CD term lengths. If you’re looking for weird CD term lengths, Bank of America is right for you. We also like their Keep The Change feature, which rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and deposits the difference in your savings account.

But for most people (probably including yourself), you want to earn the best rates and pay the lowest fees possible. If that’s the case, we recommend another bank, because Bank of America’s products are consistently outperformed by other banks that offer higher rates and lower fees.

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Auto Loan, Reviews

LightStream Auto Loan Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

Reviewed By

If you’re in the market for a quick, affordable and hassle-free way to finance your next car, a LightStream auto loan should definitely be on your radar. It’s particularly well-suited for deal-seekers with good credit who don’t mind working with an online company when it comes to financing their cars. If you’d rather work with a local company that can offer in-person support, however, you might want to skip this lender.

How LightStream auto loans work

LightStream offers a wide range of options for financing your next ride, including:

  • Purchase of a new or used car, either from a dealer or an individual
  • Auto loan refinance (except it does not refinance its own loans)
  • Auto lease buyouts
  • Loans for motorcycles, as well as boats and RVs
  • Classic car loans

Auto loans at a glance:

  • Starting APR range: 3.49%–9.49%
  • Fees: None
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Terms: 24–84 months
  • Credit requirements: Minimum 660 credit score
  • Mileage or vehicle restrictions: None

LightStream offers the same starting rate whether you’re buying a new or used car from a dealer, something you don’t see at other lenders. But keep in mind that the lowest rates go to those with the best credit who opt for the shortest loan terms possible and use autopay to make their car payments.

Satisfaction guarantee

If you see a lower rate elsewhere, LightStream will beat any verified offer with a rate that is .10 percentage points lower. It also promises a $100 guarantee within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied with your loan experience.

How to apply for a LightStream auto loan

The only way you can apply for a LightStream auto loan is through its online form. It is an online lender, after all, so you should be comfortable with handling your business details — including the loan application — online. You’ll need to:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of LightStream’s statement on the use of electronic records.
  2. Agree to receive electronic records.
  3. Agree to use electronic signatures to sign your loan documents.

You’ll also need to have a Visa or Mastercard credit card to apply, which LightStream uses during the verification process.

You will be asked to provide:

  • The purpose, term and amount of desired loan
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment information
  • Annual income
  • Total amount of assets and equity in your home

From there, LightStream may contact you for more details and documentation. If approved, you’ll need to sign your loan documents electronically and provide LightStream with your bank account details. The money will then be deposited into your bank account, which means you’ll need to pass it along to the seller, whether that’s a dealer or private seller. LightStream will not send the money to the seller directly.

It’s important to note that LightStream doesn’t offer any preapproval options, but if you apply and are approved for a loan, you are under no obligation to accept the loan.

How to qualify for the best rates

LightStream requires good credit at a minimum, but looks for excellent credit when giving the best rates. It defines excellent credit as:

  • Five or more years of significant credit history.
  • A credit history with a variety of account types such as major credit cards (for example, Visa, MasterCard, Amex), installment debt (vehicle loans) and mortgage debt if applicable.
  • An excellent payment history with no delinquencies or other problems repaying debt obligations.
  • A proven ability to save as shown by some or all of the following: liquid assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits, etc.), cash down payments on real estate, retirement savings and little, if any, revolving credit card debt.
  • Stable and sufficient income and assets to easily repay current debt obligations and any new loan with LightStream.

Pros and cons of LightStream auto loans

LightStream offers the convenience of an online lender with the backing of a brick-and-mortar bank as the online arm of Truist, the bank created by the merger of  SunTrust Bank and BB&T. But it’s important to weigh all of your options carefully when choosing an auto loan. It’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll make, after all.

Pros

  • Wide variety of loans: New, used, refinance and lease buyouts loans are available on a wide range of vehicles. Unlike other lenders, LightStream doesn’t place restrictions on your vehicle’s age, make, model or mileage.
  • Decent rates: We’ve seen lower starting rates at credit unions, but you’ll have to meet membership requirements. LightStream has no membership requirements and provides the same starting rates for new and used vehicles as well as refinance loans.
  • No down payment required: LightStream finances up to 100% of the car’s cost. Of course, it’s always best to put down as much as you can afford on an auto loan. This will help you save money over the life of your loan and avoid becoming underwater on that loan.
  • Quick funding: If you complete the application process and are approved by 2:30 p.m. EST, you could receive funds the same day.
  • Good reviews: LightStream auto loan reviews are generally positive.

Cons

  • Good credit required: To qualify for a LightStream auto loan you’ll need a credit score of at least 660 or better.
  • No preapproval process: Unlike many lenders, you’ll have to complete a full application in order to see your rates and terms. Still, the process is fast, and if you complete your rate shopping within a certain time period, multiple applications should not impact your credit any more than a single application.
  • No face-to-face service: If you’re the type of person who likes to seal the deal with a handshake after signing the documents, you’ll want to stick with some place local.

LightStream vs. Capital One

If you’d like a bit more of a guided approach to the car-buying process,  Capital One’s Auto Navigator loan options might be better for you. Rather than sending you cash directly that you can use on whatever car you want to buy, Capital One’s Auto Navigator service lets you first get prequalified for financing, and then shows you which dealers in your area may offer based on the type of car you want to buy and the financing you can afford.

If any of the offerings pique your interest, you can then finish the application and buy the car. It’s still a good idea to compare the offer with other new and used car loan rates.

LightStream vs. Carvana

Carvana works similarly to Capital One Auto Navigator in that you can prequalify for financing and browse real cars in your area that you may then be able to buy. It’s important to remember that Carvana only sells used cars and its financing is only available on Carvana cars. But it is possible to finance here with poor credit — Carvana requires borrowers to be 18 years old, have no active bankruptcies on their credit report and earn at least $4,000 per year.

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Credit Cards, Reviews

CreditStacks Mastercard Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a unique opportunity for individuals with little or no U.S. credit history – such as recent college graduates or professionals relocating to the U.S. for employment – to be approved for a credit card.

That’s because instead of requiring a Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) as most traditional credit cards do, the CreditStacks Mastercard allows applicants to apply using a valid passport or U.S. government-issued ID, a U.S. visa or a permanent resident “green” card (if applicable), as well as proof of income. The CreditStacks Mastercard also allows you to apply up to 60 days prior to starting your new job in the U.S.

We break down the pros and cons of the CreditStacks Mastercard, and show how it compares to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, which is also designed to help individuals establish or rebuild credit.

CreditStacks Mastercard pros

No credit history required. With the CreditStacks Mastercard, you can apply without a Social Security number and with little or no U.S. credit history. Once you obtain your Social Security number, you must provide it within 60 days of account opening. At that point, CreditStacks will begin reporting your credit activity to the Equifax and TransUnion credit bureaus.

Note, if you have been living in the U.S. for more than one year, you will be required to provide a Social Security number when applying for the card. A credit check may also be performed.

Decent credit limit. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a credit line of up to $5,000 – which is a generous amount for an unsecured credit card that doesn’t require credit history.

Your credit limit will be determined by the proprietary underwriting procedures of CreditStacks, which will consider your current employment situation and additional factors, instead of your credit score.

No annual fee. The CreditStacks Mastercard comes with a $0 annual fee.

Additional CreditStacks Mastercard benefits:

  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection(™). Access free identity theft resolution services, as well as Mastercard ID Theft Alerts(™).
  • Extended warranty. Receive an extended warranty of up to one year past a manufacturer’s warranty of 12 months or less.
  • Purchase protection. If you are dissatisfied with a purchase, you may be eligible to receive a full refund for up to 60 days from the date of purchase.
  • Price protection. Get reimbursed for the difference if you find a lower price for an eligible new item within 60 days of purchase using your CreditStacks Mastercard.
  • Purchase assurance. Cardholders receive coverage if an item is lost, damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
  • Travel protections. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a MasterRental(R) collision damage waiver, lost or damaged luggage insurance, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance and trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. Plus, receive access to exclusive experiences and offers through Priceless Cities and special travel offers through Mastercard’s online booking tool.
  • Cellphone insurance. If you use your CreditStacks Mastercard to pay your monthly cellphone bill, you can receive coverage against theft or damage of up to $600 per claim and up to $1,000 per 12-month period.

CreditStacks Mastercard cons

No rewards program. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a sign-up bonus or rewards on the purchases you make using the credit card. That said, when trying to build or rebuild credit, it’s best to focus on paying your bill on time and in full (when possible) each month, rather than racking up rewards.

No intro APR on purchases. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a 0% intro APR on purchases – meaning, if you don’t pay your balance in full each month, you will be subject to interest charges at a rate of 15.49% Variable APR.

That said, the card’s ongoing APR for purchases is reasonable – considering that some cards designed for individuals with little or no credit come with APRs upwards of 26.99% (variable).

Compare it to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Similar to the CreditStacks Mastercard, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is designed for individuals with little or no credit. However, because it is a secured credit card, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, for an initial credit line of $200.

If you deposit more money before your account opens, you may be eligible for a higher credit line, up to $1,000. Additionally, you can be given access to a higher credit line after demonstrating responsible card usage by making your first five monthly payments on time.

While the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® does not require U.S. citizenship to apply, it does require a valid SSN or ITIN, as well as a residential address in the U.S. or a U.S. military location.

See how the cards compare side-by-side in the table below.

CreditStacks Mastercard vs. Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

 CreditStacks MastercardCapital One® Secured Mastercard®
Annual fee$0$0
Rewards rateN/AN/A
Credit lineUp to $5,000$200-$1,000
Deposit requiredNone$49, $99 or $200
Regular purchase APR15.49% Variable26.99% (Variable)

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® also comes with a number of benefits, including auto rental collision damage waiver, travel accident insurance, extended warranty and 24-hour travel assistance services. As a Capital One member, you will also have access to virtual card numbers and account alerts from Eno, as well as access to your credit score and fraud monitoring through CreditWise.

But if you plan to carry a balance on your card, you’ll be better off with the CreditStacks Mastercard, since the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® comes with a substantially higher APR of 26.99% (Variable).

Read our: Capital One Secured Mastercard review

Which credit card is best for me?

If you haven’t yet established credit in the U.S., the CreditStacks Mastercard could be a good fit. In addition to not requiring a Social Security number for approval, the card helps build your credit by reporting to two major credit bureaus.

But if you’re in the market for a secured credit card and already have a SSN or ITIN, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a good alternative. While the card offers a much lower credit line than the CreditStacks Mastercard, it does offer a variety of useful benefits that aren’t common for a secured credit card.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.