PROS / Bank of America offers live chat if you have questions or need help while applying online.
CONS / This lender does not offer home equity loans.
VERDICT / Bank of America offers home equity lines of credit. Its phone system is frustrating, but it has a straightforward online application and live chat if you need assistance.
In July 2015, Bank of America stopped offering home equity loans, but it still has a strong home equity line of credit (HELOC) program. It has live chat, a fairly easy online application, and educational resources and tools to help you determine your home value and amount you can borrow.
BoA does not require a specific credit rating to qualify for loans, but it will look at your credit history for high impact items. It also has one of the most stringent debt-to-income ratios of all the home equity lenders we reviewed. Thus, if you have credit issues or a lot of debt, you may want to consider a different bank. However, the amount it can lend you compared to the value of your home is higher than average. Called loan-to-value ratios, this is the amount of your mortgage owed divided by the current value of the house. You can find calculators online to help you make these calculations.
Like with all HELOC loans, you only pay interest on the amount of money you take out. The interest rate is variable and follows the prime rate, but if for any reason you would like to freeze your interest rate, Bank of America can do so for a limited time. In addition, it has a rate cap, which is higher than most banks. However, the interest rates have been well below its cap for decades.
Bank of America is large institution, with over 5,000 branches in 34 states. Its call-in system reflects the worst of what you'd expect from a large company. It took ten minutes and four transfers to live and automated tellers before we spoke to a loan officer. In the question process, the computer lost our information twice. Although the loan agent seemed to know her job well, she was reluctant to fully answer questions unless we filled out an application. Applying online would be easy, but the application form tended to overlap answers and instructions making it hard to read and catch typos. BoA does offer live chat to assist you and invites customers to contact customer support via Twitter.
Bank of America's website offers useful tools for helping you determine what you want from a home equity line of credit, but the overlapping words on the online application make it difficult to fill out. The phone system was frustrating. Nonetheless, the HELOCs offered are good, and if you prefer to do your banking in person, you have an excellent chance of finding a branch in your area.