BB&T Review

Hybrid banking with a personalized user experience ​
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Lorraine Roberte

By Lorraine Roberte Contributing Writer

Lorraine Roberte is a South Florida-based personal finance writer. Her work has been published on sites such as Thrive Global, Elephant Journal, Red Tricycle and Tweak Your Biz.

BB&T Review

BB&T combines the best of digital and traditional banking. It’s been around for almost 150 years and has evolved from a two-man band into one of the largest full-service banks in the U.S. BB&T is a bank focused on providing customers with the finest in-person and digital banking experience. The company has around 1,800 branches nationwide and complements its face-to-face service with its robust digital platform, U by BB&T. Customers praise BB&T’s mobile app and are satisfied with BB&T’s customer service, products, and convenience, as evidenced by J.D Power studies evaluating overall banking satisfaction and online banking satisfaction.

The bank’s offerings include personal and commercial banking, mortgages, insurances, asset management, and securities brokerage, though we focused on the personal finance and deposits side of the business. Overall, the bank is worth a look if you conduct most of your banking online, but it may not be the right fit if you value the convenience of an in-person experience.

Pros Cons
Superior mobile app and online platform
Insufficient funds safeguards
Cash back deals on checking accounts
Checking, savings, money market, CDs, and IRAs offered
Limited physical branches and ATMs
Monthly maintenance fees

The Claim

BB&T promises “digital banking built around you” while making “saving your money easy and convenient.”

Is it true?

Yes. BB&T has gone above and beyond to deliver a variety of banking products and tools that make managing and saving your money easy and straightforward. It offers five checking accounts to cater to students, seniors, and everyone in between, as well as a host of savings accounts. And with the new U by BB&T, all of your accounts are managed from one portal, reinvented to be a full-service platform with enhanced features and personalization options. You can customize your dashboard, send money with Zelle, link non-BB&T accounts, receive specified alerts, and more.

In the 2019 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study by J.D. Power, BB&T generally hovered around the industry average in the regions for which it was considered, showing that customers were satisfied with their products and fees, problem resolution, convenience, and user experience across channels. Its scores aren’t stellar — banks like Chase and Capital One typically score much higher in their regions — but the perks of a BB&T account may still be worth it.

What BB&T Offers

Targeted checking accounts

Pros Cons
Personalized BB&T debit card
Overdraft protection
Link BB&T and non-BB&T accounts
Monthly maintenance fees
Limited locations
Overdraft fees

BB&T offers a few different types of checking accounts based on specific needs — including accounts designed for seniors and students. If you have accounts with other banks, you can link them in your U by BB&T portal, so you don’t have to visit multiple sites to manage your finances. You can avoid excessive overdraft fees by using BB&T’s overdraft protection option, and the company is very transparent in letting users know they are still charged a $12.50 overdraft transfer fee per day.

BB&T does charge maintenance fees for several of its accounts, but most of them are waived if you meet certain conditions, like a specific average checking balance or a $500 monthly direct deposit. The other drawback? BB&T is currently only available in 15 states and D.C., though it has over 2,400 company-branded ATMs across the country. BB&T won’t charge you to use an ATM that isn’t BB&T-branded, but the ATM’s owner might. If you rarely ever visit your bank, receive cash payments, or need to make withdrawals, this drawback might not matter to you, but it’s still worth considering as you search for a bank.

eSavings account

Pros Cons
No minimum balance or monthly maintenance fees, as long as you meet specified criteria
No opening deposit
Cash deposit at BB&T ATM
Link to checking for overdraft protection
Withdrawal and transfer fees
Mediocre APY

It’s quick to get started with BB&T’s eSavings account. It’s a simple, basic account that doesn’t require an opening deposit and doesn’t charge maintenance fees. Plus, it can serve as overdraft protection when linked to your checking account. Just like with BB&T’s checking account, you can conveniently use a branch or ATM for cash deposits.

While the current 0.03% APY is nothing to brag home about, it’ll still grow your money, and it’s comparable to other well-known banks like Bank of America and Chase. It’s also worth noting that BB&T charges $3 for every item beyond the Federal Reserve’s six-per-month withdrawal and transfer limit, though this type of fee is common.

Money market account

Pros Cons
Interest compounds daily
Easy access to funds
Competitive rates
High excessive activity fee
Tiered APYs
Monthly maintenance fee

BB&T has two money market accounts: Investor’s Deposit and High Performance Money Market. If you’re looking for the greatest return on investment, the latter yields the best results. As long as your High Performance account balance is over $1,000, you won’t pay maintenance fees and will enjoy an APY of 0.05%. Smaller deposits have returns of 0.01% APY, while the highest tier of $250,000 has a 1.00% APY. And thanks to check-writing privileges, you have easy access to your money, though federal limits are still six withdrawals or transfers per month. After that, BB&T charges $15 per item for both types of accounts. The Investor’s Deposit account, in contrast, requires a $10,000 minimum balance, so it’s a better option only if you plan to keep your balance high.

CDs

Pros Cons
No monthly fees
Automatic renewal
Short- and long-term CDs
Early withdrawal penalties
Mediocre APYs

BB&T’s APY for CDs lags behind those of other major banks, such as TIAA Bank, with the best CD rates topping out at 1.50%. But what it lacks in rates, it makes up for in flexibility. BB&T has four CD options, each with its own set of perks. The company’s Personal CDs have terms as low as seven days if you deposit $2,500 or more. If you’re the type who doesn’t like keeping money locked up, the Can’t Lose CD allows for one penalty-free withdrawal after the first 12 months. If fixed rates don’t appeal to you, the Stepped Rate CD guarantees higher rates every year. And two years after your initial deposit, you can make penalty-free withdrawals. BB&T’s last option, Personal CD Specials, typically has the best rates, although the exact CD offering changes throughout the year, so you’ll have to see what is available when you sign up.

IRAs

Pros Cons
Traditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs offered
Potential tax benefits
Maximum contribution limits
Early withdrawal penalties

If you already bank with BB&T, you can keep everything under one roof by bringing over your IRA. You’ll continue to get the same tax advantages offered by your IRA account, with the ease and convenience of U by BB&T’s user-focused online and mobile platform. As with any IRA, the disadvantages include potentially getting hit with penalties for withdrawing funds before turning 59 ½ and dealing with maximum contribution limits. But BB&T supports myriad IRA options, including Roth, Rollover, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs, so you have lots to choose from when opening or transferring your account.

Product Overview

  • In business since: 1872
  • J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Online Banking Satisfaction Study Score: 3/5
  • FDIC-insured: Yes
  • States served: 15 plus Washington, D.C.
  • Number of locations: 1,700
  • Pros: Top-rated digital platforms, overdraft protection
  • Cons: Limited physical branches, monthly maintenance fees

Features

Checking accounts
Five account options
No fees or minimum requirements with some accounts
Savings account
No monthly maintenance fees
Link to checking account for overdraft protection
CDs
Personal CD specials and rates
Can’t-lose CDs
Stepped-rate CDs
IRAs
Traditional and Roth IRA
Rollover IRA
SEP and SIMPLE IRA

Information accurate as of December 9, 2019.

Robust online and mobile banking platform

U by BB&T is what managing your bank account digitally should be. Either by logging in online or using a mobile app, users get a complete banking experience. A few of the many features include customizing dashboard tiles, categorizing transactions, linking external accounts, and adjusting card controls. If you’re a budgeter, you’ll love the ability to plan and set budgets and categorize transactions. The app earns a 4.8 out of five stars on the Apple App Store and a 4.7 on Google Play, meaning that users agree on the app’s usefulness and functionality.

Overdraft protection

BB&T helps you avoid overdraft fees by giving you a choice to opt in to Overdraft Protection or Overdraft Review. Overdraft Protection links to your savings account or line of credit and charges a one-time fee of $12.50 each day the bank transfers money to cover insufficient funds. As an alternative, you can have BB&T review transactions that bring your balance below $0 to determine if your purchase should be authorized or declined based on your preset preferences. If you opt out of both services, purchases resulting in a negative balance are automatically rejected. Either way, BB&T gives you a range of options and puts the choice in your hands.

Cash back deals

MoneyAccount, debit, and credit cardholders can take advantage of BB&T Deals. It’s a free service that gives you a list of offers based on your card’s past purchases. Just click to add an offer to your card and then redeem by making a purchase. The month after, you’ll see your cash back earnings in your account. BB&T doesn’t offer interest checking accounts, but BB&T deals are a great way to still earn money as you spend.

Possible drawbacks

Limited physical branches

While many banks are either online-only or are branch-focused, BB&T tries to combine the advantages of both. However, BB&T is only available in 15 states and Washington, D.C. While those who don’t mind the lack of a physical location near them can get almost all of the same services online — including the ability to speak directly with a banker — you need to live within the boundaries of a BB&T bank to open an account. And if you move, you may find that one of the 2,400 BB&T-owned ATMs are too far from your new place. To avoid paying fees from BB&T and the ATM owner, you’d have to deposit the money into another account and then transfer it over.

Monthly maintenance fees

Almost all of BB&T’s accounts have maintenance fees ranging from $5 to $30. While this is a drawback for some, all accounts except for BB&T Fundamentals can have the fee waived by meeting conditions like keeping a minimum daily balance or making direct deposits. If your paycheck is direct deposited, you probably won’t ever have to worry about monthly maintenance fees. BB&T also gives a break to people enrolled in a Student Checking and eSavings account by eliminating many of the usual fees and requirements, but it’s still a hassle to worry about meeting minimum requirements if you’re looking for a simple checking account.

Mediocre APYs

Unlike Ally, our pick for best online bank, BB&T doesn’t have interest checking accounts. Its BB&T Deals help make up some of the difference, but its savings accounts rates also tend to be lower than those of many larger banks, such as Discover. Its most popular savings account, eSavings, has a 0.03% APY. And to get the highest 1.00% APY for its money market account, you’d need to have $250,000 or more deposited. While BB&T’s Personal CD Specials offer much better APYs of up to 1.50%, that rate is still not comparable to those of other banks’ savings accounts — not to mention CDs.

The Competition

BB&T Axos Capital One Ally Bank
J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Online Banking Satisfaction Study score
3/5 N/A 4/5 N/A
Minimum checking requirement
Varies $0 $0 $0
Minimum savings requirement
$0 $0 $0 $0
Maximum savings account APY
0.03% 1.30% 1.80% 1.70%
One-year CD APY
Up to 1.50% 1.01% 2.10% 2.00%
Monthly maintenance fees
$0-$30 N/A N/A N/A
24/7 customer service
Number of states served
15 plus Washington, D.C. 50 50 50
Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote

Information accurate as of December 9, 2019.

BB&T FAQ

Does BB&T have free checking?

BB&T’s checking account maintenance fees vary depending on the type of checking account. Student Checking accounts have no maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements, while the BB&T Fundamentals account has a $5 monthly maintenance fee. Other checking accounts also have a $10 to $30 monthly maintenance fee, but it’s waived if you meet direct deposit or average balance requirements.

What’s BB&T’s overdraft limit?

The maximum number of total overdraft and returned item fees are six per day at the cost of $36 per item. Overdraft fees can be limited or avoided through BB&T’s Overdraft Protection and Overdraft Review programs. You can also opt out of both to have all transactions triggering overdraft fees declined, although recurring charges that post at a later date can still bring your balance below $0.

Is mobile banking with BB&T safe?

BB&T takes the safety and privacy of your information seriously, and its mobile products have multiple layers of security. For example, all new users have to create an account online first to establish a user ID, password, and security questions. When signing up for mobile banking, users get an SMS code to the number they provided during their online account signup to finish enrolling.

The Bottom Line

BB&T is a solid choice for people who want to manage their personal finances primarily online but have the flexibility of visiting a branch when needed. And banking with BB&T also gives you the benefit of linking your external accounts to U by BB&T, so everything is easily viewable in one place. BB&T generally rates about average in terms of customer satisfaction and boasts a highly rated mobile app, although the company does have its downsides, such as branch availability in only 15 states and Washington, D.C. If you value in-person contact more than digital banking, traditional brick-and-mortar banks like Chase or Bank of America may fit better with your needs.