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Joined Bank of America Keep the Change Program

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(Update 05-07-2010) I just found out some more details on how it works. Per BoA’s FAQ of the Keep the Change Program, “The matching funds will be credited annually to your savings account. This will take place within 8 weeks after the month of your enrollment anniversary for the Keep the Change® savings service.”

(Update 04-04-2010) I found US Bank “Start” saving program also to be interesting. I may join them after I “kept” enough changes from BoA in the initial 90 days.

(Original) I heard about it for a long time, today I took the plumage: I went to the local BoA branch and opened a Savings account, and because I already have checking account and check card with them, I enrolled into the Keep the Change program. Quote BoA:

We’ll match your Keep the Change savings for the first 3 months, to the penny. After that, we’ll continue matching 5% a year. The maximum total match is $250 per year.

So it looks like the offer is less generous than the old one, where they match penny by penny until hit annual limit ($300?). In other words, there is no 3 month sweeten deal, then 5% match thing. It’s more like I missed the hot deal 🙁

But look at another way, I need the Savings account regardless, the Keep the Change is just ice on cake.

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Friends don’t let friends buy BAC

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(Update Feb 5) It appears BoA CEO Ken Lewis bought additional 200,000 BAC shares yesterday (source: bloomberg).

(Original Feb 4) Today Bank of America stock (NYSE: BAC) fell below $5 the first time since 1990s. The company was in trouble earlier this month as the loss from Merrill Lynch turned out to be much bigger then originally thought. There are lots of talk about the potential nationalization, as the rumor also hit another big troubled bank, Citi group (NYSE: C). Some retail investors got excited about the “appears cheap” price, and they bought into the stock and hoped for a big profit in near future.

Don’t !!! Although the insiders of BoA, including its CEO Ken Lewis, bought a bunch of stocks on Jan 20 when the stock dropped under $6 briefly (and around the same time, JP Morgan CEO Jemy Dimon bought JPM stocks), the insider buy looked more like the “confidence showing stock buyback” nowadays. Note in the good old days, companies bought back stocks because they felt the stocks are really cheap. Nowadays many companies bought back stocks to prop up stock price, or to offset the excessive stock awards to its employees. This “Ken Lewis” smelled more like a show to me, just like the Obama’s blaming Wall Street excessive bonus (before he hand out another round of carrots to banks soon).

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My thoughts on Bank of America (NYSE: BAC)

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Bank of America is back in the news because they asked and got $20 billon from US govement, to back the loss from Merrill Lynch acquisition.

(Source: Yahoo Tech-ticker)

Personally I like Bank of America, ever since I became their customer serveral years ago. Two benefits of being BoA checking acct cosumer: 1) Their branch and ATMs are all over the country; 2) In addition to that, since I travel to China once a while, I like the fact I can withdrawl Chinese Yuan (RMB) from China Construciton Bank (CCB is BoA Chinese partner), without transaction fees. CCB is also a large bank in China and their ATMs can be found in many places.

Now to the investing of BoA (NYSE: BAC). Did I say investing? With the stock price of BoA approach to $7, it seems to me it’s more and more like speculating. I remember someone (Jim Cramer?) once said any bank stock traded under $5 is speculative.

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BOA Card RMB withdrawl at CCB

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I mentioned it once in my blog: getting Ren Ming Bi (Chinese Yuan) at China Construction Bank using Bank of America ATM card. I tried it yesterday. It works great. The rate is 7.72, or $194.29 for CNY 1500. Don’t know if there is a transaction fee. The last I heard is there is none. There maybe some limit on how much one can withdraw each day.

BOA and CCB are partners in China. Talking about partners, many foreign banks are partnering with local banks these days, because the China banking industry will open up to foreign banks according to WTO.