Synchrony Bank Review: Zero Fees and Top-Tier Interest Rates

In this Synchrony Bank review, we discuss the online bank’s account types and whether it is the right bank for your needs.

Synchrony Bank is an online bank that offers a variety of savings products to its customers. Unlike typical banks, Synchrony does not offer a checking account. Therefore, it’s best suited for people who are looking to separate their savings from their spending money or who want to earn the most interest possible on their extra cash.

Table of Contents

  • Synchrony Bank Review at a Glance
  • Synchrony High-Yield Savings Account
  • Synchrony CDs
  • Synchrony Money Market Accounts
  • Other Things to Know About Synchrony Bank
    • Customer Service
    • Phone Number
    • Fees
    • App
    • Loyalty Perks
    • Interest Rates
    • Other Services
  • Synchrony Bank Review Summary

Synchrony Bank Review at a Glance

Pros

  • Online bank that you can access from anywhere
  • High interest rates
  • Loyalty perks

Cons

  • No checking or spending account options
  • More difficult to deposit cash
  • No Synchrony Bank app

The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a place to put extra cash so that it can earn savings and grow, Synchrony Bank is a good choice. If you want a full-service online bank that can handle your savings, checking, lending, and investing needs, then you’ll need to work with another bank in addition to or instead of Synchrony.

Synchrony High-Yield Savings Account

The savings account is one of the most basic types of bank account. You deposit money to the account and the bank keeps it safe for you. Each month, the bank pays you interest on the balance of your account. In this way, your savings will slowly grow over time.

This makes savings accounts great both for keeping extra money safe and for saving towards specific goals, such as going on vacation or making a down payment on a house.

Synchrony Bank’s High Yield Savings Account is a standard online savings account. There aren’t many notable features to talk about.

Like most online savings accounts, it offers a rate of interest that is far higher than the rates offered by traditional brick-and-mortar banks. If your goal is to grow your savings, then this is a great account to use.

One downside of online savings accounts is that they can be more difficult to access than savings accounts offered by brick-and-mortar banks. Since there are no physical locations, it can be difficult to make a cash withdrawal or a deposit. However, Synchrony Bank breaks that mold, offering a number of ways to access your account.

You can make online transfers or deposit checks using your phone. The bank also offers the ability to make cash deposits, which is unusual for online banks. If you visit a Plus or ACCEL network ATM that accepts deposits, you can easily deposit cash to your Synchrony Bank High Yield Savings Account.

Withdrawals are simple. Log into your account from your phone or computer to transfer money to your checking account. You can also visit an ATM and use your debit card to withdraw cash, though a fee may apply.

Keep in mind that federal regulations limit the number of withdrawals that you can make in a statement period. If you make more than six withdrawals in one period, you may have to pay a fee. ATM withdrawals are excluded from this limit, so you won’t be punished for regular ATM visits.

Synchrony CDs

Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are designed to let you save your money for a set period of time. Unlike savings accounts, which have interest rates that can change at any time, CDs let you lock in your interest rate for the full term of the CD.

This can be useful if interest rates fall after you deposit money to a CD, as your money will continue to earn the same amount. However, if rates rise, you’ll lose out as you’ll be stuck with the lower rate.

You can’t simply withdraw money from a CD and open a new one to get the higher rate. Withdrawing money from a CD before it matures will incur a fee, which could wipe out any additional interest you would earn.

Synchrony Bank CDs keep pace with other online banks, offering rates that are far higher than those of traditional banks. They also offer a wide variety of CD terms, ranging from 3 to 60 months.

The early withdrawal penalties for Synchrony Bank CDs are as follows.

CD Term Early Withdrawal Penalty
12 months or less 90 days’ interest
13 to 47 months 180 days’ interest
48 months or more 365 days’ interest

The exception to this penalty is withdrawing interest. You can withdraw the interest you earn at any time.

CDs are best for people who want to save toward a goal that will happen at a specific time. They’re also great if you want to lock in a guaranteed interest rate and return.

If you’re looking to save for retirement, Synchrony Bank also offers IRA CDs.

Synchrony Money Market Accounts

Synchrony Bank’s Money Market Account combines the benefits of savings and checking. With this account, you can earn one of the highest interest rates available while maintaining ease of access and flexibility with your money.

However, at Synchrony Bank, there aren’t many reasons that you would want to open a money market account.

Synchrony makes it easy to access the money you have in your savings account, so the only additional benefit of opening a money market account is the ability to write checks. Otherwise, you can access your account in all the same ways as you can your checking account.

In exchange for the ability to write checks, you give up a significant amount of interest, earning less on a Synchrony Bank Money Market Account than a Synchrony Bank Savings Account. You’ll almost certainly be better off with the savings account.

Other Things to Know About Synchrony Bank

Here are a few more details to consider when deciding if a Synchrony Bank account is right for you.

See Also: DollarSprout’s Best Online Savings Accounts

Customer Service

One common concern that people have about online banks is their customer service. When you can’t visit a branch and speak to someone face to face, you want to feel confident that you can get help when you need it.

Synchrony offers multiple ways to contact the bank when you need help. Online chat services make it easy to get support right from your computer. It also offers customer service via phone seven days a week, so you can call for help regardless of your schedule.

Phone Number

Should you require immediate assistance with your accounts, you can reach Synchrony Bank’s customer service department by calling this phone number 1-866-226-5638.

Fees

One of the biggest benefits of working with an online bank is the fact that online banks don’t charge many fees. They cost far less to run than traditional banks, and they’re able to pass those savings on to customers by offering higher rates and charging fewer fees.

Synchrony Bank does not charge any account maintenance or similar fees. In fact, the only fees you’re likely to pay are ATM withdrawal fees. To help offset those costs, Synchrony Bank offers up to $5 in ATM fee refunds per statement.

App

One thing to know about Synchrony Bank is that, unlike other banks, it does not offer a smartphone app that you can use to manage your account. Instead, you’ll need to log in to your account through your computer or phone’s web browser to do all of your account management.

Loyalty Perks

Synchrony Bank provides loyalty rewards to account holders based on both their account balance and how long they’ve had an account with Synchrony Bank. You can advance through five loyalty tiers.

Loyalty Tier Requirements
Basic Less than $10,000 AND tenure less than 1 year
Silver $10,000 – $49,999.99 AND tenure of at least 1 year
Gold $50,000 – $99,999.99 AND tenure of at least 2 years
Platinum $100,000 – $249,999.99 OR tenure of at least 3 years
Diamond $250,000 or more AND tenure of at least 5 years

Some of the perks that you can earn include:

  • A dedicated customer support phone line
  • Access to special webinars
  • Free wire transfers
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements

Interest Rates

Here are the interest rates that you can earn on Synchrony Bank’s accounts.

Account Interest Rate (APY)
High Yield Savings Account 2.20%
Money Market Account 1.20%
3-month CD .75%
6-month CD 1.00%
9-month CD 1.25%
12-month CD 2.75%
18-month CD 2.75%
24-month CD 2.90%
36-month CD 2.90%
48-month CD 3.00%
60-month CD 3.10%

Other Services

Though Synchrony Bank doesn’t offer other banking services, such as checking accounts, Synchrony is known for another type of financial product. It provides many popular store credit cards, including the Amazon store card, Walmart Personal Mastercard, and the JCPenney card.

While there are no benefits to holding Synchrony bank accounts and credit cards at the same time, it is good to know that you’re working with the same company if you have both.

Synchrony Bank Review Summary

Synchrony Bank’s savings account and CDs are both great deals that pay high interest rates with few or no fees. If you’re looking for a good bank to use just for your savings, Synchrony Bank is a great choice. If you want a full-service online bank, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

0 Comments

Discover Bank Review: Online Savings, Checking, CDs, and MMA

In this Discover Bank Review, we’re going to cover the pros and cons of Discover’s four main banking products:

  • Online Savings Account
  • Cash Back Checking
  • Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
  • Money Market Account (MMA)

I don’t ask for much in a bank.

Basically, I want my money to be safe, and I’d prefer not to have to pay exorbitant monthly fees to access my cash.

It’d also be helpful if I could get some cash back or earn more interest than a mere $0.02 per statement (or less).

You’d think that what I’m asking for would be commonplace, but the big banks’ towering skyscrapers and 7 and 8 figure executive salaries don’t pay themselves.

As a result, they squeeze their account holders for every last dime, and they make it seem like they’re doing us a favor by holding onto our cash for us.

I realized not long ago that if I wanted fair treatment, I had to ditch the brick and mortar banking establishments and look elsewhere.

Online banks are the way to go, but I kissed a few frogs before I opened an account with Discover. And now, I won’t bank anywhere else.

Despite what is about to be an overall glowing review, Discover Bank is not without its flaws. So, I’ll be honest, and in this review, I’ll tell you where I think they’re doing an excellent job for their customers, and where they could use some improvement.

Table of Contents

  • Is Discover Safe?
    • Is Discover Bank Federally Insured?
    • What About Hackers?
    • Discover Bank BBB Rating
  • Online Discover Bank Savings Account
    • APY
    • No Maintenance Fees or Minimum Balance Requirements
    • Discover Bank Savings Account Bonus
    • Discover Bank Locations and ATMs
    • Fee Forgiveness
  • Checking Account
    • Cash Back on Debit Card Purchases
    • No Monthly Fees or Minimum Deposits
    • No Fees for Bank Checks
    • No Fees for Returned Deposits
    • Ease of Getting Started
    • Excellent Discover Bank App
  • Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
    • Discover Bank CD Rates
    • FDIC-Insured
    • No Risk
  • Money Market Account (MMA)
    • APY
  • Discover Bank Review Conclusion
    • Pros of Discover Bank
    • Discover Bank Cons

Is Discover Safe?

What I appreciate most about Discover is that I know my money is safe with them. In the early 2000s, a lot of suspicious-looking banks opened their virtual doors, and the Internet was a Wild, Wild West of scammers and Nigerian princes.

Since Discover is an established institution with a history of serving credit card customers since 1985, there’s a sense of security when you store your money with them.

If you are wondering what bank owns Discover, it’s Discover Financial Services, Inc. This is the same for many card companies. For example, the “real” AmEx cards are backed by American Express Centurion Bank.

Is Discover Bank Federally Insured?

While they are relative newcomers to the banking industry, you can rest assured that your funds are FDIC-insured up to the maximum allowed by law, which at the time of this publication is $250,000.

But, before you get too excited about the security of your money, FDIC insurance (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) only kicks in if the bank goes under.

It’s most relevant during extreme financial crises like The Great Depression and the 2008 Financial Crisis. In 2008, 25 banks failed. However, it doesn’t apply to theft or hackers.

What About Hackers?

Knowing that Discover Bank isn’t likely to fail, the biggest concern in my mind is what happens if there’s a security breach and hackers steal my money. This isn’t just me being paranoid, either.

Hacking and digital theft are on the rise, and many major corporations have had their customers’ information compromised. Fortunately, Discover Bank has private insurance if unscrupulous computer thieves steal your information and cash.

In this Discover Bank review, I’ll discuss four of their main banking products, and share what I think about each one.

Discover Bank BBB Rating

Discover Bank holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with 58 years of continuous business served.

Online Discover Bank Savings Account

Discover’s savings account was named one of our best savings accounts for 2019, and it’s easy to see why. Discover stays ahead of other companies with their lack of fees and high APY (annual percentage yield). It’s important to have a good understanding of how APY works if you don’t already.

APY

Discover has one of the highest APYs in the online banking world, which is a huge perk. Brick and mortar banks typically give about 0.01% to 0.05% APY, but with the low overhead of an online bank, those savings get passed onto the consumer.

Interest rates fluctuate regularly, so it’s best to check Discover’s website for the most up to date figure.

No Maintenance Fees or Minimum Balance Requirements

To me, not having to pay for the privilege of storing my money is even more important than the interest rate.

We’ve all had a financial emergency at one time or another. Whether it’s a significant car repair, an unexpected medical expense, a tuition hike, or an irresistible pair of Jimmy Choo’s, a temporary dip in the bank account is normal.

What’s not normal is being punished for it. As the saying goes, life isn’t fair, but I still think maintenance fees and requirements for a minimum balance stink.

This is another reason that I love Discover Bank. No monthly maintenance fee or minimum deposit makes it easy for anyone to open and maintain an account.

Discover Bank Savings Account Bonus

If you have a large amount of money you want to deposit in a Discover Bank savings account, their savings account bonus puts them ahead of most other options.

Although Discover does not have a minimum you must deposit for opening a savings account, you do have a minimum you must deposit in order to get the Discover savings account bonus. This offer varies, so check out Discover’s online savings account for current bonus opportunities.

Discover Bank Locations and ATMs

One of the significant tradeoffs of Internet banking is not having access to an ATM since there are no physical branches.

Discover technically has one branch in Delaware, and that happens to be the only place you can deposit cash into your account. So, unless you happen to live near that office, you won’t be able to put cash directly into your account. Because there are no Discover Bank locations outside of the one in Delaware, you’ll be limited to check deposits or wire transfers only. If you run a cash-based business, this may be a deal breaker for you.

However, you still have access to 415,000 ATMs. Watch out for fees, though. The average transaction fee is $2.77, and only 60,000 of the ATMs in Discover’s network waive the fee. There’s also a limit of six withdrawals per month, but that’s universal across all online savings accounts, not just Discover’s. If you exceed the withdrawal frequency, you’ll have to pay for each incident over the limit.

There’s another way to get cash back without paying for it. If you open a checking account and get a debit card, you’ll get cash back with no transaction fees on some purchases.

Fee Forgiveness

As of June 16th, 2019, Discover’s online savings accounts, checking accounts, and money market accounts have all converted to fee-free structures.

This means no fees for stop-orders on checks, no overdraft fees, and no minimum balance fees.

With such fees typically ranging from $15 to $30, Discover has taken the industry lead in eliminating pesky fees that otherwise plague consumer balances.

To sum up: If you’re actively trying to save money, then Discover Bank is the clear winner for a high-interest online savings account. You get some of the highest interest rates around, and you never have to worry about paying fees to store your cash.

Checking Account

Checking accounts with consumer-friendly policies are even harder to come by than savings accounts. This is because banks know that checking accounts are likely to have lower balances and more activity than a savings account.

You’re paying bills from this account and potentially using a debit card. All that activity can be expensive to track.

In my opinion, the checking account department is where Discover Bank really shines. Here’s why:

Cash Back on Debit Card Purchases

I think many of us like to take advantage of ways to make money fast.

With cash back bonuses, you’re not going to get rich. However, only a handful of banks offer rewards on debit card purchases, so this makes Discover stand out.

No Monthly Fees or Minimum Deposits

Again, if it’s the end of the month and my balance is low until my next paycheck gets deposited, I don’t have to pay a “maintenance” fee. There’s no denying that having a checking account is a convenience, so it’s refreshing not to have to pay for the privilege.

No Fees for Bank Checks

Also known as cashier’s checks.

At my last greedy bank, I had to pay $8. It’s not something you need every day, but it seems insane to charge that much.

No Fees for Returned Deposits

If you’ve ever cashed a check somewhere and had it bounce, you might have been charged $15 to $35 for something that you have no control over and isn’t your fault.

If you’re on a tight budget, that could also lead to an overdraft, which is another fee. That’s why I appreciate Discover because there’s no fee for someone else’s check bouncing.

Ease of Getting Started

Have you ever opened a checking account in person? It’s a long process that feels like a mix of an invasive doctor’s appointment and a trip to the DMV.

There’s a lot of paperwork, questions to answer and tons of waiting. And whenever I’m sitting in a bank, I begin second guessing every single one of my financial decisions.

When you open a bank account online, there’s no judgment about how much you plan to fund your account with. It’s three easy (and painless) steps.

Excellent Discover Bank App

Other online banking apps have been a nightmare to use. One app crashed every time I tried to deposit a check. And, more often than not, it would tell me that it couldn’t read the sum I deposited, even though it was typed out and not scrawled in illegible ink.

The Discover Banking app has a 4.8 rating and a whopping 1.66 million reviews. To say it works like it’s supposed to is an understatement.

It is expected that the Discover Mobile App will remain excellent and up-to-date since there is only one Discover Bank location. Most transactions are meant to be completed online or on your smartphone and therefore the company relies on a top quality banking app.

To sum up: Unless you’re in a situation with your checking account physically handcuffed to other assets that make closing it down impossible, I highly recommend using Discover for your checking and debit card needs.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

If you know you won’t need to touch your money for a while, a CD is a safe way to collect a higher interest rate than a bank account.

Discover Bank CD Rates

At the time of this publication, only a couple of banks came close to paying what a Discover Bank CD rate paid. Some factors that play into what kind of CD rate you can get include:

  • The length of time before your CD rate matures
  • The current interest rate environment
  • How much your bank anticipates they can make with the money you deposited

FDIC-Insured

I love CDs because when I have extra cash, I can put it to work with zero risks because the funds are FDIC-insured.

Let’s say I have a summer European vacation planned next year, and I’d like to have an extra $1,000 on hand to take along. I can use Discover’s online calculator to figure out exactly how much money I’d have to set aside, and how long it would take to reach my goal.

No Risk

What’s most useful about Discover’s CDs is that I don’t even have to plan far in advance to benefit.

For example, you already know that a bank account can pay over 1.5% interest. But keeping that same amount secure in a CD for just 12 months, I can earn a higher rate. It’s like having free money, and there’s virtually no risk.

To sum up: If you have even a little bit of extra cash that you know you don’t need immediately, a CD is a no-brainer. If only I had discovered these financial instruments sooner… Like when I was five. Like the checking account, you can also open a Discover CD online in three easy steps.

Money Market Account (MMA)

Our Discover Bank review would not be complete without talking about Discover MMAs. A money market account is nearly identical to a bank account with a few exceptions:

  1. First, the best money market accounts generally have high interest rates.
  2. Second, it generally requires a higher minimum deposit to open.

With Discover, the minimum opening amount is $2,500. There’s no fee for dropping below that point, but you’ll need at least that much cash on hand to get started.

APY

Here’s where things get a bit odd, though. There are two listed APYs for money market accounts (one for balances under $100,000 and one for balances over $100,000), but both rates are less than the regular online savings account.

I found there’s no discernible difference other than the money market account being more restrictive and paying less interest, which means there may be better options out there if you are specifically looking for a money market account.

Discover Bank Review Conclusion

Overall, my Discover Bank review is positive. They offer competitively high rates, no fees on most products, a fantastic app, and easy access to your funds.

Discover Bank customer service is top-notch and they are backed by the FDIC. There are some cons (like anything in life), but these certainly do not outweigh the benefits.

Pros of Discover Bank

  • The rates are competitive. You’ll get more interest and more cash back than just about anywhere else.
  • No fee savings, checking and money market products. No maintenance fees, low or no minimum balances, and no fees for routine services make Discover a top choice for anyone’s banking needs.
  • Easy access to your money. With nearly half a million ATMs, you’ll be able to get cash almost anywhere.
  • An out-of-this-world app. Thankfully, apps, in general, have gotten better over the years, but several in the banking industry still need improvements. The Discover Mobile app is indisputably first class.
  • Discover Bank customer service. The company employs a U.S.-based customer service team. If you’ve tried discussing anything complicated or had to repeat a string of 16 digits over and over again because of bad phone connections, delays, or a poorly trained staff, you know how frustrating that can be.

Discover Bank Cons

  • There is only one Discover bank location. If you do need to do any in-person banking, you may decide to go with another institution.
  • No overdraft credit line. Consumers can’t borrow from other accounts to cover temporary shortfalls outside of non-saving, checking and money market accounts. 

Disclosure:

ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as Venmo® and PayPal™, who also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.  

0 Comments

CIT Bank Savings Builder Account Review – Pros & Cons

In this review of the CIT Bank Savings Builder Account, we discuss the pros and cons of this savings account and how it can fit into your savings strategy.

Everybody should have a savings account, but not everyone does. A savings account serves as a convenient place to store extra cash which you might need on short notice. That makes them ideal for storing an emergency fund. They’re also a great way to set money aside for a goal such as going on vacation or buying a car.

Once you have a savings account, you need to find a way to get money into the account and to help the account’s balance grow. There are two ways to grow your savings account’s balance: earning interest and making an additional deposit.

The CIT Bank Savings Builder Account aims to help you grow your savings both ways.

Table of Contents

  • CIT Bank Savings Builder Account Review at a Glance
  • CIT Bank Savings Builder Account
    • Fees
    • Interest Rates
    • How the Top APY Works
    • Taking Advantage of the Top APY
  • Other Things to Know About CIT Bank
    • Customer Service
    • Other CIT Bank Services
  • CIT Bank Savings Builder Account FAQs
    • Is CIT Bank Safe?
    • Where is CIT Bank Located?
    • How Does the Savings Builder Account Differ from a Normal Savings Account?
  • CIT Bank Savings Builder Review Summary

CIT Bank Savings Builder Account Review at a Glance

Pros

  • No monthly fees
  • Competitive interest rates
  • $100 minimum deposit

Cons

  • Must maintain a $25,000 balance or make $100 monthly deposits to earn the best rate
  • Online-only bank – no physical locations

The Bottom Line:The CIT Bank Savings Builder Account is a great savings account for people who can meet its $25,000 balance requirement or who are able to make regular contributions to the account. It pays one of the best rates on the market and charges no fees. If you cannot meet the requirements, another online savings account will get you a reasonable rate of interest.

CIT Bank Savings Builder Account

The CIT Bank Savings Builder Account is a standard bank account offered by CIT Bank. The Savings Builder title represents how the account is designed to help people grow their savings over time.

Because it is a savings account, you should consider all of the things you usually look at when comparing savings accounts.

Fees

One of the biggest draws of most online banks is their fee structure.

Banks can be very expensive businesses to run, and one of their biggest expenses is running physical branches.

Some of the costs included in running a single branch of a bank are rent, utilities, furniture, security, maintenance, and staffing.

By avoiding branches and moving operations online, online banks can avoid a lot of those costs, or minimize them by centralizing their operations. That allows online banks to charge fewer or lower fees than their physical competitors.

CIT Bank follows that pattern, charging very few fees on the Savings Builder Account. There is no fee to open the account or keep it open. It’s also almost always free to make transfers into or out of the account. Federal regulations require that outgoing transfers after the sixth in a statement incur a fee.

The only thing that you need to keep in mind when opening the account is that you must provide a $100 opening deposit. This is a large minimum deposit requirement when compared to other online banks. However, the benefits can be worth it.

See Also: The Pros and Cons of Online Banking in Today’s Tech-Filled World

Interest Rates

The other reason most people turn to an online bank is their interest rates. Physical banks tend to offer poor interest rates, which limit your earning potential. Online banks like CIT Bank offer more significant interest rates that help your savings to grow over time.

There are two interest rates available for the CIT Bank Savings Builder Account.

The base APY is lower than the rates offered by most online banks. However, the top APY is higher than the rate offered by most online banks. Therefore, you should do your best to ensure that you qualify for the top APY tier.

How the Top APY Works

So, how does the top APY work?

In order to earn the top APY on your Savings Builder Account, you must meet one of two requirements during each month’s Evaluation Day. If you do, you’ll earn the top APY during the next Evaluation Period.

The requirements are:

  • Have a balance of $25,000 in the account

OR

  • Make at least one deposit of $100 or more

Meeting either of those requirements will qualify your account for the top APY.

The Evaluation Day is the fourth business day before the end of the month, and the Evaluation Period runs from the day after an Evaluation Day through 4 PM on the next month’s Evaluation Day.

Put simply, all you have to do is have $25,000 in your account or make a deposit of $100 (in addition to the minimum $100 to open the account) before the fourth business day before the end of the month you opened the account.

From the time you open an account through the first Evaluation Day, you’ll automatically earn the top APY. If you continue to meet at least one of these two requirements, then you’ll keep earning the highest APY available.

Taking Advantage of the Top APY

If you open a CIT Bank Savings Builder Account, your priority should be to take advantage of the top APY as much as possible. The first step is ensuring that you qualify for the promotional rate every month.

If you have a lot of money to commit to the account, maintaining a $25,000 balance is the easiest way to do it. Just leave the money in the account and you’ll earn the top APY automatically.

If you don’t have that much money to commit, set up automatic savings transfers from your checking account. One $100 deposit is enough to qualify for the top APY.

This can be a great benefit for people who don’t have the $25,000 to keep in the account because it makes you think about saving. By forcing you to save every month, CIT Bank is helping you grow your account’s balance even faster than it would just by earning interest.

In the worst case, you can make the $100 deposit and then withdraw some money back to your checking account. You keep your access to the cash while still qualifying for the elevated rate of interest.

Other Things to Know About CIT Bank

If you’re considering opening a CIT Bank Savings Builder Account, here are some other things that you should know about the CIT Bank Savings Builder Account.

Customer Service

One of the most common concerns people have about online banks is the ability to get help when they need it.

CIT Bank has a team of great customer service representatives and is open seven days a week to assist customers. You can send secure messages to the customer support team at any time using your online account on your phone or computer.

If you’d rather speak to someone, you can call any day of the week during the following times.

  • Weekdays: 8 AM – 9 PM
  • Saturday: 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Sunday: 11 AM – 4 PM

All times Eastern

Other CIT Bank Services

The bank offers other savings services on top of its Savings Builder Account, including certificates of deposit and a money market account. You can also get home lending services from CIT Bank.

There’s no downside if you open the CIT Bank Savings Builder Account while keeping your checking and other accounts at another bank.

See Also: What is a Money Market Account and When Should You Use One?

CIT Bank Savings Builder Account FAQs

Here are some of the most common questions people have about CIT Bank and the Savings Builder Account.

Is CIT Bank Safe?

Many people worry about the security of online banks like CIT Bank. In truth, they are just as safe as physical banks.

Your account information is protected by state of the art encryption and online security software. The bank is also protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures balances up to $250,000. If CIT Bank closes and you can’t withdraw your money, the FDIC will reimburse you for the loss.

Where is CIT Bank Located?

CIT Bank is headquartered in Pasadena, California, but has no physical branches. It’s purely an online bank, so anyone in the United States can open an account.

How Does the Savings Builder Account Differ from a Normal Savings Account?

The Savings Builder Account is a savings account that offers the opportunity to earn a higher APY by meeting certain requirements. It functions just like a regular savings account would outside of earning a higher APY when meeting the special requirements.

CIT Bank Savings Builder Review Summary

The CIT Bank Savings Builder Account is a unique and useful savings account that can work well for most people. It offers one of the best interest rates on the market, so long as you’re able to maintain a $25,000 balance or make one $100 or more deposit each month.

By rewarding people who actively add to their savings, the CIT Bank Savings Builder Account helps people build their savings account’s balance while building good saving habits, giving it a strong leg up on the competition.

0 Comments

Chime Bank Review: Checking, Savings, and Additional Features

In this Chime Bank review, we cover the services and accounts offered by the bank to help you decide whether it’s the right fit for you.

Chime Bank focuses on providing mobile banking services. As such, the bank operates no physical branches.

Because Chime is a mobile-only bank, it tends to focus on millennial customers looking for low fees and accounts that make digital payments easy.

If you like the idea of a fully digital bank account that you can access from your phone, then Chime might be the bank for you.

Table of Contents

Chime Bank Review at a Glance

Pros

  • No monthly fee
  • No overdraft fee
  • Automatic savings tools
  • Large ATM network
  • Early access to your paycheck

Cons

  • Low interest rates for an online bank
  • Difficult to deposit cash

The Bottom Line: Chime Bank is a mobile-only bank that will appeal to customers who want an easy way to do their banking from their phone. However, a more fully-featured online bank may offer higher interest rates and a similarly inexpensive fee structure.

Chime Checking Account

Chime styles its checking account as the Chime Spending Account. It works just like a normal checking account does, making it easy to access your cash when you need to by swiping your debit card or visiting an ATM.

Where the account differentiates itself is in its features. Chime positions itself as a low-cost bank, and its Spending account shows it. There are no foreign transaction fees, no monthly fees, and no overdraft fees. You can use the account to its fullest without having to pay for the privilege.

There are two fees that you should keep an eye out for. One is the out-of-network ATM fee. Chime Bank has a large ATM network thanks to partnerships with MoneyPass and the VisaPlus Alliance. You can use any of these ATMs free of charge.

If you use an ATM on another network, however, you’ll incur a $2.50 fee. This fee is in addition to the fee charged by the ATM’s owner.

You’ll also have to pay if you want to deposit cash to your account. If you have extra cash on hand, the only way to deposit it to your Chime account is to visit a local Green Dot cash deposit location. These businesses often charge fees for their services. Electronic check deposits and other transfers are free of charge.

The account also doesn’t offer a typical checkbook. This doesn’t mean that you cannot write checks. Chime will write and mail checks on your behalf up to $5,000 per check and $10,000 per month. There is no charge for this service.

Finally, the Chime Spending Account gives you early access to your paycheck. If you sign up for direct deposit, you can get access to your paycheck as early as two days before your normal payday because Chime will process your paycheck more quickly than other banks.

Chime Savings Account

Chime’s savings account is a standard savings account. It lets you store extra money that you may not need in the short term, offering interest to help your balance grow.

Unlike most online savings accounts, Chime’s savings account does not offer a high rate of interest. Most online banks handily beat traditional banks when it comes to interest rates due to their lower operating costs. Chime instead focuses its efforts on helping people put more of their own money into their savings accounts.

Chime offers three ways to make saving easier.

Automatic Savings

Chime’s automatic savings plan is the easiest to understand. Choose an amount you’d like to save every week or month and the day on which you’d like to save it. Chime will automatically move the money from your spending account to your savings account on the designated day.

If you decide that you want to save $100 on the last day of every month, Chime will make those transfers for you automatically. After a year, you’ll have $1,200 in your savings account.

Save When You Spend

The second way Chime makes saving easier is with their save when you spend feature.

If you enable the feature, money will be moved to your savings account every time you use your Chime debit card. The cost of every purchase you make will be rounded up to the next dollar and the difference transferred from your checking to your savings account. The more often you use your debit card, the more you’ll save.

These types of systems can be very helpful for people who shop regularly as it helps them save without thinking about it. However, they can also be a danger as they can help people justify their spending. Be careful that the idea of saving money time every time you swipe your debit card doesn’t make it easier for you to justify unnecessary purchases.

Save When You Get Paid

On top of giving you early access to your paycheck, signing up for direct deposit lets you take advantage of Chime’s automatic saving system based on when you receive your paycheck.

If you sign up for this service, Chime will automatically move 10% of your paycheck into your savings account on payday. If you receive $800 every payday, you’ll get $720 in your spending account and $80 in your savings account.

Overall, Chime’s automatic savings plans make it easier for people to save, but the low rate offered by its savings account is a disappointment.

See Also: How to Set Savings Goals and Crush Them Every Single Time

Other Things to Know About Chime Bank

Here are some other things you should know about Chime Bank.

Wide Eligibility

One advantage of Chime Bank is that its accounts are open to almost anyone. Many banks use tools like ChexSystems to check people’s financial history. If you’ve closed an account with a negative balance in the past, many banks won’t let you open a new bank account.

Chime doesn’t use many of these tools, making it a good bank for people who might not be able to open an account at a traditional bank. It calls this its “second Chance Banking” service.

Chime Bank Locations

Since it’s an online bank, Chime bank doesn’t have any physical branch locations. They do, however, boast of more than 38,000 fee-free ATMs. It’s important that the ATMs you visit are either MoneyPass or VisaPlus Alliance in order to benefit from free transactions.

If you prefer visiting your local bank to do banking transactions, then Chime Bank might not be your best option. But if online banking sounds like something you can get onboard with, then you can definitely save more money (and potentially earn more in interest) with Chime.

Chime Bank Customer Service

With an online bank, one of the things you should focus on is its customer service history. There are no branches to visit when you need help, so you’ll be relying on the bank’s customer support tools to get help if you have trouble with your account.

Chime Bank customer service aims to be easy to work with, offering support seven days a week. You can call Chime Monday through Saturday between 7 AM and 7 PM central time. On Sundays, the support line is open from 9 AM to 5 PM central time.

If you’d rather not speak to someone on the phone, you can browse the Chime Bank FAQ page to get answers to common questions or send an email to the customer support team.

Fees

Chime Bank prides itself on being a low-cost bank. It charges very few fees, even for services that many other banks typically charge for. Some common fees that don’t exist at Chime Bank include:

  • Account maintenance fees
  • Overdraft fees
  • Foreign transaction fees
  • Card replacement fees

The one fee that the bank does charge is the out-of-network ATM fee, which is $2.50.

The Chime Bank App

Chime is a mobile-only bank, so it’s understandable to worry about whether you’ll be able to do everything you need to through the bank’s app.

The upside of Chime Bank’s mobile focus is that it is able to dedicate its resources to providing a great mobile experience. You can download Chime’s mobile app for both iOS and Android phones. Both apps are highly rated by users on the App Store and Google Play store.

The app is intuitive, making it easy to view your account balances, make transfers, and interact with your account settings. If you have any trouble using the app, Chime’s support team is a phone call away.

Interest Rates

The biggest downside of Chime Bank is its low interest rates. Most online banks focus on providing great interest rates, but Chime pays a rate that is no better than a brick-and-mortar bank.

Account Interest Rate (APY)
Spending Account 0%
Savings Account .01%

If you’re looking to earn a return on your savings, you should consider another bank.

See Also: CIT Bank Review: The Premier High-Yield Savings Account

Other Services

Chime Bank does not offer any other banking services beyond its checking and savings account. Instead, it focuses on making its checking and savings offerings the best they can be.

If you want to work with a bank that can offer a full suite of services, including lending and investing services, you should consider another bank.

See Also: The Pros and Cons of Online Banking: Here’s What You Should Consider

Chime Bank Review Summary

Chime’s great fee structure and automatic savings tools make it a compelling choice of bank for many people, but other online banks offer similar tools with a wider array of services and better interest rates.

If you’re looking to get started with online banking or need help learning how to save, Chime is a solid choice. If you don’t have trouble saving money regularly, you will be better off with another bank that offers more interest.

1 Comment

BBVA Review: No-Frills Checking, Savings, and CDs

In this BBVA review, we’ll discuss three of the bank’s most popular accounts: checking, savings, and certificates of deposit.

BBVA is a regional bank that operates more than 600 branches across seven states. The majority of the bank’s locations are in Texas, but it also operates in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, and New Mexico.

The bank’s accounts don’t do anything revolutionary, but they tend to offer solid, no-frills services. You won’t get the fanciest features or the highest rates, but your bank accounts will do what you need them to do. The accounts are also low-fee, so you won’t pay much for the privilege of banking with BBVA.

Table of Contents

  • BBVA Review at a Glance
  • BBVA Bank Checking Account
    • Overdraft Fees
  • BBVA Bank Savings Account
  • BBVA CDs
  • Other Things to Know About BBVA Bank
    • BBVA Customer Service
    • BBVA Locations
    • Fees
    • BBVA App
    • Interest Rates
    • BBVA Routing Number
    • Other Services: BBVA Credit Card or Loan
  • BBVA Review Summary

BBVA Review at a Glance

Pros

  • Simple, no-frills accounts
  • Low or no monthly fees
  • User-friendly website and app

Cons

  • Lower interest rates than some competitors
  • Steep overdraft fees

The Bottom Line: BBVA Bank is a good choice for people who live in its service region if you’re looking for simple, low-fee accounts. If you’re the kind of person who wants to optimize and earn the best interest rates available, there are better alternatives.

BBVA Bank Checking Account

BBVA offers three main checking accounts for customers to choose from. The Free Checking Account is exactly what it sounds like.

There’s no monthly fee to keep the account open and you get free access to services like online banking and online bill pay. The only requirement to open the account is a $25 minimum deposit.

The ClearConnect Checking Account is an online-only version of the Free Checking Account. You get all of the same features, plus free withdrawals from any Allpoint ATM.

The Interest Checking Account gives you the chance to earn interest on your checking account balance, but the rate is low enough that it isn’t worth the hassle. There’s a $25 monthly charge to keep the account open, which can only be waived by meeting one of the following requirements:

  • Maintain an average daily balance of $5,000
  • Maintain a combined average daily balance of $25,000 across your checking and money market accounts
  • Enroll in BBVA Premier Personal Banking
  • Be a BBVA Global Wealth Client

In addition to the interest you can earn, you’ll also get two ATM fees refunded each statement and a personalized debit card.

Overdraft Fees

One thing that you should look into when opening any checking account is the overdraft fees that the account might charge.

One of the biggest downsides of BBVA’s checking accounts is their punishing overdraft fees.

Each of the accounts charges a $38 overdraft fee ($32 if you live in California), with a maximum of 6 fees assessed each day. That means you could pay as much as $228 in overdraft fees in a single day.

If you leave your account balance negative for ten consecutive days, you’ll be charged an additional $25 fee, putting you further into the hole.

If you decide to open a BBVA checking account, you should avoid signing up for overdraft services as even a small mistake could result in significant fees being charged to your account. By opting out of the overdraft service, your transactions will simply be declined if you do not have enough money in your account.

BBVA Bank Savings Account

BBVA Bank offers two different savings accounts that you can use to store extra money and build a nest egg.

The ClearChoice Savings Account is a no-frills savings account. You can set up automatic transfers into the account to help your savings grow over time, and you’ll earn some interest in the process.

One thing to watch out for is the $15 quarterly fee. You can avoid this fee by setting up an automatic transfer of at least $25 per month from your checking account to your savings account or by maintaining a minimum daily collected balance of $500 or more.

The ClearConnect Savings Account is an online-focused version of the ClearChoice Savings Account. All the features are the same, but the ClearConnect Savings Account does not carry a quarterly fee, making it a better choice.

Both accounts have a $3 quarterly paper statement fee that can be avoided by signing up for electronic statements. They also both share a $25 minimum deposit requirement.

BBVA CDs

BBVA Bank’s Certificates of Deposit are designed to give you a long-term place to store money and help it grow.

You can choose CDs with terms of 12, 15, 18, or 36 months, giving you the opportunity to get a CD with a term that fits your financial needs.

All four terms require the same $500 minimum deposit.

Unlike BBVA’s other accounts, its CDs offer competitive interest rates. You can find better rates elsewhere, but the difference won’t be as large.

All of BBVA’s CDs are fee-free and they are eligible for up to $250,000 in FDIC insurance, meaning you’ll be protected in the event that the bank closes and you cannot recover your money.

Related: What is a Certificate of Deposit and When Should You Use One?

Other Things to Know About BBVA Bank

While it’s important to know about the specific accounts offered by a bank, you want to get a look at the full picture before you commit to opening an account.

BBVA Customer Service

One of the most important things to think about when you’re choosing a bank is the quality and availability of customer service.

You might not think about it much, but your bank account is an integral part of your life. If you’re suddenly cut off from access to your money, you’ll have trouble buying groceries, paying bills, or handling any number of other essentials tasks.

BBVA is well known for its availability and customer service. Its relatively small number of branches means that you won’t be able to find a location to visit to get help as easily, but the bank has compensated by providing other methods of customer service.

You can use the bank’s website or Twitter to get in touch with BBVA customer service representatives. You can also call in by phone or schedule a time for the bank to call you to provide assistance.

BBVA Locations

This regional bank operates more than 600 BBVA branches across seven states. The majority of the bank’s BBVA locations are in Texas, but it also operates in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, and New Mexico.

Search for BBVA Locations near me.

Fees

We’ve already covered the hefty overdraft fees that you might face if you sign up for overdraft services. Overdraft and monthly account fees are among the most common bank fees you’ll see, but it’s still good to keep in mind other fees that might be charged.

Service Fee
Overdraft Protection Transfer $12
Returned Item $38
Stop Payment $32
Incoming Wire Transfer $15
Cashier’s Check $10
Out of Network ATM $3

BBVA App

Banking these days doesn’t have to be done inside a stodgy old building where you have to wait in line before speaking to a teller. Modern banks offer fully-featured online services that let you view your account balances, make deposits, and do everything that you need to do to manage your account.

BBVA has multiple accounts that are online-only or online-focused. To make sure those accounts offer the best experience possible, BBVA has put effort into developing an easy-to-use, powerful app that you can install on both iOS and Android smartphones.

You can also do your banking from a computer using the bank’s website. If you want to do something a little more complicated than setting up a transfer, having a full computer in front of you rather than just a smartphone might make it easier.

Interest Rates

BBVA falls short of other banks — especially online banks — when it comes to interest rates. The money you keep in your bank accounts should be working for you, but BBVA’s accounts tend to pay poor rates. The only accounts that are really competitive are the money market accounts and the certificates of deposit.

Account Interest Rate (APY)
Free Checking 0%
ClearConnect Checking 0%
ClearChoice Interest Checking .05%
ClearChoice Savings .05%
ClearConnect Savings .05%
ClearChoice Money Market 1.5%
12-month CD 1.5%
15-month CD 1.0%
18-month CD 1.0%
36-month CD 1.0%

Current rates as of January 2020. Please see BBVA website for the most up-to-date information.

If you want to get a better rate on your checking and savings balances, you should consider working with an online bank.

BBVA Routing Number

State Routing Number
Alabama 062001186
Arizona 122105744
California 321170538
Colorado 107005319
Florida 063013924
New Mexico 107000783
Texas 113010547
All other states 062001186

Other Services: BBVA Credit Card or Loan

When you open a bank account, you should think about more than just the account that you’re opening. Look at the other services that the bank offers.

Can you get a loan if you need one? Are there any benefits for account holders who want to get a mortgage? Keeping all of your finances at one bank can make managing your money much easier, so it’s worth considering when comparing accounts.

The good news for people interested in BBVA is that the bank offers a full suite of personal banking services. You can get a BBVA credit card, BBVA auto loan, student loan, personal loan, or mortgage through the bank. You can also work with the bank to manage your investments, helping you save for larger goals such as retirement.

If you want to do all of your banking in one place, BBVA isn’t a bad choice of bank. For more information, check out some BBVA credit card reviews.

BBVA Review Summary

BBVA Bank is a possible choice for people who live near its network of branches. For the most part, it offers no-frills, low-fee accounts. The high overdraft fee is of some concern, but it can be avoided through careful management of your money.

If you’re looking for better interest rates and potentially lower fees, consider working with an online bank. Online banks tend to offer the best rates and lowest fees due to their lower operating costs.

0 Comments

Ally Bank Review: One of the Best Online Savings Accounts Around

In this Ally Bank review, we’re going to cover the pros and cons of Ally’s four main banking products: 

  • Online checking
  • Online savings
  • Certificates of Deposit
  • Money market accounts

Banks have never been the most exciting businesses to run or work with. Everyone needs a bank account, but it’s hard to tell the difference between two banks.

One thing that has made the banking world more exciting in recent years is the rise of online banking. Where before you had to physically visit a bank to deposit money, make a withdrawal, or set up transfers, online banks put that power in the palm of your hand.

Even better, online banks are much cheaper to run than traditional brick-and-mortar operations. While many banks nickel and dime their customers to squeeze out extra profit, online banks are able to offer low fees and great rates while making enough to keep operating.

The combination of their convenience and low cost makes online banks the way to go, especially if you’re tech-savvy.

Ally Bank is one of the best-known online banks, and it offers some of the best online banking products on the market. You can easily do all of your banking, borrowing, and investing through Ally, no problem. Still, you want to know all the details before you commit.

Table of Contents

  • Ally Bank Review at a Glance
  • What is Ally Bank?
  • Interest Checking Ally Bank Account
    • APY
    • No Maintenance Fees or Minimum Balance
    • ATM Fee Refunds
    • No Fees for Checks
  • Online Savings Ally Bank Account
    • APY
    • No Maintenance Fees or Minimum Balance
  • Ally Bank CD Rates and Types
    • APY
    • FDIC Insured
  • Money Market Account
    • APY
    • No Maintenance Fees
  • Ally Bank FAQs
    • Is Ally Bank Safe?
    • What Other Services Does Ally Bank Offer?
  • Ally Bank Review Conclusion

Ally Bank Review at a Glance

Pros

  • Great interest rates. You’ll be hard-pressed to earn more elsewhere.
  • No or low fees. You can easily do all of your banking for free with Ally.
  • Easy access to your money. $10 in ATM fee waivers each statement makes it easy to use any ATM you want.
  • Great customer service. You can reach Ally by phone or email 24 hours a day.

Cons

  • No physical branches. If you like visiting your bank and speaking to people face-to-face, look for a more traditional bank.
  • Some products are unnecessary. For example, the No Penalty CD is generally inferior to the Online Savings account. The only time it would be better is if there is a huge drop in interest rates, which is uncommon.

Best for: Ally Bank is a great fit for almost anyone. However, if you prefer to do your banking in person, you’ll either need to look elsewhere or open another account with a local bank.

What is Ally Bank?

Ally Bank was originally founded by General Motors back in 1919 as General Motors Acceptance Corporation. It got its start offering car loans to customers, and it continues to offer those loans to customers today.

In 2010, GMAC re-branded as Ally and became a fully online bank, offering banking products, home and auto loans, credit cards, and a wealth management and brokerage platform.

In short, the company has nearly a century of experience in providing banking services, so you can rest easy knowing that many satisfied customers have come before you.

Interest Checking Ally Bank Account

Everyone needs a checking account. Ally Bank’s aim is to be a full-service banking operation, so it offers its own interest checking account.

APY

Unlike most brick-and-mortar banks, which barely pay interest on savings account balances, Ally Bank pays interest even on the money in your checking account. While the rate is nothing to write home about, it’s exciting to get paid to have a checking account instead of the other way around.

You can earn an increased rate if you keep at least $15,000 in your Ally checking account. However, the Ally Bank online savings account pays far more interest, so it makes more sense to keep your extra cash in a linked savings account to maximize your interest earnings.

No Maintenance Fees or Minimum Balance

One of the most important aspects of a bank account is its maintenance fee. You should never pay a bank a fee for the privilege of storing your money. Banks should pay you because they use your deposits to finance their other activities.

Ally is true to this ideal, not charging any monthly maintenance fees and not forcing you to jump through hoops to avoid penalties.

Even better, there’s no minimum balance required to open the account or keep it open.

ATM Fee Refunds

If you like to pay with cash, you probably visit ATMs on a regular basis. The trouble with ATMs is that many of them charge fees when you use them.

Ally offers up to $10 in ATM fee reimbursement per statement cycle. That means you can use any ATM you’d like without having to worry about paying to access your funds.

No Fees for Checks

Most payments nowadays are made online. However, there are still certain occasions when paper checks are the best (or only) option. Ally offers free checks to its customers, so you don’t have to pay for a checkbook you’ll hardly ever use.

Online Savings Ally Bank Account

The purpose of a savings account is to keep your money safe and, ideally, earn some interest in the process. Ally’s Online Savings Account accomplishes both.

APY

These days, most brick-and-mortar banks offer around .1% interest on your savings account deposits. Some banks pay as little as .01%, which might as well be nothing at all.

One of the hallmarks of online banks is their high interest rates on deposits. Ally is no different, offering rates ten, twenty, or fifty times higher than brick-and-mortar banks.

Interest rates are constantly changing, so you’re best off visiting Ally’s site to get the most recent rates.

No Maintenance Fees or Minimum Balance

As I mentioned before, you should never pay a bank for the privilege of keeping your money in an account. Ally charges no monthly maintenance fees for its savings account.

Ally Bank CD Rates and Types

Certificates of deposit are long-term savings vehicles that let you sacrifice some flexibility for increased interest rates.

Ally offers three types of CDs: the High Yield CD, the Raise Your Rate CD, and the No Penalty CD:

High Yield CD: a standard certificate of deposit with terms from 3 to 60 months.

Raise Your Rate CD: 2- and 4-year terms. You’ll also have the opportunity to increase your rate over the course of your term period if your balance tier goes up.

No Penalty CD: 11-month term. You can make a withdrawal at any time, penalty-free, and keep your accumulated interest.

APY

Ally Bank CD rates, other than the No Penalty CD, are higher than its online savings account. If you’re able to commit your money and want to earn the extra interest, then consider opening a CD account.

There’s little reason to open a No Penalty CD, however. It functions more like a savings account than a CD, but it pays a lower rate, so you get no benefit from opening the account.

FDIC Insured

Like savings and checking accounts, all of Ally Bank’s CDs are protected by the FDIC. They offer a great way to earn a bit more interest while keeping your money safe.

Related: How to Invest: A Beginner’s Guide to Investing in the Stock Market

Money Market Account

Allly Bank’s money market accounts combine the interest rates of savings accounts with the flexibility of checking accounts.

The main difference between Ally’s checking and money market accounts is the way you access your money. With a money market account, you can use a debit card and checks to pay for purchases from your account.

APY

Ally’s money market account offers three rate tiers based on the balance in your money market accounts. The rates tiers are:

  • Less than $5,000
  • $5,000 – $24,999.99
  • More than $25,000

Regardless of your balance, you’ll earn a much lower rate than you would earn from an Ally Bank Online Savings Account. If you want to maximize your interest earnings, you should open separate checking and savings accounts.

No Maintenance Fees

If you do decide to open a money market account, you can rest easy knowing that there are no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balances.

Ally Bank FAQs

We’ve covered the main benefits of Ally’s primary banking products. Now let’s take a look at some of the most common questions you might still be asking.

Is Ally Bank Safe?

One of the first things you want to know about your bank is whether it’s a safe place to keep your money. You can rest assured that Ally Bank is just as safe as any other bank in the United States.

FDIC Insurance

Ally is insured by the FDIC up to the $250,000 maximum allowed by law. If Ally goes under, you’ll be reimbursed for the amount you lost, up to $250,000.

Protection from Hackers

As an online bank, it’s understandable that you’d be worried that Ally could be susceptible to cyber attacks, putting your money at risk.

Ally uses all of the latest standards in online data safety, including encryption, multi-factor authentication, and automatic account monitoring for fraud.

What Other Services Does Ally Bank Offer?

Ally offers a wide variety of other banking services, making it possible to manage your entire financial life with a single bank. Some of the services offered by Ally Bank are:

  • Credit cards
  • Auto lending
  • Home lending
  • Home refinancing
  • No-Fee Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
  • Self-directed investing
  • Professionally managed investment portfolios
  • Foreign exchange trading

Ally generally has low fees for all its banking products and service. While its best services are in the world of banking and lending, the convenience factor of having your investments with the same institution is worth considering.

Ally Bank Review Conclusion

Overall, I would highly recommend working with Ally Bank. It offers high rates, low fees, an easy-to-use app, and great customer service.

There’s not much that can go wrong if you bank with Ally.

0 Comments

Best Online Savings Accounts in January 2020

Online banks — especially online savings accounts —  have become increasingly popular over the past few years.

According to a recent Statista report, the number of online banking customers in the U.S. rose by nearly 24 million from 2014 to 2018. That number is projected to increase even more in the coming years.

So, what is it about online banks that have customers signing up in droves? Great benefits and high interest rates.

» Jump straight to our savings account ratings.

Benefits of Online Banking

1. Higher interest rates: Online banks have lower overhead (since they have no physical branches, bank tellers, etc.). Having fewer expenses typically means that online banks are able to offer significantly higher APYs to customers than traditional brick-and-mortar banks.

2. Lower fees: Another perk of lower overhead is that online banks aren’t forced to nickel and dime their customers by hitting them with extraneous fees.

3. Convenience: Driving around town to find a branch location for your bank, only to find that they close at 5 o’clock and aren’t open on weekends, is a pain. Many online banks are open 24/7, and you can access everything you need from your smartphone or computer.

High-Yield Online Savings Accounts in January

DollarSprout Reviews: Banks with the Best Savings Accounts

While a high interest rate is great, it’s not the only variable we take into consideration when determining who has the best online savings accounts. Fees, customer service, locations, and more, can all impact your banking experience, and potentially even lower returns. If you’re stuck between two banks with seemingly good savings accounts, check out our bank and credit union reviews. We look at dozens of variables to help you determine which bank best fits your needs. Here’s our methodology.

CIT Bank 1.80% APY (tiered) – By rewarding people who actively add to their savings, the CIT Bank Savings Builder Account helps people build their savings account’s balance while building good saving habits, giving it a strong leg up on the competition.

»Read DollarSprout’s CIT Bank review

Discover Bank 1.70% APY – If you’re not sure about online banking, using a reputable, established company like Discover Bank should offer some peace of mind. Zero-fee savings, checking and money market products, along with industry leading interest rates, make Discover Bank a great option for online banking.

»Read DollarSprout’s Discover Bank review

Synchrony Bank 1.80% APY – Similar to other banks on this list, Synchrony Bank offers an annual percentage yield that is significantly higher than the national average. If you are looking for a high yield account to grow your savings, but also want ATM access to your funds, Synchrony is worth looking into.

»Read DollarSprout’s Synchrony Bank review

Ally Bank 1.60% APY Ally offers high rates, low fees, an easy-to-use app, and great customer service. $10 in ATM fee waivers each statement makes it easy to use any ATM you want, and their 24/7 customer support more than compensates for the lack of physical branches.

»Read DollarSprout’s Ally Bank review

Barclays Bank – 1.70% APY – Barclays has no physical branches in the United States, but makes up for it with a very competitive annual percentage yield. There are no monthly fees and no minimum balance you must maintain.

»Read DollarSprout’s Barclays Bank review

Other Banks with Top Rates:

  • MySavingsDirect – 1.90% APY
  • CIBC Bank USA – 1.85% APY
  • Citizens Access – 1.85% APY
  • PurePoint – 1.80% APY
  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs – 1.70% APY
  • American Express National Bank – 1.70% APY

How to Open a New Online Savings Account

1. Get Your Documents Together

In particular, you may need these documents:

  • Social Security Number or Social Security Card
  • Driver’s License Number or Driver’s License (or other state-issued ID)

If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you may also need to scan and send in your immigration papers.

2. Research and Choose an Online Bank

You can’t go wrong with any of the banks featured on this page. They are all FDIC insured and they all offer great Annual Percentage Yields (APYs), so find one that suits you and move forward.

3. Complete Your Application

You’ll need to provide the documentation you gathered earlier in this step as well as details about yourself such as your name, address, and phone number. If you’re applying with a credit union, you’ll need to provide proof that you meet the membership criteria.

Some banks require you to mail in a page with your signature on it so they know what it looks like. You may have to print out and mail in a form or wait for them to send you a form with a stamped envelope to mail back. This can take a few days to process, so keep this in mind if you’re looking for a bank account you can open and start using quickly.

4. Fund Your Account

The last step is to make an opening deposit. The easiest way to do this is by linking your current bank account by providing your new bank with the necessary routing and account numbers.

Some banks will make a small test deposit of $1.00 or less into your account to verify that you actually do own the account. If this happens, you’ll then need to go back to your new bank and report the exact amount of the deposits to confirm the link between the two accounts.

From there, you can deposit as little or as much as you want into the new account and close your old one if you wish.

Online Savings Account FAQs

How Do Savings Accounts Work?

If you need a safe, reliable place to store and save your money, an online savings account might be a perfect solution. A savings account acts as a secure way to store your hard-earned cash while you gain interest on the deposit that you place into the savings account. The best savings accounts are those with high minimum deposits and higher interest rates so that the returned earnings are higher. Traditionally, savings accounts are some of the safest ways to earn income, though the saving accounts that your parents may have signed you up for are probably not the best high-yield savings if you are looking to build wealth.

You store your money and earn a little interest as time goes on. And by little, we do mean little. Don’t expect anything more than .01-1% annual returns at most major banks. Online banks allow for higher returns, around 2% or a little more, but the intent here is to have a fund of money that you intend to keep for safeguarding and not use as a central place for your investments. It’s simple and secure, and you can easily track your savings as you continue to make deposits and build up your wealth.

However, unlike a checking account, a savings account isn’t something that interacts with your daily cash flow and balances. The comparison between a checking vs savings account is simple, one is for daily use and the other is not. In the same way, you would not give and take from a piggy bank. You are not allowed – or supposed to – have daily interaction with your savings account. Instead, you store it away to accrue wealth, save for something, or establish some sort of savings fund.

Are There Drawbacks to Online Savings Accounts?

As you might expect, banking entirely online isn’t without some limitations. Here are the most common:

1. Getting cash can be difficult: If you regularly deposit and withdraw cash from your bank account, you might find online banking inconvenient. Because there are no physical branches, it’s not possible to walk into the bank and deposit cash. Some online banks belong to ATM networks, but these ATMs may be harder to find than major banks’ ATMs.

2. Less personal service: Of course, online banks typically have a customer service hotline or online chat service. But with online banks, you don’t have the option of walking into a branch and sitting down face-to-face with a banker.

You can read more about the pros and cons of online banking here.

Choose the Account That Fits Your Needs

Finding the best online savings account doesn’t do much good if you aren’t committed to making saving money a habit.

If you aren’t ready to fully commit to online banking, you may want to consider a hybrid approach.

For example, you can use an online bank for most of your everyday banking needs but still keep a small savings or checking account at a local bank or credit union for when you need access to cash or in-person banking services.

The good news is that no matter what your preferences are, there’s a banking style out there that’s right for you.

How DollarSprout Rates Online Savings Accounts

The Editorial Team at DollarSprout looks at multiple factors when determining a 1-5 star rating for online savings accounts. Here are the most important factors that weigh into our ratings:

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)
  • Fees, and the likelihood that a user will incur them
  • Account balance requirements
  • Customer service
  • Mobile app reviews

For savings accounts in particular, APY and fees play a heavier role in our ratings than other factors because they directly affect your bottom line. For other product categories (such as checking accounts, for instance), we may place an emphasis on other factors when determining a rating.

The star ratings are broken down into half-star increments, with 1 star being poor and 5 stars being excellent.

0 Comments

How to Get a Personal Loan and Where to Find One

If you need to buy a car, you take out an auto loan. If you want to buy a house, you get a mortgage.

But what if you need something more specific, like money for your wedding or for a home repair? You can take out a personal loan.

Personal loans can help take care of an unexpected expense like a car repair, pay for a home improvement project, or an outstanding medical bill.

If you have multiple outstanding credit card balances, you can also use a personal loan to consolidate them into one affordable payment. With a personal loan, you can pay for essentially anything.

A personal loan lets you borrow money in a lump sum at a fixed rate. You repay the money in installments over a period of time, usually between two and five years. Taking out a personal loan is usually cheaper than using a credit card.

9 Steps to Get a Personal Loan

Getting a personal loan is a fairly straightforward process. If you’ve applied for other types of loans, the steps will look familiar.

1. Decide Between a Secured or Unsecured Loan

The first step to getting a personal loan is to decide whether you’re interested in a secured or unsecured loan. To get a secured loan, you’ll need to offer an asset you own as collateral. If you default on your loan, the lender will take your asset. The asset can be your house, car, or another valuable item.

A secured loan can give the chance to borrow more money at a lower interest rate because the collateral makes lenders feel more confident they’ll get their money back if you stop making payments.

An unsecured loan, on the other hand, doesn’t involve any collateral and comes with a quicker application process. It’s more difficult to qualify for than a secured loan, so it may not be an option if you don’t have the best credit.

Related: How to Get Out of Debt: A Step-by-Step Guide

2. Assess Your Creditworthiness

Your creditworthiness describes how responsible you are with loans and how likely you are to repay your loan. When lenders consider you for a personal loan, they’ll look at your credit report to figure out whether you’re a responsible or risky borrower.

It’s a good idea to get a free credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion — before applying for a loan.

If you have subpar credit, you may want to focus on improving your credit by doing things like paying your bills on time and lowering your total credit use before applying for a personal loan. This way, you can increase your chances of landing a favorable interest rate and terms.

3. Compare Rates Online

Interest rates vary from lender to lender. Look at several different lenders including banks, credit unions, and online-only lenders to find out what kinds of rates they’re offering. Comparing rates online can reduce your risk of overpaying for a personal loan.

4. Get Pre-Qualified

Once you’ve found the right lender, you’ll need to go through the pre-qualification process. While the exact steps to prequalify will depend on the lender, most lenders require you to apply online, in person, or via phone.

They’ll ask for personal information such as your name, address, income, employment details, and the amount you want to borrow. After the lender has reviewed your application, they’ll send you some loan options.

5. Look for the Best Deal

Don’t make the mistake of pre-qualifying with just one lender. By pre-qualifying with several different lenders, you can compare all of your options and find the best deal available to you.

Looking for the best deal can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the road. Don’t forget to look at online-only lenders who may have better rates and lower fees.

Related: Should You Pay Off Debt or Save Money? Here’s How to Decide

6. Know the Alternatives to a Personal Loan

Although a personal loan may make sense for your situation, you should know your alternatives before pursuing one. A 0% APR credit card can be beneficial if you need access to quick cash and are confident that you’ll be able to repay it on time and in full. These offers are usually only available to people with excellent credit.

You may also look into a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, where you can get a revolving credit line that’s secured by your home. A HELOC may have a lower interest rate because the home is used as collateral. If your home has equity and you know you’ll be able to pay off your loan and avoid foreclosure, this may be a good choice.

Consider getting a co-signer if you don’t qualify for a loan on your own.

7. Understand Your Offers

Take the time to really understand all the personal loan offers you get. While it’s important to look at interest rates, monthly payments, and terms, it’s just as crucial to compare fees, payment options, and other important details.

One offer may have the lowest interest rate and seem like the best option, but it may have a higher APR or charge a prepayment penalty. Understanding the ins and outs of each offer can help you avoid unwanted surprises later on.

Related: How to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage and When to Start Trying

8. Submit Your Application

When you’ve decided on a lender and offer, it’s time to officially submit your application online, in person, or via phone. You’ll need to submit some documents, so gather those in advance to expedite the process. These documents may include tax returns, recent pay stubs, and a valid ID.

When you submit your application, the lender will likely perform a hard credit inquiry, which can affect your credit score. To avoid lowering your score too much, try not to apply for too many personal loans at once.

Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll need to wait for a decision from the lender. While some lenders guarantee same-day decisions, others take a few business days or longer to get back to prospective borrowers.

9. Accept Your Loan

You’ll have a few business days to accept the loan after you’ve been approved. When you accept the loan, find out when the first payment is due. Consider setting up automatic payments from your checking account.

Automatic payments can reduce your risk of forgetting to pay on time and can even land you some great discounts on your interest rate. If possible, add extra payments to your loan each month. This can save you money on interest and help pay off your loan early.

A Personal Loan Can Save You Money

As long as you take the time to find the best offer and lender, a personal loan can be a great way to cover your expenses or make large purchases without breaking the bank. If you make payments on time, you can even improve your credit score in the process.

0 Comments

Best Money Market Accounts in 2020

Think of a money market account (MMA) as a blend between a checking and a savings account.

MMAs typically offer a higher interest rate than traditional savings accounts, and, depending on the bank, will allow quick access to funds via check writing, electronic funds transfer (EFT), and/or debit card or ATM withdrawals. We’ve found the best money market rates that are available on the market, which are outlined below. 

Best Money Market Rates in December 2019

Interested in seeing how these rates compare to online savings accounts? See our roundup of best online savings account here.

Money Market Accounts vs. Other Account Types

Here are the key differences between MMAs, savings, and checking accounts:

Account Type Interest Rate Key Features
Money Market Account (MMA) High You can write checks or make debit card purchases on the account, up to 6 times a month. This is the key difference between an MMA and savings or checking account. Depending on account, you could get a higher interest than a normal savings account. Some online banks will have savings accounts that are competitive with MMAs.
Savings Account High Online-only banks usually have very high interest rates (and are sometimes higher than money market accounts, depending on the bank). You cannot make purchases directly from a savings accounts, but you can quickly transfer money from a savings to a checking account.
Checking Account Very low, or zero This is your everyday spending account, which is usually linked to a debit card. A checking account is not designed to be a place to amass significant savings. Most checking accounts offer no interest, so your money will not grow.

Before you open a money market account, make sure you at least have a checking account. A checking account is a basic necessity that everyone should have before they consider opening any other banking or investing account types.

Money Market Accounts (MMAs) at a Glance

  • Usually, have higher interest rates than traditional savings or checking accounts
  • May have higher minimum opening balances and maintenance balances
  • Ability to withdraw up to six times per month
  • May have fees for excess withdrawals or falling below minimums

Deposits and interest payments held in MMAs at FDIC-insured banks are covered by FDIC insurance. This means that if the bank fails for any reason, the federal government will reimburse your account balance (up to $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank, per ownership category). MMAs held at credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration, which is the equivalent of FDIC insurance for banks.

When to Consider Opening a Money Market Account

There are several instances where opening a money market account makes sense:

Saving up for a down payment:  When you are putting money away to save towards a house, the combination of high interest, liquidity, and stability that comes with a money market account is ideal. 

A place to park your emergency fund: Experts recommend having 3-6 months of living expenses saved up and tucked away in case something unexpected happens (ie, job loss, pay cut, car repairs, etc). A money market account provides quick access to your money and an appealing interest rate, which makes it perfect for an emergency fund.

Sinking funds for planned, irregular expenses: A sinking fund is used for any expense that you know is coming. Think of things like insurance payments, property taxes, vacations, holiday shopping, back-to-school shopping, etc. 

What’s the Average Interest Rate for Money Market Accounts?

At the time of this writing, the national average annual percentage yield (APY) for money market accounts is 0.24%. This is according to a weekly survey of institutions done by Bankrate.

Despite the low national average, there are many banks that offer nearly ten times that much interest. Don’t just automatically sign up for your current bank’s MMA; be sure to shop around to make sure you are getting the best rate possible.

Keep in mind that interest rates can fluctuate often, which can increase or decrease your returns.

How DollarSprout Rates Money Market Accounts

The Editorial Team at DollarSprout looks at multiple factors when determining a 1-5 star rating for online savings accounts. Here are the most important factors that weigh into our ratings:

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)
  • Fees, and the likelihood that a user will incur them
  • Account balance requirements
  • Customer service
  • Mobile app reviews

For money market accounts in particular, APY and fees play a heavier role in our ratings than other factors because they directly affect your bottom line. For other product categories (such as checking accounts, for instance), we may place an emphasis on other factors when determining a rating.

The star ratings are broken down into half-star increments, with 1 star being poor and 5 stars being excellent.

0 Comments

How to Open a Bank Account Online the Easy Way: A Step-by-Step Guide

Banking has come a long way since the days of our parents.

These days, thanks to the online banking revolution, banking tasks are much easier to manage.

After all, two-thirds of Americans do most of their banking online, according to one American Banking Association survey.

To start saving time with online banking, you’ll first need to open up a bank account online. If you’ve never done it before, it’s a lot easier than you might think.

Table of Contents

  • What Does it Mean to Bank Online?
  • Where to Open an Online Bank Account
    • Check if Your Local Banks Offer Online Banking
    • CIT Bank
    • Discover Bank
    • BBVA
  • How to Open a Bank Account Online in 5 Easy Steps
    • 1. Gather Your Information
    • 2. Research and Choose an Online Bank
    • 3. Choose Your Account
    • 4. Complete Your Application
    • 5. Fund Your Account
  • FAQs About Opening a Bank Account Online
    • Are There Any Free Bank Accounts Online?
    • Can You Open a Bank Account Online with No Deposit?
    • Can You Open a Bank Account Without a Photo ID?
  • Opening an Online Bank Account is Easy

What Does it Mean to Bank Online?

Online banking is a style of bank account management in which you can complete almost all banking activities online. By banking online, you can open your account, transfer money between accounts, send money to friends and family, and pay bills — all from your phone or computer.

Banks that offer online banking can be entirely online. In other words, there are no physical branches that you can visit. Other types of banks offer both options, where you may be able to visit a branch location and conduct your business online, depending on what is most convenient for you.

It’s important to note that if you choose an online-only bank with no physical branches, you may be limited in your ability to use cash. With these banks, you may not be able to withdraw or deposit cash at all, unless you use an ATM.

Furthermore, many online banks only allow you to withdraw cash at an ATM but don’t accept cash deposits, even at special deposit-accepting ATMs.

Related: How Many Bank Accounts Should I Have? At Least These 3

Where to Open an Online Bank Account

Fortunately, there are many options for places to open an online bank account.

Check if Your Local Banks Offer Online Banking

The first option is to check with your current bank to see if they offer online banking. These days, most banks offer this option, with the exception of small banks and credit unions.

Start with your bank’s website. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, give them a call and ask what the process is like for current members to set up online banking.

CIT Bank

CIT Bank offers great rates on its savings accounts. If you’re interested in opening an account here, you can do it entirely online.

You’ll need to provide your Social Security Number and your driver’s license number (or other state ID number). Finally, to make an opening deposit, you’ll also need to write yourself a check from your current bank account or provide your routing and account numbers to fund your initial deposit.

Related: CIT Bank Review 2019

Discover Bank

Discover Bank also offers some great high-yield accounts you can open entirely online.

The process for opening an account at Discover Bank is simple. Again, you’ll need to provide details like your Social Security Number, name, email, etc. Discover Bank’s savings account has no minimum deposit requirements, so you don’t need to transfer any money to fund your account right away.

Related: Discover Bank Review 2019

BBVA

BBVA takes it a step further than some other banks by offering a Consumer Switch Kit. This kit helps you completely switch banks, including setting up direct deposit to your new bank account and checking to make sure all your financial information points to your new bank.

Related: BBVA Review: No-Frills Checking, Savings, and CDs

 

How to Open a Bank Account Online in 5 Easy Steps

Opening a bank account online is often easier than doing it in person. After all, how many times have you gone to apply for something in person and forgotten a key document you need?

With online banking, you don’t have to worry about that because you apply right from the comfort of your home.

1. Gather Your Information

Banks are required by law to verify your identity. The easiest way to do this is by checking your government-issued identification.

It’s handy to have a scanner or scanner app handy, since you may be required to scan the entire document. In other cases, the bank will only ask for the identification number. In particular, you may need these documents:

  • Social Security Number or Social Security Card
  • Driver’s License Number or Driver’s License (or other state-issued ID)

If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you may also need to scan and send in your immigration papers.

2. Research and Choose an Online Bank

The next step is to find a bank you’d like to open an account with.

If you’re happy with your current bank, you can check with them to see if they offer online banking. That way you won’t need to open a new account. If your current bank doesn’t offer an online option or you’re not satisfied with the products and services, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from.

Try searching for banks according to what’s most important for you. For instance, maybe you prefer the highest-rated banks for customer service or the banks that have the highest APY on savings accounts.

3. Choose Your Account

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a particular bank, it’s time to choose what accounts you want to open.

Most banks require customers to open one savings account at a minimum. If you choose a credit union, you’ll need to make a small deposit in a savings account to establish your membership before you can open any other account types.

You may also want to consider opening a checking account if this will be your main bank. If you’re saving for long-term goals, consider a money market account and/or a certificate of deposit.

Related: Checking vs. Savings Account: What’s the Difference?

4. Complete Your Application

Now it’s time to actually apply for these accounts. You can usually apply for all of your chosen accounts at the same time rather than completing a separate application for each account.

You’ll need to provide the documentation you gathered earlier in this step as well as details about yourself such as your name, address, and phone number. If you’re applying with a credit union, you’ll need to provide proof that you meet the membership criteria.

Some banks require you to mail in a page with your signature on it so they know what it looks like. You may have to print out and mail in a form or wait for them to send you a form with a stamped envelope to mail back. This can take a few days to process, so keep this in mind if you’re looking for a bank account you can open and start using quickly.

5. Fund Your Account

The last step is to make an opening deposit. The easiest way to do this is by linking your current bank account by providing your new bank with the necessary routing and account numbers.

Some banks will make a small test deposit of $1.00 or less into your account to verify that you actually do own the account. If this happens, you’ll then need to go back to your new bank and report the exact amount of the deposits to confirm the link between the two accounts.

From there, you can deposit as little or as much as you want into the new account and close your old one if you wish.

Related: Radius Bank Savings Account Review: Is It Really All That Good?

FAQs About Opening a Bank Account Online

Here are the answers to some popular questions that come up regarding banking online.

Are There Any Free Bank Accounts Online?

Yes, there are many free bank accounts available. You’ll need to be careful to read the fine print though so you understand exactly what fees are involved. You can find all of the information you need in the bank’s Schedule of Fees or Truth-In-Savings Disclosure.

For example, some banks don’t charge any fees at all and are thus truly fee-free. Other banks advertise as being “free” because they don’t charge a monthly fee. However, they may come with other fees such as overdraft charges or inactivity fees.

Can You Open a Bank Account Online with No Deposit?

This depends on the bank’s policies. Some bank accounts have minimum opening deposit requirements while other banks have no minimum requirements at all.

The best way to know is by contacting the bank or reading through the fine print.

Can You Open a Bank Account Without a Photo ID?

You’ll be hard pressed to find a bank that doesn’t require a photo ID. In fact, most banks require two forms of ID in order to open a bank account online or in person.

Opening an Online Bank Account is Easy

The internet has made many everyday activities easier, and opening a new bank account is no exception. As long as you have the right documents in place and a way to scan them, opening a bank account online shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of your time.

Best of all, you only have to do it once and you’ll be all set with your new online bank.

0 Comments