Presidential Bank Internet Plus Checking Review

[Update: This review still applies, but the rates are a bit old. Currently rates for this account can be found here. As of 4/3/06, it is 4.37% APY.]

Since Presidential Online Bank offers a great product, their Internet Plus Checking, but hasn’t had a great amount of publicity (and they don’t seem to have an active advertising campaign either, unlike Capital One 360 or Emigrant Direct), I thought I’d give a review. I’ve been with them for over a year and a half now.

First, some facts: This is an online checking account, and Presidential Bank is FDIC Insured since 1985, so it’s legit. Their Internet Plus Checking account requires a minimum of $1500 to open, and a minimum balance of $1,000 to avoid a $5 monthly service fee. More importantly, it also requires a monthly direct deposit of $200 per month from “payroll, annuity, pension, or a business account.”. They actually check this, so a transfer from PayPal, VirtualBank, etc. won’t work. I realize the preceding has already turned away some people. Did I mention that it also offers 3.25% APY on an account with unlimited checkwriting abilities, free initial checks, ATM access, and free online Bill Pay?

Ok, if you’re still interested, read on.

Application (from when I did it in late 2003)
Presidential does pull a “hard” credit inquiry on your credit report for some reason (with Equifax only for me). I thought about contesting this with the credit bureaus, but didn’t, since they really aren’t extending any credit to me. Otherwise, it’s the usual name, address, SSN info.

Features
3.25% APY on balances up to $25k, and 2.0% for anything over that.
Free online access & Bill Pay
Free initial checks
Free nationwide ATM access (other banks may charge fees for their ATMs)
Free return of cancelled checks
They say they also offer check images, but I’m not getting them. I haven’t asked either.

Thoughts
Yes, their website design leaves much to be desired. Ok, it’s a bit hokey. Don’t worry. The site is secure, their online interface is simple and it works. Most importantly, Presidential Bank has delivered on all their promises, except for maybe the check images thing – I think that’s a new feature and may not be activated with my account. They pay a constantly competitive interest rate, every month, on time. I transfer money easily between my accounts via VirtualBank.

If online banks like Capital One 360 make you a bit uncomfortable, this checking account makes things a bit better, as you can write checks whenever, and access your money at any ATM (find one that doesn’t charge you, like a Washington Mutual one).

Overall, I like Presidential because they seem to have a “small bank feel”. Every time I’ve called their customer service phone number (800-383-6266) I’ve gotten a real human being within 5 minutes or so. No complicated phone tree or crazy-long hold times. My issues have also been resolved promptly. They are the only bank I have that mails me a paper statement with my cancelled checks, even after Check21 passed.

I use their online Bill Pay constantly, it lets you schedule ahead of time what day the payment will post, so you can make payments closer to the due date without potentially forgetting. Why pay your thousand dollar bill right away when you can earn interest on it?

Overall, I’m very happy with Presidential Bank, FSB and would recommend it to anyone who can meet their relatively stringent requirements. I even recently opened another account with them, their 3.5% APY Premier Savings account.

Comments

  1. Aditya Mishra says:

    One more point in favor of Presidential Bill
    payment system is that you have to tell them the due date for bill and they automatically work out when to mail payment.
    Many other bill payers want you to schedule payment a few days in advance at your risk.

  2. Sounds like a great bank. I’m a BoA customer now, but I don’t get any interest. Can you download statement information to MS Money?

  3. You haven’t seen barebones until you’ve seen Emigrant Direct… take all the apprehensions one would have about ING and then make a practically text interface. Plus, take the fact that ED’s history isn’t entirely accurate (when you make a withdrawal, when it’s processing it disappears from all screens online, then your account’s balance drops, it’s freaking scary).

  4. Good question Sam, I forgot to mention that. Presidential Bank sync’s fine with Microsoft Money 2005. It also allows downloading transactions in .qif form, which works with Money 04/05 and Quicken 04. It DOES NOT work with Quicken 2005. AT ALL. You can’t download your transactions let alone sync. Only way is to input every transaction manually.

    Please see my post on Quicken’s Dirty Little Secret for why.

  5. Does Presidential Bank offer any cash bonuses via referrals or anything? I’d like to open an account and see if it’s worth transferring from BofA.

  6. Sam Le – Yes, you can download into OFX format for MS Money, QIF format for Quicken Pre-2005, and CSV generic format.

    Mike – Sorry, no bonuses that I’m aware of.

    Update: Now at 3.75% APY.

  7. I know this is an old review, but I’ve been looking at Presidential for checking, and the one thing I can’t figure out is if they offer a debit card or Visa/Mastercard check card as opposed to just an ATM card.

    I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t these days, but they don’t mention it anywhere that I’ve looked on the site.

  8. Beth,

    Yes, they do offer a debit card, but you have to apply separately and it will take 90 days of being their customer before your application is accepted.

    http://www.presidential.com/on.....tmvisa.htm

  9. Hi,
    With Presidential, how do you transfer money between your different bank accounts if they don’t do ACH (they say only wire transfers for which my other institutions charge)? Do you just send checks snailmail?
    Thanks.

  10. Their ATM’s are part of the STAR and Cirus network but if I use an ATM on this network that is not a Presidential Bank ATM would I get charged by the ATM?

  11. Presidential Bank Rocks!

  12. If you have WAWA near you, free ATM all the way with Presidential. You don’t need to open an account with another bank like BOA to get free ATM.

  13. For anyone living in CT, LIBERTY Bank has an ABSOLUTELY NO FEE ATM card. Use the card any ANY Bank’s ATM….no charge from Liberty Bank, and to sweeten the deal, Liberty Bank credits your checking account for the fee another bank may charge for use of their ATM…..and they don’t set a limit for ATM use…..my daughter who uses her ATM card frequently says she racked up $9 in fees last month and feels a little guilty about it…….

  14. How many of you budget minded, penny pinching, nickle squeezing died in the wool frugaliers took advantage of BofA’s “keep the change” program? I hope you all maxed out on that one as did I.
    How it worked….make a purchase with your debit card and the charge is rounded up to the next dollar amount. The over-charge is then deposited to your savings account, with BofA depositing a matching amount. Example: You make a purch $1.50 using your debit card. $2.00 is deducted from your chking acct with 50? going to your sav acct, plus 50? more from BOA. Hint make purchases of $1.01….such a deal !!

  15. Paul,
    Thanks for the tip re: WAWA an Presidential.
    I’m going to check out my local WAWA’ ATM tomorrow.

  16. HA!! I had to leave a comment when I saw JoeB’s 7:50pm post about the Keep the Change program at BOA. I totally did the $1.01 thing like twice a day until they stopped matching me. Gotta love it.
    Of course, my actual savings acct is with Presidential. Very happy customer!!

  17. Seroun Wang says:

    I’ve been a happy customer for years. It’s a small bank atmosphere with big bank features including Medallion Signatures if you ever need them. I switched from Chevy Chase and B of A years ago and never looked back.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] regular interest rates (currently 3.25-4.41% APY) are lower than my main checking account bank, Presidential Bank (4.50% APY Checking, 5.12% APY Savings). But if you ignore the interest rate difference, it truly [...]

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