Save App Review: 7.61% APY FDIC-Insured Savings Account? Here’s The Catch

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

I’ve gotten a few e-mails about the Save app, which offers a Market Savings Account that “combines the security of FDIC-insured bank deposits with the upside potential of market returns”. I took a glance at the advertised yields (see below) and quickly filed it under “probably too good to be true”, but finally circled back and read through all the fine print and disclosures to figure out what is happening under the hood.

Intro. Let’s say you have $1,000 and put it into a 1-year CD at an FDIC-insured bank that pays 5% APY. At the end of the year, you’d have $1,050 guaranteed. Now, imaging you went to Vegas and instead bet that $50 interest on red at the roulette table. Worst-case, you’d lose the $50 and still have $1,000. Best-case, you’d double the $50 and end up with $1,100. A 10% annual return! Now, you might charge a fee to others for this “service”. Nothing if they lose, but a little cut if they win. So $1,000 worst-case, and $1,096 if they win ($4 fee for the service). Venture capital funding, here I come!

This gives you a basic idea of what it going on here, except replace Vegas with some fancy derivatives to give you market exposure to a portfolio of stocks and bonds.

The long version. All quotes are from Save’s official documents: press release, terms and conditions, SEC Form ADV, deposit agreement, and Form CRS.

This app is a combination of an FDIC-insured bank account, an SIPC-insured brokerage account, and an SEC-registered investment advisor. Your money is placed into an FDIC-insured account at Webster Bank that doesn’t earn any interest. Instead of paying you interest, they will buy a portfolio of securities that offer exposure to market products like stocks and bonds. These securities are held in a brokerage account with Apex Clearing, the same firm used by brokers like Robinhood, WeBull, etc. As your financial advisor, they will charge you a fee of 0.35% annually for this service. Ex. 0.35% of $1,000 is $3.50 a year. 0.35% of $10,000 is $35 a year.

Upon opening Market Savings and initiating a deposit to the Deposit Account, Save will, on behalf of you:

– deposit your funds in full into the Deposit Account provided by Webster, member FDIC and,
– purchase a strategy–linked security selected based on your risk tolerances within a Client Account

The Market Savings Product is comprised of a Deposit Account with Webster Bank, N.A. and a Client Account with Apex Clearing Corporation.

SAVE Advisers is an investment adviser registered with the SEC. SAVE Advisers provides its clients with combined banking products and wealth management services through a web-based algorithmically driven wrap-fee investment advisory program (the “SAVE Market Savings Wrap Program”).

The SAVE Market Savings Wrap Program is designed for investors with a cash savings investment profile. The investment objective of the SAVE Market Savings Wrap Program is to enhance our clients’ cash savings investment profile by providing attractive returns on capital using Save’s core investment philosophy while preserving their initial investment.

On the Market Savings Wrap Program, Clients will pay a wrap fee at a rate of 35 basis points (0.35%) per annum (one basis point is 1/100 of 1%) on either 1.) the total notional amount of each strategy–linked security or 2.) the total notional value of the Client Deposit Account (whichever is greater).

The Save app is basically a robo-advisor with a very conservative portfolio. This is a similar concept to the No Risk Portfolio with 100% Money Back Guarantee. Your market-linked investment may go up 10%, 100%, or whatever, but the worst thing that can happen is it goes to zero (and you still get back your initial investment). According to this WSJ article (paywall), the CEO says the chance of a zero return in any given year is about 15%. This suggests that they are using some sort of leverage. (They also say the returns will count as long-term capital gains, unlike ordinary bank interest.)

Save products are intended for conservative investors who are mostly concerned about the protection of their principal investments.

I can see this level of low risk being appealing, but that’s also the catch. You are basically running a very conservative portfolio where you have something roughly 95% in super-safe stuff, and 5% in high-return risky stuff. (Since it’s a small amount and somehow leveraged, I don’t really care what their model portfolio holds exactly. I just consider it very risky.) Taken as a whole, both your downside and upside is relatively limited. You are still taking some risk because you are giving up the guaranteed interest from a US Treasury bond or bank CD. At 4% APY for 1 year, you would only have to invest $9,615.38 today to end up with $10,000 in a year. A savvy DIY investor could probably construct something similar to invest the difference on their own, but this app makes it easy and pretty.

This reminds me of the structured investments and “equity-linked returns with no downside” offered by many insurance companies. The insurance companies have much more onerous early withdrawal penalties where you can lose more than your initial principal, so this seems like a lower cost option, but this is still not the sort of thing I would recommend to a family member. It feels more like wimpy gambling.

Where do they get those high advertised returns? Those are back-tested numbers:

Average annual returns are based on hypothetical back-tested performance by Save of the Save Moderate Portfolio from 2006 to present.

What happens if I try to withdraw my investment before the end of my term? There is a early withdrawal fee (a slightly complicated formula), but you’ll always at least get back your initial principal.

I understand that if I terminate my account prior to the completion of an investment term I may forgo all gains and receive back only my initial deposit.

$5,000 exposure referral bonus details. I opened an account because the current referral bonus tilts the odds in my favor. The minimum investment is $1,000 for the 1-year term, and $5,000 for the 3- and 5-year terms. However, if you open using a referral link (that’s mine), they will give you additional bonus exposure to the equivalent of $5,000 invested.

For each referral that signs up and deposits the required minimum of $1,000, Save will deposit $5,000 worth of portfolio investments in each party’s (both referrer and referee) Client Account held at Apex. All Referral Bonuses will be invested under a one (1) year maturity term. At the end of the term, the Referral Bonus Investment (i.e., the $5,000) will be returned to Save and each party (referrer and referee) will keep their respective gain from the invested Referral Bonus, minus Save’s fee for management. Save’s management fee is .35%, which is discussed in the Fees section.

I signed up using a referral link myself and deposited $1,000 to qualify for the bonus $5,000 in equivalent balance (total $6,000). Let’s say a 1% CD pays 4% APY. If the return ends up being 0%, I’ll get my $1,000 back and miss out on about $40 of interest. If the return ends up being 5%, then I’ll get ~$300 of interest (5% x $6,000 equivalent investments). If the return ends up being 10%, then I’ll get ~$600 of interest (10% x $6,000 equivalent investments). I’m using “~” because Save will still take their 0.35% fee (~$24). As long as the return is at least ~1%, due to the referral bonus I’ll break even after fees with a 4% APY bank CD. Look for this text in the link:

Thanks to Jonathan’s referral, once you open your Market Savings program, $5,000 in equivalent portfolio investments will be added to your account.

To me, this is like the various sports betting and poker bonuses out there that also tilt the odds in your favor. It will be interesting to see what the eventual return will be in a year.

Bottom line. The Save app offers you the chance to take a little extra risk with your cash by investing what would otherwise be the guaranteed interest of a CD into the variable return from market exposure to stocks and bonds. However, your original principal itself is kept in an FDIC-insured bank account and you are guaranteed to get it back. You basically speculate only with the interest, with it potentially being zero but potentially being 7% or above.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Best Interest Rates on Cash – December 2022 Update

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash as of December 2022, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. We all need some safe assets for cash reserves or portfolio stability, and there are often lesser-known opportunities available to individual investors. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to see how much extra interest you’d earn by moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 12/4/2022.

TL;DR: 5% on up to $10,000 from fintech. 5% APY on up to $100k via a 7-month promo CD. 4% APY available on liquid savings. 1-year CD at 4.71% APY. 5-year CD at 4.75% APY. Compare against Treasury bills and bonds at every maturity (12-month near 4.69%). 6.89% Savings I Bonds still available if you haven’t maxed out 2022 limits.

Fintech accounts
Available only to individual investors, fintech companies often pay higher-than-market rates in order to achieve fast short-term growth (often using venture capital). “Fintech” is usually a software layer on top of a partner bank’s FDIC insurance.

  • 5% on up to $10,000. Juno now pays 5% on all cash deposits up to $10,000 and 3% on cash deposits from $10,001 up to $250,000. $50 direct deposit bonus. Please see my Juno review for details.
  • 4.00% APY on $6,000 with no direct deposit requirement. Current offers 4% APY on up to $6,000 total ($2,000 each on three savings pods). No direct deposit required. $50 referral bonus for new members with $200+ direct deposit with promo code JENNIFEP185. Please see my Current app review for details.
  • 4.00% APY on up to $250,000, but requires direct deposit and credit card spend. Currently a waitlist for new applicants. The top tier requires you to maintain positive cashflow in the checking account each month, $500 in total monthly direct deposits, and $500 in credit card purchases each month. Existing customers will get up to 4% APY through April 2023, with requirements waived through March 2023. Please see my updated HM Bradley review for details.

High-yield savings accounts
Since the huge megabanks STILL pay essentially no interest, I think every should have a separate, no-fee online savings account to accompany your existing checking account. The interest rates on savings accounts can drop at any time, so I list the top rates as well as competitive rates from banks with a history of competitive rates. Some banks will bait you with a temporary top rate and then lower the rates in the hopes that you are too lazy to leave.

  • The leapfrogging to be the temporary “top” rate continues. All America/Redneck Bank is at 4% APY for balances up to $75,000 ($500 to open, no min balance). Republic Bank of Chicago has a Digital Money Market account at 4.00% APY ($2,500 minimum to open and avoid monthly fee, new money only).
  • SoFi Bank is now up to 3.25% APY + up to $275 new account bonus with direct deposit. You must maintain a direct deposit of any amount each month for the higher APY. SoFi has their own bank charter now so no longer a fintech by my definition. See details at $25 + $250 SoFi Money new account and deposit bonus.
  • There are several other established high-yield savings accounts that aren’t a top rate, but historically do keep it relatively competitive for those that don’t want to keep switching banks.

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
A common question is what to do with a big pile of cash that you’re waiting to deploy shortly (plan to buy a house soon, just sold your house, just sold your business, legal settlement, inheritance). My usual advice is to keep things simple and take your time. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.

  • No Penalty CDs offer a fixed interest rate that can never go down, but you can still take out your money (once) without any fees if you want to use it elsewhere. CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 3.65% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 3.30% APY for all balance tiers. Marcus has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 3.05% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • My eBanc has a 12-month certificate at 4.71% APY. $5,000 minimum. Early withdrawal penalty is 90 days of interest.
  • Andrews FCU has a special 7-month certificate at 5.00% APY (offer ends 12/14). $1,000 min, $100k max. Anyone can join this credit union with a ACC membership, and ACC membership is free with promo code “Andrews”. My previous application experience.

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs*
Many brokerage firms that pay out very little interest on their default cash sweep funds (and keep the difference for themselves). * Money market mutual funds are regulated, but ultimately not FDIC-insured, so I would still stick with highly reputable firms. I am including a few ultra-short bond ETFs as they may be your best cash alternative in a brokerage account, but they may experience short-term losses.

  • Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund is the default sweep option for Vanguard brokerage accounts, which has an SEC yield of 3.70%. Odds are this is much higher than your own broker’s default cash sweep interest rate.
  • Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 4.32% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 4.42% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is some term interest rate risk.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 4.21% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 4.31% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.

Treasury Bills and Ultra-short Treasury ETFs
Another option is to buy individual Treasury bills which come in a variety of maturities from 4-weeks to 52-weeks and are fully backed by the US government. You can also invest in ETFs that hold a rotating basket of short-term Treasury Bills for you, while charging a small management fee for doing so. T-bill interest is exempt from state and local income taxes.

  • You can build your own T-Bill ladder at TreasuryDirect.gov or via a brokerage account with a bond desk like Vanguard and Fidelity. Here are the current Treasury Bill rates. As of 12/2/2022, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 3.81% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 4.69% annualized interest.
  • The iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF (SGOV) has a 3.52% SEC yield and effective duration of 0.10 years. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 3.47% SEC yield and effective duration of 0.08 years.

US Savings Bonds
Series I Savings Bonds offer rates that are linked to inflation and backed by the US government. You must hold them for at least a year. If you redeem them within 5 years there is a penalty of the last 3 months of interest. The annual purchase limit for electronic I bonds is $10,000 per Social Security Number, available online at TreasuryDirect.gov. You can also buy an additional $5,000 in paper I bonds using your tax refund with IRS Form 8888.

  • “I Bonds” bought between November 2022 and April 2023 will earn a 6.89% rate for the first six months. The rate of the subsequent 6-month period will be based on inflation again. More on Savings Bonds here.
  • In mid-April 2023, the CPI will be announced and you will have a short period where you will have a very close estimate of the rate for the next 12 months. I will have another post up at that time.
  • See below about EE Bonds as a potential long-term bond alternative.

Prepaid Cards with Attached Savings Accounts
A small subset of prepaid debit cards have an “attached” FDIC-insured savings account with exceptionally high interest rates. The negatives are that balances are severely capped, and there are many fees that you must be careful to avoid (lest they eat up your interest). There is a long list of previous offers that have already disappeared with little notice. I don’t personally recommend nor use any of these anymore, as I feel the work required and the fees charged if you mess up exceeds any small potential benefit.

  • Mango Money pays 6% APY on up to $2,500, if you manage to jump through several hoops. Requirements include $1,500+ in “signature” purchases and a minimum balance of $25.00 at the end of the month.
  • NetSpend Prepaid pays 5% APY on up to $1,000 but be warned that there is also a $5.95 monthly maintenance fee if you don’t maintain regular monthly activity.

Rewards checking accounts
These unique checking accounts pay above-average interest rates, but with unique risks. You have to jump through certain hoops which usually involve 10+ debit card purchases each cycle, a certain number of ACH/direct deposits, and/or a certain number of logins per month. If you make a mistake (or they judge that you did) you risk earning zero interest for that month. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others would rather not bother. Rates can also drop suddenly, leaving a “bait-and-switch” feeling.

  • All America/Redneck Bank pays 4.25% APY on up to $15,000 if you make 10 debit card purchases each monthly cycle with online statements.
  • The Bank of Denver pays 4.00% APY on up to $15,000 if you make 12 debit card purchases of $5+ each, receive only online statements, and make at least 1 ACH credit or debit transaction per statement cycle. Thanks to reader Bill for the updated info.
  • Presidential Bank pays 3.75% APY on balances between $500 and up to $25,000 (3.00% APY above that) if you maintain a $500+ direct deposit and at least 7 electronic withdrawals per month (ATM, POS, ACH and Billpay counts).
  • Find a locally-restricted rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.

Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
CDs offer higher rates, but come with an early withdrawal penalty. By finding a bank CD with a reasonable early withdrawal penalty, you can enjoy higher rates but maintain access in a true emergency. Alternatively, consider building a CD ladder of different maturity lengths (ex. 1/2/3/4/5-years) such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account. When one CD matures, use that money to buy another 5-year CD to keep the ladder going. Some CDs also offer “add-ons” where you can deposit more funds if rates drop.

  • Bread Financial has a 5-year certificate at 4.75% APY ($1,500 min), 4-year at 4.65% APY, 3-year at 4.50% APY, 2-year at 4.50% APY, and 1-year at 4.50% APY. The early withdrawal penalty for the 5-year is 365 days of interest.
  • Department Of Commerce Federal Credit Union has a 5-year certificate at 4.70% APY ($500 min), 4-year at 4.59% APY, 3-year at 4.57% APY, 2-year at 4.61% APY, and 1-year at 4.40% APY. The early withdrawal penalty for the 5-year is 180 days of interest. Anyone can join this credit union through a $5 membership in the American Consumer Council (ACC). Enter ACC membership number on the online application.
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. You may need an account to see the rates. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance and easy laddering, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. Right now, I see a 5-year CD at 4.85% (non-callable). Be wary of higher rates from callable CDs, which means they can call back your CD if rates drop later.

Longer-term Instruments
I’d use these with caution due to increased interest rate risk, but I still track them to see the rest of the current yield curve.

  • Willing to lock up your money for 10 years? You can buy long-term certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. You might find something that pays more than your other brokerage cash and Treasury options. Right now, I see a 10-year CDs at 5.25% (non-callable) vs. 3.56% for a 10-year Treasury. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs where they can call your CD back if interest rates drop.
  • How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a unique guarantee that the value will double in value in 20 years, which equals a guaranteed return of 3.5% a year. However, if you don’t hold for that long, you’ll be stuck with the normal rate currently 2.10%. As of 12/2/2022, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 3.79%.

All rates were checked as of 12/4/2022.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

AllAmerica and Redneck Bank: 4.00% APY Money Market, 4.25% Rewards Checking

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

All America Bank and Redneck Bank are sister internet banks that offer the same types of accounts (with different marketing shtick). Looking back in my archives, I actually opened an account with them way back in 2009 (later closed), as they are intermittently competitive with interest rates. Looks like they are looking to attract deposits again, most recently raising both their interest rates and their balance caps.

Mega Money Market

  • 4.00% APY on up to $75,000. Amounts over $75,000 earn 0.50% APY.
  • No debit card transactions required.
  • $500 minimum to open an account. No ongoing minimum balance requirement.
  • Must agree to receive online statements only.
  • Limit of one Mega Money market® account allowed per individual. (I believe you can have one account at each bank, though.)
  • Technically a money market checking account which means it includes a debit card (you can pay for checks too) but is still limited to six withdrawals per month. This limits its functionality to more like a savings account.

Rewards Checking

  • 4.25% APY on up to $15,000. Amounts over $15,000 earn 0.50% APY.
  • 10 debit card transactions required per monthly statement cycle. Monthly statement cycle ends on the 20th of each month. If the 20th falls on a Saturday, the cycle will end on Friday the 19th. If the 20th falls on a Sunday, the cycle will end on Monday the 21st. ATM and ACH transfers don’t count.
  • $500 minimum to open an account online. No ongoing minimum balance requirement.
  • Must agree to receive online statements only.
  • Limit of two (2) Rewards Checking Accounts allowed per individual. (I believe you can have two accounts at each bank.)
  • A full-featured checking account with online billpay, ATM rebates (up to $25 per month), and mobile check deposit abilities.
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

CIT Bank Review: 11-Month No Penalty CD 3.65% APY, Savings Connect 3.60% APY, 18-Month 4.50% APY

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

citbank200

Rates went up again 11/30/22. No-Penalty CD up to 3.65% APY if you want to ratchet up. CIT Bank (not to be confused with Citi Bank) is an online-only bank with a multi-year history of competitive rates. They have a checking account, but their specialty is a variety of savings and CD products with high interest rates. Here are the highlights:

  • 11-Month No-Penalty CD at 3.65% APY with $1,000 minimum to open. The 11-month CD keeps a fixed rate, but has no withdrawal penalty seven days or later after funds have been received. This means that your interest rate will never go down, but you can still move out if interest rates go up. (If you have an existing No Penalty CD that you want to close and open up a new one, please see my instructions below.)
  • Savings Connect Account at 3.60% APY if you open with $100. No minimum balance and no monthly fees. There is no longer a requirement to “connect” this to a checking account, so if you have any other savings accounts at CIT, you should move the funds over to this account.
  • 18-month Term CD at 4.50% APY, 13-month Term CD at 4.35% APY.
  • Free year of Amazon Prime promotion. The promo is linked to their lower-yielding Money Market account, but if you account for the value of the Amazon Prime annual subscription ($139) and deposit the minimum $15,000, you end up with roughly an effective 5.26% APY for 90 days (see link for full details).

Check out my rate chaser calculator to see if it makes sense for you to move money over.

New customer? Opening process overview. Here’s my review of the opening process if you are a new customer.

  • The application process was completely online. You provide the usual personal information.
  • You must submit to a credit check, but in my experience it was a “soft” pull which did not harm my credit. None of my various credit monitoring services showed it was a hard pull.
  • You may fund via (1) electronic ACH transfer, (2) wire transfer, (3) mobile check deposit via CIT Bank mobile app (iOS and Android), and (4) mailing in a paper check. There was no option for credit card funding. I picked online ACH funding and you need to provide routing and account numbers, followed by manual verification via micro-deposits after a day or two. There was no instant linking option via login information.

After deposit verification, then your funding will go through.

You have successfully verified your external account. Please allow up to 5 business days for your funds to appear in your CIT Bank account.
No further action is required for this account. Thank you!

citnewcd

Existing savings or money market customer? Check your rate. If you already have an existing High Yield Savings account, it may remain at a lower interest rate than this money market account. If so, take a minute and upgrade yourself to the better interest rate. Click on “Open an Account” here, then “I have a CIT Bank account”, and then login with your username/password. You can do everything online and even fund your new Money Market account with an instant transfer from your existing Premier High Yield Savings. I wish I didn’t have to do this, but at least it literally only took a minute to complete.

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How to transfer your money from an existing No Penalty CD into an new, higher-rate No Penalty CD (or any other new account). You have the option of moving the funds (with no penalty of course) over to a new CD with a new 11-month holding period if the current rate is higher than your existing rate. Here’s the easiest way to do so:

  • Start a new online application for the 11-Month No-Penalty CD. Click on “Get Started” and sign-in as an existing CIT customer.
  • After signing in, go through the opening process but look for “Existing CIT Bank Account” under “Funding Source”. You should see a list of your existing accounts, including any No Penalty CDs. (Screenshot below.)
  • Note that online, your only option will be to have the entire CD balance (including accrued interest) moved over into the new CD. If you want a different amount, you’ll have to call CIT Bank customer service at 855-462-2652, open M-F 8a-9p ET, Sat 9a-5p ET, Sun 11a-4p ET. Press “0” for operator. Tell them you opened up a new No Penalty CD and you wish to fund it by closing out your old No Penalty CD.
  • That’s it. The online option says it will take 2-3 business days to complete. Your new accounts will show up online.

User interface. While the front-facing website is pretty slick, after you login the backend is run by Fidelity National Information Services (subdomain ibanking-services.com). This is a popular backend software system used by many smaller banks who don’t want to create their own software from scratch. Similar story with the iOS/Android app. Functional.

Bottom line. CIT Bank is a lean bank offering targeted products for folks looking to get higher interest rates on their cash balances. They don’t do physical bank branches or fancy apps. However, I have been pleasantly satisfied with their customer service on my accounts with them. Their most compelling products are their Savings Connect accounts, 11-month No Penalty CD, and often they have a competitive rate on at least one of their Term CDs. The No Penalty CD is unique in that you are always able to move out to a higher rate, even within CIT bank itself, all while maintaining a floor if rates drop.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

SoFi Savings 3.25% APY w/ No Cap, $250 Direct Deposit Bonus, $25 Opening Bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Savings rate increased to 3.25% APY on 11/29, $275 promo extended through 1/31/2023. You may wish to transfer funds from Checking to Savings now that the rates are different. Also, if you did the deposit bonus in September, a reminder that you had to hold only through 11/30. SoFi has added an excellent deposit bonus worth up to $250 to the new member referral offer on their SoFi Money checking account:

  • $25 bonus if you open a new SoFi Checking & Savings account and deposit at least $10.
  • $250 additional bonus if you deposit at least $5,000 in total Qualifying Direct Deposits within 25 days from the date of your first Qualifying Direct Deposit. Promo ends 1/31/2023. (Alternatively, $50 for $1,000+ deposit. )
  • 3.25% APY on all Savings and Vault balances (no cap) and 2.50% APY on checking balances with monthly direct deposit (of any amount). You may wish to transfer funds from Checking to Savings now that the rates are different. 1.20% APY without direct deposit. Rates are as of 11/29/22.
  • Overdraft coverage of up to $50 on on debit card purchases available to customers with monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more.

Not a bad deal if only for the $25 easy bonus and 3.00% APY with any direct deposit amount. Even a $1 direct deposit works to get the higher APY. On top of that, $250 is a very high bonus for only having to commit $5,000 for less than a month.

What makes it harder is that it must be “qualifying direct deposits” as described below (emphasis mine). You should still be eligible for this promo if you are an existing SoFi Money account before today and have yet to complete your first direct deposit.

Eligible Participants: All new and existing members without a history of direct deposit transactions into their SoFi Checking and Savings account are eligible for the Program.

Members who previously enrolled in direct deposit into either SoFi Money or SoFi Checking and Savings do not qualify for this Promotion.

Promotion Period: The Program will be available through 1/31/23 11:59PM ET.

Bonus Terms: In order to qualify for eligibility for a bonus, SoFi must receive at least one Qualifying Direct Deposit (as defined below) from an Eligible Participant before the end of the Promotion Period. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from an enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion. The amount of the bonus, if any, is described below. No bonuses shall be paid for Qualifying Direct Deposits of less than $1,000 during the Evaluation Period (defined below).

Evaluation Period: The Evaluation Period begins when SoFi receives a Qualifying Direct Deposit (within the Promotion Period) and ends 25 days later (the “Evaluation Period”). The bonus amount will vary based on the total amount of Qualifying Direct Deposits received during the Evaluation Period. Once the Evaluation Period has elapsed, we will determine if you have met the offer requirements and will deposit any earned bonus into your checking account within 7 business days. For example, if SoFi receives between $1,000.00 and $4,999.99 in Qualifying Direct Deposits during the Evaluation Period, you will receive a cash bonus of $50. A member may only qualify for one bonus tier and will not be eligible for future bonus payments if inflows subsequently increase after the Evaluation Period.

Total Qualifying Direct Deposit amount in 25-day Evaluation Period
$1,000.00 – $4,999.99: $50 cash bonus
$5,000.00 or more: $250 cash bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Reader Question: Higher Interest Rates on Cash Without Internet Access or Cell Phone?

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Here’s a reader question that I found interesting regarding “low-tech” retirees:

Hi – my 82 year-old father-in-law does not own a cell phone or a computer. He has very little “visibility” on the internet because he was a self-employed craftsman for the last 40 years. But he has money to invest, and it is sitting in a near-zero savings account. For the reasons listed above, he cannot qualify for any of the high-yield savings accounts that are out there. Their methods of identifying customers require a cell phone and some kind of documentable internet presence. Maybe he is an extreme example, but I am guessing there are others in similar situations. Any thoughts on how such a person can obtain a higher yield? Thanks.

I am empathetic to this problem as I am frequently helping older relatives navigate modern life without internet access. I’m also a fan of low-tech as a backup form of resilience and emergency preparedness. What would happen if the power went down for an extended period? What would happen if you passed away suddenly and nobody could figure out your passwords?

This question specifically addresses low interest rates on cash. It is not an accident that NONE of the three biggest banks by branch size (Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo) offer a decent interest rate on their basic checking and savings accounts. (Even Citibank only offers their high-yield Accelerate savings account in states where they have no physical branches.) If they made it easy to sign up for a “high-yield savings account”, they would lose many millions in profit as all the offline folks would happily switch over their deposits earning 0.01% APY. My 94yo great-aunt will dilute her dish soap until it comes back on sale at the local grocery store. You can bet she would walk right into her local branch to sign up for a savings account paying 3% APY instead of 0.02% APY!

My first thought is that I would open an account with Fidelity Investments, as they have solid history as a traditional broker with a fully-staffed customer service phone line. Fidelity would still run just fine if there was only snail-mail envelopes and rotary phones. This Fidelity Core Positions page is a handy bookmark to see the current interest rates (screenshot below taken 11/18/2022) on the various options for your core position (default for uninvested cash). As you can see, the rates are quite competitive with online banks. Money market funds are not FDIC-insured, but they are very close (and even closer after recent regulations). I personally don’t lose a bit of sleep on my Fidelity money market funds and I also snail mail them large checks every year for my Solo 401k plan.

In addition, Fidelity has a decent branch network (“Investor Centers”) at major metro areas nationwide. Finally, Fidelity offers a solid inventory for brokered CDs and access to Treasury bills and bonds if you were willing to lock up your money for a higher rate.

Why don’t I include Vanguard? While Vanguard money market funds are excellent and usually pay even higher interest rates than Fidelity money market funds, I have heard far too many customer complaints about hour-long hold times for phone customer service. Vanguard also does not have a physical branch network. I try my best to only use Vanguard for simple index fund transactions and nothing complicated. Meanwhile, TD Ameritrade and Schwab do have some money market options and physical branches, but you must make every transaction manually while the default is a sad cash sweep program paying less than 0.50% APY. This is why I’d pick Fidelity over the others. (No, Fidelity did not pay me to say any of this. Unfortunately…)

Another option would be a local credit union that is looking for loan growth (which requires deposit growth) and thus is offering high interest rates. You would want to find one that has a physical branch in your area, and the best resource for this is DepositAccounts.com which allows you to search by zip code. Make sure to uncheck the “Web Only” box and check the “Local Branches” box.

This will hopefully let you find a physical branch nearby that will offer a decent rate. Oftentimes, the good rates only show up in certificates of deposit (which allow them to match maturities) but you could simply ladder even 1-year CDs over time to maintain a solid rate with decent liquidity. Many of the military-affiliated credit unions have a larger branch network and a history of competitive products, and some of them can be joined without military status. Good luck and thanks for helping others!

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Stockholm Banco vs. FTX: Creating Money From Nothing in 1661 vs. 2022

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

As with the rest of the finance world, I’ve been following the collapse of FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF). There are many explainers (Matt Levine is my fav, but paywall?), while new details keep emerging. Crypto the newborn currency is growing up and finding out the hard way why traditional finance has all the rules it has. Central bank? FDIC insurance? Independently-audited financials? A board of directors? Not being allowed to buy personal houses with company money and having other expenses approved with emojis? 💸 From the most recent bankruptcy filing and written by the new FTX CEO of less than a week:

Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here. From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented.

As a fitting follow-up to the idea of timeless financial wisdom, Doomberg (also paywall) brings us historical perspective from Stockholm Banco, which in 1661 was the first European bank to print banknotes. I found this detailed history of Stockholm Banco [pdf] on the website of Sveriges Riksbank. A single person was granted great and unsupervised power to effectively create unlimited currency. What could go wrong?

In 1656, Johan Palmstruch was finally granted the country’s first bank charter by the King of Sweden after multiple rejections. (His proposal only succeeded after he promised half the profits to the Crown.) At the time, people had to use cumbersome copper and silver currency (see above) that fluctuated in value based on industrial demand for those metals. The slab of copper above was “10 dalers” and the size of two sheets of letter paper and weighed 43 pounds!

It was the inconvenience of copper plate money that the exchange bank would remedy. Institutions and the general public could deposit their plate money in the bank in exchange for a receipt, which could then be used in transactions with other parties. This was a great relief for commerce. In the bank charter, Karl X Gustav emphasised ‘the good convenience our subjects thereby obtain, that in this way they are rid of much subtraction and addition, hauling and dragging and other trouble that the copper coin entails in its handling’. The weighty plates boded well for the success of the exchange bank.

A simple piece of paper could now represent any amount of dalers (100 daler note below):

The charter allowed the creation of an exchange bank. People could deposit their slabs of copper and silver at the bank, and instead receive a paper note promising that it could be redeemed back again at any time. Convenient! The charter also allowed the creation of a loan bank. The bank lent out money, and charged interest. The exchange bank and the loan bank were supposed to be separate. But look at all those pretty deposits just sitting there!

The charters treated the exchange bank and the loan bank as separate entities but this was not observed in practice. Although the exchange bank was no more than a depository for its clients’ money, which could be withdrawn without notice, the Bank started to lend its holdings. This state of affairs continued until 1664.

Soon the deposits were all lent out. But people still wanted loans! There was money to be made! If only there was a way to keep the whole things spinning…

Palmstruch found a solution. According to Erik Appelgren, a bank commissioner, ‘Not long afterwards, credit notes became a supplement invented by Herr Director for the shortage of money’. The bank would issue notes declaring that the holder had a claim on Stockholms Banco for a specified sum of money; the Bank would redeem the notes in exchange for cash. […]

This was a novelty in European banking. Earlier attempts to introduce notes had invariably tied them to deposits. Such certificates of deposit could be transferred as a token of value to business associates, who in turn could pass them on in the same way. In contrast, Palmstruch’s notes were not backed by particular deposits; instead, they relied on public confidence that the Bank would redeem them on demand. The system relied on the Bank’s credibility.

Success! Print as much money as you want! Expansion! Even the Crown and other high-ranking officials borrowed money.

Thanks to the credit notes, lending by the Bank ceased to be dependent on deposits. Loans could be provided for as much as the Bank was prepared to issue notes. After a tentative start, the flood gates were opened during 1663. The Crown borrowed 500,000 d km, Chancellor De la Gardie took a total of 255,000 d km for himself, the tar company borrowed 200,000 d km. More and more loans were unsecured. The business flourished; branches were opened in Abo, Falun and Goteborg; in Skane (ceded to Sweden by Denmark in 1658) the three upper Estates requested a separate branch in either Malmo or Landskrona.

What if… something spooked the customers… and people actually wanted all their deposits back?

However, reality soon caught up. On 12 September 1663, Joachim Schuttehielm, a bank secretary, reported to Palmstruch, who was away in Vasteras, that so much money had been withdrawn that the Bank had less than 4,000 d km in ready cash. To make matters worse, a depositor had announced that he wished to withdraw 10,000 d km. Schuttehielm asked Palmstruch to send money as soon as he could but the Director had nothing to send.

The bank collapsed after only six years. During the cleanup, audits revealed tons of missing money. Palmstruch was sentenced first to execution (later reduced to jail), and died only a year after his eventual release.

The Court of Appeal was not impressed. On 22 July 1668 Palmstruch was dismissed as director and sentenced to the loss of his privileges. He was banished for life and ordered to compensate within six months for ‘all the deficiency and shortage in the Bank that can demonstrably be proven’. If he failed to pay what he owed, he would be executed.

Let’s compare to the current FTX situation. Started out with a simple idea and got out of control very fast. FTX is less than 4 years old. Everyone was easily distracted by getting rich, all greased by the political donations and naming rights that spread the money around and the “effective altruism” that the media loved. The power to create unlimited currency for a while – FTX claimed billions of SRM and FTT tokens as assets – essentially things that FTX made out of thin air and knew it. Eventually, the desperate loaning out (aka stealing) of $10 billion in customer deposits to help themselves out of a jam. The panicked discovery. The coming criminal proceedings.

Individual investors are again reminded why FDIC and NCUA insurance exists – counterparty risk is real. It doesn’t matter what you own if you let the wrong place hold it for you.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Best Interest Rates on Cash – November 2022 Update

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash as of November 2022, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. We all need some safe assets for cash reserves or portfolio stability, and there are often lesser-known opportunities available to individual investors. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to see how much extra interest you’d earn by moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 11/6/2022.

TL;DR: 5% on up to $10,000 from Juno. 4% APY on up to $6,000 for liquid savings at Current with no direct deposit requirement. Merchants Bank of Indiana Money Market at 3.82% APY. 1-year CD at 4.30% APY. 5-year CD at 4.42% APY. Compare against Treasury bills and bonds at every maturity (12-month near 4.75%). 6.89% Savings I Bonds still available if you haven’t maxed out 2022 limits.

Fintech accounts
Available only to individual investors, fintech companies often pay higher-than-market rates in order to achieve fast short-term growth (often using venture capital). “Fintech” is usually a software layer on top of a partner bank’s FDIC insurance.

  • 5% on up to $10,000. Juno now pays 5% on all cash deposits up to $10,000 and 3% on cash deposits from $10,001 up to $250,000. $50 direct deposit bonus. Please see my Juno review for details.
  • 4.00% APY on $6,000 with no direct deposit requirement. Current offers 4% APY on up to $6,000 total ($2,000 each on three savings pods). No direct deposit required. $50 referral bonus for new members with $200+ direct deposit with promo code JENNIFEP185. Please see my Current app review for details.
  • 4.00% APY on up to $250,000, but requires direct deposit and credit card spend. Currently a waitlist for new applicants. The top tier requires you to maintain positive cashflow in the checking account each month, $500 in total monthly direct deposits, and $500 in credit card purchases each month. Existing customers will get 4% APY through April 2023, with requirements waived through March 2023. Please see my updated HM Bradley review for details.

High-yield savings accounts
Since the huge megabanks STILL pay essentially no interest, I think every should have a separate, no-fee online savings account to accompany your existing checking account. The interest rates on savings accounts can drop at any time, so I list the top rates as well as competitive rates from banks with a history of competitive rates. Some banks will bait you with a temporary top rate and then lower the rates in the hopes that you are too lazy to leave.

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
A common question is what to do with a big pile of cash that you’re waiting to deploy shortly (plan to buy a house soon, just sold your house, just sold your business, legal settlement, inheritance). My usual advice is to keep things simple and take your time. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.

  • No Penalty CDs offer a fixed interest rate that can never go down, but you can still take out your money (once) without any fees if you want to use it elsewhere. CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 3.30% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 3.10% APY for all balance tiers. Marcus has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 2.55% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • Banesco USA has a 12-month certificate at 4.30% APY. $1,500 minimum. Early withdrawal penalty is 90 days of interest.

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs*
Many brokerage firms that pay out very little interest on their default cash sweep funds (and keep the difference for themselves). * Money market mutual funds are regulated, but ultimately not FDIC-insured, so I would still stick with highly reputable firms. I am including a few ultra-short bond ETFs as they may be your best cash alternative in a brokerage account, but they may experience short-term losses.

  • Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund is the default sweep option for Vanguard brokerage accounts, which has an SEC yield of 3.24%. Compare with your own broker’s money market rate.
  • Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 4.14% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 4.24% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is some term interest rate risk.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 3.81% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 4.09% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.

Treasury Bills and Ultra-short Treasury ETFs
Another option is to buy individual Treasury bills which come in a variety of maturities from 4-weeks to 52-weeks and are fully backed by the US government. You can also invest in ETFs that hold a rotating basket of short-term Treasury Bills for you, while charging a small management fee for doing so. T-bill interest is exempt from state and local income taxes.

  • You can build your own T-Bill ladder at TreasuryDirect.gov or via a brokerage account with a bond desk like Vanguard and Fidelity. Here are the current Treasury Bill rates. As of 11/4/2022, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 3.66% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 4.77% annualized interest.
  • The iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF (SGOV) has a 2.82% SEC yield and effective duration of 0.10 years. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 2.78% SEC yield and effective duration of 0.08 years.

US Savings Bonds
Series I Savings Bonds offer rates that are linked to inflation and backed by the US government. You must hold them for at least a year. If you redeem them within 5 years there is a penalty of the last 3 months of interest. The annual purchase limit for electronic I bonds is $10,000 per Social Security Number, available online at TreasuryDirect.gov. You can also buy an additional $5,000 in paper I bonds using your tax refund with IRS Form 8888.

  • “I Bonds” bought between November 2022 and April 2023 will earn a 6.89% rate for the first six months. The rate of the subsequent 6-month period will be based on inflation again. More on Savings Bonds here.
  • In mid-April 2023, the CPI will be announced and you will have a short period where you will have a very close estimate of the rate for the next 12 months. I will have another post up at that time.
  • See below about EE Bonds as a potential long-term bond alternative.

Prepaid Cards with Attached Savings Accounts
A small subset of prepaid debit cards have an “attached” FDIC-insured savings account with exceptionally high interest rates. The negatives are that balances are severely capped, and there are many fees that you must be careful to avoid (lest they eat up your interest). There is a long list of previous offers that have already disappeared with little notice. I don’t personally recommend nor use any of these anymore, as I feel the work required and the fees charged if you mess up exceeds any small potential benefit.

  • Mango Money pays 6% APY on up to $2,500, if you manage to jump through several hoops. Requirements include $1,500+ in “signature” purchases and a minimum balance of $25.00 at the end of the month.
  • NetSpend Prepaid pays 5% APY on up to $1,000 but be warned that there is also a $5.95 monthly maintenance fee if you don’t maintain regular monthly activity.

Rewards checking accounts
These unique checking accounts pay above-average interest rates, but with unique risks. You have to jump through certain hoops which usually involve 10+ debit card purchases each cycle, a certain number of ACH/direct deposits, and/or a certain number of logins per month. If you make a mistake (or they judge that you did) you risk earning zero interest for that month. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others would rather not bother. Rates can also drop suddenly, leaving a “bait-and-switch” feeling.

  • The Bank of Denver pays 4.00% APY on up to $15,000 if you make 12 debit card purchases of $5+ each, receive only online statements, and make at least 1 ACH credit or debit transaction per statement cycle. Thanks to reader Bill for the updated info.
  • Presidential Bank pays 3.75% APY on balances between $500 and up to $25,000 (3.00% APY above that) if you maintain a $500+ direct deposit and at least 7 electronic withdrawals per month (ATM, POS, ACH and Billpay counts).
  • Liberty Federal Credit Union pays 3.45% APY on up to $20,000. You’ll need at least 15 debit transactions and other requirements every month.
  • Lake Michigan Credit Union pays 3.00% APY on up to $15,000. You’ll need at least 10 debit transactions and other requirements every month.
  • Find a locally-restricted rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.

Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
CDs offer higher rates, but come with an early withdrawal penalty. By finding a bank CD with a reasonable early withdrawal penalty, you can enjoy higher rates but maintain access in a true emergency. Alternatively, consider building a CD ladder of different maturity lengths (ex. 1/2/3/4/5-years) such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account. When one CD matures, use that money to buy another 5-year CD to keep the ladder going. Some CDs also offer “add-ons” where you can deposit more funds if rates drop.

  • Lafayette Federal Credit Union has a a 5-year certificate at 4.42% APY ($500 min), 4-year at 4.32% APY, 3-year at 4.22% APY, 2-year at 4.11% APY, and 1-year at 3.80% APY. Early withdrawal penalty can be quite severe though, with the 5-year CD penalty being 600 days of interest. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization ($10 one-time fee).
  • First Internet Bank has a 5-year certificate at 4.39% APY ($1,000 min), 4-year at 4.33% APY, 3-year at 4.28% APY, 2-year at 4.23% APY, and 1-year at 4.18% APY. The early withdrawal penalty for the 5-year is 360 days of interest.
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. You may need an account to see the rates. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance and easy laddering, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. Inventory is limited and right now, but I see a 3-year CD at 4.85% (non-callable). Be wary of higher rates from callable CDs, which means they can call back your CD if rates drop later.

Longer-term Instruments
I’d use these with caution due to increased interest rate risk, but I still track them to see the rest of the current yield curve.

  • Willing to lock up your money for 10 years? You can buy long-term certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. You might find something that pays more than your other brokerage cash and Treasury options. Right now, I see a 10-year CDs at 5.15% (non-callable) vs. 4.17% for a 10-year Treasury. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs where they can call your CD back if interest rates drop.
  • How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a unique guarantee that the value will double in value in 20 years, which equals a guaranteed return of 3.5% a year. However, if you don’t hold for that long, you’ll be stuck with the normal rate which is quite low (currently 0.10%). This feature is not currently interesting because as of 11/6/2022, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 4.49%.

All rates were checked as of 11/6/2022.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Ally Bank New Deposit Promo: Up to $500 Cash Bonus (Expired, But New CD Opportunity)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Update November 2022: Ally has raised the rates on their CDs and savings accounts, but notably the 11-month No Penalty CD is now at 3.10% APY, which isn’t amazing, but if you are already committed to this deposit bonus, it is a way to raise your effective interest rate while both still qualifying for the deposit bonus and maintaining liquidity. Note the terms state “Your new money must remain in an eligible Ally Bank account: Online Savings, Money Market or a CD.”

Original post (offer is now expired):

Ally Bank has a new “Get Paid” cash deposit bonus (link for existing customers) that is offering a 1% cash bonus (up to $500) on new deposits on top of their existing interest rate. Valid for both new and existing customers. Given the holding period, this roughly equates to the same total interest paid as a 3-month bank CD at 6.25%+ APY. Thanks to reader Paul for the heads up. Here’s how it works:

  • Open an account and/or enroll by 10/21/2022. You must enroll or you won’t get the bonus. New customers use the promo code GETPAID. Existing customers must enroll with the same e-mail as linked to their Ally bank account.
  • Fund your account by 10/31/2022. This means your account has to be approved, opened and funded by this date. Move at least $1,000 from another financial institution to a new or existing eligible Ally Bank account. Remember, transfers can take up to 3 business days.
  • Keep money in your account through 1/15/2023. Your new money must remain in your eligible Ally Bank account through 1/15/2023. Keep in mind, any withdrawals made during this time may reduce your bonus.
  • Get your cash bonus on or by 2/15/2023. Get a 1% bonus on the money you moved, up to $500.

Ally had a similar bonus in 2018 and 2020. Note the following extra details:

  • Cash bonus applies to new money added to an eligible Ally Bank account, not your total balance.
  • Your new money must remain in an eligible Ally Bank account: Online Savings, Money Market or a CD.
  • Minimum cash bonus is $10 ($1,000 deposit), maximum is $500 ($50,000 deposit).

Here’s an example:

1. Take your 10/11 end of day balance total across all eligible accounts. Ex. $5,000.
2. Take your 10/31 end of day balance total across all eligible accounts. Ex. $15,000.
3. Your max possible bonus is 1% of $10,000 = $100. If your total balance across all eligible balance ever goes below 15,000, then your bonus goes down as well. Let’s say your total balances from 10/31 onward through 1/15 varies from $12,000 to $18,000. Your bonus will only be 1% of $7,000 = $70.

Rough math. The current rate on the Ally Online Savings account is 2.25% APY (variable, likely to rise again soon, but who knows what the future holds) as of 10/12/22. Given that you can an additional 1% bonus in roughly 3 months, the bonus itself works out to the equivalent of a 4% annualized yield. 2.25% + 4% = 6.25% total annualized yield over 3 months (no guarantee, this is just an example estimate). You could also open a CD to lock in an even higher rate.

Should I move money out of Ally and back in to qualify? No, it won’t make any difference as Ally has already thought of that. Basically, your comparison point is your balance as of the end of day on 10/11/22. From the full terms and conditions:

We base your Cash Bonus calculation on the New Money you deposit into an eligible Online Savings account, Money Market account, or CD at Ally Bank between 10/12/2022 and 10/31/2022 (and then keep in your account through 1/15/2023). This means money you move out of Ally Bank and then back in won’t qualify for the bonus, and any withdrawals you make from an Online Savings account, Money Market account, or CD between 10/12/2022 and 1/15/2023 may reduce your bonus amount. Transfers of funds between existing Ally Bank accounts won’t qualify for the bonus. Remember, check deposits and transfers from other financial institutions can take a few or more days to complete, so make sure to start any transactions well enough before the 10/31/2022 deadline for those transactions to clear by or before 10/31/2022.

We’re all about playing fair, so if we believe you’re trying to game or abuse this offer, you won’t be allowed to participate in this offer or any future offers.

Existing customers. As a longtime Ally accountholder, I’m happy again to see that this offer includes existing customers, even if it has to be new money.

Bottom line. Ally Bank has a new promotion to attract new money (or bring back old money). You get a 1% cash bonus (up to $500) on new deposits on top of their existing interest rates. At the current rates for their savings account, this works out to a 3-month holding period paying roughly 6.25% annualized interest. You must enroll soon by 10/21/22 and your account must be opened and fully funded by 10/31/22 at the very latest.

Looks like I will be scraping up all the idle cash from my various accounts in the hopes of maximizing this bonus.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

HMBradley Bank Review: 4.00% APY w/ New Requirements, New Partner Bank, New Intro Offer

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Update November 2022: As of 11/3/22, HM Bradley has raised the interest rates on their tiers as follows. The top rate is now 4.00% APY.

Update October 2022: HM Bradley announced several significant changes to their product (again). I’ve updated the review completely and removed all the historical changes as it was just getting too long.

HM Bradley (HMB) is a fintech software layer on top of a partner bank’s infrastructure. They are terminating their initial relationship with Hatch Bank at the end of October 2022 and changing completely over to New York Community Bank (NYCB). Existing HMB customers will need to open up a new account at NYCB before the end of October. HMB is also changing up their interest rate structure, but is offering a special intro offer to existing HMB customers. Detailed review below.

Rate tiers. Interest is earned on balances up to $250,000 with NYCB (up from $100,000 with Hatch Bank) and the rate you earn is set for the next month based on the current month’s activities. Here are the current rate tier and requirements:

  • 1.00% APY. All customers who open an HMBradley Deposit Account with NYCB will be rewarded with 1.00% APY. No other requirements.
  • 2.00% APY. Customers who make a direct deposit of at least $500 per month to their HMBradley Deposit Account with NYCB and maintain positive monthly cash flow (meaning that monthly deposits exceed monthly withdrawals, not including HMBradley Credit Card payments) will earn 2.00% APY in the following month.
  • 3.00% APY. Customers who fulfill the 2.00% APY requirements AND also spend $500 per month on their HMBradley Credit Card will earn 3.00% APY in the following month.

Limited-time offer to switch for existing customers. HM Bradley is waiving some of the requirements for new customers that signed up to switch by 10/31/22:

Any customer who opens an HMBradley Deposit Account with New York Community Bank (NYCB) before November 1, 2022, will receive Level 2 Annual Percentage Yield (APY) until April 30, 2023.

Any customer who opens an HMBradley Deposit Account with NYCB and has an HMBradley Credit Card in good standing before November 1, 2022 will receive Level 3 APY on the balance of the HMBradley Deposit Account with NYCB until April 30, 2023.

You’ll have to start doing the requirements in April to get the higher rates in May 2023.

Requires a “real” direct deposit every month. You must receive some sort of direct deposit each month, as defined below:

For our accounts, we define direct deposits as those deposits made by the customer’s employer, a federal or state government agency, or retirement benefits administrator. These generally include payments made by corporations and other organizations. We do not consider deposits to an account that are made by an individual using online banking or other payment provider such as PayPal or Venmo as direct deposits. HMBradley shall make the final determination as to whether a deposit qualifies as a direct deposit for purposes of qualifying to earn interest.

Based on my experience, they do have a system for filtering incoming deposits, but it is not 100% accurate and your direct deposit may have to be reviewed manually. Their online account interface should clearly indicate whether you have made the required direct deposit for the current month. I had to contact them in order for them to manually check and mark the transfer as a direct deposit. Having it marked properly is required to get the top rate.

Positive monthly cash flow is based on ALL deposits and withdrawals (except HMB credit card spend). For the calculation of “positive monthly cash flow”, all deposits are considered including incoming transfers from another personal bank account. At the same time, your “spending” will also include any transfer out of your account, even if it’s just to another bank account that you own. They don’t count purchases made on your HMB credit card, which incentivizes you to use it – but conveniently they don’t care about your credit card spending habits as long as you’re using their card…

Basically, money has to keep coming into HMBradley and not go back out on a net basis every month. That’s a very unique requirement, but also hard to keep up forever. Even if you are a diligent saver, you will want to redirect some of those funds into other assets like stocks, ETFs, real estate, etc.

Credit card details. The HMBradley credit card is invite-only and partially based on their estimate of your income (which is in turn based on the size of your deposits, although you can attempt to self-report). Invitations are not guaranteed. You must opt in to their “One Click Credit” service which basically checks your TransUnion credit report so they can market stuff to you (soft inquiries). If your TransUnion credit file is frozen, they will not offer you an invite. But once you officially apply, you will have a hard inquiry.

Starting at the October 2022 monthly billing cycles, the HM Bradley credit card is basically a flat 1.5% cash back credit card with no annual fee. Prior to this, it used to be a more complicated 3/2/1% rewards card with tiered categories and a $60 annual fee (waived for first year). 2% cash back would have been nice, but now it’s just another vanilla mediocre rewards card.

Additional features. It’s still not exactly clear how other basic features will change with the new NYCB accounts. ATM rebate policy? Well, right now, they don’t even give you a debit card! This change seems a bit rushed.

Once you accept the new NYCB deposit account agreement and disclosures, we will ask you to agree to allow us to transfer your funds (including any funds in a Plan and accrued interest) from your deposit account at Hatch Bank to your new deposit account with New York Community Bank (NYCB). We will also provide you with your new account and bank routing numbers. You will want to use this information to change your direct deposit and recurring ACH transfers as soon as you can.

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer debit cards for new deposit accounts at this time. You will still be able to make ACH transfers, and we will let you know when a new debit card is available.

My thoughts. Interest rate changes are happening very quickly these days, and it is unknown how aggressively HM Bradley will keep up. If I didn’t already have an HMB account, I wouldn’t bother opening one up with the current hoops required. As it is, I do already have an HMB account and the credit card. I’ll take the no-hassle 3% APY for now, but I will be looking for them to raise their rates at least a bit more above the competition if I am going to keep jumping through that many hoops.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Savings I Bonds November 2022 Interest Rate: 6.48% Inflation Rate, 0.40% Fixed Rate

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November 2022 rates officially announced. 11/1/2022 press release. The variable inflation-indexed rate for I bonds bought from November 2022 through April 2023 will indeed be 6.48% as predicted. Every single I bond will also earn this rate eventually for 6 months, depending on the initial purchase month. The fixed rate for I bonds bought from November 2022 through April 2023 will be 0.40% (up from zero, and right in the midpoint of my guess), for a composite rate of 6.89% for 6 months. Still a good deal, either buying now or in January when the purchase limits reset.

See you again in mid-April for the next early prediction for May 2023.

Original post 10/13/22:

Inflation still 🚀 😬 Savings I Bonds are a unique, low-risk investment backed by the US Treasury that pay out a variable interest rate linked to inflation. With a holding period from 12 months to 30 years, you could own them as an alternative to bank certificates of deposit (they are liquid after 12 months) or bonds in your portfolio.

New inflation numbers were just announced at BLS.gov, which allows us to make an early prediction of the November 2022 savings bond rates a couple of weeks before the official announcement on the 1st. This also allows the opportunity to know exactly what a October 2022 savings bond purchase will yield over the next 12 months, instead of just 6 months. You can then compare this against a November 2022 purchase.

New inflation rate prediction. March 2022 CPI-U was 287.504. September 2022 CPI-U was 296.808, for a semi-annual increase of 3.24%. Using the official formula, the variable component of interest rate for the next 6 month cycle will be 6.48%. You add the fixed and variable rates to get the total interest rate. The fixed rate hasn’t been above 0.50% in over a decade, but if you have an older savings bond, your fixed rate may be up to 3.60%.

Tips on purchase and redemption. You can’t redeem until after 12 months of ownership, and any redemptions within 5 years incur an interest penalty of the last 3 months of interest. A simple “trick” with I-Bonds is that if you buy at the end of the month, you’ll still get all the interest for the entire month – same as if you bought it in the beginning of the month. It’s best to give yourself a few business days of buffer time. If you miss the cutoff, your effective purchase date will be bumped into the next month.

Buying in October 2022. If you buy before the end of October, the fixed rate portion of I-Bonds will be 0%. You will be guaranteed a total interest rate of 0.00 + 9.62 = 9.62% for the next 6 months. For the 6 months after that, the total rate will be 0.00 + 6.48 = 6.48% for the subsequent 6 months.

Let’s look at a worst-case scenario, where you hold for the minimum of one year and pay the 3-month interest penalty. If you theoretically buy on October 31st, 2022 and sell on October 1st, 2023, you’ll earn a ~7.01% annualized return for an 11-month holding period, for which the interest is also exempt from state income taxes. If you theoretically buy on October 31st, 2022 and sell on January 1, 2024, you’ll earn a ~6.90% annualized return for an 14-month holding period. Comparing with the best interest rates as of October 2022, you can see that this is much higher than a current top savings account rate or 12-month CD.

Buying in November 2022. If you buy in November 2022, you will get 6.48% plus a newly-set fixed rate for the first 6 months. The new fixed rate is officially unknown, but is loosely linked to the real yield of short-term TIPS. My guess is somewhere between 0.1% and 0.6%, but who knows. If I Every six months after your purchase, your rate will adjust to your fixed rate (set at purchase) plus a variable rate based on inflation.

If you have an existing I-Bond, the rates reset every 6 months depending on your purchase month. Your bond rate = your specific fixed rate (based on purchase month, look it up here) + variable rate (total bond rate has a minimum floor of 0%). So if your fixed rate was 1%, you’ll be earning a 1.00 + 6.48= 7.48% rate for six months.

Buy now or wait? Given that the current I bond rate is already much higher than the equivalent alternatives, I would personally buy in October to lock in the high rate for the longest possible time. I would grab the “bird in the hand”, even though you might get a slightly higher fixed rate in November. I already purchased up to the limits first thing in January 2022, and I’ll probably buy again in January 2023. However, I am also buying TIPS as the real yield right now is higher than that of I bonds.

Unique features. I have a separate post on reasons to own Series I Savings Bonds, including inflation protection, tax deferral, exemption from state income taxes, and educational tax benefits.

Over the years, I have accumulated a nice pile of I-Bonds and consider it part of the inflation-linked bond allocation inside my long-term investment portfolio. Right now, the inflation protection “insurance” is paying off with high yields and no principal risk.

Annual purchase limits. The annual purchase limit is now $10,000 in online I-bonds per Social Security Number. For a couple, that’s $20,000 per year. You can only buy online at TreasuryDirect.gov, after making sure you’re okay with their security protocols and user-friendliness. You can also buy an additional $5,000 in paper I bonds using your tax refund with IRS Form 8888. If you have children, you may be able to buy additional savings bonds by using a minor’s Social Security Number. TheFinanceBuff has a nice post on gifting options if you are a couple and want to frontload your purchases now. TreasuryDirect also allows trust accounts to purchase savings bonds.

Note: Opening a TreasuryDirect account can sometimes be a hassle as they may ask for a medallion signature guarantee which requires a visit to a physical bank or credit union and snail mail. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but the takeaway is don’t wait until the last minute.

Bottom line. Savings I bonds are a unique, low-risk investment that are linked to inflation and only available to individual investors. You can only purchase them online at TreasuryDirect.gov, with the exception of paper bonds via tax refund. For more background, see the rest of my posts on savings bonds.

[Image: 1950 Savings Bond poster from US Treasury – source]

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Capital One 360 Performance Savings Deposit Bonus (Up to $1,000)

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Update: Readers have reported that they were not able to apply the promo code even as new customers, and Capital One responded that this was a targeted promotion even though there is no such language on the offer page nor in the terms and conditions. I would make sure that the promo code “FALL22” was accepted before moving forward with this promo.

Capital One has brought back a deposit promotion worth up to $1,000 for new 360 Performance Savings accountholders. Note the following:

If you have or had an open 360 Performance Savings, 360 Savings, 360 Money Market, Savings Now or Confidence Savings account as a primary or secondary account holder with Capital One on or after January 1, 2019, you will be ineligible for the bonus.

Here are the details:

  • Open a new 360 Performance Savings account with promo code FALL22 by 12/14/2022.
  • Make a deposit of $10,000+ of external funds within 15 days of opening. Hold the money in your account for 90 days.
  • $10,000+ deposited = $100 bonus.
  • $50,000+ deposited = $500 bonus.
  • $100,000+ deposited = $1,000 bonus.
  • Capital One will deposit the bonus into your account within 60 days following the 90-day period. If your account is in default, closed, or suspended, or otherwise not in good standing, you will not receive the bonus.
  • You’ll also earn their normal interest rate (currently 3.00% APY as of 10/30/22). No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.

Note that the 90-day “maintain balance” period is after and in addition to the end of the 15-day “initial funding period”. So if you are counting from the opening day, that is a total of 105 days after opening. You may wish to chat with Capital One to confirm the exact date.

In terms of APY, you are getting 1% of your deposit with a minimum holding period of 90 days. (You’ll probably go over by a few days.) This works out to the equivalent of (a little less than) a 4% annualized yield. If you assume the current 3% APY holds, that would be an estimated 3% + 4% = 7% annualized yield for those 90 days.

Not a bad deposit bonus on top of a currently competitive base interest rate. This one is only for new customers or those that have closed their previous CapOne360 accounts by January 1, 2019.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.