Free Funded IRA Goal Progress 2022: $2,060 in Bonuses First Quarter

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.

Each year, I have a side goal of earning the equivalent of the maximum annual IRA contribution limit of $6,000 using the profits from various promotions alone. In 2021, I reached $5,592 in bonuses and $2,500+ in extra interest. If you had put $6,000 into your IRA every year for the recent 10 year period (2011-2020) and invested in a simple Target Date retirement fund, you would have turned small deals into a $100,000+ nest egg. An extra hundred grand can be the real-world result of regularly investing $500 a month into productive assets. A couple could double these numbers.

Ground rules: Real-world results for one real person only. As following with My Money Blog tradition, this will track my personal, real-world results. It would be quite easy to list a bunch of random promotions that add up to $6,000, but these will be promotions that I personally sign up for and complete the requirements (even though I’ve already opened so many bank accounts, credit cards, and brokerage accounts over the years). I will track my individual results only, although my partner does also participate on a more selective basis. Nearly all of them have been documented in real-time in the Deals and Offers category, Top 10 credit cards list, and brokerage bonus list:

2022 bonuses and promotions (so far)

The total tally is currently $2,060, which is almost exactly on pace to reach the $6,000 annual IRA contribution limit from these bonuses alone. (I know I used quarter, but I’m so late that we are closer to about 1/3rd of the way through the year and 1/3rd of the way to the max.)

I don’t do every deal, and it has been harder to find credit cards for which I am eligible that offer points that I can use in the foreseeable future. I’m sure there are many opportunities that might be valuable to you, that wouldn’t work for my travel patterns or personal preferences. For those new to this hobby, I would first grab the low-hanging fruit like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

These numbers ignore higher bank interest APYs from switching banks or buying savings bonds. They also ignore ongoing credit card purchase rewards like 2% to 2.6% cash back on all credit purchases (or airline miles or hotel points) and 5% cash back on specific categories.

This is an enjoyable and profitable hobby for me, but I don’t like to waste my time either. I look for a solid return based on the time commitment required. I tend to avoid speculative bets on magic ponzi boxes backed by other magic ponzi boxes, bonuses that are hard to convert to real money, and anything that requires driving to stores where things may or may not be in stock. The deals that I post usually last at least a few days, but it’s a bit like value investing where you have to be ready to take decisive action when an opportunity shows up, because they won’t last forever.

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 – May 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 May 2022, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. We all need some safe assets for cash reserves or as a bond substitute, 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 5/10/2022.

Significant changes since last month: Rates are moving. Brokered CDs and US Treasury bonds close to 3% for 5 years. 1-year Treasury close to 2%. 9.62% Savings I Bonds still available if you haven’t done it yet. 4% APY on up to $6,000 for liquid savings at Current with no direct deposit requirement.

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.

  • 4% APY on $6,000. Current offers 4% APY on up to $2,000 each on three savings pods. No direct deposit required. $50 referral bonus for new members with $200+ direct deposit with promo code JONATHAP228. Please see my Current app review for details.
  • 3% APY on up to $100,000, but requires direct deposit and credit card spend. HM Bradley pays up to 3% APY if you open both a checking and credit card with them, and maintain $1,500 in total direct deposit each month and make $100 in credit card purchases each month. Please see my updated HM Bradley review for details.
  • 3% APY on 10% of direct deposits + 1% APY on $25,000. One Finance lets you earn 3% APY on “auto-save” deposits (up to 10% of your direct deposit, up to $1,000 per month). Separately, they also pay 1% APY on up to another $25,000 with direct deposit. New customer $50 bonus via referral. See my One Finance review.
  • 3% APY on up to $15,000, requires direct deposit and credit card transactions. Porte requires a one-time direct deposit of $1,000+ to open a savings account. Porte then requires $3,000 in direct deposits and 15 debit card purchases per quarter (average $1,000 direct deposit and 5 debit purchases per month) to receive 3% APY on up to $15,000. New customer bonus via referral. See my Porte review.
  • 1.20% APY on up to $50,000. You must maintain a $250 direct deposit each month for this balance cap, otherwise you’ll still earn 1.20% on up to $5,000. They also pay 6% on USDC stablecoin, but I avoid this as it is not FDIC-insured (and you can get higher rates elsewhere if you did want to hold USDC.) New customer $100 bonus via referral. See my OnJuno review.
  • 1.25% APY (no balance cap). SoFi is now offering 1.25% APY with no balance cap. You must maintain a direct deposit each month of any amount. Convenient if you already have a relationship with them. See $25 + $300 SoFi Money new account and deposit bonus.

High-yield savings accounts
Since the huge megabanks 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. CFG Bank has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 1.07% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 0.60% APY for all balance tiers. Marcus has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 0.75% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • Department Of Commerce Federal Credit Union has a 12-month certificate at 2.15% APY. $500 minimum. 180 day interest penalty on early withdrawals. Anyone can join this credit union through a $5 membership in the American Consumer Council (ACC). Enter ACC membership number on the online application.

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). Unfortunately, money market fund rates are very low across the board right now. Ultra-short bond funds are another possible alternative, but they are NOT FDIC-insured and may experience short-term losses at times. These numbers are just for reference, not a recommendation.

  • The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund which has an SEC yield of 0.53%.
  • Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 1.79% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 1.89% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so your principal may vary a little bit.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 1.68% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 1.38% 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. 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. Right now, this section isn’t very interesting as T-Bills are yielding close to zero!

  • 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 5/9/2022, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 0.50% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 1.94% annualized interest.
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 0.38% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 0.23% (!) SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL.

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 May 2022 and October 2022 will earn a 9.62% 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-October 2022, 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.

  • Quontic Bank is offering 1.01% APY on balances up to $150,000. May be useful for those with high balances. You need to make 10 debit card point of sale transactions of $10 or more per statement cycle required to earn this rate.
  • The Bank of Denver pays 2.00% APY on up to $10,000 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. If you meet those qualifications, you can also link a Kasasa savings account that pays 1.00% APY on up to $25k. Thanks to reader Bill for the updated info.
  • Presidential Bank pays 2.25% APY on balances between $500 and up to $25,000, if you maintain a $500+ direct deposit and at least 7 electronic withdrawals per month (ATM, POS, ACH and Billpay counts).
  • Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union pays 3.30% 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.
  • (I no longer recommend this credit union myself, but the rate is still good.) Lafayette Federal Credit Union is offering 2.02% APY on balances up to $25,000 with a $500 minimum monthly direct deposit to their checking account. No debit transaction requirement. They are also offering new members a $100 bonus with certain requirements. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization ($10 one-time fee).
  • 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.

  • Department Of Commerce Federal Credit Union has a 5-year certificate at 3.05% APY. $500 minimum. 180 day interest penalty on early withdrawals. Anyone can join this credit union through a $5 membership in the American Consumer Council (ACC). Enter ACC membership number on the online application.
  • Live Oak Bank has a 5-year CD at 2.75% APY ($2,500 minimum) with an early withdrawal penalty of 180 days of interest.
  • KS StateBank has a 5-year CD at 2.70% APY ($500 min). Early withdrawal penalty is 18 months 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. Right now, I see a 5-year CD at 3.20% APY. Be wary of higher rates from callable CDs listed by Fidelity.

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 CD at 3.00% APY vs. 2.98% for a 10-year Treasury. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity.
  • 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%). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. But if holding for 20 years isn’t an issue, it can also serve as a hedge against prolonged deflation during that time. Purchase limit is $10,000 each calendar year for each Social Security Number. As of 5/9/2022, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 3.38%.

All rates were checked as of 5/10/2022.

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.

Savings I Bonds May 2022 Inflation Update: 9.62% Interest Rate!

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.

May 2022 rate confirmed at 9.62%. Official press release. The variable inflation-indexed rate for I bonds bought from May 1, 2022 through October 31, 2022 will indeed be 9.62% as predicted. Every single I bond will earn this rate eventually for 6 months, depending on the initial purchase month. The fixed rate (real yield) is also 0% as predicted. Still a good deal.

See you again in mid-October for the next early prediction for November 2022.

Original post 4/12/22:

Inflation (and thus I Bonds) 🚀🚀🚀! 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 May 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 April 2022 savings bond purchase will yield over the next 12 months, instead of just 6 months. You can then compare this against a May 2022 purchase.

New inflation rate prediction. September 2021 CPI-U was 274.310. March 2022 CPI-U was 287.504, for a semi-annual increase of 4.81%. Using the official formula, the variable component of interest rate for the next 6 month cycle will be 9.62%. 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 April 2022. If you buy before the end of April, the fixed rate portion of I-Bonds will be 0%. You will be guaranteed a total interest rate of 0.00 + 7.12 = 7.12% for the next 6 months. For the 6 months after that, the total rate will be 0.00 + 9.62 = 9.62%.

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 April 30th, 2022 and sell on April 1st, 2023, you’ll earn a ~6.51% annualized return for an 11-month holding period, for which the interest is also exempt from state income taxes. If you theoretically buy on April 30th, 2022 and sell on July 1, 2023, you’ll earn a ~7.17% annualized return for an 14-month holding period. Comparing with the best interest rates as of April 2022, you can see that this is much higher than a current top savings account rate or 12-month CD.

Buying in May 2022. If you buy in May 2022, you will get 9.62% 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, and is thus very, very, VERY likely to be 0%. 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 + 9.62 = 10.62% 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 April to lock in the high rate for the longest possible time. Who knows what will happen on the next reset? I already purchased up to the limits first thing in January 2022. You are also getting a much better “deal” than with TIPS, as the fixed rate is currently negative with short-term TIPS.

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. 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. Don’t expect to be able to open an account in 5 minutes on your phone.

Bottom line. Savings I bonds are a unique, low-risk investment that are linked to inflation and only available to individual investors. Right now, they promise to pay out a higher fixed rate above inflation than TIPS. 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.

Rising Rates Mini-Update: 5-Year CDs at 3% APY, 5-Year MYGA Rates at 3.65%

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’m going to wait a bit on my full May interest rate update, as I expect more rate changes early this week. Even the rates quoted below may become outdated quickly, but I wanted to point out certain rates at multi-year highs and also near the psychological 3% level. Here are a few examples as of 5/1/22:

  • Brokered CD rates: 3.05% APY for 5-year CDat Vanguard and Fidelity fixed income desks (non-callable, Capital One and Goldman).
  • Credit union CD rate: 3.03% APY for 5-year certificate at Department Of Commerce Federal Credit Union.
  • US Treasury Bonds: 2.97% yield to maturity at 5 years length, secondary market.
  • Fixed Annuity: 3.65% rate on 5-year MYGA from The Standard (A Rating) on 5/2/22 via Blueprint Income. Possibly as high as 3.85% with $100,000 at Stan the Annuity Man (varies by state). Learn more about MYGAs here and here.

I have no idea where rates will go from here. They may go much higher. 🤷 I haven’t decided when to lock in something, but I’m definitely paying attention.

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 Credit Card: 3% Cash Back For a Year w/ Direct Deposit (Limits Apply)

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.

SoFi has another new promotion if you have the SoFi Credit Card and SoFi Checking/Savings and a qualifying Direct Deposit every month: 3% cash back for 1 year (365 days) on a maximum of $12,000 of purchases ($360 in rewards). The good news is that the promo appears pretty open. If you don’t have one of the requirements, just add it.

After the cap of $12,000 in purchases that will earn 3% cash back (36,000 points redeemable for $360 in total rewards), it will revert back to the standard 2% cash back rate. That means you’ll really only earn a max of $120 more than you would have otherwise at the standard 2% cash back rate. Still, not bad as the products are already competitive without any promos (1.25% APY on up to $150,000 with any direct deposit, 2% cash back on purchases).

1) You will need to maintain a qualifying Direct Deposit every month with SoFi Checking and Savings in order to continue to receive this promotional cash back rate. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from 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. A maximum of 36,000 rewards points can be earned from this limited-time offer. After the promotional period ends or once you have earned the maximum points offered by this promotion, your cash back earning rate will revert back to 2%.

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.

Current Fintech App Review: $50 Bonus, 4.00% APY on $6k

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: Check your app; Current has “upgraded” existing users to Premium tier features with no monthly fee (previously $4.99/month). This means everyone gets 3 savings pods that earn 4% APY on up to $2,000 each ($6,000 total). $50 referral bonus with promo code JONATHAP228 now the best new user offer (details below).

Current is part of the new wave of fintech apps that partner with a traditional bank. In this case, banking services are provided by Choice Financial Group, member FDIC. Current reminds me a lot of the Chime app, with its quick sign-up process, modern smartphone app, and user-friendly feature set targeting the young and underbanked (average customer age for both is 27 years old).

Everyone now gets (no monthly fee):

  • No minimum balance. No minimum opening deposit.
  • No credit check. No Chexsystems check.
  • No overdraft fees.
  • Fee-free ATM withdrawals within the 40,000+ Allpoint ATM network.
  • Access to paycheck up to 2 days early.
  • Gas station authorization holds immediately released.
  • On top of no overdraft fees, also get up to $100 in fee-free overdraft coverage.
  • 3 Savings Pods (earn 4% APY on up to $6,000 total).

4% APY details. Current just announced a new feature: 4% APY on their “Savings Pods”, which is definitely a differentiator if they keep it up. A “savings pod” is like a sub-account where you can set aside money for a specific goal like “rainy day”, “travel”, etc. Interest is paid out daily. There are no restrictions on transferring money in and out of a “savings pod”.

You can create 3 savings pods with up to $2,000 earning interest per pod, for a total of up to $6,000 earning 4% APY. Note that you will have to accept some new terms and conditions before earning interest on a savings pod. Make sure you see a green banner that says “Earning Interest”.

If you held $2,000 at 4% APY for an entire year, that would be $80 of interest annually ($6.67/month). If you upgraded to Premium, that would cost an additional $60 a year in fees, but if you maxed out the extra $4,000 available at 4% APY, that would be $160 of additional (taxable) interest.

Note that the 4% APY does not come with a spending requirement or a direct deposit requirement. Current says that this is not meant as a temporary rate (via Techcrunch):

“We’re not approaching this as a promotional rate,” explains Current VP of Product, Josh Stephens. “We’re approaching it as something that’s available for all for the foreseeable future…I think, certainly, you see promotional rates from other folks out there with a lot of bells and whistles attached to it. But this is something that’s available for anyone, with no balance minimum, no fees,” he says.

(Mark the date, 1/13/22 and let’s see how long it lasts.)

New user bonuses.

  • If you sign up using my referral link, enter promo code JONATHAP228, and make a single direct deposit of $200+ within the first 45 days after opening, they will credit you $50.

Existing user bonuses.

  • If you are an existing customer, try going into your profile and enter the following Current Codes: Beast, BeastBank, and BeastHunt. Youtuber MrBeast should send you $1 for each code ($3 total)
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.

I Savings Bonds: Nearly 10% Yield + 10X More Popular!

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.

Nothing like a 10% yield with no principal risk to attract more attention to a quiet little investment option. The WSJ has a new article What Are I Bonds? Everything You Need to Know to Earn Nearly 10% Interest as a follow-up to The Safe Investment That Will Soon Yield Almost 10% (paywall?). No groundbreaking discoveries, but you might find something useful as they are admittedly more complicated than a traditional bank savings account. Here’s an interesting stat of how TreasuryDirect is selling several billions of dollars more than in previous years:

Americans snatched up nearly $11 billion in I Bonds, which are inflation-adjusted U.S. savings bonds, over the past six months, compared with around $1.2 billion during the same period in 2020 and 2021, according to Treasury Department records. That figure will likely rise even higher on an expected jump in rates next month.

Another common question is to buy this week in April or wait until May. Here is another perspective:

I Bonds will be subject to at least one rate change in a 12-month period. Elliot Pepper, a financial planner in Baltimore, doesn’t know what the next rate after 9.6% will be. So, he’ll try to mitigate the risk that it will be lower than 7.12% by taking half of his annual limit and “locking in” the combined 7.12% and 9.6% and then buying the remaining $5,000 in late October, when he has more visibility about the next rate.

If the rate then is lower than 7.12%, Mr. Pepper said he would have been better off investing his $10,000 maximum before May. If the rate is higher than 7.12%, he would have been better off buying the bonds after May, he said.

My view remains that historically, a 7.12% inflation rate is much higher than average. So if you take a step back, your options are:

7.12% for 6 months + 9.62% for 6 months + ??? for 6 months

Or:

9.62% for 6 months + ??? for 6 months + ???? for 6 months

I’d rather lock in the 7.12% over an unknown number. However, if the new rate in October does end up being even higher, I will still eventually get that future ??? rate as a long-term holder of I bonds (it’ll just be shifted six months later). Finally, you get to start earning the interest a month earlier if bought in April. As I had the cash available in other low-interest vehicles, I saw no reason to wait. I’ve already maxed out for 2022 and 2021 (and 2020 and 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.

Till Financial Review: Kid Banking App That Teaches Compound Interest ($50 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.

Update April 2022: This continues to be our “piggy bank” of choice, allowing the kids to watch their balances grow on the iPad. Just got an e-mail that Till Financial is doubling their opening bonus to $50 for the rest of this month. To get the $50 bonus: Open an account via this link, enter my referral code JP8548 during sign-up, create a family, fund with at least $20, and transfer any amount of money (even $0.01) into a kid account.

Original review:

There are many apps in the “reloadable debit card for kids” category, where parents can transfer money into their account and kids can spend it. However, I have been looking for a better app that can illustrate the power of compound interest and deferred gratification. Till Financial allows the parent to incentivize savings via both custom matching and interest amounts. The idea is to provide them a safe place to fail and learn, such that they don’t have to learn it later through missed opportunities and credit card debt. Here are some important highlights followed by details about my favorite features:

  • No monthly fees. No premium tier exists, so not even requests to “upgrade”.
  • Child can be of any age. Family owner must be 18+.
  • Free virtual and optional physical Visa debit card.
  • Now supports both iOS and Android app.
  • Banking services provided by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC.
  • No interest paid.

Match each savings contribution. Parents can encourage transfers to savings by matching each transfer by a custom percentage. For example, if they move $10 from their Spend bucket to the Savings bucket, you might match another $5 or $10. Any transfers both in and out of savings must be approved by a parent/admin account.

Pay monthly “interest” on savings balances. Parents can also encourage savings accumulation by paying a custom “interest” rate. For example, you might pay them 5% or 10% monthly for a while and see if they notice how fast it can compound if they don’t touch it. 5% growth every month compounded for a year is +80% growth, i.e. $100 would turn into $180. 10% growth every month compounded for a year is +213% growth, i.e. $100 would turn into $313!

Automatic weekly allowance or one-time transfers. You set the allowance to “auto-pilot” once a week, or just give manually.

Save for a specific goal. Your child can set a goal (ex. $100 for Airpods) and then redirect their allowance, other income, or requested gifts from friends and family into that goal.

Tasks. You can create a menu of specific tasks along with specific payouts (ex. $25 for mowing the lawn.) Tasks can be made available daily, weekly, or on a one-time basis.

If it’s free, how does Till plan on making money? This quote from TechCrunch sums it up well:

Besides making money on interchange fees, Till aims to earn revenue by partnering with merchants to offer rewards to users. It also plans to earn referral fees by referring the teens to other financial institutions when they get older and have different needs.

“It’s not our intention to be your son or daughter’s forever bank. It’s our intention to be their first bank,” Burton said. “So, when they hit the age of majority, we’re actually giving them a high-five off of our platform and introducing them to maybe their first college loan or their first credit card.”

Does Till offer a sign-up bonus for new customers? Yes, if you apply at this link and enter my referral code JP8548 during sign-up, you will get $25 now $50 once you set up an account, create a family, fund with at least $20, and transfer any amount of money (even $0.01) into a kid account. My cash bonus arrived without problem.

My kids are still on the younger side, so I have been using this mostly as a virtual piggy bank for my kids so far, as they can log into their account and see the (growing) balance. I expect to gradually allow them to handle money and take some responsibility for their spending and saving decisions.

Bottom line. If you are looking for an educational spending app for your kids, check out Till. This is not a “high interest” account, but more about showing them how compound interest and consistent savings adds up. Hopefully, they can use the app to learn deferred gratification in a real-world environment. There is currently a referral bonus for new customers.

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.

Wells Fargo $1,500 New Business Checking Account Bonus (In-Branch Only)

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(Update: Looks like Wells Fargo ended this promotion early. Hope those interested got the code while they could.)

wellsfargo_logoWells Fargo has a $1,500 bonus offer if you open a new business checking account in a physical branch with a special bonus code from this offer webpage. Thanks to reader Matt for the tip. Here are the bonus details:

  • Open a new, eligible business checking account at a Wells Fargo branch with a minimum opening deposit of $25 by 05/13/2022. You must provide the bonus offer code (generated via link above) to the banker at the time of account opening.
  • Have at least $5,000 ending daily balance in your new business checking account on the 30th calendar day and the 60th calendar day after account opening.
  • We will deposit the bonus into your new business checking account within 30 days after meeting all offer requirements.

Here is the full list of documents you will need to bring to the branch for each type of business (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc). If you are a sole proprietorship that does work using your legal first and last name and your SSS as Tax ID, there aren’t any additional documents beyond a driver’s license required.

More fine print:

You must open a new Initiate Business Checking®, Navigate Business Checking®, Optimize Business Checking® or Analyzed Business Checking account in order to be eligible for this bonus offer.

This offer is intended for new business checking customers only. You must use your bonus offer code at account opening when you apply for a new eligible Wells Fargo business checking account. For this offer, a new business checking customer is identified by the U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number for the business used to open the new business checking account.

You are not eligible for this offer if:
– You are a current owner of a Wells Fargo business checking account.
– You received a bonus for opening a Wells Fargo business checking account within the past 12 months.
– You are a Wells Fargo employee.

Bonus offer code can only be used once.

While this requires an physical branch visit, Wells Fargo does have nearly 5,000 branches nationwide (map locator) and this is a quite big bonus with relatively modest balance requirements.

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 Money: $300 New Direct Deposit Bonus, 1.25% APY on All Balances, $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.

SoFi has added an excellent deposit bonus worth up to $300 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.
  • Additional $300 bonus if you deposit at least $5,000 within 30 days from the date of your first Qualifying Direct Deposit. SoFi will credit members who meet qualification criteria within 14 days of the end of the 30-day Evaluation Period. Promo ends 5/31/22. (Alternatively, $100 bonus for $2,000 deposit, $50 bonus for $1,000 deposit. See table below.)
  • 1.25% APY on ALL account balances (no more cap) in Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults) with monthly direct deposit (of any amount). 0.70% APY without direct deposit. Rates are as of 4/7/22.
  • Overdraft coverage of up to $50 on on debit card purchases available to customers with monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more.

$300 is a very high bonus for only having to commit $5,000 for 15-30 days. Even the lower bonus tiers are solid. Assuming a 30-day holding period, the bonus is the equivalent of earning 60-72% APY on top of the standard APY!

What makes it harder is that it must be “qualifying direct deposits” per their discretion. Based on the fine print 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 members who open a SoFi Checking and Savings account during the Promotion Period and all existing SoFi Checking and Savings customers who have not previously set up Direct Deposit transactions(“Direct Deposit”) into their SoFi Checking and Savings account as of the beginning of the Promotion Period are eligible for the Program.

Promotion Period: The Program will be available from 4/5/22 12:01AM ET to 5/31/22 11:59PM ET.

Bonus Terms: In order to qualify for eligibility for a bonus, SoFi must receive at least one Qualifying Direct Deposit from an Eligible Participant during the Promotion Period. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from 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 bonus amount will vary based on the total amount of Qualifying Direct Deposits received during the Evaluation Period. The Evaluation Period is defined as 30 days from the date your first Qualifying Direct Deposit is received. For example, if you receive $1,000-$1,999 in Qualifying Direct Deposits in 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 beyond the Evaluation Period.

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 – April 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 April 2022, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities (useful for both cash reserves and as possible bond substitutes). I look for lesser-known opportunities available to individuals while still maintaining FDIC insurance or equivalent. 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 4/6/2022.

Significant changes since last month: Short-term rates are moving up. Don’t overlook US Treasury bonds, as they are now relatively attractive in the 6-month to 5-year range, while CD rates are still lagging (but may catch up later). 7.12% Savings I Bonds still available if you haven’t done it yet. SoFi 1.25% APY and some short-term CD rate bumps from the banks. Deposit promos are another alternative.

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.

  • 4% APY on $2,000/$6,000. Current offers 4% APY on up to $2,000 on each of their “savings pods”. Free users get 1 savings pod, while premium users get 3 savings pods. Potential promos include $50 bonus and “Premium free for life”. Please see my Current app review for details.
  • 3% APY on up to $100,000, but requires direct deposit and credit card spend. HM Bradley pays up to 3% APY if you open both a checking and credit card with them, and maintain $1,500 in total direct deposit each month and make $100 in credit card purchases each month. Please see my updated HM Bradley review for details.
  • 3% APY on 10% of direct deposits + 1% APY on $25,000. One Finance lets you earn 3% APY on “auto-save” deposits (up to 10% of your direct deposit, up to $1,000 per month). Separately, they also pay 1% APY on up to another $25,000 with direct deposit. New customer $50 bonus via referral. See my One Finance review.
  • 3% APY on up to $15,000, requires direct deposit and credit card transactions. Porte requires a one-time direct deposit of $1,000+ to open a savings account. Porte then requires $3,000 in direct deposits and 15 debit card purchases per quarter (average $1,000 direct deposit and 5 debit purchases per month) to receive 3% APY on up to $15,000. New customer bonus via referral. See my Porte review.
  • 1.20% APY on up to $50,000. You must maintain a $250 direct deposit each month for this balance cap, otherwise you’ll still earn 1.20% on up to $5,000. They also pay 6% on USDC stablecoin, but I avoid this as it is not FDIC-insured (and you can get higher rates elsewhere if you did want to hold USDC.) New customer $100 bonus via referral. See my OnJuno review.
  • 1.25% APY (no balance cap). SoFi is now offering 1.25% APY with no balance cap as of 4/5/22. You must maintain a direct deposit each month of any amount. Convenient if you already have a relationship with them. See $25 + $300 SoFi Money new account and deposit bonus.

High-yield savings accounts
Since the huge megabanks 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.

  • T-Mobile Money is still at 1.00% APY with no minimum balance requirements. The main focus is on the 4% APY on your first $3,000 of balances as a qualifying T-mobile customer, but the lesser-known fact is that the 1% APY is available for everyone. Thanks to the readers who helped me understand this. Unfortunately, some readers have reported their applications being denied.
  • AdelFi (formerly ECCU) is offering new members 1.01% APY on up to $25,000 when you bundle a High-Yield Money Market Account & Basic Checking. (Existing members can get 0.75% APY.) To join this credit union, you must attest to their statement of faith.
  • There are several other established high-yield savings accounts at closer to 0.50% APY. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is on that list, and if you open a new account with a Marcus referral link (that’s mine), they will give you and the referrer a 1.00% APY for your first 3 months (a 0.50% boost). You can then extend this by referring others.

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. CFG Bank has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 0.85% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 0.50% APY for all balance tiers. Marcus has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 0.65% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • Alternatively, Marcus has a 10-month CD at 1.10% APY and a 1-year Treasury Bond has a rate of about 1.76% (purchase at TreasuryDirect.gov or with brokerage account, details below).

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). Unfortunately, money market fund rates are very low across the board right now. Ultra-short bond funds are another possible alternative, but they are NOT FDIC-insured and may experience short-term losses at times. These numbers are just for reference, not a recommendation.

  • The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund which has an SEC yield of 0.19%.
  • Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 1.45% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 1.55% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so your principal may vary a little bit.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 1.36% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 1.23% 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. 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. Right now, this section isn’t very interesting as T-Bills are yielding close to zero!

  • 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 4/6/2022, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 0.19% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 1.76% annualized interest.
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 0.22% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 0.04% (!) SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL.

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 2021 and April 2022 will earn a 7.12% 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 2022, 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 risk of messing 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.

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.

  • Lafayette Federal Credit Union is offering 2.02% APY on balances up to $25,000 with a $500 minimum monthly direct deposit to their checking account. No debit transaction requirement. They are also offering new members a $100 bonus with certain requirements. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization ($10 one-time fee).
  • Quontic Bank is offering 1.01% APY on balances up to $150,000. May be useful for those with high balances. You need to make 10 debit card point of sale transactions of $10 or more per statement cycle required to earn this rate.
  • The Bank of Denver pays 2.00% APY on up to $10,000 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. If you meet those qualifications, you can also link a Kasasa savings account that pays 1.00% APY on up to $25k. Thanks to reader Bill for the updated info.
  • Presidential Bank pays 2.25% APY on balances between $500 and up to $25,000, if you maintain a $500+ direct deposit and at least 7 electronic withdrawals per month (ATM, POS, ACH and Billpay counts).
  • Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union pays 3.30% 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.

  • NASA Federal Credit Union has a special 49-month Share Certificate at 1.80% APY ($10,000 min of new funds). Early withdrawal penalty is 1 year of interest. They also have a 15-month special at 1.20% APY and 9-month at 0.90% APY.
    Anyone can join this credit union by joining the National Space Society (free). However, NASA FCU will perform a hard credit check as part of new member application.
  • KS StateBank has a 5-year CD at 2.05% APY ($500 min). Early withdrawal penalty is 18 months 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. Right now, I see a 5-year CD at 2.70% APY. Be wary of higher rates from callable CDs listed by Fidelity.

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 CD at 3.00% APY vs. 2.64% for a 10-year Treasury. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity.
  • 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%). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. But if holding for 20 years isn’t an issue, it can also serve as a hedge against prolonged deflation during that time. Purchase limit is $10,000 each calendar year for each Social Security Number. As of 4/6/2022, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 2.81%.

All rates were checked as of 4/6/2022.

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.

OnJuno Checking Account Review: 1.20% Bonus Rate, $100 Bonus, 10% Cashback with USDC

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.

Updated April 2022. OnJuno is a fintech banking app that added several crypto/stablecoin features and currently running some aggressive promos that may (or may not) be of interest.

  • $100 cash bonus via referral link for new customers with first direct deposit of $250+. The direct deposit also qualifies you for Metal tier access (no monthly fee). This is up from $50.
  • Metal tier offers 5% cashback on your 5 selected merchants on up to $6,000 per year (max rewards $300). Basic tier only gets up to $500 per year ($25 max).
  • Metal tier currently offers 10% cashback if you spend USDC on your 5 selected merchants until 5/31/22. Valid on up to $3,000 (max rewards $300)
  • Current FDIC-insured bonus interest is 1.20% on up to $50,000.
  • If you hold USDC stablecoin instead, interest rate is now 6% (as of April 1, 2022).
  • When you sell crypto, the cash is available in your OnJuno checking account instantly.

OnJuno partners with Evolve Bank and Trust for FDIC insurance. A reminder that cryptocurrencies, including USDC stablecoins, are not covered by FDIC insurance even though the creators claim they are backed 1:1 by US dollars.

Update: 10% cash back details. I was intrigued by the 10% cashback offer if you “spend UDSC”. OnJuno has some good options (details below) including Amazon, Target, Walmart, and AirBnB. I discovered that you can simply purchase a set amount of USDC stablecoin, and then you can set your debit card to draw down from the USDC balance. This way, you can control your exposure to stablecoins according to your comfort level.

Example: I changed one of my 5 merchants to Amazon, bought $100 of USDC, and then immediately went online to buy $100 of Amazon gift cards. My total “holding time” for USDC was about 23 minutes, as you can see from my account screenshot below.

This means that I could get $300 cash back on $3,000 of purchases at Amazon, Target, Walmart, or AirBnB. I could load USDC right before using it to purchase gift cards, and spend the gift cards later. Not bad.

I was less interested in the 4% interest on stablecoins for May, but they raised it to 6% in April. This is closer to the interest rates paid by other crypto exchanges. OnJuno does offer a convenience factor as you can switch to and from USD quickly, as the others make you wait for an ACH withdrawal.

Sign-up process. The sign-up process was completed 100% online and mostly fine, although I had to spend some extra time carefully taking smartphone photos of the back and front of my driver’s license. My pictures were initially rejected for being too dark, too much glare, etc.

Immigrant-friendly. According to this American Banker article, OnJuno looks to target Asian immigrants who like to build up savings and then remit some of it internationally to their families abroad. They have no hidden fees on sending money abroad, and you only need a Social Security number and state-issued ID to join.

Bank-to-bank transfers. OnJuno uses the Plaid service to link with external bank accounts for funding and free ACH transfers (both deposits and withdrawals). They also provide you with the full account number and routing number, which you can use to connect with other banks like Ally, Marcus, CapOne 360, etc. The routing number is 084106768 which is confirmed as that of Evolve Bank & Trust. I was able to make a deposit and withdrawal initiated at Ally without issue.

Bonus rate, not APY. You may notice that they don’t use “APY” and instead say “bonus rate”. Here’s their reason:

The Bonus Rate is offered entirely by OnJuno and is not interest provided by Evolve Bank and Trust. The bonus rate You earn will be credited to Your account at the beginning of each month. Your funds begin generating a bonus rate once they are available on Your OnJuno Checking Account. Please note that OnJuno reserves the right to cancel, remove, and change this bonus at any time. OnJuno also reserves the rights, in sole discretion, to refuse this bonus without cause, reason, and notice.

I’ve been getting my bonus rate every month without issue, but this is the first time I’ve seen this language. Your interest is still shown on a 1099-INT at the end of the year.

5% cash back merchant list. You can choose 5 from the following list of brands. No Costco (sad face).

  • Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Spotify, Headspace, Calm, Whole Foods, Walgreens, Trader Joe’s, CVS, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates, Doordash, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Blue Bottle Coffee, In N Out, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, Uber, Lyft, and AirBNB.

Here is an example of what I might pick, as I already have the Amazon Prime credit card with 5% back at Amazon and Whole Foods.

Additional features.

  • No minimum balance requirement.
  • Fee-free access to both Allpoint and Moneypass ATM networks (85,000+ locations).
  • Free debit Mastercard.

Instant virtual cards. You can create “virtual” 16-digit debit card numbers in the app, which are different than your physical card and you can “lock” them at any time. This may be useful for fraud prevention and perhaps even pesky trial offers.

Apple and Google apps. OnJuno launched their app in February 2021.

No mobile check deposit. I have installed the app, but they do not have mobile check deposit as of April 2022.

Transfer limits. If you plan on transferring larger sums of money, know that OnJuno has different transfer limits for if you initiate with them vs. external institution. The external daily limits are much higher, currently $70,000 per day vs. $10,000 per day. View limits here.

Customer service. You can contact them via phone at 415-969-5775 (9am to 6pm Pacific) or online message (they replied to me within a few hours).

Bottom line. OnJuno is a new fintech banking app with a competitive interest rate, new customer bonus, and added perks if you pay with USDC stablecoins. Your checking account has FDIC-insurance from Evolve Bank and Trust.

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