Top 10 Sources to Raise Emergency Cash, Ranked

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While not exactly a fun exercise, do you know where you’d turn for some extra cash in an extended emergency? Morningstar has 10 Sources of Emergency Cash, Ranked from Best to Worst which contains many good points, but I would differ in my rankings.

I wondered about severity and duration. Is this money you expect to be able to pay back within a year, or is it a one-time permanent expense? You may not know the answer for sure, but for the purposes of this list I will assume that I become unemployed for an extended period and can’t start paying the loan back for 12 months.

1. Do the legwork and delay, defer, or work out a payment plan. Many lenders will work with you if you are in a temporary cash crunch, but you have to take the initiative. It may be possible to defer mortgage payments, put your student loan into forbearance, or get other forms of relief. By delaying any of these bills and ideally adding the payment due to the end of your term, you can save cash now for something else that can’t be put off until later.

2. Existing emergency fund. The standard advice is to keep 3-6 months of expenses in a liquid savings account. Has there been a reliable study on how many households actually have this? I would keep a little held back if possible and move down to the next available option below.

3. Sell the stuff. If you own things you don’t truly need, like a second car, timeshare, boat, jewelry, or other non-essential assets, it may be time to sell even at a loss. Your pride shouldn’t come in the way of protecting your family’s financial security.

4. 0% APR credit cards. Sure, credit card interest rates can be very high, but that’s because they can’t take away your house, car, or 401k balance away from you if you can’t pay it back! This is an important detail! If you’ve been taking good care of your credit score, you can score some low-interest financing for over a year. You can either go for a 0% APR balance transfer or simply put everything possible on your card to take advantage of 0% APR for purchases. If I was really hurting, cashing one of these 0% APR checks I keep getting and paying an upfront 3% balance transfer fee would be fine. If you don’t have them lined up yet, you should apply before you lose your job, as the credit card companies are tracking your employment nowadays and they may know if you’ve been laid off recently.

5. Taxable brokerage account. If you have stocks and bonds held outside employer plans and IRAs, these are fair game to sell. If I was really paying 17% interest, I would pay off the credit cards with some of this. I would first stop reinvesting dividends and start taking them as cash. Most places say to sell your bonds because they probably have minimal capital gains and haven’t dropped significantly in value during a crisis. You may also look for stock lots with tax losses that you can harvest. Again, it would depend on the tax situation; I might move on below if the expense is a temporary one.

6. Margin loans. Don’t want to sell some of your positions? Margin loans are backed by the value of your brokerage assets, and you can get it as cold hard cash. The risk is that if your collateral (stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds) drop steeply in value, your broker will force you to sell them to cover your loan. That could be a double-whammy of badness! Therefore, you should only borrow a very small percentage of the available amount. (In other words, this option is best if you have a big brokerage balance.) If you believe there is a good chance you will use this feature, consider moving your account over to Interactive Brokers as they have some of the lowest margin rates available (currently 1.55% on $25k). Margin requirements can get a little complex, see this Fidelity article.

7. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). Here’s another place I differ from Morningstar. I would much rather draw some money from my HELOC at about 5% interest for maybe a few months to a year than pull out a Roth IRA contribution that I can’t replace ever again. The catch here is that during a crisis, many banks may stop accepting applications or even freeze your existing HELOC. As of this writing, Wells Fargo and Chase have already stopped opening up new HELOCs. You should set one up now and not wait to pull money out at the last minute.

8. IRA “Loan” (CARES Act.) This is specific to right now. The CARES Act now allows you to take up to $100,000 out of your IRAs, after which you have 3 years to put it back into your IRA again without penalty or tax. It’s kind of like a really long rollover window. However, you will owe income tax on whatever partial amount is not put back within 3 years. This is called a coronavirus-related distribution (CRD) and is limited to those affected by the coronavirus (ex. diagnosed with COVID-19, experienced a layoff, furlough, reduction in hours, or inability to work due to COVID-19, or lack of childcare because of COVID-19.)

9. Life insurance cash values. I don’t have any whole life insurance myself, but built-up cash values seem like an acceptable place to draw some money in a true emergency. The loan option seems to be more complicated.

10. 401k loans. If one person in the household has a job that is very secure, then a 401k loan can offer a very low interest rate. You also pay the interest back into the 401k balance, so the only effective “cost” of the loan is that you will pay income tax on the interest an extra time. For example if the interest rate is 8% and your marginal income tax rate was 25%, you’d only effectively be paying 2% interest. The CARES Act now allows you to take out 100% of the vested balance, up to $100,000. The risk with a 401k loan is that if you get laid off, you must pay back the loan within 90 days or it will count as an unqualified withdrawal (taxes + penalties) until you are over age 59.5.

Everything else. Other options may include taking Social Security early, taking out a reverse mortgage on your home, and other forms of personal loans. My overall theme is that I want to protect my tax-sheltered assets if possible. I don’t want to touch my Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k). These are meant to grow for decades and decades, and since the contribution amounts are limited each year, I can’t get them back once I have taken them out as a hardship withdrawal.

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.

PenFed Credit Union $200 Checking 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: This promotion appears to have ended early.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union has a $200 bonus promotion for opening their new Access America checking account. You must deposit a minimum of $1,200, and make 5 debit card purchases within 90 days of account opening. They market this as a way of “adding $200” to your $1,200 stimulus check (not a requirement). Offer expires 6/14/20.

In order to avoid a $10 monthly fee with this account, you must maintain a $500 daily balance OR a monthly direct deposit of $500 or more. I would just keep at least $500 in the account until the bonus posts. With interest rates quickly heading back to 1% APY or lower, these bank bonuses are starting to look more appealing. For example, it would take $20,000 earning 1% APY for an entire year to make $200 in interest.

PenFed offers a variety of other financial services. With this account, you also become eligible for their 2% cash back credit card and their $250 bonus on car loan refinances. They’ve also been competitive on mortgages in the past. Unfortunately, their bank CD rates haven’t been great recently.

PenFed’s membership eligibility includes affiliated military and Federal employees, but anyone can join if they are a member of a partner organization. I have been a member for years after joining the National Military Family Association for $17. The website also states that being a previous Red Cross blood donor or volunteer makes you eligible. I recommend going through the PenFed application process and letting them guide you.

Offer valid from 5/4/2020 – 6/14/2020. Must receive at least $1200 in deposits in your checking account within 90 days of account opening and make 5 debit card purchases in the first 90 days. Only available to new personal checking members who do not have an existing checking account and qualify for an Access America Account. Once the criteria is met, the bonus will be credited to the new personal checking account no later than 120 days from account opening. Account must remain open, active and in good standing (no negative balance) at time bonus is distributed. PenFed will issue an IRS form 1099 reporting the value of the bonus. One bonus per member.

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.

Refinance Your Car Loan Due To Ultra-Low Interest Rates?

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Many interest rates are at all-time lows right now. This means that if you have any sort of debt, you should explore refinancing. The goal is to lower your interest rate and monthly payments while paying minimal upfront costs and fees.

Did you know that you can refinance your existing car loan? While I advise avoiding car loans because they turn a painful $1,500 in optional features into “only” $20 a month, I also know that most people do end up taking out a loan. Experian says that 85% of new cars and 55% of used cards are financed as of Q4 2019.

I’ve long recommended a good credit union for a new or used car loan. Below are one refi-centric rate comparison and several national credit unions that offer competitive rates on refinancing existing car loans – down to as low as 2% APR. For credit unions, don’t be afraid to use the alternative paths listed to join. There should be no loan application fee, although you will have to undergo a credit check. You should get multiple quotes to compare, including at least one credit union.

MyAutoLoan.com Refinance

  • This one is not a credit union, it is like LendingTree for auto loan refinancing. Open to everyone, you submit one application and they will give you multiple quotes from different private lenders.
  • They offer an interest rate estimator tool with no credit check based on your overall credit profile.
  • No application fees.
  • Refinance for as low as 2.04% APR for 36 months. They seem to specialized in refi, as their listed refinance rates are lower than their new/used car purchase loan rates.
  • No payments for up to 90 days for qualified borrowers.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

  • Membership open to active, honorably discharged, or retired military, Federal employees, or select membership groups. This includes being a Red Cross blood donor or volunteer. You can also join the Navy League for $25. I recommend just going through the PenFed application process and let them guide you.
  • Currently, they are offering a $250 bonus when you refinance an auto loan with them.
  • Refinance a 2019/2020 model year car for as low as 2.14% APR for 36 months.
  • Refinance a 2018 or older model year car for as low as 2.99% APR for 36 months.

Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Membership open to active military, veterans, and family members of veterans.
  • Refinance a 2019/2020 model year car for as low as 2.29% APR for 36 months.
  • Refinance a 2018 or older model year car for as low as 3.89% APR for 36 months.

USAA

  • Membership open to those with the military affiliation: active duty, Guard or Reserve, a veteran, an eligible family member, or a cadet or midshipman. USAA is the most strict about their membership if you are not military, but they usually have very competitive rates.
  • No application fee.
  • No payments until 60 days after your loan is approved.

Hanscom Federal Credit Union

  • Membership open to active or retired military as well as other partner organizations. If you don’t otherwise qualify, anyone can join the Nashua River Watershed Association for a one-time $35 fee.
  • Hanscom FCU offers a 0.25% discount for loans on new and used vehicles (excluding motorcycles) to current active duty members in the U.S. Military.
  • No application fees or title transfer fees.

Why multiple quotes? If you apply for a car loan, they will run a credit check and provide a specific rate quote on your credit report data. (Check your credit reports for free once a week until April 2021.) Thus, I wouldn’t only go by which place advertises the lowest “as low as” rate unless you have a perfect credit score. You should apply to multiple lenders and compare as they may target differed borrower profiles. If you make these credit checks within a short period of time (Experian suggests 14 days or less), the credit bureaus should automatically recognize that you are comparison shopping and only count one hard inquiry against your credit score.

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 2020

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.

The Federal Reserve is buying everything in sight (even junk bonds apparently), so it has been rate drops all around. Bank accounts now offer much higher available rates than Treasury bonds. I’d also recommend checking on your brokerage money market sweep fund as most are back to very low rates.

Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash for May 2020, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. I track these rates because I keep 12 months of expenses as a cash cushion and also invest in longer-term CDs (often at lesser-known credit unions) when they yield more than bonds. 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 5/6/2020.

High-yield savings accounts
While the huge megabanks make huge profits while paying you 0.01% APY, it’s easy to open a new “piggy-back” savings account and simply move some funds over from 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 (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. Marcus has a 7-month No Penalty CD at 1.55% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 1.50% APY with a $25,000 minimum deposit. CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 1.40% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • Comenity Direct has a 12-month CD at 1.70% APY ($1,500 min).

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, beware that many brokers pay out very little interest on their default cash sweep funds (and keep the difference for themselves). The following money market and ultra-short bond funds are NOT FDIC-insured and thus come with a possibility of principal loss, but may be a good option if you have idle cash and cheap/free commissions.

  • Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund currently pays an 0.57% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund which has an SEC yield of 0.40%. You can manually move the money over to Prime if you meet the $3,000 minimum investment.
  • Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 2.00% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 2.10% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is more interest rate risk.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 2.47% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 2.48% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months. Note that the higher yield come partly from a drop in net asset value during the recent market stress.

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 probably 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 5/6/2020, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 0.09% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 0.16% annualized interest.
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 0.57% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 0.14% SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL. Expect that GBIL yield to drop significantly as it is updated.

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. There are annual purchase limits. If you redeem them within 5 years there is a penalty of the last 3 months of interest.

  • “I Bonds” bought between May 2020 and October 2020 will earn a 1.06% rate for the first six months. The rate of the subsequent 6-month period will be based on inflation again. More info here.
  • In mid-October 2020, 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.

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 capped, and there are many fees that you must be careful to avoid (lest they eat up your interest). Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. 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.

  • The only notable card left in this category is Mango Money at 6% APY on up to $2,500, but there are many hoops to jump through. 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, and if you make a mistake you won’t earn any interest for that month. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. Rates can also drop to near-zero quickly, leaving a “bait-and-switch” feeling. I don’t use any of these anymore.

  • Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking (my review) still offers up to 4.09% APY on balances up to $10,000 if you make $500+ in ACH deposits, 12 debit card “signature” purchases, and spend $1,000 on their credit card each month. The Bank of Denver has a Free Kasasa Cash Checking offering 3% APY on balances up to $25,000 if you make 12 debit card “signature” purchases and at least 1 ACH credit or debit transaction per statement cycle. If you meet those qualifications, you can also link a savings account that pays 2% APY on up to $50k. Thanks to reader Bill for the tip. 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.

  • The Federal Savings Bank has a 5-year certificate at 2.05% APY ($10,000 minimum). Early withdrawal penalty is 365 days of interest.
  • Pen Air Federal Credit Union has a 5-year certificate at 2.20% APY ($500 minimum). Early withdrawal penalty is 180 days of interest. Their other terms are competitive as well, if you want build a CD ladder. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization ($3 one-time fee).
  • 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. Vanguard and Fidelity both have a 5-year at 1.00% APY right now. 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. 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 a sad 0.10% rate). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. You could also view it as a hedge against prolonged deflation (again if you can hold on for 20 years). As of 5/6/2020, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 1.16%.

All rates were checked as of 5/6/2020.

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.

Discover Bank Bonus: $150/$200 ($15,000/$25,000 Deposit)

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disc_osaDiscover Bank has extended the bonus again for their online savings account. If you open a new account through this promotion link by 5/11/20 and use the offer code OBE420, you can receive one of the following bonuses:

  • Deposit at least $15,000 by 5/25/20 to earn a $150 bonus, or
  • Deposit at least $25,000 by 5/25/20 to earn a $200 bonus.

This offer has been around since at least 2017 and is only for new Discover customers, but if you haven’t grabbed it yet it’s a solid bonus. Thanks to reader Geoff for the tip.

Offer not valid for existing or prior Discover savings customers or existing or prior customers with savings accounts that are co-branded or affinity accounts provided by Discover. Account must be open when bonus is credited. Bonus will be credited to the account by 6/8/20. Bonus is considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT. Offer may be modified/withdrawn without notice.

The Discover Online Savings Account has a current interest rate of 1.50% APY as of 4/10/20, which is a competitive rate although not the highest available. There are no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees. Interest is compounded daily and paid monthly.

If you deposit the minimum amount of $15k, the $150 bonus is effectively another 1% of your initial deposit. The $200 bonus on $25,000 deposited is a lower percentage, but if you have the extra cash then it may still be a good rate. There is no fixed minimum time period where you have to keep the money there after getting the bonus, so your effective ROI can be quite high. Keep in mind that you must still have an open account for the bonus to post.

I did not experience a hard credit pull when opening my Discover bank account on a previous bonus. Historically, their rates are competitive but not the rate leaders. Their overall feature set is not exceptional, so I only maintain $5 in there with an occasional transfer so they don’t close it for inactivity.

Bottom line. The Discover Savings account is a simple, barebones piggy-back savings account with no minimum balance and no monthly fees. The rates are historically competitive but rarely the highest. With no monthly fees, this is a relatively low-risk bonus if you have the funds available and have never had a Discover bank account before.

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 Savings Builder $300 Deposit 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: This offer is now expired and no longer available.

Expired information:

CIT Bank still has their Savings Builder Account deposit bonus. The bonus has increased to up to a $300 cash bonus depending on deposit amount, and it is open to both new and existing customers. The bonus is on top of the interest rate, currently 1.70% APY (as of 4/9/20) at their top tier for qualifying accounts. Unfortunately, if you did an earlier bonus, you are not eligible for this one:

PLEASE NOTE: Existing Customers enrolled in a Savings Builder bonus promotion prior to January 17, 2020, are not eligible for this promotion.

New deposit bonus details. For new customers, you must first open a new account with at least $100 and promo code Spring20 at this link. If you already had an existing account as of 2/19/20, you need to first officially enroll in this offer via the “Let’s get started” button at this link for existing customers. After doing that:

  • A new deposit of $25,000 to $49,999 within 15 calendar days of your open/enrollment date will get you a $150 cash bonus.
  • A new deposit of $50,000+ within 15 calendar days of your open/enrollment date will get you a $300 cash bonus.

New accounts will have to maintain this balance for 90 calendar days following the end of the 15-day Funding Period. However, existing accounts will only have to maintain this balance for 30 calendar days following the end of the 15-day Funding Period. The shorter holding period for existing customers is nice, but remember it has to be additional money new to CIT Bank. This is their definition of “starting balance” when measuring new deposits for existing customers:

The balances of all the customer’s individual Savings Builder accounts, any joint Savings Builder accounts in which the customer has ownership, if not already enrolled in the bonus promotion by another joint owner as of February 18, 2020.

They will deposit your bonus within 1 to 5 business days after the Funding Period, but it will be on hold (can’t withdraw) until 7 days after your minimum holding period of 30/90 days to make sure you satisfy the requirements.

Effective APY. Here are the effective interest rates you could get as either a new or existing customer:

  • For a new customer earning either the $150 bonus on $25,000 or $300 bonus on $50,000, which also qualifies you for the 1.70% APY rate, that works out to a total 4.10% APY for 90 days (2.4 + 1.70).
  • For an existing customer earning either the $150 bonus on $25,000 or $300 bonus on $50,000, which also qualifies you for the 1.70% APY rate, that works out to a total 8.90% APY for 30 days (7.2 + 1.70).

Note this is somewhat optimistic as you will probably add a several days of holding time unless your deposit lands at the very end of the 15-day funding period. Still, it’s always nice to stack a cash bonus on top of an already competitive interest rate. There are no minimum balance fees, no monthly service fees, no inactivity fee.

Savings Builder high interest qualifications reminder. This a unique savings account with two ways to qualify for their highest interest rate tier. You need ONE of the following in each Evaluation Period:

  • Maintain at least one single monthly deposit of $100+, OR
  • Maintain a balance of $25,000+.

Everyone earns the top tier rate for the first monthly “Evaluation Period”. Then, if you meet one of the requirements listed above during the first Evaluation Period, you’ll earn the top rate for the next monthly Evaluation Period. If you don’t meet a least one of the requirements, you will receive the base interest rate during the next Evaluation Period. They have an indicator in your online account that confirms that you have qualified. Now, if you’re going for this bonus, you’ll already have $25,000 in there so you will qualify for the higher interest rate.

One option that I did is to set up an automatic monthly transfer from my checking account to this account for $100 and satisfy the requirement on auto-pilot. (I can always transfer additional funds in or out as needed.) More details in my previous full review.

Bottom line. CIT Bank has refreshed their Savings Builder Account deposit bonus with a bigger bonus. You can get up to a $300 cash bonus depending on deposit amount, and it is open to both new and existing customers. Unfortunately, if you’ve done a Savings Builder bonus already, you are not eligible for another one. The bonus is on top of the interest rate, currently 1.70% APY (as of 4/9/20) at their top tier for qualifying accounts. These types of bonuses help me earn higher interest rates even when rates are dropping.

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.

Bank of America Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) List of Required Documentation

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As a follow-up to my initial post on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), there has been a some speculation as to the specific documentation required to prove your eligibility and payroll numbers. Each lender may have some discretion as to exactly what they require, but here is what Bank of America has listed as required documentation to submit:

Organizations with employees who file Tax Form 940:

  • Tax Form 940 from 2019
  • Bank of America Paycheck Protection Program Loan Amount Template
  • Bank of America Paycheck Protection Program Application Addendum
  • Tax form 941 or Payroll processor records for the period including Feb 15, 2020

Documents for Sole Proprietors or Self Employed, who do not file Tax Form 940:

  • 1040 Schedule C, if filed for 2019 OR
  • Draft 1040 Schedule C for 2019 if not filed
  • Bank of America Paycheck Protection Program Application Addendum

Documents for All Other Small Businesses:

  • Form 1099-MISC for 2019, for services rendered as an independent contractor
  • Bank of America Paycheck Protection Program Application Addendum

As far as I can tell, the BofA Application Addendum contains the same certifications and questions as the paper PPP application.

Hopefully, this will help you get your documents in order ahead of time so that you can get your applications approved more quickly.

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.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Forgivable SBA Loans For 2.5x Monthly Payroll

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If you are a small business impacted by COVID-19, including self-employed and independent contractors, you have hopefully been following the developments of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance (EIDL) being rolled out by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and U.S. Treasury. Details are still being ironed out, but PPP could cover up to 2.5 months of your payroll costs. Here are some general highlights from the Treasury PPP overview PDF along with some details from the Bank of America PPP application:

Loan Amount = 2.5 times Average Monthly Payroll. “The Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.” In the Bank of America PPP application, two possible options given were to use 2019 payroll or 2019 1099-MISC totals, and then multiple the average monthly payroll by 2.5. So if you averaged $6,000 per month, you can ask for a loan for $15,000. Income over $100,000 annually per employee isn’t covered. Here are some details:

For purposes of calculating “Average Monthly Payroll”, most Applicants will use the average monthly payroll for 2019, excluding costs over $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. For seasonal businesses, the Applicant may elect to instead use average monthly payroll for the time period between February 15, 2019 and June 30, 2019, excluding costs over $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. For new businesses, average monthly payroll may be calculated using the time period from January 1, 2020 to February 29, 2020, excluding costs over $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.

Fully Forgiven. “Funds are provided in the form of loans that will be fully forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.”

In my Bank of America, the details are given that it is a 2-year loan at fixed 1% interest. As noted, payments are deferred for the first 6 months. If you use the money in an eligible manner (see below), it is fully forgiven and not treated as taxable income.

Must Keep Employees on the Payroll—or Rehire Quickly. “Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.” In other words, this is supposed to encourage companies to keep employees and is separate from unemployment insurance.

All Small Businesses Eligible. “Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees—including nonprofits, veterans organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors— are eligible. Businesses with more than 500 employees are eligible in certain industries.”

Businesses are limited to one PPP loan. Each loan will be registered under a Taxpayer Identification Number at the Small Business Administration (SBA) to prevent multiple loans to the same entity. Owners with more than one business may apply for a separate loan for each entity.

Application Dates and Details. “Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. We encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap. […] You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating.”

While technically you can apply at any SBA 7(a) lender, as of 4/5 many of them don’t even have any formal application process at all! Bank of America started accepting applications early, but first required both an existing BofA business checking relationship AND a BofA loan relationship as of 2/15/20. They later relaxed the rules to require at least an existing BofA business checking relationship as of 2/15/20. Most banks are limiting the applications to existing clients, but I’ve tried to list a few that don’t have such a restriction.

In addition, the US Treasury now has a paper application that you can submit to any eligible lender. I have no idea what will be the best. Small local bank? Mega bank? I would assume that if you have an existing relationship with a bank, they would be able to just deposit the money into your primary business account. But I’ve learned to stop making assumptions in 2020!

The funds are supposed to go out first come, first served, although they may expand the amount available. I’m sure that is not helping the chaos. No documentation was required upfront for BofA, but I would get your payroll documentation ready to submit as soon as they ask for it.

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 2020

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.

The Federal Reserve further cut their target Fed Funds Rate to zero in March, so we continue to see a steady stream of rate drops on cash savings. I hope that some of you got a nice rate locked-in if you tried to refinance your mortgage.

Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash for April 2020, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. I track these rates because I keep 12 months of expenses as a cash cushion and also invest in longer-term CDs (often at lesser-known credit unions) when they yield more than bonds. 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 4/2/2020.

High-yield savings accounts
While the huge megabanks make huge profits while paying you 0.01% APY, it’s easy to open a new “piggy-back” savings account and simply move some funds over from 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 (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. Marcus has a 7-month No Penalty CD at 1.70% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 1.55% APY with a $25,000 minimum deposit. CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 1.70% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • CIT Bank has a few competitive term CDs at similar rates: 12-month CD at 1.86% APY ($1,000 min), 13-month at 1.82% APY, and 18-month at 1.85% APY.

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, beware that many brokers pay out very little interest on their default cash sweep funds (and keep the difference for themselves). The following money market and ultra-short bond funds are not FDIC-insured, but may be a good option if you have idle cash and cheap/free commissions.

  • Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund currently pays an 1.07% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund which has an SEC yield of 0.68%. You can manually move the money over to Prime if you meet the $3,000 minimum investment.
  • Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 2.08% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 2.18% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is more interest rate risk.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 2.57% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 3.16% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months. Note that the higher yield came from a drop in net asset value during the recent market stress.

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 probably 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 4/2/2020, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 0.09% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 0.14% annualized interest.
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 1.42% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 0.88% SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL. Expect these yields to drop significantly as they are updated.

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. There are annual purchase limits. If you redeem them within 5 years there is a penalty of the last 3 months of interest.

  • “I Bonds” bought between November 2019 and April 2020 will earn a 2.22% rate for the first six months. The rate of the subsequent 6-month period will be based on inflation again. More info here.
  • In mid-April 2020, 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.

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 capped, and there are many fees that you must be careful to avoid (lest they eat up your interest). Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. 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.

  • The only notable card left in this category is Mango Money at 6% APY on up to $2,500, but there are many hoops to jump through. 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, and if you make a mistake you won’t earn any interest for that month. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. Rates can also drop to near-zero quickly, leaving a “bait-and-switch” feeling. I don’t use any of these anymore.

  • Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking (my review) still offers up to 5.09% APY on balances up to $10,000 if you make $500+ in ACH deposits, 12 debit card “signature” purchases, and spend $1,000 on their credit card each month. Elements Financial has dropped to 2% APY on balances up to $20,000 if you make 15 debit card “signature” purchases or other qualifying transactions per statement cycle. 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.

  • Pen Air Federal Credit Union has a 5-year certificate at 2.20% APY ($500 minimum). Early withdrawal penalty is 180 days of interest. Their other terms are competitive as well, if you want build a CD ladder. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization ($3 one-time fee).
  • 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. Vanguard and Fidelity both have a 5-year at 1.60% APY right now. 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. Vanguard has a 10-year at 1.50% APY right now. 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 a sad 0.10% rate). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. You could also view it as a hedge against prolonged deflation, but only if you can hold on for 20 years. As of 4/2/2020, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 1.04%.

All rates were checked as of 4/2/2020.

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.

Juno: 2.15% APY Guaranteed for 1 Year, 5% Cash Back, $25 Referral 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.

Juno is a new fintech bank checking account with a combination of nice-looking features:

  • 2.15% APY guaranteed for 1 year for first 1,000 sign-ups who link a bank account. Up to $20,000 balance. Their Twitter account says 800 spots left as of 3/23.
  • 5% cash back on 5 brands of your choice, on up to $3,000 in debit card spend. Examples shown include Costco(.com, apparently), Amazon, Walmart.com, Target.com, Uber Eats, Doordash, Dunkin, and Starbucks. This is a permanent feature.
  • $25 bonus on first deposit if opened via referral link. The referrer gets $25 as well. That’s mine, thanks if you use it!
  • No minimum balance requirement, no maintenance fees, no ATM fees.
  • FDIC-insured through partner bank.

After the Fed rate cut to zero, 2.15% APY for 1 year is better than any 12-month CD out there, and this is a 100% liquid checking account. During my application process, it seemed that I could only get this “Priority Access” if I linked my external checking account. They use Plaid for linking data, which is a legit service (now owned by Visa) that I am familiar with.

The 5% cash back on Costco definitely caught my eye, as I spend thousands there every year:

At first glance, this look like another in a crowded field of banks. The high APY, high cash back rewards, and an upfront bonus all try to help it stand out initially. However, if I can really get 5% cash back at Costco, this one is a keeper! For now, I just quickly signed up for Juno to lock in the guaranteed APY.

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.

Special Coronavirus Relief: Paid Leave, Mortgage Payments, Student Loans, Credit Cards, and Unemployment

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Wow. I thought that I was prepared, but I must admit that I was still shaken by last week. For those facing severe financial emergencies right now, so I have tried to collect information and links to where you can hopefully find some help. Be prepared advocate for yourself; many of these will only be given to those who ask and are persistent. Everything is in flux as well, so if you don’t find success try again later. There will be more government stimulus coming.

Paid leave for small/mid-sized business employees, including part-time workers and self-employed. Eligible employees can receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded paid child care leave for 12 weeks when employees’ children’s schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable. Business must have less than 500 employees (52% of workforce). This is done via refundable payroll tax credits. DOL press release. NYT article.

The act provided paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19 related reasons and created the refundable paid sick leave credit and the paid child-care leave credit for eligible employers. Eligible employers are businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees that are required to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave under the act. Eligible employers will be able to claim these credits based on qualifying leave they provide between the effective date and Dec. 31, 2020. Equivalent credits are available to self-employed individuals based on similar circumstances.

Unemployment insurance. Many states are expanding their eligibility rules for unemployment benefits. You might be eligible if you have to stay at home to care for children. You may not have to officially quit your current job (i.e. your employer temporarily shuts down). You might be eligible if you are under quarantine or have to take care of someone under quarantine or infected. Please visit the Department of Labor for your specific state. CNBC article. DOL.gov/coronavirus.

Mortgage payments. Contact your mortgage or home-equity loan servicer directly to ask about mortgage payment deferral options. Fannie and Freddie Mac have instructed their loan servicers to suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months if borrowers suffer hardship. In New York, the impacted can defer mortgage payments from any servicer for 90 days. Bank of America is allowing deferrals on a case-by-case basis, with the waived payments being added to the end of their loan term. CNBC article.

Student loans. President Trump announced that federally-held student loans would be set to 0% interest for at least 60 days in addition to being able to request forbearance for 60 days, but there has been a lot of difficulty in actually making the requests with loan servicers as they have cut back on call center hours. There will also be an automatic suspension of payments for any borrower more than 31 days delinquent as of March 13, 2020, or who becomes more than 31 days delinquent. Press release. ED.gov. Studentaid.gov.

Credit cards and auto loans. Chase, Citibank, American Express, US Bank, Discover, Ally Bank, and Apple have all announced some sort of accommodation for coronavirus. The offers are often vague, but it can’t hurt to call and ask for details. For example, Discover says it won’t report late payment to credit bureaus, but what about late fees and penalty APRs? Chase says they might waive fees or extend payment due dates, but only on a case-by-case basis. Apple (if approved) will allow you to skip your March credit card payment without incurring interest charges. Ally Bank will allow deferral of auto loan payments for 120 days, but finance charges will still accrue. Some of these are rather lame, like offering up credit line increases that were always available anyway.

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 Promotion: Up to $250 Cash Bonus

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Ally Bank has a new cash deposit bonus that is offering a 1% cash bonus (up to $250) on new deposits on top of their existing interest rates. 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 5%+ APY. Here’s how it works:

  • Enroll by 3/20/20. You must enroll or you won’t get the bonus. Existing customers must enroll with the same e-mail as linked to their Ally bank account.
  • Fund account by 3/31/20. 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.
  • Maintain funds through 6/30/20. Your funds need to remain in an eligible Ally Bank account through 6/30/20. Any withdrawals made during this time may reduce your bonus.
  • Get cash bonus on 7/30/20. Get a 1% cash bonus back on the money you moved, up to $250. That means $25,000 would max out this bonus.

Ally had a similar bonus in 2018, but with higher deposit limits. Note the following regarding which are eligible Ally accounts:

What accounts are eligible?
New or existing Ally Bank Online Savings Accounts, Money Market Accounts, and CDs are eligible for the cash bonus. If you have more than one of these accounts, we’ll consider all of them when calculating your bonus. Remember, the total maximum bonus you can receive is $250.

What accounts are not eligible?
Interest Checking accounts, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), accounts owned by a trust, custodial accounts, Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) accounts, and Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts aren’t eligible for the cash bonus. New money you add to these accounts, or money you move from these accounts to your eligible accounts, won’t qualify for the bonus.

Rough math. The current rate on the Ally Online Savings account is 1.50% APY, and the 11-month No Penalty CD is 1.75% APY on $25k+ balances (as of 3/15/20). Given that you can an additional 1% bonus in 3 months, the bonus itself works out to the equivalent of a 4% annualized yield. 1.5% plus 4% = 5.5%, but given the recent market volatility, the savings rate may be cut down to 1% in the coming months. However, the No Penalty CD at 1.75% would be locked in. So you’re looking at the equivalent of a 3-month CD at roughly 5% – 5.75% APY for new money deposits between $1,000 and $25,000.

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. All new funds added after 3/13/20 will count as new money for this promotion. They’ve already set the start date in the past, so you gain nothing by delaying your enrollment.

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 $250) on new deposits on top of their existing interest rates. For their savings account, this works out to a 3-month holding period paying roughly 5% annualized interest. You must enroll soon by 3/20/20 and your account must be opened and fully funded by 3/31/20 at the very latest.

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.