How to Juggle Six Bank Accounts To Maximize Interest

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Now, I know someone commented “How the heck do you keep track of all these bank accounts?” before, and I’m sorry I didn’t reply right away. Someone else asked again, so I got off my butt and whipped up a diagram to explain it. It’s not that bad, and it’s worth it get the best interest rate for my cash. First, I use Yodlee to track bank balances. This way I just log in to one site, and at a glance I can see balances and recent transactions. If I need more detail, then I can log into the respective bank websites. Yodlee also recently added access to Emigrant Direct, so that was nice.

Now to explain how I transfer money to and from these accounts, here is a picture. Please excuse my mad Microsoft Paint skillz.


Bank of America – I use BofA as my local bank, to get cash and deposit checks. They have ATMs everywhere I live (mostly). I just switched to the one with $500 minimum and no Direct Deposit requirement, and I always keep between $500 and $1000 there since they don’t give any interest.

Capital One 360 / VirtualBank / Emigrant Direct – I use all three pretty interchangeably as a gateway between accounts, since they all allow linking of external accounts. VirtualBank is the predominant one due to their adequate interest rate and shorter hold times on money. I keep a couple thousand in these banks as a buffer – anytime I need to transfer money somewhere, say to BofA, I can transfer it there within 2-3 days. In the meantime, it’s earning interest.

Presidential Bank – I consider this my main bank. With Direct Deposit, the Internet Checking Plus Account [review] is free. From it, I can do everything you’d want from a checking account. I write checks, I use their online BillPay to pay all my bills not charged to credit cards, I can even wire money or request cashier’s checks. The only sticking point is that free ATM access is sparse, but not impossible. I also have the Premier Savings Account here, from which I can make instant transfers to the Checking Account. Of course, I definitely wouldn’t use this bank if it wasn’t for their outstanding interest rates.

So to recap, I use Presidential Bank for everything I can, and only use BofA locally for cash and depositing checks. The other online banks are mainly to facilitate the transfer of money between these banks (and any other banks I open for free money bonuses).

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  1. Why, aside from the account opening bonuses, do you use the intermediary banks? Is it difficult/slow to transfer money between Presidential and your local bank? Also, doesn’t Presidential cap their best rate at $25k of deposits? Or do I have that wrong?

  2. Do you have to pay a fee for online transfers between banks? That is something I need to look into. I think (though I’m not sure) that I would have to pay a fee to transfer between Chase and ETrade bank, so I always end up writing a check to myself and mailing it, which takes too long and just seems really backward somehow!

  3. Nickel – The banks are the only way I can transfer funds online from Prez to BofA. Otherwise, I could write a check from one to the other but that would incur out-of-state check holds. This way, I can get a couple thousand to either bank in 2-3 days. I never really need more than that. Presidential caps their Checking rate at $25k, and Premier Savings rate at $35k. So I can put $60k total there at 3.75-3.87% APY.

    Madame X – The transfers are all free, I hate paying bank fees =).

    Also, the intermediary banks may at one time or another have a higher interest rate than Prez, who knows. Why not keep them around if they have no minimums and no fees? Of course, the sign-up bonuses are free money too. And I love free money.

  4. wow, you make me feel guilty for leaving everything a money market account, at virtually no interest.

  5. Wow, that’s a lot of accounts. I have two bank accounts (in the same bank) and 1 investment account (non-retirement) and I hate it. I wish I could do everything from just 1 account.

  6. wannabe ceo says

    Should I start just paying you now
    as my financial advisor?

  7. Why can’t you transfer direct from Presidential to BoA? If you can transfer from the Pres to/from the others and to/from the others to BoA, it seems like you should be able to do it… But maybe I’m missing something.

  8. Is there anyway you can do bill payment thru ING Direct … this is something I was considering as I end up making all the bill payments thru my BoA account. (I have a BoA checking & an ING Direct savings account) Thus I end up holding a higher balance in BoA for a longer time in anticipation of the bills to be paid without any interest.


  9. I have a few more accounts than you.
    YOu forgot UFB which currently has better interest rate than Emigrant and allows free check writing. You should not have to worry about a few days hold since you are still earning interest.
    With UFB you can mail your checks for free and overnight by using UPS.

  10. wannabe ceo – Sure, I accept all major credit cards =)

    nickel – only certain online banks allow linking of external accounts. think hub and spoke.

    NS – not that I know of, no bill pay. I do all my BillPay through Prez, so I can make interest while waiting for the bills to be paid.

    Anon – UFB looks good, I just don’t have an account there, since they do a credit check when you open an account. With all the juicy credit card deals, I want at least $100 for a credit check.

  11. Great post…definitely food for thought

  12. There is a way to do bill pay thru ING …why not just use that instead of going thru Presidental. ING recently added Electric Orange which you can do bill pay, send paper checks. So I do same as you just with BofA and ING Electric Orange.

  13. ING Electric Orange has ATM access and competitive interest rates.
    Here is what they list for there rates….

    Electric Orange Balance Interest Rate APY
    $0-$49,999.99 3.93% 4.00%
    $50,000.00-$99,999.99 4.94% 5.05%
    $100,000.00 or more 5.18% 5.30%

  14. If you have WAWA near you, free ATM combined with Presidential account means I don’t need BOA. The only thing I don’t like is I have to mail my deposit checks in to Presidential since I am not near one of their B&M banks.

  15. To Paul: I’m a big fan of Presidential. I just created a “link” between my Presidential Premier Savings Acct [current rate 5.25%APY] and my local Wachovia Bank branch, to enable ‘bank to bank’ transfers, thus eliminating the need for sending deposits by mail.

  16. To JoeB:

    What’s the minimum at Wachovia? Do you have savings or checking for the transfer?

  17. Min is $1,000 for free checking with many, many bennies !!
    I transfer to and from my checking account.

  18. What are the charges if you transfer from wachovia checking to any other, say ING or emigrant??

  19. Have you considered using PayPal as the “hub”? Is VirtualBank faster?

  20. Hi, I’m a new reader and I love your blog. I have a question here. I see that bank of america has incoming wire fees, but you told madame x that the transfers are free. How do you do this?

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