Chase Sapphire Banking: 60,000 Bonus Points For New Customers

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Chase Bank has a new premium checking account tier called Sapphire Banking. To qualify, you will need to maintain at least $75,000 in deposits or investments in qualifying Chase accounts. Otherwise, a $25 monthly fee applies. Sapphire Banking perks include:

  • No ATM fees, including rebates on fees charged by non-Chase ATMs.
  • No fees for foreign exchange (ATM/debit), outgoing wire transfers, or stop payments.
  • No fees on the first four overdrafts within 12 months.
  • Free online stock and ETF trades with You Invest by JP Morgan.
  • Access to Sapphire lounges at concerts, sports and special events, early ticket sales and premium seats
  • $0 monthly service fee on a linked Chase Total Business Checking account.

Everyone wants assets under management now, even the banks. Since investments count towards the $75,000 requirement, if you have that much in ETFs, mutual funds, or stocks at another broker, you could perform an in-kind ACAT transfer over to Chase You Invest. This would let you avoid parking $75,000 at Chase earning nearly zero interest. (2% interest on $75k is $1,500 per year.) I’ve previously moved over some Vanguard funds to Bank of America / Merrill Edge in order get their asset-based perks.

Here’s the fine print:

There is a $25 Monthly Service Fee for Chase SapphireSM Checking OR $0 when you have an average beginning day balance of $75,000 or more in any combination of this account and linked qualifying deposits/investments. Qualifying personal deposits include this checking account and up to nine personal Chase checking accounts (excluding Chase Private Client CheckingSM ), personal Chase savings accounts (excluding Chase Private Client SavingsSM), Chase Liquid® Cards, CDs, certain Chase Retirement CDs, or certain Chase Retirement Money Market Accounts (balances in Chase Money Purchase Pension and Profit Sharing Plans do not qualify). Qualifying personal investments include prior end of month balances for investment and annuity products offered by JPMorgan Chase & Co. or its affiliates and agencies. Balances in certain retirement plan investment accounts, such as Money Purchase Pension and Profit Sharing Plans, do not qualify. Investment products and related services are only available in English.

New account bonus. According to this press release, “Sapphire cardholders will be able to earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points when they bring in $75,000 in new qualifying deposits and investments and open or upgrade to a Sapphire Banking account”. The exact date is to be announce “shortly”, but it will be sometime in October. This language suggests you’ll need to also have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve credit cards. Offer is available online and in-branch.

Now, 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for $600 cash. With the Sapphire Preferred card, 60,000 UR points can be redeem for $750 in travel booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal (think Expedia). With the Sapphire Reserve card, 60,000 UR points can be redeem for $900 in travel booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal (think Expedia). You could also transfer those points to airline miles. That’s a pretty good bonus, although I wonder if Chase will issue a 1099-INT and with what value amount.

Cost-benefit analysis. I don’t know of Chase savings accounts with high interest rates. That means if you’re bringing over cash, again you might be giving up bank interest of 2% or higher. $75,000 would earn $125 interest per month at 2% APR. If they require you to keep it there for 90 days and it’s in an account that doesn’t earn any interest, that’s $375 in foregone interest already. Then you have to wait up to another 45 days to get the bonus, during which you’ll need to keep the account open. If you take out all your money, you’ll still need to pay the $25 monthly fee, which means another $50 to keep it open two more months. I don’t like having to give up hundreds of dollars upfront in the hopes of an eventual bonus. I would consider moving over some index funds instead, especially if they agree to rebate the account transfer fee ($25 to $75), as many other brokers do. I’ll wait until all the details come out.

Bottom line. Chase Bank has a new premium checking account tier called Sapphire Banking, targeted at the “mass affluent”. There is a new account bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points for existing Sapphire credit cardholders if you move over $75,000 in cash and/or investment assets, but the full details have not yet been confirmed.

How To Enable Auto Sweep on Paypal Accounts (2018)

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

If you use PayPal to accept credit cards for your small business (eBay, Etsy, e-store, freelance, etc), you may not want to keep your money sitting at PayPal (especially if you are earning higher interest in your bank account). There is a feature called Auto Sweep that checks daily and automatically “sweeps” any money that arrives in your PayPal account into your bank account overnight.

The Auto Sweep feature used to be easily found in their settings. Then they moved it into a dim corner of their website that was harder to find. Last week, I couldn’t find it at all. After digging through several outdated articles, it turns out that as of 2018 you can’t access the feature at all unless you call in and ask for it explicitly. Not exactly customer-friendly behavior, but PayPal makes money off your idle balances… (The PayPal Money Market fund that offered higher interest shut down in July 2011.)

Here’s how to enable Auto Sweep on your PayPal account as of 2018. This is another post for the benefit for others searching online. First, make sure you meet these requirements:

  • You must have a Business PayPal account in good standing.
  • You must have a bank account linked to your PayPal account.
  • You must have lifted your withdrawal limit and verified your PayPal Account.

Next, you must call PayPal directly via phone.

  • Once logged into your PayPal account click Contact at the bottom of the page.
  • Choose the Call Us option and call the number listed for your account. Use the unique code to quickly identify yourself to them.
  • When you reach a human, explicitly ask for “Auto Sweep” to be enabled on your account.

After that, they will flip a switch on their end, and you should finally be able to see the option enabled on your online account. Log back into your PayPal account and follow these instructions:

  • Click Profile beside “Log Out” and select Profile and settings.
  • Click My money.
  • Click Set near “Automatic transfers.”
  • Click Edit.
  • Click Yes, select the bank you want your money transferred to, and click Save.

Here’s what you should see after Auto Sweep has successfully been turned on:

There you go. Note that if you ever manually request a cash transfer from a bank account to your PayPal balance, that this would automatically turn off Auto Sweep. I guess the money running around in circles causes a tear in the time-space continuum or something. (You can go back an turn Auto Sweep back on manually.)

If you activate this feature, it may also change your how you use the PayPal Business Debit card, as there will no longer be any cash balance in your account to draw from. For non-PIN signature purchases, these will still work if you first link a bank account as a backup source, and then the debit card charges will pull from your designated backup source. You can also link up certain PayPal credit cards (source), but not just any credit card as backup. For ATM withdrawals, you will not be able to make ATM withdrawals with a zero PayPal balance (source).

I wouldn’t really recommend using the debit card anyway, there are much better small business card options with no annual fee.

CIT Bank Review: 11-Month No Penalty CD 2.05% APY, 18-Month CD 2.50% APY, Money Market 1.85% APY

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

citbank200

Rates updated 9/11/18, No-Penalty CD now at 2.05% APY. CIT Bank (not to be confused with Citi Bank) is an online-only bank with a multi-year history of competitive rates. They don’t offer a checking account and instead focus on a variety of savings and CD products with high interest rates. Here are the highlights:

  • 11-Month No-Penalty CD at 2.05% APY with $1,000 minimum to open. 11-month CD keeps a fixed rate, but no withdrawal penalty seven days or later after funds have been received. This means that your interest rate will never go down, but you can still move out if interest rates go up. (If you have an existing No Penalty CD that you want to close and open up a new one, please see my instructions below.)
  • Money Market Account at 1.85% APY, currently available on all tiers ($0+) with no max. $100 minimum to open, but no minimum balance requirement. Up to 6 withdrawals per month.
  • 18-month CD at 2.50% APY, 13-month CD at 2.25% APY. Each CD also has a $1,000 minimum opening deposit. The early withdrawal penalty is 6 months of interest on CD with terms of 1 to 3 years.

Each of these types of account has their pros and cons. The No-Penalty CD has a rate that can’t go down, but also has a $1,000 minimum balance. The 18-month CD has a higher rate, but significant penalties if you make an early withdrawal. The Money Market rate could rise or drop, and also has more flexibility as you can easily make more deposits and also make 6 withdrawals every month.

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

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

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

After deposit verification, then your funding will go through.

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

citnewcd

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

citmm

How to transfer your money from an existing No Penalty CD into an new, higher-rate No Penalty CD (or any other new account). Let’s say you opened up a No Penalty CD at 1.55% APY or 1.85% APY, but then the rate for a new CD has risen to 2.05% APY. You have the option of moving the funds (with no penalty of course) over to a new CD with a new 11-month holding period. I just did this, and here’s the easiest way to do so:

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

User interface. While the front-facing website is pretty slick, after you login the backend is run by Fidelity National Information Services (subdomain ibanking-services.com). This is a popular backend software system used by many smaller banks who don’t want to create their own software from scratch. As of early 2018, the user interface was upgraded to be look more appealing and be more user-friendly. Two-factor authentication is available using voice or SMS.

There is also an app available (iOS/Android) provided by the same company. It is similarly functional and includes mobile check deposit. Here are some screenshots:

citapp

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

Best Interest Rates on Cash – September 2018

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

This is my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to get an idea of how much additional interest you’d earn if you are moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 9/4/18.

High-yield savings accounts
While the huge megabanks like to get away with 0.01% APY, getting higher rates is as easy as transferring some money electronically from your checking account to an online savings account. Keep in mind that the interest rates on savings accounts can drop at any time, so consider prioritizing banks with a history of competitive rates.

  • CIT Bank Money Market offers 1.85% APY with no minimum balance ($100 to open), no max balance cap. Redneck Bank offers 2.00% APY on a maximum balance of $50k. Several other established high-yield savings accounts are in this close range.
  • In terms of newcomers, Customers Bank offers 2.25% APY guaranteed until 6/30/19, but with a minimum balance of $25k+. Northfield Bank has a Platinum Savings Online (not their regular Platinum Savings) at 2.25% APY up to $100k, but there is an $8 monthly fee if under $2,500.
  • My “hub” bank account is the Ally Bank Savings + Checking combo due to their history of competitive rates, 1-day external bank transfers, and overall ease of use. The free overdraft transfers from savings allows to me to keep my checking balance at a minimum. Ally Savings is currently at 1.85% APY. From here, I open “spoke” accounts and CDs to lock in higher rates.

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, you should know that money market and short-term Treasury rates have been rising. 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 2.08% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund, which has an SEC yield of 1.93%. 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 2.42% SEC Yield ($3,000 min) and 2.52% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 2.42% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 2.54% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
I am often asked what to do with a big wad 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. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.

  • USALLIANCE Financial Credit Union has a 1-year CD at 2.75% APY ($500 minimum new money) with an early withdrawal penalty of 6 months interest. You must join the credit union first, but anyone can join via American Consumer Council (ACC). CIT Bank 1-year CD is at 2.50% APY ($1,000 minimum) with an early withdrawal penalty of 3 months interest.
  • For more flexibility, the Ally Bank 11-month No Penalty CD is at 2.00% APY ($25k minimum) and the CIT Bank 11-Month No-Penalty CD is at 1.85% APY with a lower $1,000 minimum. The lack of early withdrawal penalty means that your interest rate can never go down for 11 months, but you keep full liquidity. You can open multiple CDs in smaller $1,000 increments to get even more flexibility.

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 2018 and October 2018 will earn a 2.52% 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 2018, 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.

  • The only notable card left in this category is Mango Money at 6% APY on up to $5,000, but there are many hoops to jump through. There is a $3 monthly fee and you need to maintain a minimum $800 net direct deposit each month. This means you can’t direct deposit $800 and also take out $800 via online transfer. Checks and ATM withdrawals have additional fees. The only thing left is to spend the money via the Visa debit feature (and miss out on flat 2% cash back on all purchases).

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. That’s just how it goes with these types of accounts.

  • Consumers Credit Union recently announced changes starting 10/1/18, including lower balance limits ($10k down from $20k) and more restrictive requirements, but also higher interest rates in some tiers. Free Rewards Checking now offers 3.09% to 5.09% APY on up to a $10k balance depending on your qualifying activity. The highest tier requires their credit card in addition to their debit card (other credit cards offer $500+ in sign-up bonuses). Keep your 12 debit purchases just above the $100 requirement, as for every $500 in monthly purchases you may be losing out on 2% cash back elsewhere (or $10 a month after-tax). Thanks to reader Jonathan for the heads up. Find a local rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.

Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
You might have larger balances, either because you are using CDs instead of bonds or you simply want a large cash reserves. 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 such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account.

  • Synchrony Bank has a special 13-month CD at 2.65% APY ($2,000 min). Note that the early withdrawal penalty is relatively big at 6 months of interest. NASA Federal Credit Union has a special 15-month Share Certificate at 3.25% APY ($5,000 min, EWP 6 months). 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.
  • Ally Bank has a 5-year CD at 3.00% APY ($25k minimum) with a relatively short 150-day early withdrawal penalty. For example, if you closed this CD after 2 years you’d still get a 2.39% effective APY even after accounting for the penalty. (2.61% at 3 years.)
  • United States Senate Federal Credit Union has a 5-year Share Certificate at 3.53% APY ($60k min), 3.47% APY ($20k min), or 3.41% APY ($1k min). Note that the early withdrawal penalty is a full year of interest. Anyone can join this credit union via American Consumer Council.
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable fixed early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 3-year non-callable CD at 3.00% APY and a 5-year non-callable CD at 3.35% APY. Watch out for 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 fixed early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 10-year non-callable CD at 3.45% APY. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity. Matching the overall yield curve, current CD rates do not rise much higher as you extend beyond a 5-year maturity.
  • How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a 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 long-term bond and thus a hedge against deflation, but only if you can hold on for 20 years.

All rates were checked as of 9/4/18.

Chase You Invest: 100 Free Stock Trades Details and Comparison

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Chase just announced a new free stock trade program as part of a new online brokerage arm called You Invest. This means another megabank is moving more heavily into “relationship banking” where they hope you will keep your bank accounts, credit cards, brokerage accounts, and mortgage all at the same place. This is pretty significant as JP Morgan Chase is the largest US bank in terms of both market value and total customers (over 60 million).

According to CNBC, here are the offer details:

  • 100 free trades per year for the first year. Launches next week. Free trades must be done online or via app. Anyone can open a You Invest Trade account with no minimum balance requirement. You can fund with a Chase account or another external bank account.
  • After the first year, 100 free trades per year ongoing for those with $15,000+ in combined balances (Premier level). Assuming this matches up with their Premier banking rules, which I believe it should, the $15,000 includes both bank deposits and investment balances.
  • Unlimited free trades per year ongoing for Private Banking clients. The article says this typically requires at least $100,000 in combined balances. However, their Private Banking page says the requirement is $250,000. I suspect that the $100,000 combined limit means that (upcoming) Chase Sapphire Banking clients will qualify for unlimited trades.
  • In January 2019, Chase plans to launch a You Invest Portfolios service which is more of a robo-advisor that helps manage your portfolio for a fee.
  • If you exceed the free trade allotment, additional trades are $2.95 each.

Combining with other Chase products. In terms of credit cards, Chase has done well with their Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards. However, they currently don’t offer any bonus features if you have a bank or brokerage relationship. In terms of banking, Chase is also expected to launch a Sapphire Banking tier at the $100,000 total asset level. Chase also lets you qualify for their Premier Plus banking product via a Chase first mortgage with automatic payments.

The competition. Bank of America currently offers 30 free trades per month at their Platinum Preferred Rewards tier ($50,000 in total bank/investment assets) and 100 free trades/month at their Platinum Honors tier ($100,000 in total bank/investment assets). Bank of America offers a 50% bonus (Platinum) and 75% bonus (Platinum Honors) on eligible BofA Rewards credit cards. I moved over some assets to Merrill Edge specifically to qualify for the free trades and this bonus. So it worked on me for BofA, and it might work for Chase if they sweeten the pot enough.

Wells Fargo does not currently offer any free trades to banking customers with big balances, closing their program to new sign-ups in 2013. Citibank has been offering more bonuses on both their banking and credit cards, for example with the new Citi ThankYou Premier card.

Vanguard has just rolled out its free ETF trade program covering nearly all ETFs that they don’t think are too risky (leveraged and inverse ETFs). Fidelity also recently cut a lot of fees and minimums as well, some of which apply to their banking products. Vanguard, Fidelity, and Schwab all have commission-free trades on select low-cost index ETFs, on top of which they have been adding more banking features.

The Robinhood app offers unlimited free trades, free options trading, and a web interface now. A Chase executive threw some shade at them with the quote “There are customers out there who may not want to trust their credentials or their money to an app of the month”. Hah!

Are You Indirectly Losing Money via Your Brokerage Cash Sweep Account?

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

A recent WSJ article by Jason Zweig calls attention to one of the hidden ways that brokerage firms make money from you. As interest rates rise, they go out and earn the highest market rates while giving you a lot less on your idle cash. The difference adds up to big profits.

Brokerage accounts used to make you buy a money market fund with a high expense ratio. These days, they use a “bank sweep” account. They advertise the FDIC insurance, but hide the fact that they often own the bank and are skimming millions in interest:

In a bank sweep, your brokerage automatically rakes together and deposits your spare cash in one or more banks. Banks hand the brokerage a hefty fee, and the brokerage hands you some crumbs. For any given investor, a few dollars from dividends or interest income don’t amount to much. Rolled together with idle cash from thousands of other investors, they can add up to millions.

Morgan Stanley. Ameriprise. E-Trade. If you dig through Schwab’s disclosure, you’ll see them state that “In setting interest rates, the affiliated banks may seek to pay as low a rate as possible”. Nice.

Default options often prey on your inattention and laziness. Here are some ways to avoid the low interest rates of the bank sweep accounts.

  • Explore all your sweep options. Some places give you multiple alternatives for your cash sweep. For example, Fidelity has Fidelity Government Money Market Fund (SPAXX), Fidelity Treasury Fund (FZFXX), and FCASH. The two funds have SEC yields over 1.5% right now, while FCASH earns only 0.25% on balances under $100,000.
  • Keep your cash accounts empty automatically. You can set up automatic dividend reinvestment, or perhaps an automatic deposit of dividends into a high yield savings account. That should keep most of your interest and dividends from piling up as cash.
  • Manually reinvest often or transfer to alternative funds. Keep an eye on your cash balance, and invest it as soon as possible into stocks, bonds, or a higher-yielding money market fund alternative. Some accounts offer a text alert if you balance exceeds a certain amount like $1,000.
  • Move your assets to another firm. Vanguard still has a decent sweep option (VMMXX, see below). Fidelity still has two decent money market sweep options as well (SPAXX and FZFXX).

Vanguard isn’t incentivized to play these interest-skimming games. Vanguard’s only sweep account nowadays is the Vanguard Federal Money Market fund due to new regulations (read more here). Vanguard used to have better options as the default account, but at least the Vanguard Federal Money Market fund still earns a decent SEC yield of 1.87% (as of 8/8/18). If you want, you can still move money manually into the Vanguard Prime Money Market fund, Vanguard Municipal Money Market funds, and the Vanguard Treasury Money Market fund which may do better on an after-tax basis.

On the flip side, if you are individual stock investor, this is why higher interest rates are good for brokerage firms like Schwab. If you believe in the future of low-cost index funds, Fidelity and Vanguard are not publicly-traded, but you can become a shareholder in Schwab. Heck, Schwab has even set up their “free” robo-advisor to profit from higher interest rates due to a sizable cash allocation. (I do not hold Schwab stock at the time of this writing, but it is on my watchlist.)

Bottom line. Check the interest rate on your brokerage sweep account – It might be a lot lower than you think. Consider taking action.

Should I Break My Bank CD Early and Pay The Early Withdrawal Penalty?

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Interest rates continue to rise, and holders of existing certificates of deposit (CDs) may be wondering if it is a good idea to break their current CDs in order to take advantage of a new higher rate. Most CDs impose an early withdrawal penalty if you take money out before the CD matures. But the new rate is good enough, you might breakeven soon. This question is actually not that simple, as there are a few potential variables involved:

  • Existing CD: interest rate, maturity date, and early withdrawal penalty?
  • New CD: interest rate, maturity date, and early withdrawal penalty? Which term length is best?
  • How special is the new CD offer? Is it likely you’ll get the same rate in few months?
  • Future CD rates? What if the terms actually get better in the future?
  • Judgement date? One option may win after 2 months, but another might win after 1 year. What is the date of breakeven?

You can get an idea of the most recent top rates in my monthly interest rate roundup. All that said, here are two resources that can help you make the decision.

DepositAccounts has a simple CD Calculator that asks for the existing CD rate/length/penalty information but only the rate on the new CD. The calculator makes the simplifying assumption that your judgement date is the maturity date of the existing CD.

There are some potential issues, though. What if your new CD has a high interest rate but lasts another 5 years and has a huge early withdrawal penalty? You may come out ahead for the moment, but you’d be locking yourself in for another long period. There are scenarios where I might not agree with the conclusion given by this calculator.

The Finance Buff has a more detailed CD Calculator that requires more inputs and a bit of guessing. You will need to supply the new CD rate/length/penalty information and also guess the future rates when your existing CD matures. This calculator is more complex but gives you a more nuanced view of what happens both (1) when your existing CD matures and (2) when your new potential CD matures. Now you have essentially two judgment dates instead of one.

If a coder was willing to spend a little time, they could probably create a better calculator with a chart that would show visually how the interest (taking into any withdrawal penalties) would change over time for two (or more) different CD options. Essentially, it could compare results across multiple judgment dates. You could also calculate the breakeven date. (Future project, but if you have already done it, let me know and I’ll link to it here.)

Bottom line. If it were me, I’d use both of the two calculators above and get a rough answer. If it’s a slam dunk, then go for it. If the answers are close, I would probably only break the CD if it was an especially good promotional rate that was higher than the competition, like the expired Sharonview 4% APY CD earlier this year. Otherwise, the markets are suggesting that rates are likely to keep rising. I’d also make sure the new CD is not too long for my needs and that is has a reasonable early withdrawal penalty.

Best Interest Rates on Cash – August 2018

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Here is my monthly roundup of the best safe rates available, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to get an idea of how much additional interest you’d earn if you are moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 8/4/18.

High-yield savings accounts
While the huge brick-and-mortar banks like to get away with 0.01% APY, there are a number of online savings accounts offering much higher rates. Keep in mind that with savings accounts, the interest rates can change at any time.

  • CIT Bank Money Market offers 1.85% APY with no minimum balance ($100 to open) and no max balance cap. Several others have similar rates (see interactive tool below). Customers Bank offers 2.25% APY guaranteed until 6/30/19, but with a minimum balance of $25k+. On the flip side, Redneck Bank offers 2.00% APY but on a maximum balance of $50k.
  • My “hub” bank account is the Ally Bank Savings + Checking combo due to their history of competitive savings/CD rates, 1-day external bank transfers, and overall user experience. The free overdraft transfers from savings allows to me to keep my checking balance at a minimum. Ally Savings is currently at 1.80% APY. From here, I open “spoke” accounts and CDs to lock in higher rates.

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, you should know that money market and short-term Treasury rates have been rising. 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 2.06% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund, which has an SEC yield of 1.87%. 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 2.44% SEC Yield ($3,000 min) and 2.54% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 2.45% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 2.47% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
I am often asked what to do with a big wad 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. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.

  • United Texas Bank has a 1-year CD at 2.80% APY. CIT Bank 1-year CD is at 2.50% APY ($1,000 minimum). Early withdrawal penalty is 3-months of interest. For more flexibility, the Ally Bank 11-month No Penalty CD is at 2.00% APY ($25k minimum) and the CIT Bank 11-Month No-Penalty CD is at 1.85% APY with a lower $1,000 minimum. The lack of early withdrawal penalty means that your interest rate can never go down for 11 months, but you keep full liquidity. You can open multiple CDs in smaller $1,000 increments to get even more flexibility.
  • Several other banks now have 12-month CDs at 2% APY and above. Watch the early withdrawal penalties. For example, Synchrony Bank has a 2.45% APY 12-month CD, but the early withdrawal penalty is 90 days of interest. Meanwhile, Ally Bank has a 12-month CD at 2.40% APY with $25k+ deposit (2.25% APY for $5k+) and early withdrawal penalty of 60 days interest.

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 2018 and October 2018 will earn a 2.52% 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 2018, 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.

  • The only notable card left in this category is Mango Money at 6% APY on up to $5,000, but there are many hoops to jump through. There is a $3 monthly fee and you need to maintain a minimum $800 net direct deposit each month. This means you can’t direct deposit $800 and also take out $800 via online transfer. Checks and ATM withdrawals have additional fees. The only thing left is to spend the money via the Visa debit feature (and miss out on 2% or similar credit card rewards).

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. That’s just how it goes with these types of accounts.

  • Consumers Credit Union offers up to 4.59% APY on up to a $20k balance, although getting 3.09% APY on a $10k balance has a much shorter list of requirements. The 4.59% APY requires you to apply for a credit card through them (other credit cards offer $500+ in sign-up bonuses). Keep your 12 debit purchases small as well, as for every $500 in monthly purchases you may be losing out on 2% cashback (or $10 a month after-tax). Find a local rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.

Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
You might have larger balances, either because you are using CDs instead of bonds or you simply want a large cash reserves. 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 such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account.

  • Ally Bank has a 5-year CD at 3.00% APY ($25k minimum) with a relatively short 150-day early withdrawal penalty. For example, if you closed this CD after 2 years you’d still get a 2.39% effective APY even after accounting for the penalty. (2.61% at 3 years.)
  • Connexus Credit Union is offering a 1-year Share Certificate at 2.50% APY (90-day early withdrawal penalty), a 3-year Share Certificate (180-day early withdrawal penalty) at 2.75% APY, and a 5-year Share Certificate (365-day early withdrawal penalty) at 3.25% APY. All have a $5,000 minimum deposit. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization Connexus Association for a one-time $5 fee.
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable fixed early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 3-year non-callable CD at 3.00% APY and a 5-year non-callable CD at 3.30% APY from a few banks including American Express and Citibank. Watch out for 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 fixed early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 10-year non-callable CD at 3.45% APY. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity. Matching the overall yield curve, current CD rates do not rise much higher as you extend beyond a 5-year maturity.
  • How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a 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 long-term bond and thus a hedge against deflation, but only if you can hold on for 20 years.

All rates were checked as of 8/4/18.

Interactive rate table. Above, I work to curate only the banks with top nationwide rates. I don’t include every bank. Below is an interactive widget that lets you filter by account type (savings, CD term) and deposit amount. I don’t control the results, but it can be useful for comparison purposes to see other competitive rates. Disclosure: If you end up opening a new account using this widget, I may receive a commission.



Best Interest Rates on Cash – July 2018

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Here is my monthly roundup of the best safe rates available, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to get an idea of how much additional interest you’d earn if you are moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 7/4/18.

High-yield savings accounts
While the huge brick-and-mortar banks like to get away with 0.01% APY, there are a number of online savings accounts offering much higher rates. Keep in mind that with savings accounts, the interest rates can change at any time.

  • CIT Bank Money Market offers 1.85% APY with no minimum balance ($100 to open). Purepoint Financial offers 1.90% APY, but requires a $10k+ balance. Northpointe Bank is at 2.05% APY, but requires a $25k+ balance. On the flip side, Redneck Bank offers 2% APY but on a maximum balance of $50k.
  • My “hub” bank account is the Ally Bank Savings + Checking combo due to their history of competitive savings/CD rates, 1-day external bank transfers, and overall user experience. The free overdraft transfers from savings allows to me to keep my checking balance at a minimum. Ally Savings is currently at 1.75% APY. I then open other “spoke” accounts and CDs to lock in higher rates.

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, you should know that money market and short-term Treasury rates have been rising. 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 2.04% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund, which has an SEC yield of 1.83%. 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 2.39% SEC Yield ($3,000 min) and 2.49% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 2.44% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 2.47% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
I am often asked what to do with a big wad 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. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.

  • CIT Bank 1-year CD is now at 2.50% APY. Early withdrawal penalty is 3-months of interest. Alternatively, the CIT Bank 11-Month No-Penalty CD at 1.85% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit and no withdrawal penalty seven days or later after funds have been received. The lack of early withdrawal penalty means that your interest rate can never go down for 11 months, but you keep full liquidity. Full review. You can open multiple CDs in $1,000 increments if you want more flexibility.
  • Several other banks now have 12-month CDs at 2% APY and above. Watch the early withdrawal penalties. For example, Synchrony Bank has a 2.45% APY 14-month CD, but the early withdrawal penalty is 180 days of interest. Meanwhile, Ally Bank has a 12-month CD at 2.30% APY with $25k+ deposit (2.20% APY for $5k+) and early withdrawal penalty of 60 days interest.

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 2018 and October 2018 will earn a 2.52% 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 2018, 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). The offers also tend to disappear with little notice. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. The Insight Card used to offer 5% APY on up to $5,000, but as of July 2018 is completely shut down.

  • The only notable card left in this category is Mango Money at 6% APY on up to $5,000, but there are many hoops to jump through. There is a $3 monthly fee and you need to maintain a minimum $800 net direct deposit each month. This means you can’t direct deposit $800 and also take out $800 via online transfer. Checks and ATM withdrawals have additional fees. The only thing left is to spend the money via the Visa debit feature (and miss out on 2% or similar credit card rewards).

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. That’s just how it goes with these types of accounts.

  • Consumers Credit Union offers up to 4.59% APY on up to a $20k balance, although getting 3.09% APY on a $10k balance has a much shorter list of requirements. The 4.59% APY requires you to apply for a credit card through them (other credit cards offer $500+ in sign-up bonuses). Keep your 12 debit purchases small as well, as for every $500 in monthly purchases you may be losing out on 2% cashback (or $10 a month after-tax). Find a local rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.

Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
You might have larger balances, either because you are using CDs instead of bonds or you simply want a large cash reserves. 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 a custom CD ladder of different maturity lengths such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account.

  • Connexus Credit Union is offering a 1-year Share Certificate at 2.50% APY (90-day early withdrawal penalty), a 3-year Share Certificate (180-day early withdrawal penalty) at 2.75% APY, and a 5-year Share Certificate (365-day early withdrawal penalty) at 3.25% APY. All have a $5,000 minimum deposit. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization Connexus Association for a one-time $5 fee.
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable fixed early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 3-year non-callable CD at 3.00% APY and a 5-year non-callable CD at 3.30% APY from a few banks including American Express and Citibank. Watch out for 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 fixed early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 10-year non-callable CD at 3.40% APY. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity. Matching the overall yield curve, current CD rates do not rise much higher as you extend beyond a 5-year maturity.
  • How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a 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 long-term bond and thus a hedge against deflation, but only if you can hold on for 20 years.

All rates were checked as of 7/4/18.


CIT Bank No-Penalty CD

Ally Bank 11-Month No Penalty CD Review: 1.85% APY for $25k+

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Rates updated 7/2/18. Ally Bank raised the rate on their 11-month No Penalty CD and as well as other savings products. If you have older No-Penalty CDs, you may want to take advantage of this higher rate. Here are the new interest rates for the No Penalty CD under their tiered structure (as of 7/2/18):

  • 1.85% APY at $25,000 minimum opening deposit
  • 1.80% APY at $5,000 minimum deposit
  • 1.30% APY at no minimum deposit.

The 11-month No Penalty CD is unique in that while the 1.85% APY rate is locked in at deposit, you can still withdraw your principal and interest without penalty at any time (well, you do have to wait at least 6 days from the deposit date). In other words, your interest rate can never go down, but you can still jump ship if rates rise or if there is a better promo elsewhere.

If you recently opened one of these, remember that Ally Bank offers a “Ten Day Best Rate Guarantee”:

When you fund your CD within 10 days of your open date, you’ll get the best rate we offer for your term and balance tier if our rate goes up within that time. The Ally Ten Day Best Rate Guarantee also applies at renewal.

If you have an existing No Penalty CD past the 10-day rate guarantee, this means you may consider closing it and then opening up a new one at a higher rate. You will have to withdraw everything at once – there are not partial withdrawals. If you have an Ally savings or checking account, you can close the old CD, see the deposit in your savings/checking, and open up a new CD all in minutes online. (Note that savings accounts are limited to 6 withdrawals per month, so use your checking if possible.) You will be extending the term out another 11 months, but since you can always close it at any time it isn’t much of a concern.

Here’s a screenshot of my withdrawal showing no penalty and instant availability when withdrawn directly into an Ally account:

ally_np_withd

You can use my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to get an idea of how much additional interest you’d earn if you switched over.

Alternatives to consider.

  • Ally Savings is now at 1.75% APY, while other online savings accounts rates are even higher. You gain liquidity, but rates can also change on you.
  • Ally 12-month CD is now at 2.30% APY with a $25k+ deposit (2.20% APY with $5k), and the 2-Year “Raise Your Rate” CD is at 2.50% APY with no minimum deposit. Both of these do have early withdrawal penalties..
  • CIT Bank 11-Month No Penalty CD is a similar product, currently at 1.85% APY but with a lower $1,000 minimum deposit. These two banks both offer 11-month No-Penalty CDs, and I’ve opened (and closed early) CDs from both places..

I use Ally Bank Online Savings, Interest Checking, and No Penalty CD accounts as my “hub” bank accounts, and then I open additional bank CDs as temporary “spokes” when external rates are significantly higher.

Chase Bank $500 Bonus 2018 – $300 Total Checking + $200 Savings

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Update with my experience. Just a quick note that I opened both the Chase Total Checking ($25) and Savings ($15,000) as directed below in March 2018. Direct deposit completed in April. $300 checking bonus received in April 2018 and $200 savings bonus received in June 2018. No extra communication required from Chase, and everything was delivered on time as promised. New link below with expiration date of August 6th, 2018.

Original post:

Chase Bank has a Total Checking + Savings account promotion offering up to $500 total for new customers. The notable requirements are that you must switch over a “real” direct deposit to get the $300 checking bonus, and you’ll need a $15,000 deposit for 90 days to get the $200 savings bonus. You enter your e-mail address, and you will get a unique code for your online application. Some of the language suggests you should reside near a physical Chase branch, but the link lets you apply online and it should work from anywhere (you will know via instant approval). If you already have a Chase credit card, the application can be pre-filled.

Chase Total Checking $300 bonus details. Checking offer is not available to existing Chase checking customers, those with fiduciary accounts, or those whose accounts have been closed within 90 days or closed with a negative balance. You must:

  1. Open a new Chase Total Checking account, which is subject to approval;
  2. Deposit $25 or more at account opening;
  3. Have your direct deposit made to this account within 60 days of account opening. Your direct deposit needs to be an electronic deposit of your paycheck, pension or government benefits (such as Social Security) from your employer or the government.
  4. After you have completed all the above checking requirements, [Chase will] deposit the bonus in your new account within 10 business days.

Avoid monthly service fees on Total Checking when you do at least one of the following each statement period. Otherwise a $12 Monthly Service Fee will apply.

  • Have monthly direct deposits totaling $500 or more made to this account; OR
  • Keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more in your checking account; OR,
  • Keep an average daily balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of qualifying Chase checking, savings and other balances.

Chase Savings $200 bonus details. You must:

  1. Open a new Chase Savings account, which is subject to approval.
  2. Deposit a total of $15,000 or more in new money into the new savings account within 20 business days of account opening;
  3. Maintain at least a $15,000 balance for 90 days from the date of deposit. The new money cannot be funds held by Chase or its affiliates.
  4. After you have completed all the above savings requirements, we’ll deposit the bonus in your new account within 10 business days.
  5. 0.01% effective APY as of 5/7/18. Interest rates are variable and subject to change.

Avoid monthly service fees on Chase Savings when you do at least one of the following each statement period. Otherwise a $5 Monthly Service Fee will apply.

  • Keep a minimum daily balance of $300 or more in your savings account; OR,
  • Have at least one repeating automatic transfer from your Chase checking account of $25 or more. One-time transfers do not qualify; OR,
  • Have a linked Chase Premier Plus Checking, Chase Premier Platinum Checking, or Chase Private Client Checking account.

With a total opening deposit of $15,025 in new money, you can open both accounts and avoid both monthly fees. You’ll still need to change your direct deposit (any amount). I have read no reports of a “hard” credit check, and did not experience one myself either this time around or from a previous Chase offer from a couple years ago. Looks like a “soft” check to confirm your identity only (which is all banks should do…).

As reader R. Dannewitz helpfully points out:

Account Closing: If either the checking or savings account is closed by the customer or Chase within six months after opening, we will deduct the bonus amount for that account at closing.

After getting the bonus, you can avoid monthly fees until the 6 month requirement is over by taking the $15,000 out and just maintain a $500 direct deposit and a $25 auto-transfer from checking to savings. Alternatively, you could leave all but $1,500 in checking and $300 in savings and no worry about any other activity (my plan).

Bottom line. If you can switch over your paycheck direct deposit, Chase is offering $300 to try out their checking account. If you can move over $15,000 of new money for 90 days, Chase is offering another $200 to try out their savings account (a “savings” account that pays 0.01% APY??). Earning $500 on $15,000 in 90 days is the equivalent of 13.3% annualized return. That’s a lot more than a bank CD. The bonuses are considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT.

Northern Bank Direct Money Market Review – 2.26% APY Guaranteed Through June 2019

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Update: As of 6/20/18, the rate is now down to 1.50% APY. I hope everyone who was interested got the 2.26% APY rate, you definitely had time and they did give roughly a 24-hour notice.

Here comes another new “Direct” bank leapfrogging the current competition for some attention. The Northern Bank Direct Money Market account is offering 2.26% APY on average daily balances up to $250,000, and the rate is guaranteed through June 30, 2019. Of course, another bank could take the throne tomorrow, but at least this one comes with a rate guarantee. Other highlights:

  • $5,000 minimum to open.
  • Includes limited checkwriting and ATM debit card access.
  • No minimum balance requirements or monthly service charges.
  • Interest is compounded monthly and credited monthly. If you close your account before the interest is credited, you will not receive the accrued interest.
  • Read full review for notable quirks.

Northern Bank Direct is the online division of Northern Bank, a community bank in the New England area. You must open accounts online, but you can do transactions in their branches and use the NBTC Mobile Banking apps. They also offer various certificates of deposit, including currently a 30-month CD at 3.01% APY ($500 minimum to open, 12-month early withdrawal penalty). Their routing number is 011303097. You can them at 844-348-8996 EST Monday-Friday: 9a-6p, or via email to [email protected]

Money Market features. This is a money market account, which is similar to a savings account but adds limited checkwriting and an ATM debit card. You are still limited to 6 withdrawals per month, whether via online electronic funds transfer, check, wire, or ATM machine.

ACH limitations. Northern Bank Direct has a somewhat weird rule that if you initiate a electronic transfer from your Northern Bank Direct account, there is a maximum daily limit of $5,000.00 (or the available balance in your account, whichever is less) for Interbank (external) transfers per transaction; $5,000 in aggregate per day; and $25,000 in aggregate per calendar month. If you initiate the electronic transfer from an external financial institution, Northern Bank Direct does not impose a limit on the amount of the transfer.

Notable fees. According to their full Deposit Account Agreement, there are a few other fees that caught my eye:

  • Account closure (by mail): $10
  • Dormant Accounts fee (per month– starting in the 13th month for account balances less than $500.00): $4.00
  • External Transfer Fee (per transfer): $3
  • New account closure within 120 days: $25

It appears that not only do they limit your transactions to $5,000 per day ($25,000 per month), they will also charge you $3 if you initiate the transfer from your Northern Bank Direct account. There are some reports that they are removing the $3 fee, but I still see it on their online fee schedule. Hopefully, you already have a favorite “hub” bank account with free, fast transfers and high dollar limits (mine is Ally Bank).

These fees are notable as other online savings accounts have all of the following: no minimum opening balance, no minimum balance requirement, no early closure fee, and/or no inactivity fee.

Smartphone app. It’s amazing how much I bank from my phone these days, from checking balances to mobile check deposit. Based on the app store screenshots, it looks like Northern Bank also outsourced their back-end software to Fidelity National Information Services (subdomain ibanking-services.com). In my experience, the app is basic but functional. Mobile check deposit and Touch ID are supported.

Bottom line. The Northern Bank Direct Money Market account is offering 2.26% APY on average daily balances up to $250,000, with the rate guaranteed through June 30, 2019 ($5,000 minimum to open). In terms of liquid savings accounts, this is the highest rate currently available (with a few quirks noted above). There are a few short-term CDs with higher rates (and withdrawal penalties), but this is more like a no-penalty CD you can also add funds at any time. If you have a large cash balance and you want to preserve your liquidity options, this is something to consider. Act fast though, as previous similar accounts have closed to new applications after a few weeks.

Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to estimate how much additional interest you’d earn if you switched over and make an informed decision.