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American Express Personal Savings Review

This article was written by in Banking, Reviews. 32 comments.


By far, the most requested review on Consumerism Commentary that I have yet to write is for the American Express Personal Savings Account. American Express offers one of the highest interest rates available with this savings account, making it very attractive from the surface. Once you own an account, how does it hold up against ING Direct, Discover Bank, Zions Bank, and the rest of the online savings account portfolio? I opened an account to find out.

First of all, if the bulk of your savings is earning less than 0.5% APY at the local branch of your national brick and mortar bank, it’s time to change. There is usually no excuse for settling for interest rates that low when it’s simple and easy to double or triple the interest you receive in your account every month. Granted, this might not add up to a lot of money, but high yield savings accounts help to ensure your cash will at least hold its value when up against inflation. Your money loses value over time when setting in a low-interest or no-interest account.

Application process

After visiting the American Express website to apply for a new savings account, I was immediately impressed with the way the company outlined and prepared me for the application process. You can zoom in on the overview screen by clicking on the image included here.

The first step of the application process, after gathering the materials you need such as your checkbook, driver’s license, and Social Security number, is entering your personal information. If you have an American Express savings account currently, you can easily link your current account to the application.

As I do not have a savings account with AmEx, I entered my personal information. Following this, I entered the amount I intend to deposit from my external bank account. There is no minimum deposit, and I decided to start with $500. While there is an option to send a check, I chose to pull the funds from an existing bank account via an electronic transfer (ACH). After confirming my personal information and deposit amount, I agreed to the standard terms of service and entered my external banking information (routing number and account number). I chose to link this account to my personal Wells Fargo brick and mortar checking account.

The strength of American Express, in this first impression, is the bank’s professional appearance. Each step through this process, the bank’s website was very helpful in letting me know what to expect and when to expect it. When I confirmed my external banking information, it was clear that I would need to verify two test deposits into my newly-linked Wells Fargo account. I immediately received an email with instructions for verifying the test deposits, and I received a welcome kit in the mail in [three] days. It took three days, from Friday to Monday, for the deposits to hit my Wells Fargo account.

Verifying deposits

After the weekend, I checked my Wells Fargo account and saw two small test deposits from American Express. Once again, AmEx outlined the process clearly, as you can see from the image here. To finalize the link between my new American Express account and my existing checking account at Wells Fargo, the bank required me to enter my email address, a verification code that was sent to me via email, and the amounts of the two test deposits.

After the confirmation, American Express allowed me to create an online user identity for viewing statements and otherwise operating my new bank account. User names for the American Express Personal Savings Account require at least two numerals, so I was unfortunately forced to use a non-standard user ID. For the first time, I chose to receive online statements in lieu of paper statements. This is a trend I want to continue; I receive too much paper in the mail, and electronic states — when chosen without paper statements — will help reduce my clutter, as well as on a small scale, help the environment.

Using the account

As of today, I am waiting for my initial deposit to reach my new American Express savings account. Although there is not much I can do, I am able to look at all features contained in the website and get a feel for its operation. My first order of business was customizing the account names. I also looked at the options for downloading activity into applications like Quicken. American Express supports Quicken through the “Web Connect” service as well as Microsoft Money. There are options for QIF and CSV downloads, too.

There are not many different things you can do with this savings account. Although the bank recently lowered the interest rate offered on these accounts, the rates are still comparatively high. The deposits at American Express Bank are fully insured by FDIC, which means there is no risk in depositing your money up to the FDIC maximum, currently $250,000 for an individual savings account. American Express does not currently offer a checking, bill-payment, or other “transactional” account, so this type of service is fine for letting the cash you need to sit and grow, losing as little value to inflation as possible in a savings account.

Bank data

American Express Bank
Routing (ABA) number 124085066
Established December 1, 2000
FDIC certificate 35328
Savings interest rates Click here to see rates
CD interest rates Click here to see rates
Location 4315 South 2700 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84184
Direct Connect Not supported
Web Connect Supported
Mint/Yodlee Supported

Click here to open an American Express Personal Savings Account.

Updated May 6, 2014 and originally published March 7, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Kathryn C

Hi Flexo, given this is a slightly lower rate than others are offering (discover for example) is there any reason to use Amex over Discover? thx!
Kathryn

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,485 (Platinum)

Kathryn,

Up until a few days ago, the AmEx rate was higher than Discover’s. Banks like these compete tightly and generally have very similar rates. I like my account with Discover Bank, and recommend it, but who is to say that Discover doesn’t lower their rate to be 5 basis points lower than AmEx next week? You can’t go wrong with either bank in my opinion.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

thank you for the review flexo. i was unaware they even offered savings accounts. it looks good, but i still have not really found a reason to leave ing direct. as i have said on other threads, i do not have great sums of money in my online savings accounts, so to rate chase is not worth it for me.

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avatar Kathryn C

thanks so much….just wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something fantastic at Amex that I was unaware of. After living in new york during my twenties, the mentality of “you can always find a better apartment, a better job, and a better boyfriend”…..sometimes seeps into my personal finances (unnecessarily). I’m sticking with discover. thank you!
Kathryn

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avatar Jesse

AmEx Bank just dropped their rates to 1.15% APY without notifying their current customers (aka, me). I’m leaving their bank.. back to Evantage..

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avatar Twinscorps

Agree. Tired of shenanigans from Amex. In fact, the promo I was offered indicated a fixed rate for 6 months, then variable thereafter. They apparently had no intention of honoring as I never received the 1.30% promised rate EVER. they’re now 15 bp lower and when I called to inquire, the rep was not only dismissive but rude. I’m out.

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avatar tigernicole86 ♦55 (Newbie)

Thanks Flexo. On occasion, I still look for other online banks but thanks putting another one in perspective!

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avatar 4hendricks ♦248 (Cent)

Great info, thank – I get lazy and accepting of what I have because I don’t want the hassel of changing.

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avatar bbmak

When you transfer in your money is free, but what about transfer out? are there fee apply to it?

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avatar steve

Yes, AMEX lowered their high yield rate, which was the primary motivation for transferring funds there to begin with. If the rate drops again, and I anticipate it will drop again, I will leave. I also find it hard to believe that anyone can call any of the listed savings rates ‘high yield’ to be honest.

As the prior poster said they didn’t notify anyone of the rate change, which I consider to be bad customer service.

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avatar c2

Even though the rates are lower than before, it is still much higher in comparison to other savings accounts. Just switched my main account from Wells Fargo to AMEX and gained 1.10%!!!

Discover = 1.19%
AMEX = 1.15%
Capital One = 1.10%
Nationwide = 1.05%
ING Direct = 1.00%
Ally = 1.00%
Citi = 0.10%
Chase = 0.10%
Wells Fargo = 0.05%
Bank of America = 0.05%

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avatar praq

Sallimae offers a high interest savings/money market account. I’ve seen the rate consistent at 1.15%. May want to look into this.

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avatar Al38

Hi!
Just curious: is there any transaction fee (transfer) between from your bank while making a deposit to the Amex savings?
Thanks!

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avatar MB

I called to inquire about the fees and was told there are no fees for transferring in or out of the savings account, only the standard 6 per month limitations.

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avatar epd21084 ♦703 (Dime)

They just dropped the rate to 1.00% APY.

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avatar Happy am ex customer

Happy with american express savings. Although rates have lowered, it is still one of the highest – also, got a live rep every time I had question.

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avatar Justaquestion

How long do they hold funds for? Sallie Mae is very clear about their 5 day hold but I cannot find any mention of Amex’s policy

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avatar Frank

Question: How long does it take for funds available in your American Express Personal Saving account to reach a linked account after a withdrawal transaction is initiated?

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avatar Not A Fan

2-3 business days. And the money won’t even be available to transfer into your account until 5 business days after the deposit.

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avatar Not A Fan

I had an AmEx personal savings account and was dissatisfied with the online banking system and the length of time it took to move funds between my checking account and the savings account.

First, the online banking system is not linked to your amex credit card, so you will have to create a separate log-in and log-in on a separate page. Because of the username parameters being different than those for the credit card, I had to use a different log-in name which I constantly forgot, resulting in several calls to customer service to reset the login.

Second, deposits from checking account take 5 business days to become available in the savings account. This became a real pain when I was unable to cancel a recurring transfer and had to wait a full 5 business days to get the money back into my account. After the money was available to transfer back, it would take another 2-3 business days to show up back in my bank account.

I also was very frustrated by the inability to cancel the recurring transfer I had set up upon opening the account. Each month I would cancel the transaction, only to have it re-appear the following month. I discovered it had reappeared after the money unexpectedly vanished from my bank account, and then had to wait the time period above.

Then I went to close the account, I was informed I would have to wait the 5 business days for the transferred funds to become available, and then it would take another 7 – 10 business days to process the closure and transfer the balance back to my bank account.

For an online savings account, the length of time for transactions to be completed is far too long. I will look at ING and Discover, or just open a savings account with my credit union where I can move money around easier. This AmEx product was just too slow for transactions, and did not meet my needs.

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avatar Maria

I have been with American Express Personal Savings Acct since August 2011 and very happy with it. AmEx still holds the highest interest % yld of 0.90% , even if it lowered from 1.00% amongst the online savings bank like Ally, ING, etc.

No complaints here.

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avatar Someone

It takes forever to verify and setup an account with them.

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avatar Dissatisfied

This is very true. I tried to set up an account and I had sooooo much problems because I always get stuck on one page. It will not let me proceed to the next page, and this happened on at least 3 occasions. I decided to abandon the application. If this is happening on the application, who is to say it will not happen if I would like to make a withdrawal?

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avatar Mike

I opened a few goal-specific accounts with American Express to replace my accounts at ING now that they’ve been bought out by Capital One. One thing that I was really happy to see was that their support – which I had to call once during the setup because of a minor issue – was of the same above-par quality that I get from Amex as a gold card customer. Admittedly, it’s not like I’m going to be calling in on a weekly basis for a *savings account* (heck, I only call in once or twice a year with my charge account), but it’s nice to know that there are humans there willing and able to walk you through any bumps you may run into.

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avatar BT

I left ING because their rates dropped AND they do not have a beneficiary designation for accounts. I’ve been with AE for a few months and I am loving it> I’m actually only using it to take advantage of competitive rates.

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avatar Larry

I’m closing my American Express savings account. They remove the money from your bank account and you don’t have access to it for five days.

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avatar Holds

I find it hilarious that people complain about rates on this comment section. All online banks change their rates. Amex and most of their competition don’t advertise intro offers (the guy who said that doesn’t know what he’s talking about). Just like Flexo said at the beginning, all these banks vary. So, rate hopping from bank to bank is a dumb idea (unless you have millions).

About the 5 day hold. It says that right under the transfer funds page while you’re making the transfer. Plus, they say “initiated on our website,” which means that if the other bank initiates the transfer, there is no hold. All banks have a hold timeframe, and banks like Ally, AMEX, Discover, and ING all give you that info up front.

6 withdrawel limit- That’s an FDIC thing. They govern that, not AMEX. If you want a interest bearing checking account, go to Ally.

I think AMEX is competitive. They seem to improve as time goes on, and at least they tell you everything up front while many banks are not as straitforward in today’s market. Literally no fees or min balances. everything else that people are complaining about is explainable. Feel free to reply if you have questions. I’ve called them lots of time, and have received great answers to most of the common questions.

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avatar HawaiiGal

One useful thing about AmEx is that they have free wire transfers in and out of the bank. Unfortunately they cannot take “3rd Party” transfers. So if you close out an account at a brokerage you cannot transfer from that company into your account. I used Ing for that. But you can easily wire into and out of accounts that have your name on it. This saves money when you sell a house or do another large transaction.

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avatar Jun

I do not like my experience with AMEX saving, elcetronic fund transfer takes 6 business days to clear. Which means sometimes your fund transfer won’t be available after two weekends. (If you like me, had an emergency and needed to withdrawal funds from savings).

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avatar Christopher Kandrat

Seems like Amex has a simple approach to savings. High interest for you savings account, but transfers take a bit long, but nothing really to complain about.

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avatar Linda F

I closed my online American Express Personal Savings account 3 weeks ago and still haven’t received my money. I have called many times and they have a stock answer – be patient. On the last call I was informed that they would email me a form stating I didn’t receive the check and still no form. I am not on a call to them being told as they transfer me from one person to another (last was a supervisor whom I asked for – sounds about 12 yrs old) and she is transferring me to someone else – asked for me to be patient. Beware to all of you who put their money with American Express Personal Savings.

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avatar sam guarino

WILL YOU PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR OPINION ON AMERICAN EXPRESS HIGH YIELD SAVINGS ACCOUNT OR YOUR THOTS ON THE BEST ONLINE HIGH YIELD SAVINGS ACCOUNT OR INFORM ME WHERE I CAN FIND AM EXPRESS REVIEWS ? Thanks, SAM

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