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Bank of America has a long history of supporting the arts through philanthropy and raising awareness. But they’re stepping up their game in 2017 with their Museums on Us program.

This program allows qualifying Bank of America members to get into local museums for free on certain weekends, through the rest of this year! Here are some details of the program:

Who is Eligible?

Anyone who holds a Bank of America credit or debit card or a Merrill Lynch debit or credit card can participate. You’ll just have to show up at the right museum on the right weekend with both your card and a photo ID.

Here’s the catch: this is only good for one free general admission ticket. It doesn’t apply to special events or exhibits. And you can’t bring guests with you.

However, if you have a Bank of America credit card with an authorized user, that person can get into the museum for free, as well. It sounds like an excellent option for a free date night to me!

Resource: The Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2017

Plus, many of these museums already allow children under a certain age to get in for free, so it could make for a great family adventure at no cost. Even if the museum does charge for your children, the little ones are usually at a very discounted rate, making the adventure definitely worthwhile.

When Can You Go?

Do you fit the bill? Or have you been considering a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit card, anyway? Here’s when you can take advantage of this free museum admission:

  • August 5th and 6th
  • September 2nd and 3rd
  • October 7th and 8th
  • November 4th and 5th
  • December 2nd and 3rd

You’re responsible for figuring out if the museum is actually open on those days, of course, but most participating museums should be.

Related: Which Credit Card Should Be Your First?

Where Can You Go?

Here’s another catch: the list of participating museums is fairly short, especially if you’re outside of a major metropolitan area. But if you’re traveling to a larger city, you could have loads of options.

In Chicago, for instance, you have a long list of options. These include:

  • The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Chicago History Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • National Veterans Art Museum
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • The DuSable Museum of African American History
  • The National Hellenic Museum

New York City has an impressively long list of participating museums, of course, as do Miami, San Antonio, and Charlotte, NC.

You can check out the full list of available options here. Just keep in mind that it could be a good idea to call ahead and confirm participation before you count on those free tickets!

Should You Get a Bank of America Card for This?

In short: probably not. There’s much more that goes into choosing a credit card than a random one-off perk that you might use once per year. The benefits or lower interest rate on another card might easily outweigh the free museum tickets.

With that said, it’s one perk to consider if a Bank of America credit card is already in your wallet or on your to-apply-for list!

So, how about you? Will you be taking advantage of this Bank of America perk?

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I created my small business in 2010. One of the very first things I did was sign up for a business checking account.

Living in Miami at the time, there was a brick-and-mortar Citi location just a half block away. So, that is the bank I signed on with.

The “green” business checking account was their basic package. It offered no interest rate but free service. Correction: the account was free as long as I kept a $5,000 average daily balance.

Compare that account to the Capital One Spark Business Checking Account now available to consumers? Well, the differences between a good business checking account and a bad one are obvious.

Capital One Spark Business Checking Interest Rate

One of the immediate attractions to the Spark Business Checking Account is that it pays an interest rate.  For the first year, all new account holders will receive an APY of 1.00%. After the first year is up, the ongoing APY will change to 0.40%.

On the surface, the APY compared to high yield savings account stinks.  The fed is slowly and steadily raising interest rates, though, and now banks are following, finally offering account holders interest rates above 1%.

However, for checking accounts, you’ll find there are very few that offer an interest rate… let alone one that can compete with a savings account for the first year. And for those that still think the interest rate isn’t very good, consider that there are better places to hold your business funds than in an online checking account.

There is no minimum balance requirement to earn the APYs listed above, and there are no restrictions or caveats.

Spark Business Additional Features

In addition to a very competitive interest rate, the Capital One Spark Business Checking account will offer the following perks:

  • No monthly account maintenance or service fees
  • Free online bill pay and online invoicing
  • Access to the Spark Mobile Checking App
  • 40,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide

No monthly account maintenance fees. Monthly maintenance fees are the fastest way to hate your checking account. This is especially true for small businesses, when you review your statement each month to find a charge you did not expect, because of a rule you did not remember. Oh, the RAGE.

Well, Capital One is offering this business account with no fees and no strings attached. The only fee you’re going to receive is a non-sufficient funds fee if you attempt to overdraw your account or write a check that your bottom can’t cash.

One of the annoying parts of my initial Citi Business checking account was that I had to make at least 12 debits each month, otherwise I would be charged a $9.99 monthly maintenance fee. That’s not the case here.

Free online bill pay and invoicing. Everybody offers free online bill pay, so no big deal. But online invoicing? Now, that can be expensive.

A lot of companies I’ve worked with and/or requested work from use things like Freshbooks or Quicken to invoice. Those services are not free. And they add up. Opening a Capital One Spark Business Checking Account and using the invoicing feature can save you the $20+ a month from outside invoicing services.

Spark Mobile Checking App. For the technologically-advanced (AKA not my parents), Capital One offers a great app for download. It assists in tracking your balance, making deposits, setting up bill pay, and scheduling other payments.

Currently available in the Google Play shot, it has a very good rating of 4.5 stars. Looking through some of the most recent one star reviews, the common theme is that the app can kick you out while taking a picture of your check to deposit.

40,000 Free ATMs. Capital One runs on the Allpoint network, so any ATM transaction from one of these ATMs is fee-free. If, however, you decide to withdraw money from your account on an ATM not in the network (think Casinos, for example), then the ATM you use will charge a fee and Capital One will charge a fee.

In the United States, there are just over 38,000 ATMs on the Allpoint network and another 2,000 Capital One-specific ATMs. So, a quick online search is likely to point to an ATM nearby.

Spark Business Checking Snapshot

Capital One has created a very strong offering here, promising not to draw on the account of its customers for everyday transactions.

Compared to other online checking accounts, that’s already a win. When you add the quality interest rate and additional features, though, any business would likely benefit from keeping their checking account with Capital One.

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Since many banks are constantly updating their interest rates offered on savings, money market and checking accounts, this chart should come in handy. On the 1st of every month, this page is updated to show the most accurate rate information available.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.15% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays.

This list is organized in two sections. The first section includes FDIC-insured savings or money market accounts and the second includes FDIC-insured checking accounts. Each list is sorted alphabetically and unless there is a notation listed, the APY rate applies to all amounts.

New for July 2017: We saw a number of banks raise rates over the past month. Leading the pack was GS Bank, which now offers 1.20% APY on its savings account. Several other banks were close at 1.15% APY. These included Synchrony Bank, CIT Bank, and Ally Bank.

Current rates

Use the table below to search for current interest rates available on money market accounts, savings accounts, and certificates of deposit. For historical rates, scroll down.

Historical interest rates

Bank Account Name Tier Notes 7/1/2017 1/1/2017 1/1/2016 1/1/2015
Synchrony Bank Online Savings All No minimum balance 1.15% 1.05% 1.05% 1.05%
Ally Online Savings All No minimum balance 1.15% 1.00% 1.00% 0.99%
Ally Money Market All No minimum balance 0.85% 0.85% 0.85% 0.85%
American Express Bank High Yield Savings All 1.05% 0.90% 0.90% 0.80%
Barclays Online Savings All 1.15% 1.00% 1.00% 0.90%
Capital One 360 Online Savings All Formerly ING Direct 0.75% 0.75% 0.75% 0.75%
Discover Bank Online Savings All 1.10% 0.95% 0.95% 0.90%
GS Bank Online Savings All No minimum deposit 1.20% 1.05% N/A N/A
Everbank Money Market $5k to $10k Includes 1st year intro rate 1.21% 1.11% 1.11% 1.11%

Here’s a complete list of the banks and interest rates we track dating back to 2008:

Savings Account Rates

As you review the current and historical rates for savings accounts and money market accounts, keep the following in mind:

  • Fees: The best offers come with no monthly maintenance fees. Even a small fee can wipe out much of the yield, particularly in the current low rate environment. Before opening an account, make sure you understand what if any fees you’ll pay. The best savings accounts don’t charge fees.
  • Minimum Deposit: Many bank accounts require either a minimum deposit or a minimum balance going forward, or both. Be sure you know these requirements as you shop for the highest yield.
  • Tiered Rates: Some, but not all, banks offer tiered rates based on the amount of your balance. While one might assume that the rates go up as the balance goes up, that’s not always the case. Some banks actually lower the rate for balances over a certain limit.
  • Online Banks vs Traditional Banks: As a general rule, online banks offer the highest rates. Many brick and mortar banks offer yields as low as 0.01%. It’s as if they don’t want your money. In contrast, online banks offer yields of 1.00% APY or more.

Checking Account Rates

With checking accounts, the interest rates tend to be lower. That’s generally fine because most people don’t keep a lot of money in a checking account. Any extra money one has should be moved over to a high-yield savings product. That being said, many banks do offer interest checking accounts. Here it’s critical to consider fees, which are more common than on savings and money market accounts.

Finally, if you know of other bank accounts or deals we should include in our list, please leave a comment below.

If you’ve been paying attention to high yield savings rates over the past few months, you may have noticed they’re on their way up. No, not to the 4% – 5% levels we saw about a decade ago. But, slowly, interest rates are creeping in a positive direction.

SmartyPig is one of the high yield savings accounts that has always led the way with top interest rates. Keeping with that trend, they currently offer a great interest rate, making it worth considering for your new savings account.

SmartyPig High Yield Interest Rates

SmartyPig currently offers four tiers when calculating interest for its consumers, based on the average daily balance on the account. So, for example, if today you had $3,000 in your SmartyPig savings account, you would earn 0.90% APY for that day. If tomorrow, you deposited another $8,000, that day would earn 0.95% APY on the $11,000 total in the account. These tier levels are not like tax tables, either… the full balance of your account will earn the APY in the active tier.

  1. $0.01 – $2,500 — 0.85% APY
  2. $2,500.01 – $10,000 — 0.90% APY
  3. $10,000.01 – $50,000 — 0.95% APY
  4. $50,000.01+ — 1.12% APY

In today’s online savings account market, earning 0.85% – 0.95% is still good. However, some competitors can do better. For example, Ally Bank currently offers 1.15% APY on all accounts, regardless of amount deposited. For this reason, SmartyPig is geared toward savers who can keep over $50,000 in their account at all times.

SmartyPig Savings Goals

One of the features that SmartyPig has employed since the very first day it became an online bank was to allow users to create internal savings goals.

For example, if I wanted to create a $5,000 savings goal for a family vacation, I could set up recurring transfers from an external account into my SmartyPig account to track my savings progress. Or, I simply draw from my primary SmartyPig savings account into my goal account. During the saving process, I can track my progress toward my goal. Once I reach the goal, SmartyPig releases funds back into my primary savings account.

The SmartyPig Savings Goals section is largely symbolic. There are no interest rate benefits or negatives to creating goals. If you decide to scrap a goal early, SmartyPig places them back into your main account with all interest earned. The idea here is that visualizing the goal and keeping track of the amount you’ve saved goes a long way towards completing your task.

Resource: Setting Goals You’ll Actually Achieve

Opening Up a SmartyPig Account

The process to open up a SmartyPig account takes all of five minutes. You’ll need your personal information, including social security number and a cell phone, plus a few moments to complete a three-step online application.

  1. Create your login details and enter your cell phone number.
  2. Verify your cell phone number by using the 4 digit code SmartyPig will send you (the stated timeline to complete this step is 14 days before your account will be closed).
  3. Verify your identity by entering your personal information and answering four security questions.

After these steps have been completed, you’ll have your very own SmartyPig high yield savings account. The last thing to do is verify your email address, which is required after your account is active, but before you can set up any external funding source. The login dashboard for SmartyPig looks like this:

Setting Up External Transfer Accounts

In order to fund your SmartyPig account, you must set up an external funding source. SmartyPig is not a bank in and of itself. It’s simply a “product of sorts” that Sallie Mae offers. So, the only way to get money into the account is by transferring it from another account. SmartyPig and Sallie Mae are FDIC-insured for the full $250,000 per depositor. But there are currently no physical locations where you can deposit funds. Therefore, direct deposit and external transfer are your options.

After creating an account and setting up a savings goal (optional), I entered my first external funding source. After this, I went through the standard verification process where SmartyPig made two small deposits to my funding account. This process can take a few days depending on the bank you use. Once the small deposits are verified, you can deposit directly into your SmartyPig primary or goal account.

Related: How Automating Your Finances Can Save You Time and Money

How Much Can SmartyPig Earn You?

Why use SmartyPig? Well, compared to other popular high yield savings accounts, SmartyPig carries one of the best interest rates for high-balance accounts. Popular banks like Discover, American Express, Ally, Capital One, and Goldman Sachs Bank USA offer interest rates above 1% APY but below the 1.12% APY that SmartyPig offers.

Let’s run a small example of how much money a SmartyPig account can earn you on top of the others:

  • As of 5.24.2017, the interest rate at Ally Bank is 1.05%. If you were to deposit $100,000 into your Ally account today and let it accrue interest (compounded daily) at the current rate, you would have $105,393 after five years.
  • If you did the same with your SmartyPig account and it’s 1.12% interest rate, the ending balance after five years would be $105,762. This means SmartyPig will earn you an additional $369.

Admittedly, $369 spread across five years ($74 per year) is not a large amount of money when considering the initial deposit is $100,000. However, we’re all here to save money. If it’s no skin off your hide to spend fifteen minutes setting up and funding your SmartyPig account, why wouldn’t you? After all, $369 for 15 minutes’ worth of work ain’t bad!

Additional SmartyPig Benefits

When SmartyPig was initially launched around a decade ago, it focused more on spending than saving. Backed at the time by BBVA Compass, the bank offered gift cards instead of actual cash when cashing out a goal and earning interest. The benefit then was that specific cards and stores would offer a premium on their gift cards, so an account holder could earn much more than the current interest rate offered. When Sallie Mae took control of the bank last year, the account structure shifted to a more strict savings approach.

However, there is still one feature of the old bank present in SmartyPig. Every account holder has the ability to buy Amazon gift cards within their account. There is no added bonus to do so, though, and your account must be opened for 60 days before being able to purchase an Amazon gift card. So, in terms of how this plays into the SmartyPig platform, it doesn’t.  The best I can do is describe it as an oddity that I suspect will change in the near future.

Other benefits of owning a SmartyPig account are as follows:

  • Refer a Friend Bonus – Every friend you refer to SmartyPig will earn you $10 after they’ve opened an account and deposited $25 within the first 30 days. The bonus is deposited directly into your account! SmartyPig caps the number of new account referrals at 100, so you can earn up to $1,000 extra.
  • Joint or Limited Access to Goals – One of the cool things about your SmartyPig interface is that with each goal you set up, you have the ability to share that goal with family and friends. You can choose to allow them to simply view and keep track of the goal, or to have account access to the goal, where they can deposit funds via their own external funding source.

SmartyPig is a great place to park your savings if you have over $50,000 to do so. Its interface is clean. Getting set up is easy, and tracking your progress is a neat way to stay on top of your savings. If you currently have your money parked in a different online savings account and would benefit from the higher interest rate SmartyPig provides on big balances, consider making the switch.

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CiT Bank Offering Bonuses Up to $400 for New High Yield Savings Accounts

by Stephanie Colestock

Update – This promotion is now EXPIRED Banks continue to pay bonuses to attract new customers. The latest offer comes in the form of a CIT Bank bonus of up to $400. If you’re looking for a safe place to tuck away your emergency fund or vacation savings, Everybody needs a safe place to tuck […]

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The low interest rates offered by even the highest-yield savings and money market accounts are disappointing for savers. Even as the Fed starts to raise rates, savings account yields haven’t budged. So, do we just give up the idea of earning anything on our savings? Well, not necessarily. One alternative is to create what’s called a CD […]

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