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Banking

Verifying Funds on Checks, 2010 Edition

by Smithee

Last May we found a list of the biggest American banks and investigated each to find if it was possible to verify funds on a customer’s check over the phone. For example, you’re a landlord and you want to know if your iffy tenant, who banks somewhere different than you, wrote you a bad check. ... Continue reading this article…

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I Deposited a Check With My Phone

by Smithee

This past weekend was my first chance to try to deposit a check without going to the bank, and it was fantastic. I was always ambivalent about the fact that Chase Bank swallowed up the friendly Washington Mutual, but now I’m a little glad, since they’re among the first of the enormous banks to bring ... Continue reading this article…

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Track Savings Goals With Mint.com

by Luke Landes
mint[1]

Mint.com added a new feature this week to its online personal finance management software. Like SmartyPig, the new focus is on savings goals. I’ve recently become a fan of SmartyPig’s approach to goal tracking, so I was interested in seeing Mint.com’s new feature. In addition to tracking your account balances as any other personal finance ... Continue reading this article…

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Free Checking On the Way Out: Who Should Pay?

by Luke Landes

July 1 and August 15 are the dates consumers need to worry about. New Fed rules for bank accounts go into effect on July 1 for anyone who opens a new bank account, while current account holders should know about changes to their accounts starting August 15. On these dates, the Federal Reserve is limiting ... Continue reading this article…

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A Review of PerkStreet’s 5% Cash Back Debit Card and Checking Account

by Luke Landes

PerkStreet Financial, a company that launched just over a year ago has decided to kick things up a notch by offering something new in addition to their online checking account. Previously, PerkStreet enticed customers with a $50 cash bonus for signing up a new account, then 2 percent cash back on all non-PIN debit card purchases ... Continue reading this article…

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Overdraft Fees: Opting In

by Luke Landes

As we’ve addressed on Consumerism Commentary before, the Federal Reserve will be requiring banking customers to opt-in to overdraft protection. The highly publicized date of the change is July 1, but this is only the date by which new customers must be free from certain overdraft fees without opting into the service. Most of us ... Continue reading this article…

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Sallie Mae Increases Interest Rate and 10% Upromise Bonus

by Luke Landes

Earlier today, Sallie Mae Bank increased the interest rate offered on its savings account 50 basis points to 1.4 percent APY. This is one of the highest interest rates available. I’ve shared my thoughts about opening a Sallie Mae Bank savings account in this review. Sallie Mae ties directly into the Upromise savings plan, a program ... Continue reading this article…

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Set Your ATM Preferences

by Smithee

Marketing e-mails, provided they make it through Google’s top-notch spam filters, get about half a second of attention from me before they get deleted. I’ll spend a bit more time if they come from my bank, and Chase recently caught my eye with an announcement about “setting your ATM preferences” (especially since a large part ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Beat a Certificate of Deposit (CD) Ladder

by Luke Landes

Building a certificate of deposit (CD) ladder is a great process that ensures you’re eventually earning the strongest interest rates available while leaving the possibility open to withdraw money every three months without penalty. In fact, even if you need to withdraw some money between the quarterly window, you would only be faced with a ... Continue reading this article…

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SmartyPig Savings Account Opening Review

by Luke Landes

For two years, SmartyPig has been making so-called high-yield savings accounts look bad. The 1.00 percent APY currently offered is not a sky-high interest rate, but it beats just about every other major bank. Two years after introducing SmartyPig with a $100 giveaway, and after SmartyPig made some important changes to their fee structure, I decided ... Continue reading this article…

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Sallie Mae Bank Savings Account Opening Review

by Luke Landes

At the beginning of March, the banking arm of Sallie Mae, a publicly-traded corporation whose main business is student loans, began offering high-yield savings accounts. As I’ve mentioned before, “high-yield” is currently a joke; just a few years ago, you could deposit cash in high-yield savings accounts and count on slightly beating inflation. It is ... Continue reading this article…

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When It Makes Sense to Chase Savings Interest Rates

by Luke Landes

I’ve been closely tracking changes in high-yield savings account interest rates for a few years. Having a high-yield savings account is an essential part of being in control of your finances, and it’s the perfect vehicle for the bulk of your emergency fund. There is a possibility of having too much of a good thing. ... Continue reading this article…

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E*TRADE Bank Moving Customers to Discover Bank

by Luke Landes

A number of E*TRADE Bank customers have written to Consumerism Commentary to inform me of this recent news. E*TRADE is planning to move its banking customers to Discover Bank. I have a savings account at E*TRADE but I have not yet received any communication from the bank. Thanks to E*TRADE’s fast external ACH transfers, the ... Continue reading this article…

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Ally Bank: Kiplinger’s Rated Best Savings Account

by Luke Landes

At the end of 2008, the editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine selected FNBO Direct as their favorite savings account. Since that time, the banking landscape has changed. From the ashes of GMAC Bank rose Ally Bank offering competitive interest rates. Kiplinger’s chose Ally Bank as the best savings account of 2009. You can read ... Continue reading this article…

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Variety of Savings Accounts: Where I Keep My Cash

by Luke Landes

In a perfect word, I wouldn’t spread my money among more than one or two savings accounts. There is value in simplifying personal finances and I try to take that approach where possible. Forces are working against me, however, keeping my finances more complicated than they would be otherwise. Occasionally I review and evaluate banking ... Continue reading this article…

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Alternatives to High-Yield Savings Accounts

by Luke Landes

I am not surprised that my recent suggestion to start the decade off right by opening a high-yield savings account received a lukewarm reception. With rates between 1 percent and 2 percent APY right now, these savings are looking somewhat pathetic. Savings accounts are not designed to be investments. They will not provide the growth potential that ... Continue reading this article…

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Start the Decade Off Right: Open a High-Yield Savings Account

by Luke Landes

It’s a new year and a new decade. I expect the next ten years will fly by and 2020 will be here before I know it. Thinking about how fast the future is barreling towards the present is inspiring me to start making real changes in my life, and if there is an opportunity to ... Continue reading this article…

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Federal Reserve Issues New Rules for Overdraft Fees

by Luke Landes

With Congress threatening to create new consumer protection agencies to protect the public from customer-unfriendly banking practices, the Federal Reserve stepped in today to prove it is still relevant and involved with banking regulation. The Fed announced that as of July 1, 2010 for new bank accounts or August 15, 2010 for existing accounts, banks ... Continue reading this article…

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Opening an SFGI Direct Savings Account Earning 2.25% APY (Updated)

by Luke Landes

It’s not every day that I find a bank account offering more than 2 percent APY, but as of October 30, 2009, I’ve discovered one thanks to a reader. “Ski Naut” contacted me yesterday to ask about SFGI Direct’s offer of 2.25 percent APY. I had not heard of the bank, so I looked into it. SFGI ... Continue reading this article…

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ING to Sell Online Bank ING Direct By 2013

by Luke Landes

Update: Capital One has purchased ING Direct. Here in the Untied States, ING Direct, a banking arm of the large financial company ING Group from the Netherlands, offers more than just high-yield online savings accounts. The bank also offers investments and mortgages, and some of the latter may have been too risky, like those sold ... Continue reading this article…

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