As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!


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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ING Direct Offering $121 Bonus for New Checking Accounts

by Luke Landes

Here’s a Black Friday sale I can appreciate. ING Direct is offering a $121 bonus for opening an Electronic Orange checking account today, Friday, November 27, 2009. This is a one-day only sale. According to ING Direct, consumers pay $121 in overdraft fees, on average, each year. Rather than charging overdraft fees, the Electric Orange ... Continue reading this article…

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Ally Bank Increases Interest Rate to 1.64% APY

by Luke Landes

While most banks are still lowering their interest rates, Ally Bank increased its rate today, November 13, 2009, to 1.64 percent APY. Although the rate is up, it is only 0.09 percentage points higher than the rate of 1.55 percent last month, the lowest rate from Ally Bank or GMAC Bank since I started watching interest rates ... 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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List of Failed Banks, Updated April 9, 2010

by Luke Landes

Over 100 banks failed in 2009. Most of these are smaller regional banks who, in order to compete with larger banks, offered risky loans and are now facing customer defaults. Larger banks were offered government bailouts to prevent failure, but these smaller banks whose failures are not seen as major risks to the economy are ... Continue reading this article…

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Senator Dodd Going Ahead With Overdraft Legislation

by Smithee

We told you last month about banks deciding to let customers opt out of overdraft fees, first announced by Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, and then the next day by Wells Fargo (and Wachovia, which it owns). These big banks made the changes very soon after lawmakers announced an intention to try to ... Continue reading this article…

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Wells Fargo Joins Bank of America and Chase With New Overdraft Policies

by Luke Landes

Yesterday, Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase Bank announced they were changing their policies to allow customers to opt out of overdraft protection. Wells Fargo decided to follow in their footsteps late yesterday, announcing a number of changes at this bank. The following changes also apply to Wachovia, the bank that was acquired by ... Continue reading this article…

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Vanishing Overdraft Fees Pave Way For New Charges

by Jeff

Almost everyone has an story about the annoyance of overdraft fees. We all had cause to rejoice after reading Smithee’s recent post about banks backing off of overdraft fees. However, banks, being the business that they are, are already scheming for new ways to wring money out of us. An AP article on a local ... Continue reading this article…

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Generate Your Own Chase Checking $100 Bonus Code, September 2010

by Luke Landes

JP Morgan Chase Bank is offering a $100 bonus for new customers who sign up for the Chase Checking account. If you are not a current customer of Chase, you can qualify for this $100 bonus with an initial deposit of $100 and by initiating a direct deposit or five purchases using your new debit ... Continue reading this article…

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Overdraft Fees: Some Banks Let You Opt Out

by Smithee

Overdraft fees are nothing to sneeze at. Having not always been a model bank customer, I know how it feels like an unfair punishment to have roughly $30 taken away when my account is already negative. I’ve also worked for Bank of America, and I can see why they use a dis-incentive to drive away ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Have $50 Million Covered By FDIC: CDARS

by Luke Landes

Most of us need only a fraction of what the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is willing to protect. For most people, the FDIC covers up to $250,000 per depositor. If you have up to $250,000 in a regular bank account offered by a typical bank that participates in the FDIC program, you’re protected against the ... Continue reading this article…

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Compound Interest is More Powerful Than You Know

by Jim Wang

This is a guest article by Jim. Jim writes about personal finance at You can also find him on Twitter (@bargainr) causing a ruckus. Consider two individuals trying to save for the future. John saves a hundred dollars a month into a magical investment that gives him 6 percent a year. After forty years, he ... Continue reading this article…

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