This article started as a regular review of an online savings account. I’ve written many of these for Consumerism Commentary over the years, and I’ve always followed a similar process: I open a new account in my own name, naturally, I link the account to an existing account of mine, I transfer money into the account, and I use the account for some time. Throughout the process, I keep track of my experience and share the results with Consumerism Commentary readers.
My latest attempt with this process ended much differently than I would have anticipated, and therefore, this isn’t the review of GE Capital Bank I intended to write.
Banking Deal: Earn 1.20% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays.
GE Capital Bank was brought to my attention with their 0.90% APY online savings account with no minimum deposit. This rate is right up there with competitive online savings accounts. GE Capital Bank shouldn’t be confused with GE Capital Retail Bank, despite both being branches of GE Capital Corporation, a division of General Electric Company, despite both being banks offering retail banking products like deposit accounts, and despite both being based in Utah.
GE Capital Retail Bank recently acquired the deposits of MetLife Bank and is formerly known as GE Money Bank.
The process began normally, similar to how I’ve opened accounts for all banks that I’ve reviewed. I visited GE Capital Bank’s website and clicked on the link on the top right of the screen to open a new account. I provided my name and email address on the first screen. After submitting that basic information, there was an option to choose an individual or a joint account. I chose individual, as I have done every time I’ve opened an account.
If the option were presented to me, I might have chosen to open a trust account rather than an individual account. After meeting with an estate planning attorney earlier this year, I’ve created a revocable living trust that includes all my assets. It’s not important for every small account to be situated within the trust, especially bank accounts I open for the purpose of writing reviews. There’s usually an option to set a “payable on death” beneficiary on savings account, but regardless, I intend to leave not much money in these accounts.
I like how GE Capital Bank asks only one question per page during this part of the process rather than presenting visitors with a long form to complete. The next piece of information the bank requested was the type of account or accounts I’d like to open. You can open up to five each of online savings, regular certificates of deposit, or 30-month certificates of deposit. I like having this option up front.
After choosing just one online savings account, the next screen prompted me for my Social Security number, phone number, secret word, a hint for the secret word, and a four-digit PIN to be used for telephone banking. I provided my information accurately. GE Capital Bank provided the option to set a beneficiary for the account during the set-up process, but I chose to assign that information later.
Next, GE Capital Bank asked for my initial deposit amount. There’s no minimum balance, either initial deposit or ongoing, for this account, so I chose $100, which I intended to transfer from my primary Wells Fargo checking account. I expected that before the process would have been complete, I would provide the routing number for Wells Fargo and my account number to link the accounts and transfer my opening balance.
After electronically “signing” the disclosures and agreements, I wasn’t able to get much further. The system took a few seconds during which the website informed me it was processing my application, but before I could open up a new browser window to check my email, I was greeted by an ominous warning. My application was “unable to be processed at this time.”
A few seconds later, an email arrived in my inbox. The subject was “Important information is attached,” the kind of generic subject one might easily mistake for spam. But within this email was a customer service phone number and a PDF attachment. The attachment read as follows:
Thank you for your recent application to open a GE Capital Bank Online Savings account(s). We regret to inform you that, after reviewing your application, we must decline it and will not be able to open your account. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes, and appreciate you considering us for your savings needs.
GE Capital Bank Customer Service
Since the letter came from GE Capital Bank Customer Service and the email provided the phone number for the same customer service offering answers to questions and further assistance, I called the phone number listed, 1-855-730-SAVE (7283). I was on hold for a short time, then spoke to the customer service representative who could offer no additional information pertaining to my rejection, and explained that no one else would be able to have that information.
The timing of this rejection is interesting. Because I ordered my Chex Systems report only a week before opening this account, I know that my report is completely clear, with no negative marks. I check my credit scores frequently and there’s been no change; my score is as high as it’s ever been. I haven’t looked at my credit report in the last few months, but I don’t expect that to be the source of the rejection.
So I’m left with a mystery. Why would GE Capital Bank decline my application for an online savings account? It’s a good thing I handle rejection well. There are more than enough banks that do seem to want my business. But my curiosity makes the situation frustrating.
Here are some of the possibilities I can come up with; maybe readers have additional thoughts.
- Perhaps I entered a mistake on the application, like a misspelled address or an incorrect digit in my Social Security number.
- Maybe I have too many savings accounts open across too many banks — but this information is not included on my Chex Systems report, so how would GE Capital Bank know?
- Maybe I’ve closed too many savings accounts recently. I’ve been going through the process of simplifying my finances, closing many of the accounts I’ve opened solely for the purpose of writing in-depth reviews. Again, Chex Systems does not report this.
GE Capital Bank’s competitive APY for online savings is appealing, but I’ve gone as far as I can go with this bank. Because my application was rejected, and regardless of the reason (to which I will never be privy), I cannot re-apply at any time in the future. If you decide to apply for an account, feel free to share your experiences.
If my description turned you off and you are looking for a new savings account, there are other choices to consider. In terms of rates, Barclays Bank is currently offering the same rate as GE Capital Bank. Another popular choice is Ally Bank whose rate is sightly lower but many customers report being happy with their customer service.
Update: Be sure to read the comments from readers below. This is not an isolated incident; many people who have had no problems opening deposit accounts elsewhere are being declined by GE Capital Bank, and the bank is not offering these potential customers adequate reasons for the rejections. If you do want to learn more about GE Capital Bank’s offer, read this information.
Updated September 23, 2015 and originally published August 16, 2013.