It’s not every day that I find a bank account offering more than 2% 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% APY. I had not heard of the bank, so I looked into it.
SFGI Direct is the online banking division of Summit Community Bank, based in Moorefield, West Virginia. Deposits at Summit and SFGI Direct are covered by the FDIC as you would expect for any legitimate bank in the United States. To open the online savings account at SFGI Direct, customers will need to provide the typical personal information including Social Security number and employment information. The account requires a $500 minimum balance and initial funding deposits are limited to a maximum of $25,000.
For some people, SFGI Direct may be one of the fastest bank account opening processes from application to use. Like a small number of other banks, SFGI Direct allows “Instant Verification.” Most banks still offer only “Micro-Deposit Verification,” or the even more antiquated “Check Verification.” This means that after your application for opening an account is approved, if you link your new SFGI Direct account to an outside bank that supports this feature, rather than waiting two to three days for Micro-Deposit Verification, you can provide your account access details for the linked account. SFGI Direct will securely and privately confirm your account details with the external bank and allow you to immediately initiate your initial funding deposit.
I attempted to use the Instant Verification option to fund a new SFGI Direct account from ING Direct. Unfortunately, ING Direct’s verification process requires the customer to choose ten identifying questions. I don’t believe I set up ten questions and answers at ING Direct initially, so I was relegated to the slower Micro-Deposit Verification. After the weekend, I will be able to confirm my ownership of my linked account and initiate my funding transfer.
With this generous interest rate in comparison to other savings accounts, I have added SFGI Direct to the list of high-yield savings and checking account interest rates. You can SFGI Direct here.
Update: New customers are not currently welcome at SFGI Direct. As of Friday, November 6, the bank has closed its online application and presented this message on their website:
On Friday, November 6th SFGI Direct will again remove the “Apply Now” button from our website. As many of you noticed in July we removed the “Apply Now” button for approximately 2 months. It is our philosophy to deliver a competitive product to our clients.
SFGI Direct has chosen a strategy to slow down account growth by limiting the application process for new clients instead of dramatically cutting the rates on loyal customers.
Updated March 22, 2011 and originally published October 30, 2009. 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.