Balance Transfer, Reviews

American Heritage FCU Preferred MasterCard Balance Transfer Review

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Updated 6/2/15

Credit card debt is a major financial concern for consumers. A 2014 MagnifyMoney survey found the average American family carried nearly $11,000 in credit card debt with an interest rate north of 15 percent. Fortunately, there can be a solution for digging out of debt faster.

When used properly a balance transfer card can be a great tool for reducing interest costs. These deals can be found from both banks and credit unions. American Heritage Federal Credit Union offers one of the most competitive balance transfer deals on the market with its Platinum Preferred MasterCard.

The Offer

The Platinum Preferred card balance transfer offer comes with no balance transfer fees and a 4.99% (previously 2.99%) introductory rate for the first 18 months. American Heritage provides a credit limit range from $300 to $40,000 depending on credit worthiness.

If you’re not approved for the Platinum Preferred card you might be offered one of the other two cards offered by American Heritage, the Platinum Classic MasterCard (12.90% APR) or the Platinum Secured MasterCard (15.90% APR). But neither of these would qualify as a decent balance transfer deal. Instead, you should look to apply for another balance transfer deal including ones with 0% interest and even ones offering 0% with no fee. Find our list of no fee balance transfer offers here.

The Platinum Preferred card is a rare “A” transparency score balance transfer option because it discloses fees upfront and uses very few traps to get you back into revolving debt while on your repayment journey.

How to Become Eligible

Credit unions are known for their commitment and ability to offer consumer (and wallet) friendly products. Some credit unions have strict requirements for membership but joining the American Heritage Federal Credit Union (American Heritage) is easy and detailed below. American Heritage subscribes to a “once a member, always a member” policy. Membership with the credit union is for life. If you change jobs, relocate, or retire, you still retain your membership, as long as your account remains active and in good standing.

Platinum Preferred Card Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fee
  • Anyone on can join the credit union and the online application process is simple

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer a 0% introductory APR option
  • You must be a member of the credit union and maintain a minimum balance of $15 in a share savings account to remain in good standing.
  • Does not offer 24 hour customer service

What do you need to qualify?

To apply for this you must be a credit union member in good standing. To be eligible for membership you must:

  • Be an employee of one of its partner companies. There are more than 800 companies, mostly located near Philadelphia.
  • Have a family member who is a member of the credit union, or
  • Indicate your support for Kids-N-Hope Foundation on the application form, with no donation required.

AmericanFCU applications

 Who Is It Best For?

This card is best for individuals who are looking to reduce their interest rates while paying off high interest debt. It offers rewards and a few additional perks such as $1 million in travelers insurance on purchases made entirely on the card but this is not a strong rewards card.

This card is also best for individuals with excellent credit.

The Fine Print Alerts

This is where it’s important to pay attention in order to get the more out of the card.

  • If you miss a minimum payment on this card you pay big time. According to its disclosure agreement, when your minimum monthly payment is late all balances, including those purchases, cash advances and balance transfers made during the introductory period, are subject to the non-introductory APR and $20 late fee.
  • Should you ever lose your card, the replacement card fee is up to $7.50 and if you need it in a hurry the rush card fee is $25.
  • Make sure to rollover your balance transfer within the first six billing cycles (we recommend just doing it in the first month).
  • The introductory APR for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances will only apply to transactions posted to your account during the first six billing cycles following the opening of your account. That means purchases or balance transfers must be made before the sixth billing cycle or they will be subject to the non-introductory APR rate of 9.99%. But you shouldn’t be using your balance transfer card for purchases anyway.
  • If you pay your credit card transfer balance off before the 18 months are over your introductory period will automatically conclude and the 9.99% APR will be implemented on any purchases.

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Balance Transfer Card Alternatives?

You can search for a variety of other balance transfer options including ones with 0% interest and even ones offering 0% with no fee. Find our list of no fee balance transfer offers here.

If you’re still interested in considering other cards, which may have a longer duration but charge a fee, then explore our balance transfer marketplace here.

[Use this tool to calculate the difference with fees and interest.]

Overall an Excellent Option for Digging Out of Debt

While it the American Heritage Federal Credit Union Platinum Preferred card isn’t marketed for its balance transfer perks like its competitors, it’s definitely a card worth considering when used solely as a balance transfer card.

It doesn’t offer a 0% option, but its introductory period is longer than most other offers out there, so if you need more time to pay your debt off this might be a good card for you.

In order to get the most out of this offer, all balance transfers must be done before the sixth billing cycle. Also keep in mind that once if you pay the balance off entirely before the 18-month period is over you’re automatically subject to the 9.99% on all transactions going forward. But you also shouldn’t be carrying a balance again.

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Pay Down My Debt, Reviews

Citizens Bank Education Loan Refinance Review

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Citizens Bank offers student loan refinancing for both private and federal loans through its Education Refinance Loan.

Since Citizens Bank is a traditional bank, its loan process is very thorough. You’ll have to fill out the application and supply the requested documentation before hearing back. Additionally, Citizen’s Bank conducts a hard credit inquiry, which can affect your credit.

Let’s take a look at what Citizens Bank can offer if you’re looking to refinance your student loans.

Refinance Terms Offered

With Citizens Bank, you need a minimum of $10,000 in student loans to refinance. The max amount you can refinance is $90,000 if you have a Bachelor’s Degree, $225,000 if you have a graduate/doctoral degree (MBA included), or $300,000 if you have a professional degree (law, medical, dental).

The range on its fixed rate loans is 4.75% – 8.24% APR, and the range on its variable interest rate loans is 2.39% – 8.18% APR.

You can refinance on a 5, 10, 15, or 20 year term.

You can also receive up to 0.50% in interest rate deductions. 0.25% comes from enrolling in automatic payments (meaning your monthly payment is automatically deducted from your checking account). The other 0.25% comes from already having an account with Citizens Bank (its “loyalty” discount).

An example payment would look like this: $10,000 balance at a 5.44% fixed rate on a 20 year term = $68 per month (that’s with excellent credit).

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The Pros and Cons

Citizens Bank offers low rates and the option of having a fixed rate or variable rate loan. It claims to save borrowers an average of $145 per month. It offers a wide variety of terms (fixed and variable rates, and 5, 10, 15, and 20 year terms), and it has a forbearance option for those face financial hardship and have difficulty paying back the loan.

There aren’t too many downsides to refinancing with Citizens Bank aside from the more involved application process, and the hard credit inquiry.

One con to note is its 0.25% loyalty interest rate deduction won’t be available to everyone. Its checking and savings accounts are only available in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. If you don’t live in those states, you’re out of luck (but can still get the 0.25% auto-payment discount).

If you graduated with a Bachelors degree but have six-figures of student loan debt, refinancing with Citizens Bank might not be the best option, due to its maximum loan cap. There are other lenders out there with a larger maximum loan limit.

[Find out what happens when you refinance a Federal student loan.]

What You Need to Qualify

To be eligible to refinance your student loans with Citizens Bank, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You can’t be currently enrolled in school
  • You should have a history of paying your current student loans back on time
  • It’s not necessary to have graduated, but if you didn’t obtain a degree, then you must make 12 full on-time payments of principal and interest before you’re eligible to refinance
  • If you have a Bachelors degree, then you only need to make 3 full on-time payments of principal and interest before being eligible to refinance
  • You may be able to refinance even if you’ve previously consolidated your student loans
  • You must be a U.S. citizen, residing in the U.S., with a valid Social Security Number
  • As for credit, Citizens Bank states, “You’ll need to present a reasonably strong credit history, which is derived from your credit score”
  • You need a minimum household income of $24,000

If you’re worried about the income and credit qualifications, you can elect to have a cosigner on your loan. Cosigners are released after 36 consecutive payments on the loan.

Documents and Information Needed to Apply

Citizens Bank recommends you have the following documents on hand during the application process:

  • Existing student loan information (you’ll need recent billing statements for the loans you want to refinance)
  • Employment information (employer, gross monthly income, phone number, length of employment)
  • Social Security Number or birth certificate
  • Two most recent pay stubs
  • Receipt of monthly housing payments, if applicable

If you’re self-employed or earn any income on the side, additional documentation such as previous tax returns may be required. Citizens Bank has a list of other documents you might want to have on its FAQ.

Who Benefits the Most from Refinancing Student Loans with Citizens Bank?

The most common reason to refinance student loans is to get a better interest rate, and to simplify how many payments you’re sending out a month. If your interest rates are on the higher side (above 7%), or if you’re making payments to several different lenders, refinancing could be beneficial.

When it comes to refinancing with Citizens Bank, borrowers (or cosigners) who have a strong credit history and score are most likely to be approved.

With a good credit score, you may be able to refinance to lower interest rates. If you would like to have a fixed rate instead of a variable rate, you can refinance for that reason, too.

If you have federal student loans you’re refinancing, be aware that certain benefits are no longer available once you refinance them into private loans. For example, you won’t have access to the variety of repayment options that comes with federal loans.

Citizens Bank does at least offer a forbearance option for those facing financial hardship.

[Click here to read more about student loan forgiveness programs.]

Fees and Gotchas

When you refinance with Citizens Bank, there are no hidden fees. You won’t have to worry about an application, origination, or disbursement fee, and there’s no prepayment penalty, either.

The only fee you might incur is a late fee, which is 5% of your monthly payment amount. This is standard for most loans.

Transparency Score

Citizens Bank receives an A+ transparency score from MagnifyMoney because it offers both a co-signer option and a co-signer release. However, its late fee and whether or not they conduct a hard or soft credit check wasn’t explicitly stated on their website, unlike other lenders. It’s a hard credit check, which will impact your score.

Alternative Student Loan Refinancing Lenders

There are many lenders offering student loan refinancing solutions. If you don’t qualify with Citizens Bank, you might qualify with another lender.

If you have a good credit score, but have a larger amount you want to refinance than Citizens Bank will allow, look into SoFi. It doesn’t have a maximum loan amount, and it has lower fixed and variable interest rates.

SoFi* also has the same options for loan terms (5, 10, 15, and 20 years). Your credit score should be at least 700 or higher and co-signers are accepted on a case-by-case basis. However, SoFi does a soft credit inquiry to start, so applying with it first is recommended.

LendKey* may also be a good option, although it only offers fixed interest rates in select states. The maximum amount for borrowers with an undergraduate degree is $125,000, and $175,000 for those with a graduate degree.

Its loan term is only up to 15 years, though the shorter the term, the less you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan. It also allows cosigners in case your credit needs a bit of work and also offers a cosigner release. Its loans are offered exclusively through credit unions and community banks.

SoFi and LendKey also offer forbearance options and will work with borrowers in the event they face a financial hardship. Remember, you’re giving up payment flexibility when refinancing federal loans privately, so this is important to consider.

Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Around

You always want to get the best rates on your loans, especially if you’re refinancing to lower the amount of interest you’re paying. It’s wise to first apply with lenders who only conduct a soft credit inquiry to get an idea of your rate options.

If you’re not satisfied with your results, continue to shop around with lenders who conduct a hard credit inquiry. As long as you do so within a 30-day period, your credit score won’t be affected as much, as all the inquiries made will count only once.

Check out our Student Loan Refinance Marketplace Here

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Eliminating Fees, Reviews

Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Review

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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When I initially signed onto Bank5 Connect to check out account options, I was met with a pleasant surprise. In big bold font right next to “High-Interest Checking” was a nice number- 0.76 percent APY. I figured I must’ve been reading it wrong. An interest rate of 0.76 percent seemed like an impossibly good deal. Surely there had to be a catch.

CheckingBut Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking holds up to its advertisement. The only requirement is to keep a $100 balance, but no stress if you fall below that amount – with no minimum balance requirements or sneaky fees, Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking is a safe bet.

Like other online only banks Bank5 Connect doesn’t have to shoulder the expense of pricey real estate, live teller salaries, and other brick and mortar banking expenses – which means more savings and perks passed on to you, the user.

You can open a High-Interest Checking account through the Bank5 Connect website or by calling the customer service number, 1-855-522-2655. The minimum opening deposit requirement is just $10 and can be funded through an online transfer from an external checking account, direct deposit, mobile deposit, check, or credit card.

Pros

Though you need $10 to open account you will not be penalized if your balance falls below. Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking is among the top fee-free accounts.

  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • No fees at domestic SUM Network ATMs
  • Reimbursement up to $15 for out of network ATM fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No early closure fee
  • Free first order of checks
  • Free cashiers checks
  • Free incoming wires

The account also comes with a debit card with a sweet perk of its own- a debit rewards program. Earn 1 point for every $2 spent using Bank5’s UChoose debit card and redeem points for various items online- vacation packages, gift cards, electronics, etc. The daily purchase limit on the card is $1,000.

Finally, the Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking account comes with all the staples of online banking convenience- online bill pay, e-statements, e-check deposit, mobile banking, and quick person-to-person payment options.

Bank5 Connect also earned an “A” Transparency Score for creating a simple product with partial ATM reimbursement, disclosure of fees, no minimum requirements and real overdraft protection.

Cons

While you can avoid ATM charges by using your UChoose debit card at any ATM within the SUM Network, you are responsible for fees charged by ATMs outside that network should you exceed the $15 monthly fee reimbursement allowance. The bonus reimbursement ATM coverage is also limited to domestic ATMs. Travel internationally and you’ll be on the hook for all fees.

In addition to checking, Bank5 Connect offers a savings account that can be linked for free overdraft protection. If you find yourself in a position of non-sufficient funds however, you’ll be responsible for the $15 overdraft fee.

High interest and low fees make Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest checking account a top option. Thanks to those features, it is consistently ranked among the best accounts. But further research into the customer experience suggests reason for concern.

Despite an absence of physical branches, many online only banks have exceptionally high rated customer service. I had a hard time finding similarly complimentary reviews of Bank5 Connect, so I called in to customer service to check it out for myself.

While the wait time was minimal, my representative wasn’t particularly well informed. She had a hard time recounting some of the most basic account features I had been reading about online. Her responses to my questions were so dubious and unsure that I actually called back later with the hope of being connected to a more authoritative source. My second representative proved a better experience, but I can still see why Bank5 Connect might not be winning a people’s choice award winner any time soon.

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Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking vs. Simple

Though the interest rate on Bank5 Connect’s High Yield Checking Account blows Simple’s out of the water (with Simple coming in at a weak 0.01 percent), Simple has the top-notch money management tools and excellent customer service representatives noticeably absent at Bank5 Connect. Where Simple provides a user-friendly experience, Bank5 Connect provides yield. Both options are first-rate on the debatably most important checking account features though- freedom from fees and transparency.

Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking vs. Ally Bank Checking

Ally Bank is another online only option boasting low fees. Interest rates on checking start at 0.10 percent, an improvement from those at Simple but a far cry from those at Bank5 Connect. For users with a balance greater than $15,000, the rate jumps to 0.60 percent, but that’s a pretty major requirement considering the small $100 balance required at Bank5 Connect.

Ally customer service is also well rated. Though Ally’s money management tools are not as comprehensive as Simple’s, for basic checking account needs, Ally is consistently a top contender in ratings and customer reviews.

Should You Use Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking?

A minimal fee structure paired with shockingly high interest makes Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking an option worth considering, but I would recommend taking customer service for a test run before singing up. Even when you bank online, you need to feel secure in where and with whom you leave your money.

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Personal Loans, Reviews

Pave Review: Personal Loan for Minimal Credit History

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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PAVE personal loans seeks to answer the plight of the young: how do you get access to affordable funding with limited credit history? If you’re a millennial in need of financial backing for higher education, to pay off debt, or even to start your own business, chances are you have found financing to be a challenge.

Enter Pave

Pave personal loans were designed specifically for people early in their careers. Its underwriting takes into account hundreds of factors beyond the traditional credit score in order to gauge an individual’s future potential. 

Pave grants loans of up to $25,000 in 2-3 year terms, with a personalized, enhanced, very non-traditional underwriting process to individuals who may not traditionally have access to the financing they need.

By the same token, Pave offers risk adjusted returns to its financial backers.

How is Pave Able to Offer Low Rates?

Pave recognized a big hole in the personal loan marketplace for talented young people who had promise but minimal credit history. With this in mind, Pave created a unique underwriting process that takes into account not only the borrower’s creditworthiness, but the value of his or her ideas, goals and education.

Pave starts by reviewing the borrower’s credit score and history, but then analyzes: use of personal funds, work history, current employment, education and future earning potential. This gives Pave opportunities to recognize how financially responsible a person can be as a whole, and enables Pave to offer the lowest rate possible without assuming too much risk.

Pave’s Underwriting Process

Pave approaches underwriting with a viewpoint that one size does not fit all.

While Pave does use a FICO credit score as a baseline, it considers alternate factors such as: education, employment and work history.

“As for previous education, we look at a number of things,” says David Rosen, head of underwriting for PAVE. “Including publicly available information on student loan repayment, and how likely graduates from certain schools, programs, or majors are to be employed.”

For example, say a student wanted to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, but because he was only 19, did not have a very high credit score.  Most banks would deny him funding based on his low credit score alone, but Pave would look at his high school employment history, his grades, and even future salary potential as an engineer. By using this hybrid underwriting model, Pave loans may be able to offer him financing.

How Can I Get Approved for Funding?

Basic eligibility for a Pave Loan requires:

  • US Citizenship
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Must have a US Bank Account
  • Must have a credit score of 660 or higher

Are There Any Restrictions On The Amount I Can Borrow?

Pave’s minimum loan amount is $3,000 and its maximum is $25,000

How Can I Use The Money I Borrow?

Pave places no restrictions how you use the money you have been loaned, because it recognizes there are many reasons why funding might be needed, and that those reasons could change at any time. 

People have typically used Pave funding to pay off or consolidate debt, finance higher education, or even start their own business.

How to Apply for a Pave Loan

Applying for a Pave Loan is very easy.  It can be done on Pave’s website. 

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Step 1: Sign up for Pave

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You will need to enter your first and last Name, email address, and a password.  Or, you can sign up using Linkedin.

Step 2: Confirm your Email

Step 3: Fill Out the Talent Questionnaire

The Talent Questionnaire is Pave’s way of finding out all of your basic information such as your birthdate, address, current living arrangement (rent or own), marital status, work experience, how much you want to borrow, education, and a bit of information about how your financials look currently.

Additionally, Pave Loans will ask for your social security number and then do a “soft pull” that will not affect your credit score, to determine your pre-eligibility. You must have a credit score of at least 660 to be considered for financing.

Step 4:  Approval

Once you have entered all of the information the Talent Questionnaire requested, Pave loans will take approximately 1 business day to review your application, and then they will contact you to let you know if you are approved for a Pave Loan or not.

Fee Warnings

Pave does not charge a prepayment penalty. It origination fees averages 2%. This means that if you refinanced $10,000 of credit card debt, the origination fee would cost you $200.

However, Pave does note that as it expands its service area and eligibility requirements, origination fees will range from 1% – 6%. This means that the origination fee on that same $10,000 would cost you anywhere from $100 – $600 in origination fees.

Pave Against the Competition

Other lending options such as SoFi and LendingClub do offer more convenient and flexible lending solutions. 

Where Pave limits you to $25,000, SoFi* allows you to borrow amounts from $5,000 – $100,000 with no origination fee. In addition, SoFi offers unemployment insurance with every personal loan, which is a great added benefit.

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LendingClub* also offers personal loans of up to $40,000 with a minimum credit score of 600. LendingClub is not available in Iowa or West Virginia.

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Pros & Cons of a Pave Loan

Pros:

  • Applying for a Pave personal loan will not hurt your credit.
  • The online application is easy and fast!
  • Pave Loans take non-traditional factors into accounts when deciding who they should finance.
  • Pave Loans can help you raise your credit score by paying off credit cards, or offering low-cost higher education financing solutions. 

Cons:

  • Pave can’t offer loans in the following states: Arizona, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming
  • Rates start at 6% and can go quite a bit higher, depending on creditworthiness.
  • You must have a credit score of 660 or higher.
  • Loans are only available in amounts of $25,000 or less.

Pave Loan is leading the way in developing a non-traditional lending process catering to millennials. Its system provides financing to a generation with great ideas, but who lack the credit to make those dreams happen. Currently, Pave is beta testing in New York, but Pave personal loans will soon be available in many other areas of the United States as well. Whether you live in New York or not — you should always comparison shop rates before settling on any personal loan.

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Ally Bank Interest Checking Account Review

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Since its launch in 2009, Ally Bank has quickly made a name for itself as one of the best and most consumer-friendly online banks around. And its interest checking account is a great example of why it earns these accolades.

Ally Bank’s interest checking account offers all basic the features and services expected of an online checking account, without any fees or minimums. It’s a great option for anyone who is fed up with the fees and hassle of their local bank.

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account Details

Ally’s main selling point is that it offers “everything you need and want from a bank”, without the fees you’ll find at other banks.

With its interest checking account, you get access to a user-friendly online banking experience, which includes online bill pay, easy transfers between accounts (both your Ally accounts and those at other institutions), and the ability to send money to friends using Popmoney®. You can even name your accounts, which makes it easier to keep track of savings goals and earmarking money for certain experiences or occasions.

You can use any domestic ATM without worrying about a fee because Ally will reimburse all ATM fees and won’t charge its own fee either.

You also get most of the basics of a more traditional checking account, like a MasterCard® debit card and a book of checks. You can use you debit card to withdraw money at any ATM and Ally will reimburse you the full amount of any fees.

There’s even a slick smartphone app, which lets you stay on top of your account balances and deposit checks right from your phone.

And you get 24/7 customer support, both over the phone and through live chat support. This is something I’ve used personally on numerous occasions and from my experience has always been excellent.

All of this comes at pretty much no cost to you. There is no minimum balance, no monthly maintenance fee, and no charge for any of the services or features mentioned above.

In fact, Ally actually pays you for having money with them. Account balances of less than $15,000 currently earn 0.10% interest, which is more than most of the big banks pay on even their savings accounts. And if your balance is $15,000 or more, you’ll earn an even higher 0.60%.

Are There Any Gotchas or Extra Fees?

There are no fees for any of the basic services mentioned above, but you may be charged for some less common transactions.

If you’re traveling in a foreign country, you may face a fee of up to 1% to withdraw money from your Ally Bank interest checking account. You will also be charged $7.50 failed deposit to your account, and $15 for a stop payment order. You can see a full list of fees here.

There is a $9 per day charge for any transaction that overdraws your account. This overdraft charge happens a maximum of once a day and only hits if you make an overdraft transaction. However, you also have the option of linking an Ally Bank savings account to fund any overdrafts instead, and that service is provided at no charge.

Finally, you cannot deposit cash to your Ally Bank interest checking account. Doing so would require a separate account for the deposit, after which you could transfer the money to your Ally account.

Here’s a quick stack up of pros and cons:

Pros

  • Reimburse ATM fees
  • No minimum account fee
  • No monthly fee
  • Free overdraft protection by linking to a savings account
  • 24/7 customer service

Cons

  • $9 overdraft charge without protection
  • Foreign transaction withdraw fee of 1%
  • Cannot deposit cash

MagnifyMoney gives the Ally Bank Interest Checking Account an “A” Transparency Score for charging few fee and being transparent about fees it does charge. There is also a significantly lower overdraft fee compared to traditional banks and the ability to set up overdraft protection without any fees levied against you.

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How Can You Open an Ally Bank Interest Checking Account?

Opening an account with Ally Bank is incredibly easy and only takes a few minutes.

Once you’ve chosen the type of account you want to open, you’ll have to enter standard personal information like name, address and Social Security Number. Once you’ve done that, you can choose to make an initial deposit if you’d like, set up your online banking profile, and you’re good to go!

Once you have an account, opening a new one is as simple as starting up the live chat and asking the representative to do it for you, or going through an abbreviated version of the same process above.

How Does It Compare to the Competition?

In terms of getting all the basics of a checking account without any fees or minimums, Ally Bank’s interest checking account is tough to beat. But there are a few alternatives that are worth considering.

Charles Schwab’s high yield investor checking account is another one that offers all the basic services without a minimum balance and without fees. The account also pays 0.10% interest no matter your account balance. If you typically keep less than $15,000 in your checking account, the difference between these accounts will be minimal. It’s also an excellent contender for the frequent international traveler. Charles Schwab reimburses all ATM fees, both foreign and domestic.

Capital One’s 360 Checking is a similar offering with a slightly better interest rate for lower account balances. Accounts with less than $50,000 earn 0.20% interest, while accounts with more than $50,000 earn 0.75% and those with $100,000 or more can earn 0.90%. The big downsides are that ATM withdrawals are only free at Allpoint® ATMs (as opposed to all ATMs), and if you overdraft you will be charged interest on the amount of the overdraft until it is paid back (currently 11.25%). Capital One does offer cash deposits at select ATMs, which could be a game changer if you deal in cash and live near a cash deposit ATM.

Finally, there is the Rewards Checking Account from Bank of Internet USA. Along with no fees, it’s possible to earn a better interest rate, though there are a few hoops to jump through. Receiving direct deposits into your account each month of $1,000 or more will earn you 0.4166% interest. Using your debit card at 10 times during them money will earn you another 0.4166%, and 15 times will get you another 0.4166%. So it’s possible to earn 1.25% interest on your balance if you’re willing to meet their requirements.

Who Is This Account Best For?

This account is great for anyone who does most of their banking online, doesn’t deal with a lot of cash and is looking for all the basic services at no cost and with no minimums. It’s also great for anyone who wants to easily link their checking account to their various savings accounts because Ally Bank offers an excellent online savings account.

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Best of, Eliminating Fees, Reviews

Capital One 360 Checking Account Review

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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If you’re searching for a checking account with minimal fees, you’ve likely considered depositing your money into an online bank. But with so many online banks vying for your business, you may wonder which account is best suited for your needs.

The Capital One 360 Checking Account boasts no fees and no minimum balance to open which is pretty standard in the online banking world. However, there are other unique features of this account that set it apart.

The Capital One 360 Checking Account At A Glance

Let’s start with the basics. To qualify for 360 Checking you must be 18 years or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a social security number.

These are the perks of opening a 360 Checking Account:

  • No monthly fees
  • FDIC insurance coverage
  • A free MasterCard debit card
  • No minimum balance to open or earn interest. Rates are variable and account APY ranges from 0.20% to 0.90% depending on your balance.
  • Use of Bill Pay. Send bill payments directly from your checking account for free. And set up eBills to receive electronic bills from participating merchants.
  • Person2Person payments. Send money free of charge to people who bank with Capital One 360 and elsewhere. Transfers to Capital One 360 accounts occur instantaneously. Transfers outside of the bank take up to two business days to authorize once the recipient approves it.
  • Access to 38,000+ Allpoint and Capital One ATMs for free. Drawing cash from an online account or making a deposit is a breeze, just search for an in-network ATM on Capital One’s mobile app or website.
  • Use of CheckMate for check deposits. Take photos of your checks from your mobile phone to make deposits. No standing in line or locating an ATM necessary.
  • Turn your card on and off. You can deactivate a card yourself online which is helpful if it’s stolen or missing.
  • No overdraft fees. Instead of a fee they offer an Overdraft Line of Credit that charges you a competitive interest rate if your account falls below zero.

Depositing Cash and Checks

Before taking the leap to online banking you may feel apprehensive about giving up access to a live teller for bank deposits. Fortunately, 360 Checking offers several simple ways to fund your account.

You can transfer money from another bank or set up direct deposit from your employer. You can also deposit cash and checks at 360 Cafe and Capital One branch ATMs. Find deposit locations near you with its ATM locator map.

Avoid using an ATM altogether for deposits and take snaps of your checks and upload them using CheckMate. The 360 Checking website offers a short demo to show you exactly what’s involved with depositing remotely.

A Closer Look at Overdraft Protection

promo-checking-halfThe 360 Checking account has a pretty lenient overdraft policy. If you apply for the Overdraft Line of Credit the daily interest on overdrafts will cost you pennies. Though you should keep in mind that during the application process for the line of credit, Capital One will perform a “hard pull” and it can affect your credit score. However, this dip of 5 to 10 points is well worth the protection to avoid overdraft charges.

The rate for overdraft is currently 11.46% APR and Capital One offers a convenient overdraft calculator to show you how much you can expect to be charged if your account goes into the red. For example, an overdraft of $100 for 10 days will cost you just $0.31 based on its estimate.

What happens if you pass on the Overdraft Line of Credit and your account goes into the negative? There’s no mention of the repercussions on the 360 Checking website. However, customer service confirmed there’s still no fee, the transaction is simply declined. They do advise transferring funds into your account promptly, otherwise you run the risk of having your account shut down. Keep in mind that while it’s great you don’t have a fee levied against you, declining a charge could mean an important bill goes unpaid.

Additional Fees to Consider

Although 360 Checking has no monthly fee, it’s important to note that there are some other fees for extra services associated with the account. For instance, sending out overnight checks will cost you $20 and an overnight card replacement costs $25. Your first checks are free, but future checkbooks cost $5. Additionally, if a check is returned for insufficient funds you’ll incur a $9 Rejected Check Charge. And to place a stop payment on a check you’ll have to pay $25.

What Sets 360 Checking Apart From Other Online Accounts?

The ability to make cash deposits at select ATM machines is a key differentiator of this checking account. Other popular online banks like Ally, The Bank of Interest USA, EverBank and Charles Schwab don’t currently accept cash deposits.

In other areas like customer service and fees, 360 Checking has some stiff competition. The Ally Bank Interest Checking Account has no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement as well, but they offer 24/7 customer service. Capital One 360 provides customer service from 8 am to 8 pm.  Furthermore, miscellaneous fees for checkbooks, stop payments and expedited delivery services are higher with 360 Checking than Ally Interest Checking.

How does the Capital One 360 Stack Up With Interest?

This account is decent for earning interest if you can’t put more than $100 into it initially. If you have a little bit more money to deposit, there are other options that will earn you more interest.

For instance, the Bank 5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account currently offers APY of 0.76% for balances over $100 at opening. In order for you to make that type of interest with a 360 Checking account you need to maintain a balance over $50,000.

Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t be hoarding tons of cashing in your checking account. It’s much better to keep high amounts of cash in a savings account, which offers better fraud protection.

A Good Deal if You Value Convenience

Overall Capital 360 checking may not be your first choice if your primary goal is to find a checking account with the highest interest. But it should be at the top of your list if you value conveniences like easy access to your money at thousands of ATMs for free, the option to deposit cash, the ease of bank transfers and no overdraft fees.

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