6% FNBO Direct Online Savings Account Review

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I opened an account with FNBO Direct on May 1. Here’s my review of the online savings account with 6% APY until September 28, 2007!

Reliability

FNBO Direct is the online savings account for First National Bank of Omaha who is completely FDIC insured and has been serving the Omaha area for 150 years! Their Bankrate.com’s Safe and Sound rating is 4 stars out of 5 which is higher than Emigrant Direct, HSBC Direct, and ING Direct (all with 3 stars)! First National and its affiliates have over $18 billion is managed assets. This is a bank you can trust.

Opening Process

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I applied for an account on May 2nd online. They use the same CashEdge application system as HSBC Direct. It was an easy process with the regular stuff you’d expect on an application (name, address, etc.). There is nothing to mail and nothing to receive by mail; it’s completely an online process.

The application includes an identity verification system like the one Washington Mutual uses. They will ask you questions about your credit report to verify your identity. It even gives you a choice between credit cards and regular loans such as auto loans, mortgages, etc. So if you pick “credit cards” they will ask you questions about your credit cards (like account numbers, monthly payments, etc.) to verify your identity. You can just use your credit card statements for that or your credit report. It does not do a hard credit pull so you won’t have to worry about your credit score going down.

You can choose to fund the account by wire transfer, online transfer, or mailing in a regular old check. I, of course, chose to do the online transfer.

So on May 2, I applied for the account and chose to verify my account by trial deposit (you can also do a login verification if you already do online banking with your current bank, but I never do because of security issues and because I want some free money). On May 3, the trial deposits showed up in my bank account (free money!) I verified the deposits and by May 4, I was sent my account number via e-mail and I signed up for account access. My initial funding amount was also taken out that day but it hasn’t yet shown up at FNBO. It’ll probably show up on Monday because it usually takes a few days.

Features

  • High 6% APY interest until 9/28/07 (almost a full 5 months!)(Rate before promotion was 5.25% which is still very high so you can expect competitive rates after the promotion ends).
  • No minimum balance, no fees
  • You can request an ATM card during the application process ($2.50 charge for each withdrawal, and up to six withdrawals a month)
  • Online account access
  • Don’t have to change banks
  • Customer Service: 877-370-3707 (24/7)

Transfers

Transfers are free but are as slow as HSBC’s system. Here’s the delivery schedule:

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Interface

The interface is simple and easy on the eyes. It also seems to have all the functionality required of an online savings account (view account, transfer funds, statements, etc.)

Conclusion

This is a great online savings account for an emergency fund or for other savings that you need because of the guaranteed, high 6% APY until September 28, 2007! The opening process is completely online and easy, and it’s backed by a safe and sound bank with billions of dollars in assets. I don’t think you can go wrong with this account!

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Earn 6% APY at FNBO Direct Until Sept. 28, 2007!

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Since HSBC Direct’s 6% promotion ended yesterday, FNBODirect.com is now offering that same 6% promotion until September 28, 2007. That’s nearly a full 5 months of high interest!

They are listed at Bankrate with a four-star safe and sound rating so I think you can trust them. I’m going to open an account tonight. I’ll have a review of it soon.

With no monthly fees and no minimums, this would be a great place to put an emergency fund. If you don’t have an emergency fund yet, what a great chance to start one today with a high interest rate!

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My Online Savings Accounts

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I talked about how important it is to have an emergency fund in a previous post. Now I’m going to talk about some great places to park your emergency fund and earn a great interest rate too! All of these are high yield savings accounts that I personally have and use. All of these accounts offer FDIC insurance protection on deposits up to $100,000 (joint accounts for up to $200,000) so you don’t have to worry about losing your money. It is 100% safe and completely backed by the government. All of them also have no minimum balances to open or earn interest.

Amboy Direct

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I actually have most of my emergency fund in Amboy Direct because of their superb regular rate of 5.25% and 5.35% with $20,000 or more, which beats nearly every other online savings account with no minimum balance requirements. In addition to that, their customer service is excellent! Every time I’ve had a question or anything else, they have answered both phone calls and emails promptly. One slight shortcoming is the interface. It is very functional and offers tons of details, but it really needs a face lift. Transfers are fast and easy to schedule.

If you’re really serious about this “emergency fund” thing, have at least $3000 that you plan on keeping there for at least 90 days, and want $25 free, contact me or leave a comment and I will send you a link to earn $25 for free (full disclosure: I will earn $10 also; it’s a win-win!).

HSBC Direct

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HSBC Direct has a great promotion going on now through April 30, where new money earns 6 percent interest! If you don’t already have an emergency fund and you’re just getting started, HSBC Direct is a great place to start, especially since they have an excellent introductory rate of 6%! After April 30, the rate will return to the current regular rate which is 5.05% which is still better than most banks! Their website also offers many security features that put it apart from other online banking websites including an insanely long 20 digit customer ID used to sign in as well as a password and security key (a number that is clicked on a virtual keyboard to help against keyloggers which attempt to steal passwords by the keys you press).

Their interface is great and customer service seems to be pretty good considering I haven’t used them much, if at all. ACH transfers from your external accounts into and out of HSBC seem to take the standard 3-5 business days, even maybe leaning towards the five business days. I would actually recommend Amboy over HSBC especially because their normal rate beats HSBC’s regular rate.

Washington Mutual

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I reviewed Washington Mutual’s savings account in another post so you can read about it there. Their current rate is 5% and it also gives you the convenience of a local bank. I don’t use them for my emergency savings only because the cash is “too accessible” if that’s possible. Since it’s so easy and quick to transfer from my savings to my checking, it’s also easier to spend. I actually prefer keeping my emergency savings in an external online account that will take 3-5 business days to transfer over so that I’ll use it solely for emergencies and not on impulse purchases. But if you are planning on opening a new checking account, you might as well get a savings account that offers 5% for that “short-term money” that’s usually not earning high interest.

ING Direct

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I can’t talk about online savings accounts without talking about the pioneer in high yield savings accounts, ING Direct. They are the one’s who started it all, and the model that everyone else copied. If you’d like a free $25 bonus for opening an account (full disclosure: I get $10), and you’d like to open an account for at least $250, contact me or leave a comment and I’ll send you a link for the free $25. That’s an easy 10% gain on your money with little hassle.

Get Out of Debt with an Emergency Fund

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It’s pretty much common knowledge now that everyone should have an emergency fund of 3-6 months (some experts say even more) of expenses in liquid savings (money that’s easily accessible). But unfortunately, common knowledge isn’t necessarily common practice and many people just don’t have anything in savings. The key to getting out of debt is to have some sort of emergency savings that acts as a cushion against life’s hurdles. Without this cushion, you will be forced to use your credit card or payday loans and go deeper in debt.

If you’re struggling with debt, you absolutely need to have an emergency fund. It is extremely important. Here’s a great plan to get out of debt from Dave Ramsey:

Step 1: Stop borrowing. Simple enough.

Step 2: Save $1000 and put it in the bank. This is the beginning of your emergency fund. You want to do this before you start attacking your debt because this will act as a cushion to protect you for emergencies.

Step 3: Start attacking your debt using the “debt snowball”. We’re going to pay off all your debts except your mortgage. List your debts on a sheet from smallest to largest (in amount, not interest rate). Then start attacking the smallest debt and pay minimum payments on the rest. Once that’s paid off, take that payment and add it to your next debt and so on until all your debts are paid off.

Step 4: Fully fund your emergency fund which is 3-6 months of expenses. You can download an emergency fund worksheet from Bankrate. It’s a PDF that you can view or print. To get the 6 month emergency fund, you just need to multiply each line by 6 instead of 3.

Step 5: Then start investing and grow your net worth.

This is not my plan. This is from Dave Ramsey who is a great Christian finance guy. I’m going to do a review on one of his books so stay tuned for that.

A great place to put your emergency fund is a high yield online savings account. I’ll have another post on some of the savings accounts that I use.

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My Checking Account: Washington Mutual (WaMu)

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I use Washington Mutual (WaMu) as my primary checking account. My paycheck is direct deposited there and I pay all my bills (with free online bill pay) with it. I like it because they offer absolutely free checking. There are no monthly fees or balance requirements and they have branches nationwide! They also offer free basic checks for life (although I rarely use checks anymore) and you can now get a statement savings account earning 5% APY when you open an account online. They are obviously targeting internet-savvy consumers as you cannot get this deal in person at a branch.

I don’t actually use the WaMu 5% savings for my emergency fund. I keep my emergency fund at a couple online savings accounts which I’ll talk about later. I keep money that I’m going to need within a week or so in the WaMu account so that it’s at least earning some interest. Before, it would just sit in my checking account earning zero interest. It’s also good because I can instantly transfer any funds from my checking to my savings account or vice versa.

Now make sure that you sign up for both accounts (free checking & statement savings) at the same time. Otherwise, you won’t get the 5% on the savings. Even if you already have an account with WaMu (I did when I signed up for this), you’ll have to sign up for both accounts. So right now I have two checking accounts and one savings account with Washington Mutual.

Pros:

-No monthly fees and only $1 to open each account

-Branches nationwide, 5% interest, and free checks for life

-Free debit card with $.03 cash back and free online bill pay

Cons:

-Watch out for fees when you make a mistake (bounce a check, have someone bounce a check on you, make more than 6 outgoing transfers from your savings per month, etc.) (I know from experience, although, you can call and usually have the fee waived, but don’t go crazy…)

If found using a payday loan as one of your personal loans or even home equity loans, most of the loans take a longer time in becoming a bad credit loan.