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Archive for 'Banks' Category


Opening a new bank account? Ask these 5 questions

Published 7/18/14

Opening a new bank account? Ask these 5 questions By Holly Johnson

A few months ago, I did something that I hadn't done in almost 15 years: I opened a new checking account.

It was a slightly scary thing to do, mainly because I had gotten so comfortable with my old account and how it worked. On the other hand, it was definitely time for a change. Because we moved, our old bank was no longer in a convenient location for us. Even worse, our "new" local branch had severely limited hours to the point where it seemed like they were never open. I hated the thought of filling out a bunch of paperwork and closing our old account, but I knew it was for the best.

When it came to opening a new account, I felt like quite the novice. However, after doing an adequate amount of research and exploring my options, I quickly found my footing. But that was only after I compiled a list of questions I needed to answer before committing to opening a new account with a specific bank. Here are the five questions I thought were most important to answer, and why.

1. Will my new bank be convenient?

Modern banking is all about convenience, and my personal banking needs are a reflection of that. When it came to choosing a new bank to do business with, I needed to know that my new banking relationship would be a convenient one.

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Review: Synchrony Bank Optimizer Plus

Published 4/25/14  (Modified 6/6/14)

By Holly Johnson

Ever since I opened my first checking account at the age of 18, I've used a brick-and-mortar bank. I hope I'm not aging myself too much, but that really was the only option at the time. The Internet did actually exist then (it was 1998), but online banks weren't on the scene quite yet. And, believe it or not, Facebook, Google and Twitter didn't exist either. Now I feel old.

But times have changed. Bank transactions are becoming increasingly digital and the bank branch is becoming a bit of a dinosaur. Sure, people still use them, but for many, it's not a primary banking source. In fact, almost everyone I know uses online banking because of how easy it is to make electronic transfers, track their savings and spending and shop for financial products with the click of the button. Everyone but me, of course.

However, some online banks have recently given me reason to consider some new possibilities. In fact, one online bank, Synchrony Bank Optimizer Plus almost has me convinced. Here's why.

About Synchrony Bank Optimizer Plus

Optimizer Plus is an online bank that is backed up by Synchrony Bank -- formerly known as GE Capital Retail Bank -- and its 80 years of experience in consumer banking.

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How lottery tickets are helping people save money

Published 4/8/14

How lottery tickets are helping people save money By Justin Boyle

Imagine this: You walk into a credit union to open a savings account, and the teller responds by selling you lottery tickets.

Odd as it may seem, this type of scenario plays out all over the world. They're called prize-linked savings accounts, and a few states in the U.S. are making use of them to give residents a little extra incentive to put money away for a rainy day.

A long history

Prize-linked savings accounts might seem like an innovative concept, fresh off the desk of some ground-breaking personal finance start-up founder, but the truth is that they've been around longer than the United States itself. In 1694, to help defray debt incurred during the Nine Years' War, officials in England instituted a public investment program that offered substantial lottery prizes to around 2.5 percent of investors (and an APY of 6.15 for 16 years, believe it or not).

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Discover Bank review: savings accounts from an innovative company

Published 12/19/13  (Modified 2/19/14)

By Georgie Miller

For thousands of years, most people believed that the world was flat. Similarly, many people today believe that Discover is "just" a credit card company.

Pardon me while I snort with laughter.

It's true that Discover Card is one of the best-known cards in the biz -- "It really pays to Discover," after all -- but there's much more to Discover than credit cards, even if they did introduce the very first cash-rewards credit card way back in 1986. Today, Discover Bank -- the card company's division for deposit accounts -- offers a variety of savings options for consumers.

Discover Bank accounts

Discover Bank's accounts aim to help you balance flexibility -- that is, the ease with which you can access your money -- and yield, the amount you're getting out of your investment. The company offers three main options: a money market account, online savings account and high-yield CDs.

Discover Bank's money market accounts are available with a starting balance of only $2,500. Additionally, you can get free ATM withdrawals at Allpoint and MoneyPass ATMs. Since some online savings accounts don't offer ATM cards, this accessibility is a nice feature. You can also manage your account online or with Discover's mobile app. As of this writing, its yield has also consistently exceeded the national averages for money market accounts.

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Mutual of Omaha Bank review: competitive yields, considerable stability

Published 12/19/13  (Modified 2/19/14)

By Peter Andrew

You're probably too young to share my memories, but I remember the days before Wall Street discovered Gordon Gekko and cocaine (not necessarily in that order). Banks were different then. Bankers tended to do boring things: you know, stuff like banking. Today, of course, it's so much more exciting. They take deposits over the counter, and immediately run out to the back office to put the lot on 13 black, or something mildly more speculative.

At least, that's the impression you might get from reading the financial news since the last financial crisis. It may be difficult to escape this modern approach to financial services, but if you yearn for the days when bankers were typically less like Gekko and more like George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart's character in "It's a Wonderful Life"), you could do worse than to explore Mutual of Omaha Bank's online accounts.

A steady history

This Nebraska-based bank, which can trace its heritage across more than a century, seems to embody Midwestern conservatism and prudence. Indeed, the three words it chooses to use on its website to encapsulate its values are, "Strength. Stability. Service." And yes, these are the people behind "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom," the wildlife television series that's won many Emmys.

Mutual of Omaha Bank has a branch network, but for this review we're only interested in its online accounts, all of which come with standard FDIC deposit insurance coverage.

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CIT Bank review: making online banking painless

Published 12/16/13  (Modified 2/19/14)

By Holly Johnson

I have a confession. When it comes to banking, I'm somewhat technology-averse. Out of all of my family and friends, I was the last one to sign up for online banking of any kind. And up until a few years ago, I was insistent on paying all of my bills with the dinosaur of personal finance, a personal check. Even more tragic is that I mailed everything via snail mail, sometimes waiting as long as 10 days for a payment to post to my account. It was so ... slow.

Looking back, I can't believe I chose such an inefficient method for something as important as my personal banking. And now that I'm up-to-date with modern banking methods, I'm a staunch proponent of doing all of my transactions online. That's why I was excited when my editor asked me to review CIT Bank's online savings accounts and CDs. Now that I understand the merits of online banking, I'm in a much better place to portray CIT Bank's services in a way that makes sense.

About CIT Group, Inc.

Founded in 1908, CIT Group, Inc. (NYSE: CIT) opened its doors with the goal of offering high quality low-rate loans to reputable commercial clients.

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