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Competitive Online Savings Account at SFGI Direct

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SFGI Direct

Update 12/03/10: The rate has increased from 1.26% APY to 1.41% APY. Refer to the bottom of the post for the rate history.

SFGI Direct is a new internet bank from Summit Community Bank. It's offering a very competitive rate of 2.25% APY (as of 7/25/09) on a no-minimum savings account. In addition, from the bank's FAQ, it appears to have some nice ACH bank-to-bank transfer features. These include:

 

  • You can link as many external accounts as you would like (appears to have changed as of 9/30/09)
  • There is no maximum dollar limit of any single External Transfer to or from any SFGI Direct Savings account
  • Electronic transfers between SFGI Direct and other banks are free and generally take 2 banking business days (one day would be better, but at least they specify an expected delay)

Some downsides that I've found include:

  • Minimum initial deposit is $500 (new as of 9/30/09)
  • There is a limit to your total initial deposit of $25,000 (I always prefer making a small initial deposit so this isn't a big deal for me)
  • Limit of only one linked external account for ACH transfers (new as of 9/30/09)
  • all withdrawals from the account must be done though the SFGI Direct Internet Banking (appears to block ACH transfers initiated from your other banks) As of 10/26/09, this has been replaced with "You can withdraw funds either through your SFGI Direct account or another institution."
  • No beneficiaries. At this time only individual or joint accounts are offered using the online application
  • must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien to open your account online (according to first page of application)

The online application uses andera.com which is common for online applications.

I just learned of this internet bank today after a reader sent me email. I wasn't able to call during their Saturday hours of operation. I'll call on Monday for more details. I haven't been able to confirm this internet bank with 100% certainty, but I'm reasonably sure it's legitimate. Seeing that they use andera.com as their application gives me some confidence. Unfortunately, the bank's FDIC page lists a primary web address that goes to an under construction page. I believe the primary bank's web address is mysummit.com. The toll-free phone number on this page matches the one listed at SFGI Direct.

Update 7/27/09: I called the toll-free number (877-776-9722) and verified that SFGI Direct is part of Summit Community Bank. They launched SFGI Direct about 2 months ago. The CSR didn't know how long the rate would last, but she did say they intend to remain in the top 5 for the best rates. According to the CSR, the application process does not perform a hard credit inquiry. It's only a soft pull via Equifax. They also use ChexSystem.

According to the About SFGI Direct page:

SFGI Direct is an online division of Summit Community Bank where you can bank safely and easily with competitive rates on a savings account.

Summit Financial Group, Inc., the owner of Summit Community Bank, is a financial holding company which provides community banking and insurance services. Summit’s community banking operations consist of 15 banking offices located in the Eastern Panhandle and South Central regions of West Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley and Northern regions of Virginia.


And regarding FDIC coverage:

Customers who bank with SFGI Direct, A division of Summit Community Bank can feel safe knowing their accounts are covered by FDIC Insurance up to applicable limits. SFGI Direct, A division of Summit Community Bank and Summit Community Bank are the same Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Insured institution.


Summit Community Bank has been a FDIC member since 1995 (FDIC Certificate # 34102). The bank's ratings for safety and soundness are a little weak: 2 stars (problematic) at BauerFinancial and 2 stars (below peer group) at Bankrate.com. Both ratings are based on 3/31/09 financial data.

I don't see any guarantee that SFGI Direct will keep the 2.25% APY for a certain period of time, so the bank is free to lower the rate at any time. It's not a small bank with $1.58 billion in assets and $965 million in deposits. So it should not be quickly overwhelmed by deposits. But as is common with banks, once they build up their deposits, they may lose an incentive to be a rate leader. It's definitely frustrating to open a new account only to see the rates plummet within a few months (or within a few days as we've seen in some cases). At least SFGI Direct lacks minimum balance requirements and monthly fees. It should be easy to move your money if rates do plummet. Hopefully, the bank will realize this and keep rates competitive.

So is it worthwhile to open yet another new internet savings account? I discuss this issue in this post.

Thanks to the reader who sent me email on this new internet bank.

For other high yield savings accounts, please refer to my weekly rate summary.

Rate History:

  • 12/13/12: 0.94% APY
  • 02/09/12: 0.91% APY
  • 10/28/11: 1.01% APY
  • 08/15/11: 1.11% APY
  • 06/25/11: 1.16% APY
  • 04/04/11: 1.21% APY
  • 02/19/11: 1.31% APY
  • 12/03/10: 1.41% APY
  • 10/01/10: 1.26% APY - now accepting new applications
  • 08/06/10: 1.35% APY
  • 05/25/10: 1.51% APY
  • 04/08/10: 1.65% APY
  • 02/26/10: 1.75% APY
  • 11/13/09: 1.85% APY
  • 11/06/09: 2.25% APY - stopped accepting new applications
  • 09/30/09: 2.25% APY - now accepting new applications
  • 08/10/09: 2.25% APY - stopped accepting new applications
  • 07/25/09: 2.25% APY

Account History

  Tags: SFGI Direct, savings account

Related Posts

Comments
51 comments.
Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
So is it worthwhile to open yet another new internet savings account? I discuss this issue in this post.

I'm interested in reading what you have to say about this, but can you fix your link to the post?

1
Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Nevermind, it looks like the link is fixed now. Probably you were still editing the article while I was reading it.

1
Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
do they do a hard credit pull?

1
Comment #4 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
According to the CSR, it's only a soft pull. Note, CSRs are often wrong about this. I've updated the post with this.

1
Comment #5 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
They will not allow you to open an account if you use LifeLock or a fraud protection company. I was declined bacause of my fraud protection. Comical!! I would never do business with a bank that has this rule. Are they really that dumb? All of my other online banks just call me to verify that it is me...this is first time I ran into this problem..

1
Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I'm considering opening an account with them. Anyone know what transfer system they use or how fast their transfers are?

1
Comment #7 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I have the LifeLock service and did not seem to have any problem opening an account. SFGI Direct confirmed the account opening and account number, trial deposits for the ACH were completed by the next day, though they still haven't completed the opening deposit. I hope the earlier post on declining a new account due to LifeLock is just a fluke and that I'm not in for an unpleasant surprise.

1
Comment #8 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Follow-up to my last post @ 6:42 PM -- account is set up and funded, and I have online access. To anonymous @ 7:52 AM -- are you sure that your application was denied simply because you have LifeLock? I have LifeLock and had no problem.

1
Comment #9 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Can anyone with an account with these guys tell me how things are working out?

Was it easy setting up an account?
Are ACH transfers quick?
Any surprise fees or problems?

I've had it with Ally Bank cutting rates every Friday.

1
Comment #10 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
It's still possible to open an account. Just use the Google cache of the sfgidirect.com website.

1
Comment #11 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Deposits made using their ACH service are completed the next business day. I haven't made any withdrawals from my account yet; supposedly it takes 2 business days. Will update once I make a withdrawal. So far, I'm happy with SFGI Direct.

1
Comment #12 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
The issue about fraud protection blocking your online application is false; it is just the customer service rep giving you a red herring to get rid of you.

The problem is with Andera.com.

If Andera.com doesn't like something in your application, you get a final screen that says "problem with the accuracy of the information you provided."

Once you get this screen, you are locked out of ANY Andera application, no matter which bank.

I was told by two different banks that this Andera block lasts 30 days. However, since I know the data I submitted was accurate, this is also a red herring.

So once blocked by Andera you are doomed, and contacting Andera only gets you a blow-off.

1
Comment #13 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Update from Aug. 12: Finally did an ACH withdrawal from my SFGI Direct account. Funds showed as deposited in my external checking account the next day.

1
Comment #14 by Dave (anonymous) posted on
Dave
Google cache has updated to include the version that is missing the link, so you can't do that now.

However, you still *CAN* open the page source HTML off of the main sfgidirect.com site and see where the commented out Apply button takes you on andera's site.

Tried an application today and it seemed to allow me in still.

1
Comment #15 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Dave,

How did you do that? I'd appreciate any insight in getting t othe 'Apply' button/area.

1
Comment #16 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Dave,

Never mind :)

1
Comment #17 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Did an application today and funded via ACH from my current bank. Hope it goes through....
Interestingly, although they've removed the 'apply' button the site's screen shows a rate of 2.25% accurate as of 9/28/2009. Got the initial account opening email stating my account should be added to their system within one day and funded within 5 business days.

Anyone know how long it takes for the ACH transaction to dip into my current bank account for the funds?

1
Comment #18 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
SFGI said they'll open up their online account opening system again on October 1st.

1
Comment #19 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
It opened today!

1
Comment #20 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Yes, at the same 2.25% rate

1
Comment #21 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
You can forget about SFGI Direct if you get your mail at a p.o. box and your credit record is under the p.o. box address. You can't use the p.o. box for the "main" address of the account, so your automated credit check will be denied. Other banks create this problem too but they accommodate such customers by using real human beings to use their heads. Don't be fooled by the 800 number that shows up when you are denied, thinking that you can call it to get things straightened out. Even though they acknowledge this has occurred many times they refuse to do anything about it.

1
Comment #22 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Just opened the SFGI Direct savings online.
Got my confirmation email.
No problems.
Concerned about no beneficiary option previous post has mentioned.
Provident Direct also had this bogus "Policy".
I wrote to the President of the bank and told him this was an unacceptable shirking of the bank's fiduciary responsibility to its customers.
I had tens of thousands of $$$ at risk so this was a big deal to me.
They eventually responded, after many excuses, with the offer to add a beneficiary as long as the DL & SS# (of the beneficiary) were confirmed on a signed notarized document.
Talk about making you jump through hoops!!!
But, it got done.
Word to the wise:
Never take no for an answer (at least not the first or second answer).

1
Comment #23 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
SFGI Direct will not add a beneficiary no matter what.
FYI:
Be careful!

1
Comment #24 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
SFGI direct ABA routing number is 052202225

1
Comment #25 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
This has been the most consistent rate I have seen for internet savings accounts 2.25% since inception. Could it be a bank that actually values its customers. Looks like the real deal.

1
Comment #26 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
This has been the most consistent rate I have seen for internet savings accounts, 2.25% since inception. Much better than the fake promo rate and drop the bottom out. Hats off to SFGI maybe they value their customers......a refreshing change.

1
Comment #27 by j (anonymous) posted on
j
Anyone experience any problems with this account? Only thing I experienced that might be an issue is that when you click on the login button(before entering any personal data) it takes a long time to get there, sometimes causing I/E or Firefox to timeout!

1
Comment #28 by larkin (anonymous) posted on
larkin
Was just told that you can initiate withdrawals from outside bank. Seems to confirm FAQ:

You can make withdrawals and deposits on your SFGI Direct high interest savings account using our online banking service, SFGI Direct Access, or initiating through another institution.

Perhaps a recent change?

1
Comment #29 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Yup, it looks like they changed it some time since October 17th based on Google's cache. Nice to see they're allowing pulls from your other bank. I've updated the posts with this change. Thanks.

1
Comment #30 by larkin (anonymous) posted on
larkin
SFGI's website says it will remove the "apply now" button on November 6. They have chosen "a strategy to slow account growth by limiting the application process for new clients rather than dramatically cutting the rates on loyal customers."

1
Comment #31 by James (anonymous) posted on
James
Wow, thanks Banking Guy, I've been using your blog for years now managing millions in cash for
myself and others who want FDIC-level safe (hence, no risk) cash-parks, and thus need good MMAs and CDs. Found SFGI-direct here, dropped in $249,000, and shor-nuff, they removed their "Apply Now" button just a couple days later! First bank (I deal with about 30, parking big wads of cash) I've seen that does NOT allow Payment on Death (POD) beneficiaries. Dig this: FDIC changed its rules in 9/08 so singles with no kids can name their friends as PODs, so if you name 4 friends as PODs you can secure $1 million in FDIC coverage). SFGI-direct thus limits deposits to $250,000 unless one wants to gamble that it won't fail (hence, I drop in only $249,000 so I'm covered for 24 months' of interest). It also won't accept trust accounts (I manage a Special Needs Trust), thus living trusts and family trusts are out of luck. But again, I thank you for your excellent blog, it's seriously benefited me and many others. And I really like your insight, tips, and analysis. Keep up the great job!

1
Comment #32 by indexfundfan (anonymous) posted on
indexfundfan
Since the "Apply Now" button has been removed, I applied today (11/8/09) through Google cache. Got approved and received the funding verification email. I am quite confident that my account will be opened.

1
Comment #33 by Roadrunner (anonymous) posted on
Roadrunner
Hey James, do you need another friend? :)

1
Comment #34 by James (anonymous) posted on
James
When friends aggregate their money the "player" (that would be me) can approach bank VP's directly and get Jumbo, VIP, etc. rates. Course, banks that don't really want cash, just more customers from whom they'll profit from collateral retails services, don't want to see guys like me. Tragi-comically, players "reverse run" on the banks (we seek 1-star banks offering higher rates and gamble that they'll last long enough to pay that rate for a good while before they crater). I've had 4 banks fail on me in the last 12 months. As they say, be careful with those FDIC limits!

1
Comment #35 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Hi you guys with an SFGI account, how long did it take you to receive the email with your login info? I had my initial deposit taken out on the 6th last Friday but still haven't received the email today (10th). Thanks!

1
Comment #36 by larkin (anonymous) posted on
larkin
I applied on Friday, October 30. My initial deposit was debited on Tuesday, November 3 so I called them and they gave me my temp password. Received the e-mail late afternoon, Wednesday, November 4.

1
Comment #37 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Thanks Larkin. I called them and they mentioned that they have a 3-day hold (might be new)for the initial funding. They confirmed that my funding is completed today so I should receive the login info in the afternoon.

1
Comment #38 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
"I don't see any guarantee that SFGI Direct will keep the 2.25% APY for a certain period of time, so the bank is free to lower the rate at any time."

That time was today. SFGI cut rates to 1.85%

1
Comment #39 by larkin (anonymous) posted on
larkin
Everytime I chase a rate *sigh*

1
Comment #40 by indexfundfan (anonymous) posted on
indexfundfan
So much for the talk about slowing growth and not lowering rates for loyal customers.

1
Comment #41 by larkin (anonymous) posted on
larkin
At least they had the common sense to remove that claim from their homepage.

1
Comment #42 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Darn it! Back to Shorebank or a 2%+ 6 month cd now.

1
Comment #43 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Deposited $21K a week ago. Now my account shows $0. Expensive lesson to learn! STAY AWAY!!

-1
Comment #44 by Jeffrey W (anonymous) posted on
Jeffrey W
Confirmed rate has dropped to 1.85 approximately 30 days after I moved big funds in. Still better than Ing at 1.55 and better than most but very disappointing. Rate chasing is getting to be a colossal waste of time. I've gone through more online banks that Wilt Chamberlain went through women.

What ****es me offf is they lied about taking the link down to slow growth rather than penalize loyal customers with dramatic cuts. So what do they call 2.25 to 1.85.

The message is obvoiusly get your **** back in the stock market so we can build it up before handing it back to you again with the next crash.

1
Comment #45 by James (anonymous) posted on
James
Blessed, my older sister and each had $2 million to invest in 2007. She got into stocks, and I rate-chased here, averaging 5% and thus reaping $100,000/year -- albeit in taxable income. She called me up after the Great Meltdown and complained "I got smoked." Fee-collecting brokers remind her that inflation corrodes my nest-egg, but I sleep at night; she doesn't. I gained 5%, she lost 45%. She's come back some, now with the market past 10,000 again. But she also has to worry whether we’re not revisiting 1937, when the Dow shot back up only to crash back down again. I think about this while collecting a measly 1.85% APY off SFGI. Then I shrug and go back to sleep. Articles like today's NYT magazine on how the Arabs are snapping up vast acreage abroad to grow/ensure food supply validate my recent foray into buying rural land (landandfarm.com is my favorite source), which for the most part performs like long-term treasuries -- no major ups but no major downs either, and may just pack extra value as food-producing land grows scarce and cap-and-trade carbon trading kicks in (I now own over 75,000 trees, and that fact alone makes me sleep even better).

0
Comment #46 by Dave (anonymous) posted on
Dave
SFGI Direct down from 1.85% to 1.75% apy today (Feb 26 2010)

1
Comment #47 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Interest rate is down again. It's 1.51% now. :-(

1
Comment #48 by Dave posted on
Dave
SFGI Direct savings account down to 1.35% apy from 1.51% apy yesterday :(

1
Comment #49 by Dave posted on
Dave
SFGI Direct (http://www.sfgidirect.com/) savings account rates are UP, from 1.26% apy to 1.41% apy :)

 

The new rates aren't reflected when you login to your account, but the rate changes generally show up after a day or two anyway. 

 

Main page says: "The APY is accurate as of 12/3/2010"

I would have put this in a new forum post, but the search didn't find anything for http://www.sfgidirect.com, www.sfgidirect.com, SFGI, nor Summit Community Bank despite this being reviewed on BDB/Deposit Accounts.com before.

2
Comment #51 by mikek753 posted on
mikek753
current rate is 0.91% only

This SFGI was one of top rates, not anymore.

Did you move to another bank and which one?

1