Discover Bank will be launching its new Account Center on Sunday, February 14, 2010. For those who were informed by ETrade Bank that your savings accounts will be transferred to Discover Bank, this new Account Center will provide many of the features you had with ETrade Bank. Here's an example of what the new Account Center will look like:
A couple of weeks ago Discover Bank gave me a preview of the new Account Center. Also, I opened a Discover Bank savings account, and I was able to give the new Account Center a try. It's more than just a cosmetic change. The functionality has greatly improved. One example is their ACH funds transfer service. Instead of having to transfer money through MoneyHQ, Discover has integrated the funds transfer service into the new Account Center. Here's an overview of this new ACH transfer service:
- Maximum number of external accounts that can be linked will be 30
- Linking external accounts can be done with either instant verification (about 50% of banks are available) or with trial deposits
- For Money Market and Online Savings Accounts, funds transfer limits will be $50K inbound and $50K outbound per month (Update 7/30/10: According to CSR, they allow up to $100K transfers per day if done by phone)
- Transfers for external accounts will typically take 3 business days (see my experience below)
- You can schedule both one-time and recurring transfers
I gave the ACH transfer service a try last Sunday. I first needed to link an external account. Since I was in a hurry, I decided to use instant verification to set up the link. You can also use the trial deposit method which I prefer since you don't have to provide your external login information. Even though Discover and other banks that offer instant verification say that they don't keep this info, I never like to disclose my login info. The instant verification worked fine with my Capital One checking account. I then initiated an outbound transfer.
When I initiated the outbound transfer, the site informed me that the transfer would complete on Thursday (this was Sunday evening). I checked my Capital One account on Wednesday, and it was still not shown. I logged in on Thursday morning, and the transfer was credited. At my Discover account, the transfer was debited from the account on Tuesday. I probably could have initiated the transfer Monday and it would have still completed by Thursday. Nevertheless, the transfer was a little slow compared to other online banks like Ally Bank and Etrade. When I initiate transfers at Ally on Sundays, they are typically credited on Tuesdays. Next week I'll do some more transfer tests and include an inbound transfer.
I was told that transfers should complete within 3 business days. For a one-time external transfer, if it is submitted before 8:00pm, the process will start same day. If it's submitted after 8:00pm, it will begin the next day.
Another Account Center feature that caught my eye is the Account Title Page (notice the view account title link in the image above). This page includes your POD beneficiaries so you'll know that the PODs are set up in the account title to allow you to increase your FDIC coverage. In the preview I was told that this Account Title Page should meet the FDIC's definition of account title.
The new Account Center will still be missing some functionality when it's first released. One missing feature will be an easy new account interface to allow you to open new accounts like CDs without entering all of your personal info. I was told this new account interface and new CD account management options (for interest distribution and renewal settings) should be released later in 2010. Some other features to be added later in 2010 include secure email, paperless statements and account alerts. Note, the new Account Center on February 14th will allow customers to access their statements online in PDF format. The paperless statements refer to allowing customers to disable paper statements from being mailed to their home address.
I'm glad to see Discover Bank making this improvement. In my opinion, this new Account Center puts them on par with Ally Bank and ING Direct. I'm a little disappointed that the transfers aren't faster. Also, the recent savings account rate cut was also a disappointment. The rate fell from 1.60% to 1.35% APY. Discover had kept the savings account rate very competitive since it launched the account in the summer of 2009. As some readers noted, existing savings account customers were upgraded to the Premium Savings Account which kept the 1.60% APY (it's actually 1.59%). All other features of the Premium Savings Account will be the same as the Online Savings Account. Only the Online Savings Account is available to new customers.
Edit 10:00pm 2/12/10: Added "per month" in the $50K transfer limit. Also added note regarding paperless statements.