SFGI Direct made a slight increase to its online savings account rate yesterday. The APY increased from 0.91% to 0.94%. Thanks to DA reader cumulus who reported on this increase in the DA forum. Since rate increases are rare these days, I thought it was worth a post. Also, it has been awhile since my last review of SFGI Direct.
SFGI Direct has been around for over three years. Summit Community Bank in West Virginia launched SFGI Direct during the summer of 2009 with a 2.25% APY. My first report on the account was in July 25, 2009. The bank was careful not to let SFGI Direct grow too fast. Twice it stopped accepting new account applications. For most of 2010 the account was closed to new customers. It finally reopened the account in October 2010, and it has remained opened since then.
Below is SFGI Direct's rate history. I also included some of Ally Bank's savings account rate history so you can see how competitive SFGI Direct has been in its history. For most of its history, SFGI Direct's savings account has been much more competitive than Ally Bank. However, in the last couple of months, that has changed with Ally Bank offering a slightly higher rate. The latest rate hike at SFGI Direct doesn't change this, but it does put it closer to Ally.
- 12/13/12: 0.94% APY (Ally Bank Savings: 0.95% APY)
- 02/09/12: 0.91% APY
- 10/28/11: 1.01% APY (Ally Bank Savings: 0.85% 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 (Ally Bank Savings: 1.09% APY)
- 10/01/10: 1.26% APY - re-started 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 (Ally Bank Savings: 1.39% APY)
- 11/13/09: 1.85% APY
- 11/06/09: 2.25% APY - stopped accepting new applications
- 09/30/09: 2.25% APY - re-started accepting new applications
- 08/10/09: 2.25% APY - stopped accepting new applications
- 07/25/09: 2.25% APY (Ally Bank Savings: 1.75% APY)
Except for the savings account rate, SFGI Direct looks the same as it did when I last reviewed it two years ago. As I mentioned then, the savings account has some nice features. Some of the notable features include:
- No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements (initial opening deposit is $500)
- Online line account application and funding (per FAQ)
- You can initiate external transfers (ACH)
- Allowed to initiate ACH transfers through another institution (per FAQ)
- Fast external transfers (readers have reported one day delays)
- No maximum dollar limit on external transfers (per FAQ)
It does have a few downsides:
- Only allow one external link for ACH transfers (per FAQ)
- No beneficiaries can be designated in the online application (per FAQ)
- 5 business-day hold for the initial ACH deposit and 2 day hold for ongoing ACH deposits (per account disclosure)
SFGI Direct is the online division of Summit Community Bank which has 17 branches in West Virginia and Virginia. This is up from 15 branches in 2010. It's interesting to note that deposits haven't grown much in three years. In December 2009, it had $1.02 billion in deposits. That has only increased to $1.03 billion based on September 2012 data.
The bank hasn't been in the best financial shape. Over the last two years its financial numbers have improved slightly. In 2010, we gave it an overall health score of 2 stars (out of 5) with a Texas Ratio of 76.49% (below average). This was based on June 2010 data. As of September 2012 data, we have an overall health score for the bank of 3 stars (out of 5) with a Texas Ratio of 62.82%. This Texas Ratio is still below average, but it's lower than it was which shows improvement.