Competitive Savings, Checking and CD Rates at Clear Sky Accounts - Available Nationwide

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When I first reported on Clear Sky Accounts in January 2009, I was worried that it was another new internet bank that wouldn't keep their rates competitive for the long term. After more than a year, I'm happy to see Clear Sky Accounts is still offering top rates on its savings accounts, checking accounts and CDs.

Savings and Checking Accounts

The savings account still has a 1.50% APY for balances up to $250K as of 5/06/2010. The checking account has also remained competitive. However, it's a tiered rate and to earn the top rate of 1.45% APY requires a minimum balance of $25K. Unlike checking accounts like ING Direct's Electric Orange, the rate is also competitive for low balances. Balances under $10K earn 1.25% APY as of 5/06/2010.

One nice thing about Clear Sky Accounts is a fast ACH bank-to-bank transfer service that allows large transfers. I have details in my August 2009 review.

Internet Certificate of Deposit

They only offer two CDs, but both are competitive: 2.50% APY for 30 months and 1.50% APY for 13 months as of 5/06/2010. Minimum deposit is $5,000. They don't seem to have many details about these CDs in their online documentation. They do offer an online chat service on the first page of the application. Here are some important CD details that I learned from the CSR:

  • You can only fund a CD by mailing a check
  • You are locked into the rate at the time the application is submitted
  • Early withdrawal penalty is 90 days of interest for the 13-mo CD and 182 days of interest for the 30-mo CD
  • Grace period at maturity is 10 days
  • In addition to requesting a cashier's check at maturity, you can instruct them to transfer the money into your Clear Sky savings or checking account. They cannot transfer to an external account.

I asked the CSR if she had any idea when rates may change, but she only said they're subject to change at anytime. At least they lock the CD rate when you submit the application.

Bank Overview

Clear Sky Accounts are FDIC insured through Chesapeake Bank of Virginia. There's a link to the Clear Sky website on the left side of Chesapeake Bank's front page. Chesapeake Bank has been a FDIC member since 1934 (FDIC Certificate # 6862).

Chesapeake Bank is not a large bank. Based on the FDIC data in 12/31/09 it has about $582 million in assets and $487 million in deposits. In December 31, 2008, total deposits equaled $430 million.

Chesapeake Bank continues to have strong ratings for safety and soundness: 4 stars (excellent) at BauerFinancial, 4 stars (sound) at Bankrate.com and an overall health score of 3 out of 5 at DepositAccounts.com (Clear Sky Accounts rates and reviews page).

Comments
Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #1
I have the savings account and have had several CDs with ClearSky.  While initially very positive, over time, I have found their customer service to be very poor.  It just seems like they are overwhelmed by the volume of accounts that they have.

In particular, I've had problems with their online system, which is contracted to a third party.  Sometimes they (and, in one case, this was a bank vice president) have denied that any particular problem exists, and even when they admit to one, it doesn't get fixed.  I don't appreciate the low limit on the number of accounts that one can have setup for their transfer system, but, moreso, I don't like the limitations that they put on passwords.  Between this and the poor service, it's simply hard to trust them, no matter how good their rates look.

And, speaking of rates, it seems to me that the five year at Ally is a much better choice than what ClearSky is currently offering.  Even though their savings rate is lower, their website is top-notch and the support practically unbelievable when compared to other online-only experiences that I've had.
Wil
Wil (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #2
I had a Clear Sky Savings account for awhile last year. While I found the bank's CSRs pleasant to deal with, it is the only bank to have ever made an error on an ACH transfer. They duplicated the transfer, leaving me very fearful of an overdraft in the account of origin. It was their mistake, not mine -- when I checked the transfer history, it showed only one transfer set up. But the transaction history showed two deposits of equal amounts on the same day. They corrected the error after only one day, and fortunately no overdraft occurred in the account of origin.
Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #3
In my case, the transfer actually was duplicated, and an overdraft was triggered at the other institution.  I had to fight them tooth and nail to get them to cover the relatively small fee.

I agree, ClearSky is totally untrustworthy.
Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #4
I have always found  Clear Sky Customer Sevice to be extremly friendly and helpful. There rates have been the most consistent.  I also appreciate the level security  to help protect my account.
Wil
Wil (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #5
To anonymous #3: How quickly did you catch the duplication? I caught it on same day that the transfer was credited to my Clear Sky account, and called Chesapeake Bank immediately (it was still morning). Perhaps that why an overdraft wasn't triggered at my other bank. Anyway, you shouldn't have had to fight them "tooth and nail" to get them to make you whole. I'm sorry to hear what happened in your case.
Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #6
I've had a checking and savings account with Clear Sky since 2008 and haven't experienced ANY problems with my accounts or the customer service.
Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #7
The jerks at Chesapeake Bank closed my Clear Sky Account.  They said it was inactive for 1 year (but no fee even though they have an inactivity fee), which is a lie, I did 1 ACH deposit every 2 months.
Anonymous #3
Anonymous #3 (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #8
I noticed the duplicate the day that it posted (it was a large sum, and, therefore, hard to miss), and called ClearSky immediately.  The person with whom I spoke said that there was nothing they could do.  When I called backed about the overdraft fee, they blamed me for the error and refused to do anything.  I ended up having to threaten to file complaints with their regulators.  All this over twenty bucks!

I don't mean to push Ally, as, it seems, the first commenter already did that, but they were the other end of this situation, and handled it extremely well.  I called them immediately after I was rebuffed by ClearSky, and, although they couldn't do anything until the ACH actually hit, I was offered, upfront, a waiver of the possible fee -- no questions asked.  When I called back later, after the fee was assessed, I received the exact same response.
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Clear Sky Accounts (the internet unit of Chesapeake Bank) just sent emails to its customers announcing that it is no longer accepting new account applications and that it will not allow existing Clear Sky customers to make additional deposits. The CEO of Chesapeake Bank stated that they were overwhelmed by deposits and their capacity for any more deposits has been reached. On the plus side, they plan to continue to guarantee 3.75% APY until March 31, 2009. Also, he stated that...

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I can't confirm this, but it would be reasonable considering the rate cuts that have been going on.

For details about this savings account and Cleary Sky, please refer to my Clear Sky Account review.



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