First Federal is offering two good deals on long-term CDs. The most competitive is the 5-year CD which has a 3.50% APY. Minimum deposit is $1,000. The other one is a 3-year CD with a 2.65% APY for a $20K minimum (2.40% for $1K). These rates are listed in the rate sheet that's available in the First Federal's CD page as of 4/26/2010. This page also lists the early withdrawal penalties. For long-term CDs it's 180 days of interest on the amount of principal withdrawn.
There's an online application link in the CD page. The first page of the application states the following:
Currently we are servicing North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida for all products except for Health Savings Accounts. Health Savings Accounts are available for all states.
It's an Andera-based online application that allows funding by credit card, debit card or checking account via ACH (don't know if the credit card transaction would be considered a cash advance instead of a purchase).
The application also had a page listing the CD rates, and that page showed the second tier rate for the 5-year CD as 4%. I called the bank in hopes that this was correct, but according to the CSR, the second tier rate is the same as the first tier (3.50%). According to the CSR, rates are updated on Wednesday mornings so this deal may not last much longer.
I was told the CD rate will lock at the time the application is submitted. The maximum deposit via an ACH transfer is $50K, but multiple CDs can be opened. At maturity, they will mail you a check if you decide to close the CD. Another option is available if you have their checking account. In that case they can transfer the CD funds into the checking.
First Federal offers a high-yield reward checking account called Moolah Checking, and like the CD, it can be opened online by residents of FL, GA, NC and SC. It pays 2.51% APY for up to $25K as of 4/26/2010. It used to pay 6% back in 2007. Please refer to my account review for more details.
The bank has branches in several cities of South Carolina including the cities of Charleston, Hilton Head, Florence, and Myrtle Beach. There are also a few branches in Wilmington and a few other North Carolina cities.
The bank's ratings for safety and soundness are little above average: 3½ stars (good) at BauerFinancial (based on 12/31/09 data), 3 stars (performing) at Bankrate.com (based on 9/30/09 data) and 3 out of 5 from our health score at DepositAccounts.com (based on 12/31/09 data). The bank has been a FDIC member since 1934 (FDIC Certificate # 28994).
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