The Georgia-based, Affinity Bank, has a new and unique online bank. It’s called FitnessBank, and it’s offering an online savings account, the Fitness Savings Account, which currently has the highest rate for a nationally available savings account (3.00% APY on all balances over $100.) The unique aspect of this savings account is that it has activity requirements to qualify for the rate, and they’re not reward checking requirements. These activity requirements are step requirements. To earn high interest rates, customers will have to download the bank’s Step Tracker app that will track your physical steps that you take when you walk or run. The bank will calculate your average daily step count from the previous month to decide if the count is high enough to qualify for different levels of interest rates.
The Fitness Savings Account currently has the following APY/step tiers:
The bank has another account, the Senior Fitness Savings Account, for those who are at least 65 years of age. This account has lower step requirements to qualify for the interest rates:
The step requirements are waived for the first month. The initial APY will be 3.00% until the rate adjustment date following first full month that the account has been opened.
Does FitnessBank Have Legs?
The Fitness Savings Account top-tier APY just reached 3.00% in July. At the time FitnessBank was launched around March of this year, the APY was 2.50%. The APY remained at 2.50% until this month.
An important question for savers when considering a new savings account is will it maintain a competitive rate over the long run? Or is the current rate a short-term promotion?
One thing that helps FitnessBank pay 3% APY is that only a certain percentage of customers will qualify. Over the long run, many customers will only qualify for the lower rates for most months of the year. Thus, the average APY that the bank pays out to its customers may only be something like 2%. If the average rate that they pay out is comparable with the rates of other online banks, FitnessBank has a chance to maintain a top-tier APY that is around 50 to 100 basis points higher than its competitors. Of course, the APY tiers will likely fall if the Fed cuts rates.
Is the concept too much of a gimmick? I know some people don’t want to play games with their savings. FitnessBank may find it difficult to overcome the appearance of being a game or gimmick. Also, the customer must be a smartphone user who is willing to download the Step Tracker app. There may also be privacy concerns with having your steps tracked. And lastly, those who have physical limitations may find it difficult or impossible to qualify for the high interest rates.
There are definitely a few concerns with this concept, but there are also some positives. Most everyone can achieve health benefits by walking more, and a concept like this can provide that incentive.
Features of the Fitness Savings Accounts
Here’s a summary of the basic features of the Fitness Savings Account. These features apply to both the Fitness Savings Account and the Senior Fitness Savings Account.
- $100 minimum to open, to earn interest, and to avoid a $10 maintenance fee.
- Standard 6-per-month withdrawal limit applies. $10 fee is charged for each additional withdrawal.
- Interest is compounded daily, and credited monthly
- No debit/ATM Cards available
The funds transfer features are important for online saving accounts. Below are a few of the noteworthy features related to transferring funds:
- Outgoing ACH transfers initiated using FitnessBank’s online funds transfer system are limited to $15k per day (per CSR)
- Incoming ACH transfers initiated using FitnessBank’s online funds transfer system are limited to $50k per day (per CSR)
- Incoming wire transfers fee ($12 domestic) may be waived when large incoming transfers are needed.
- Outgoing wire transfer fee is $15 for domestic transfers.
- ACH transfers initiated from another institution are allowed without a limit.
- No holds are placed on incoming ACH transfers.
- Once account is opened and funded, links to external accounts must be established to initiate ACH deposits and withdrawals. There are no limits to the number of links to external accounts (per CSR).
FitnessBank’s contact page lists the headquarter’s address and its support email address ([email protected]). There’s also a contact form that can be used to send a message. One thing lacking from the contact page is a phone number. However, there is a customer service number listed when you start the online application. This number is 1-855-463-4825 with hours from Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm EST. When I called this number today, a CSR immediately answered who knew the answers to many of my account questions.
Availability and Application
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, FitnessBank offers its savings accounts online only to US Citizens, 18 years or older, with a valid Social Security number. Single and joint accounts can be opened. The applicants must have a driver’s license or passport.
The online application requires that you agree to the credit report disclosure which says that you “authorize the Bank to obtain a credit or other report or account information from credit or information service agencies.” According to the CSR, this is done for ID verification only. He wasn’t sure if this was a hard or soft pull. There is also a ChexSystem inquiry.
The initial deposit can be made by ACH transfer from another bank or by credit/debit card. The CSR didn’t know the initial deposit limits for either an ACH transfer or for credit cards. CSR said that based on his experience with recent applications, the ACH limit is at least $200k. If the initial deposit is done by ACH, the routing and account number of the external bank is not kept for future transfers. A new link must be established.
The online application does not provide options for designating beneficiaries. However, beneficiaries can be designated after the account has been opened and funded by contacting [email protected] Social security numbers of the beneficiaries are required.
As an online division of Affinity Bank, FitnessBank operates under Affinity Bank’s FDIC Certificate and shares its financial history. Also, Affinity Bank and FitnessBank are treated as the same entity for the purpose of calculating FDIC insurance limits and deposits.
FitnessBank’s website address (fitnessbank.fit) is listed in the FDIC database as one of the deposit accepting websites of Affinity Bank. Note the “.fit” top-level domain (TLD). The “.fit” TLD was made available in 2015 to all who want to identify themselves as part of the fitness community.
FitnessBank/Affinity Bank has an overall health grade of "A" at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas Ratio of 4.98% (excellent) based on March 31, 2019 data. In the past year, the Bank increased its total non-brokered deposits by $33.23 million, an excellent annual growth rate of 16.31%. Please refer to our financial overview of FitnessBank/Affinity Bank (FDIC Certificate # 57264) for more details.
Affinity Bank was established in 2002 as United Commercial Bank. This was changed to Atlanta Business Bank in 2004. As the bank expanded to serve clients beyond its Atlanta headquarters and to serve individuals (not just business clients), it decided to change its name to Affinity Bank in 2010. The bank remains fairly small with just $318 million in assets, $237 million in deposits and a total of 28 employees.
How the Fitness Savings Account Compares
When compared to 220 Savings Accounts tracked by DepositAccounts.com that are available nationwide, FitnessBank’s Fitness Savings APY currently ranks first. This assumes the FitnessBank customer will be able to maintain the required step activity. No other online savings accounts currently have this type of requirement.
The above rates are accurate as of 7/5/2019.
To search for the best Savings Account, both nationwide and state specific, please refer to DepositAccounts.com’s Savings Account Rates page.
Edit 7/15/19: Corrected inbound ACH transfer limit.