SFGI Direct Savings Account Joins the 1% Club

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APYMINMAXINSTITUTIONPRODUCTDETAILS
1.06%$500-SFGI DirectSFGI Direct Savings Account
Accounts mentioned in this post. Rates as of September 25, 2016.

SFGI Direct increased the rate of its online savings account yesterday. The APY increased from 0.91% to 1.01%. Thanks to DA reader cumulus who reported on this increase in the DA forum. It’s nice to see another internet savings account join the 1% club. Hopefully, it’s a sign for things to come in 2014.

My last review of SFGI Direct was just over a year ago when the bank raised its savings account rate from 0.91% to 0.94%. SFGI Direct has been around for over four 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 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’s savings account.

  • 01/09/14: 1.01% APY (Ally Bank Savings 0.85% APY)
  • 11/04/13: 0.91% APY (Ally Bank Savings 0.86% APY)
  • 05/29/13: 0.86% APY (Ally Bank Savings 0.84% APY)
  • 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 three 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)

Bank Overview

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 four years. In December 2009, it had $1.02 billion in deposits. Based on FDIC data as of September 2013, total deposits at the bank are still only at $1.02 billion.

The bank hasn't been in the best financial shape. Over the last three years its financial numbers have improved slightly. It currently has an overall health grade of a C+ with a Texas ratio of 49.19% (average) based on September 2013 data. Please refer to to our financial overview of SFGI Direct for more details.. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1995 (FDIC Certificate # 34102).

How This Savings Account Rate Compares

This is another internet savings account to join the 1% club. We have seen a few other savings accounts join this club over the last few months. Just recently First Trade Union Bank started to offer 1% for a $2,500 minimum balance on its FT High-Yield Savings Account. Last November, Emigrant Bank launched MySavingsDirect with a no-minimum savings account that has a 1.00% APY. In October, iGObanking.com increased the yield on its money market account to 1.00%, but this requires a $100,000 minimum balance. SmartyPig has been offering a 1.00% APY on its savings account without a balance cap since June 2012. Lastly, Connexus Credit Union has been offering a 1.15% APY for a $100,000 minimum balance since April 2011. However, this requires an active checking account. All of the above rates are nationally available as of 1/10/2014.

Searching for the Best Money Market and Savings Account Rates

Comments
Shorebreak
Shorebreak   |     |   Comment #1
Unfortunately "Only allow one external link for ACH transfers" is a deal killer.  Besides, "The bank hasn't been in the best financial shape." is a concern.
jen
jen (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #2
Only 1 external link for ACH's originating on their website I imagine.

However, can't you do ACH's in and out with originations from multiple institutions? 

I know Incredible Bank allows ACH orignations on their site or at another banks site.  Their website isn't very clear about the greater $ limits available with external ACH originations.  Anyway, I've found this with many banks and might be worth checking out for this one.
cumulus
cumulus   |     |   Comment #3
> However, can't you do ACH's in and out with originations from
> multiple institutions? 
>
Yes. No problem, no limits on amounts transferred.  Been an
account holder for a number of years and routinely do pulls
pushes from other (Ally, Alliant, etc.)  places.
Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #4
Two day hold for ongoing ACH deposits is not acceptable by me and when you include 1-2 days transfer time for the ACH to execute, it makes it slow process and not even mediocre in my book.
cumulus
cumulus   |     |   Comment #5
> Two day hold for ongoing ACH deposits is not acceptable . . .
>
I do such transactions routinely with SFGI; have NEVER had any such
holds occur!  Always have had deposit date = funds availability date.
Been a customer since October 2009.
Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #6
"No beneficiaries can be designated in the online application (per FAQ)"
The FAQ seems to be updated to - "During account opening you many designate up to four beneficiaries on the account....Beneficiaries cannot be added to current accounts."
Looks like beneficiaries can be named ONLY during the application process.
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