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Research into UmbrellaBank

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Based on a preliminary review of UmbrellaBank, it appeared they might be one of the best choices for an online bank. But thanks to a commenter who provided personal experiences and other observations about UmbrellaBank, I realized that more things should be considered.

The one negative that I didn't mention about UmbrellaBank is their safe-and-sound rating. This is a rating provided by BankRate.com that scores a bank or credit union for its financial stability. Their best score is 5 stars. Their worst is a 1 star. UmbrellaBank currently has only 2 stars. For comparison, ING Direct and Corus Bank have 4 stars.

The comments also provided some first hand experience with customer service at UmbrellaBank that occurred a few years ago. The customer service didn't do well. This is probably the most difficult to quantify about a bank. I'll keep a lookout at resources on the web that can help determine online banks' customer satisfaction record.

Customer service has to be something that online banks take very seriously. That's one of my top worries about online banking. If something goes wrong with an online bank, you can really only call and hope you won't end up speaking to machines or reps who don't know anything.

The comments also included some negative opinions regarding the usability interface (UI) of Umbrella's website. It's difficult to determine how this has changed in the last few years. To their credit, UmbrellaBank's current site does have an online account demo feature. I gave their demo a try. My guess is that their current website is fairly new. The user interface seems adequate. They do have two important features. First, they provide access to scanned images of cashed checks. Second, they have a message center in which you can securely email the representatives. Without this, you would be forced to call on the phone for any account related questions.

As the commenter recommended, before making a decision about what online bank to join, be sure to look at more than just the best rates. In future posts, I'll continue to include additional information to help you make the best decision.


Comments
Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #1
Opened Pot O'Gold MMA 08/18/2005. Funded 08/29. No signup bonus, but beats ED by 0.2%. UI is the same as ED, which probably means it's been outsourced to the same internet banking company. Haven't been able to add an external checking account yet (like you can with ED). If that's a no-go, then this a/c is getting closed. Looks like there's no penalties for early closure.
Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #2
Got an e-mail back from Umbrella. They allow free ACH transfers from external checking accounts into their MMA, but they don't allow ACH transfers out of their MMA, i.e. initiated from the MMA. So this a/c is getting closed down. Umbrella are another one of those turds who don't consider interest accrued until it's been posted. So if you close the account before the month's accrued interest has posted, you lose it. Umbrella posts accrued interest on the 10th, so I'm closing this one down on the 11th. However since there's a $30 early closure fee for accounts closed within 90 days, this'll have to be closed 12/11/05.