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About Ken Tumin

Ken Tumin founded the Bank Deals Blog in 2005 and has been passionately covering the best deposit deals ever since. He is frequently referenced by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications as a top expert, but he is first and foremost a fellow deal seeker and member of the wonderful community of savers that frequents DepositAccounts.

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The 10 Best Bank Deals for Savers in 2010


I thought it would be fun to make my own best-of-2010 list. This was a tough year for savers as we had another year of record low interest rates. Many banks and credit unions had little desire to attract deposits as loan demand remained weak. Nevertheless, there were several banks and credit unions that did want our deposits and offered some good deals.

Looking back at the best bank deals of 2010 can also be useful. Most of these deals have long ended, but banks often repeat similar deals in the future. Also, for those who participated in these deals, we can share what we learned to see if the deals were worthwhile. Sometimes the extra work or hassles they required negated much of the benefits.

One disturbing trend this year was the increasing use of ChexSystems to reject applicants who had opened too many recent accounts. The worst case of this was 1st Mariner Bank. It was reported that they rejected applicants who had only 3 ChexSystem inquiries in the last 2 years. What made matters worse was that they rejected applicants several days after the online applications were accepted and the initial deposits were debited from their accounts.

I'm sure some of you might have different opinions on what you considered as the best deals. I've probably missed some of them. Feel free to comment on your opinions. You can find a full list of my 2010 posts here. Some of my criteria for the best deals included: 1) very high interest rate or large bonus, 2) nationwide availability, 3) easy application process, 4) little or no hoops to jump through. Those with large savings will probably have different opinions than those who haven't saved as much. If you only have $5,000 to put into an account, you'll probably like a $250 bonus more than a 4% yield.

  1. Justice Federal Credit Union's 7.50% 75-Day $25K-Max CD - This is a recent deal that is still active, but it's likely to end soon. This doesn't score high in the ease of opening since there are some hoops to jump through to qualify for membership.
  2. ING Direct's Black Friday Promotion - This year's promotion wasn't as good as in 2009 when they had a nice CD promotion, but this year they did have a nice $103 bonus for the Electric Orange checking account. For those who missed it, there is currently a $83 bonus for the Electric Orange account.
  3.'s CD and iPad Deal - A high CD rate along with an iPad gift package made for a good deal. However, several readers reported some problems in the account opening with 2 weeks for the CDs to be opened. If you've opened this CD, please leave a comment if you have received the gifts.
  4. PenFed's 5% Watch it Grow CD Promotion - It was nice to see a 5 percent CD again even with a 10-year term. Unfortunately, the promotion was only intended for certain PenFed members with maturing CDs. Due to an IT problem, other members were able to participate. These special CDs should be taking effect in January. If you participated, make sure you have sufficient funds in your PenFed savings account.
  5. Bank of the West's iPod touch Promotion - Several readers have recently reported receiving their 4th generation iPod touch from this promotion.
  6. WTDirect $500 Savings Account Promotion - Qualifying for the $500 did require a $50K deposit kept in the account for at least 3 months, but that still made for a nice return. They've also been offering similar promotions after this one for as much as $350.
  7. 2.65% 17-Month CD Special at North American Savings Bank - Now it's tough to find 2.65% on a 5-year CD. The bank still offers some nice CD specials with an online application, but the current rates are no where close to this April CD.
  8. 2.00% Money Market Rate Guaranteed for 2010 at Metropolitan National Bank - In previous years it was common for banks to guarantee a high rate in a liquid account for several months. It was rare this year. This was one of the best deals. Unfortunately, it was local to New York City.
  9. SunTrust's $150 Checking Account Bonus - This was available nationwide and didn't require direct deposit.
  10. Ally Bank's 60-Day Early Withdrawal Penalty - Ally Bank's 5-year CD rates haven't been the best, but their 60-day early withdrawal penalty has been the best. This has made Ally's 5-year CDs much more appealing. There are concerns that the penalty could be changed on existing CDs. You can make up your own mind on the risk. I've received assurances from Ally that it would not change on existing CDs. There's more discussion of this issue in this post.

Edit: Corrected APY on JFCU's CD.

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glxpass   |     |   Comment #1
If RCAs (Reward Checking Accounts) qualify, I'd add Randolph Bank and Trust's 4.75% APY, guaranteed through 12/31/2010.  That was nationally available for a brief time and allowed multiple accounts.  Sadly, the rate falls to 2.5% APY, the debit card transaction requirement will change from 12 with a minimum of $5/transaction to 6 with a minimum of $20/transaction.  Also, accounts will be limited to one per SSN, although existing customers with multiple accounts can keep those.

At $25K, an account would yield around $100 in interest in a given month.  If you had multiple accounts...  :)
51hh   |     |   Comment #20
#1: The best part of the JFCU offer is actually the referral bonus; up to $300 with referring of (maximum) three new members.  Now the site shows $50/$25 instead of the previous $75/$25.  Still a very good deal.   
glxpass   |     |   Comment #2
I forgot to add that you might want to correct the JFCU APY from 7.00% to 7.5%.  Every .5% helps!
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #3
Almost a list of top 10 teasers for 2010. Not many of these would be attractive to someone with $1MM or more in bank deposits, where even a small difference in interest rates will net far more than these free toasters.
glxpass   |     |   Comment #4
"Anonymous - #3, Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 1:34 PM

Almost a list of top 10 teasers for 2010. Not many of these would be attractive to someone with $1MM or more in bank deposits, where even a small difference in interest rates will net far more than these free toasters."

1.  I suspect most of us who read don't have 1MM or more in deposit accounts, although I agree in principle with what you say.

2.  As you implied, a number of the above deals were scalable, some more than others.

3.  Most people could always use a new toaster.  :)
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #5
iGoBank was a great deal..... and the iPod, camera and pack all works great....
AtlantaWolf   |     |   Comment #6
On the list of bad bank deals, 1st Mariner was the worst (took 2 weeks to get my deposit credited back to my debit card).

In pure dollar terms, I'd like to nominate Darby as the second. After squawking about refusing deposits to their add-on CDs earlier this year, the finally imploded in November leaving the promise of 5% unfulfilled and depositors unable to find a similar replacement rate.

Bank failures can certainly throw a wrench in CD laddering scheme. One failure alone on a longer term CD can halve your interest income for the next few years.
mariafalter   |     |   Comment #7
The promotion at Metropolitan Bank was not as good as it sound.  Sometime in October I got a call from the branch CSR, saying that they'd reached their deposit amount goal and, effective immediately, customers would not be allowed to deposit money into accounts any more.  We could only withdraw.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #8
I was just on phone with PedFed. And the representative cleared with their upper management on the reseved CD funding. They state whatever CD amount you reserved can not be more than your previous CD with PedFed, even if the online reservation let you do it and even if it still shows up in your reserved CD online.There are 3 situations:

1. your reserved CD amount equals or less than your previous qualified CD with PenFed. Then you are OK.

2. your reserved CD amount is more than your previous qualified CD with PenFed: When you send the money in, they are only going to put the max of previous CD amount, and leave the rest in the saving/checking account that you have. You have to request it yourself to get the money return it to you, otherwise it stays in the saving/checking account


3. You reserved CD, but didn't have qualified CD with PedFed before. Your money will stay in the saving/checking account. You have to request it yourself to get the money return it to you.


This is very different from what they said before that they are going to honor the CDs because of the online system mistake. Just want everyone to know.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #9
Yes, we need a "10 worst" list too. I'll nominate the reward checking account at First Clover Leaf Bank. Within about a week of opening to depositers nationwide, terms changed from 4.01% on $25k to 3.85% on $15k. The account also has some extra hoops to jump through to qualify each month. Bottom line: this account is so not worth it now.
eric2   |     |   Comment #10
among my nominations for 10 worst:

1st mariner bank (might be one of the 10 worst of all time)

compass bank - would not give me the account opening bonus because "i had recently moved to the area" - worst part is it's a bank i might have actually used, but not now

the following RCA's which absolutely IMPLODED - going from way above market rates to way below, almost overnight:


-First Southern (GA) - went from 4.59% to 1.5% within 6 months (with several intermediate stops in one point it seemed they were cutting the rate every month)


Wil   |     |   Comment #11
While we're talking about the infamous honor of the ten worst, what about OnBank? Besides having rates sink like a stone at the start of the year, OnBank designates CDs as "dormant accounts" after two years, and requires you to return by "snail mail" (they won't even accept a fax) a form basically confirming that you are still alive! After meeting all their identity checks on the telephone, I pointed out that the very nature of time deposits precludes the account having activity, the OnBank CSR claimed that this is a legal requirement for all internet banks. You would think that the fact that I was talking to them live on the phone would be "contact" with the bank! The very reason that I even called them was because after mailing them the form the first time, I got a second form from them informing me that the account was dormant and to sign and return the form (meaning, of course, that the form I sent the first time either got lost in the mail, or misplaced at OnBank). Since I have a five-year CD at OnBank, that means having to comply with returning that form by snail mail again in two years.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #12
Another nominee for worst: Union Bank. The bank offered a bonus this fall for opening a new account. "Just stop in to any branch," their website stated. But after making the trip in: "Sorry, we meant any branch in nothern California." Yes, we know what out website says. No, we won't honor it.
glxpass   |     |   Comment #13
I forgot about BBVA Compass.  That actually worked for me, resulting in an $800 total bonus for opening a variety of  business accounts (and meeting their requirements), and a $200 prize gift card for opening a personal checking account.  I'm going to have to bug them about the gift card; I was supposed to have received that in November.

BBVA Compass worked well for some even if one had to visit a branch; for others, it was a royal PITA, with clueless bank reps denying people for no good reason, and BBVA Compass insisting on proof of filing a fictitious business name (or DBA) statement, even when one wasn't required.  As an aside, I'm told that in CA at least, BBVA Compass no longer requires a DBA statement if the sole proprietorship is in your name, e.g., glxpass Consulting.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #14
Wil, the dormancy thing is due to state regulations. How the bank or CU handles this, however, seems pretty much up to them.
KenBDG   |     |   Comment #15
@glxpass (comment #2). Thanks for noting the error. The APY is fixed. I'm just not use to writing APYs that high ;-)

@Anonymous #8, Thanks for the info about PenFed's Reserve program. That is very disappointing since it contradicts what I was told in September. I've started a new forum thread on this topic. I'll update the thread when I hear more.
Scott   |     |   Comment #16
Looks like I will know in 2 days the real PenFed plan.  First I'm reserved for more than my maturing CD was for, Also mine matured 9/29, 2 days before October. So might be out of luck on both counts. Will be ****ed as I made sure funds were there last week. I called to make sure I was in and told yes but the main reason I stayed with deal is this email Ken got from his contact:

"The main intention of the Watch it Grow CD promotion allows existing members with certificates maturing in October to have the opportunity to open a new certificate in January 2011 at a higher rate on a 5, 7 and 10-year certificate.

The issue that existed on our online interface that allowed folks to participate in the promotion even though they did not meet the promotional criteria was rectified by our IT team earlier this month. It is PenFed’s intent to honor all online certificate reservations made by these individuals prior to the September 4, 2010 interface fix."


If they do not honor I hope Ken will give us his contact so we can hammer him
Bozo   |     |   Comment #17
Hands down, the best deal anywhere is an IRA CD at PenFed, if you are over 59 1/2. The 7 year is better than a T-Bill and offers rollover liquidity.


eric2   |     |   Comment #18
wil, onbank is part of m&t bank which is in my view the far and away worst bank in america for sneakiness, poor service, hassles, and general dishonesty. that's right, i would put them worse than bank of america, worse than chase, even worse than citi or wells fargo.

i wouldn't expect any better from them.
lou   |     |   Comment #19
Poster # 8 is incorrect. I spoke to a supervisor at Penfed who I have been talking to for the last few months regarding the promotion, and she assured me that they will honor all pending certificate reservations. The poster either got the wrong information or does not currently have a pending reservation scheduled to be funded in January.
51hh   |     |   Comment #21
JFCU: it seems that the 7.5% 75-days CD has gone from their website.
Wil   |     |   Comment #22
Eric2, I know that OnBank is the online division of M & T Bank, and I agree with the substance of what you say. My earlier post just illustrated the lengths to which bureaucratic nonsense is taken: state regulations about dormant accounts are the state's way of getting away with escheatment, if at all possible. The fact that a time deposit ipso facto would have no activity until the account owner either redeems or renews the account at maturity seems to be entirely disregarded here, regardless of how little sense it makes. And the refusal to accept return of their "contact form" by fax is, likewise, bureaucratic nonsense. But the height of nonsense to me is the fact that their CSR speaks with me on the phone about my account, thus acknowledging my identity, and yet the fact that he/she is speaking with me live somehow is insufficient to count as "contact" with the bank; yet a form sent by snail mail, that theoretically could have been signed by anyone at my address, is. Now as to the claim that M & T Bank is even worse than Bank of America, ??? They would have to sink pretty low for that to be true!
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #23
What about Inter National Bank's 3.25% for 5-year CD, with unlimited add-ons allowed, and only a 90-day penalty for early withdrawl? That rate was available through mid-October, and was a stellar deal. Available to anyone nationwide (as long as you went to open the account in person), I would've nominated that most definitely for Top 10, especially with the rate environment of this year. It was a stellar deal that lasted a lot longer than other institutions (I believe it's still available, though sadly now, with a lower rate).
51hh   |     |   Comment #27
Happy New Year AOG and you all!
MrPapaya   |     |   Comment #28
I feel that the KeyBank IPod Touch promotion was equal to (or easier) than the Bank of the West's iPod touch promotion.  The requirements were easy to meet (2 automatic payments, 1 debit card purchase) & the IPod arrived in less than 90 days.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #29
For all those worried about PenFed's 10yr CD promo, fear not. I had reserved through the glitch starting 1 Jan 2011. It is now posted as one of my CDs. Note: I had no CD maturing in Sep or Oct or whatever those stupid promo rules stipulated. Was all new money.
rjm   |     |   Comment #30
I just verified that my 10 year 5% CD has opened as it was supposed to....according to their website anyway.


Sadly, this was just the exact amount of an old CD and I didnt sign up with any new money. Even called a week ago and asked about it. They said no.

But, their system MIGHT have allowed me to manually change the amount, I did not because I didnt want to lose a bird in the hand.

Heck, in 3-4 years I will probably be breaking this thing if rates go up but its still hard to beat.

Just wish I could have put maybe 3-4 times as much in as I did.

Thats ok, I need to spend more time searching for Arb type stocks anyway.

In mid Jan, I bought a stock at 86.233 cents that was in liquidation mode. As expected, in Jan, I got paid 88 cents per share. Another probably 10-12 cents per share will be paid out probably in 12-15 months.

There was virtaully no risk. The only question was exactly how much and exactly when. The first one, I wasnt sure if it was only going to be 75-80 cents at the time but the numbers still made sense.

These kind of plays are sort of like a CD in that, you cant always sell when you want, you pretty much have to wait for the liquidation to play out.

I bought in another in Dec at $2.70-2.76. I expect about $3.25-3.75 with maybe 2/3 of that coming in a year and the rest possibly another year or 15 months later. It has a very small chance at an extra $5 per share but I think that chance is remote so I attribute almost a 0% chance of it happening. But, Id be thrilled with even an extra 50 cents above the $3.25-3.75 that I expect.

There are other such arb plays out there. You have to read carefully, try to buy at or near the bid and have patience. And most people dont like to "give away" their selections because they would like the chance to buy more if it happens to fall because of an irrational seller.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #32
Actually Metropolitan National Bank went to my bad list after midway during the 1 yr rate guarantee they stopped allowing additional deposits to this "Money Market Account"  - this to me is deplorable as they only notified us two weeks after this change.  I have never heard of MMA restricting deposits - they should have made it a CD.  Well I pulled my money out and went to Customers Bank. Now they are down and off to Justice FCU.

Whew! This rate chasing is getting harder and harder for less return. Oh well the price we pay in this environment.  But a very much thank you to this outstanding website and a happy New Year to all those rate chasers out there   
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #33
The Gifts for Banking gifts were pretty good, but getting them was a pain though.  It took nearly 2 months and constant emails to customer service to get the gift. 
Alan   |     |   Comment #34
Re: posting #23 on Inter National Bank.  INB's website currently posts no CD or savings account rate information, rather one is directed to ask the "local" INB officer.  INB is only located along the southern Texas border with Mexico.  Somehow, a bank that does not know how to spell "international" correctly inspires little confidence.  (What does "inter national" mean?)

Owned by Banorte, the only major bank in Mexico still owned by Mexican nationals, if one is a Banorte account holder (or, some say, an account holder for at least one year), it is allegedly possible to open an account without travelling to an INB office in the lower Rio Grande.  A Banorte officer in Merida over a year ago said he was sending our info to INB for them to contact us regarding opening an account with INB.  We never got any info from INB.  Calling them directly, the phone rep claimed to know nothing of such an arrangement.   INB's phone officers appear to be as uninformed and unhelpful as their parent company's Monterrey, NL phone officers.  That's ok with us.  We do not mind the 7-10 day pause in getting dollars ACH withdrawn from our Phila. bank (East River) by, exchanged for pesos and sent ACH-like to our Merida Banorte account.   (Wire transfers are available, but not free, for faster transfers.)  East River's service and responsiveness is top notch!

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