We’re celebrating a milestone. It has been 10 years since I started the Bank Deals Blog in August 2005.
Thanks so much to all of you who have been regular readers and commenters throughout the years.
I started the Bank Deals Blog in August 2005. As a fellow saver, I was always on the lookout for bank deals. I decided to start this blog to help others find those deals and to encourage collaboration among savers to help each other find the deals and to learn about the various issues and gotchas. The blog and the readership grew more than I could have ever imagined. In 2009 when I was offered a partnership, I decided it was a great opportunity to grow the blog into an even more useful resource. That’s when the Bank Deals Blog at Blogger was converted into DepositAccounts.com (DA), a self-hosted website that allowed for features like rate tables, a bank database, and a discussion forum. In addition to rates, the bank database holds financial health data, branch locations and user ratings.
Over the history of the website, we have published more than 11,000 blog posts and users have posted more than 94,000 comments or forum posts. We're now automatically tracking almost 275,000 rates and 150,000 other product attributes (e.g. fees) from thousands of banks and credit unions. When rates change, readers can be automatically notified by email through our bank alert system. Readers have signed up for more than 10,000 bank alerts.
To commemorate the 10-year anniversary, I thought it would be fun to list the 10 best deals over the last 10 years. I chose what I thought was the best deal for each year from 2005 to 2014. I wanted to provide a variety of deals that included CDs, savings accounts and checking accounts. If you remember a great deal that I left out, please leave a comment. Also, feel free to comment about your favorite deals. Did the deal turn out to be as good as it sounded? Or did a deal that initially seemed like a great deal turn out to be a dud?
Poll: How Many of These 10 Deals Did You Participate In?
I also thought it would be fun to see how many of these deals DA readers have participated in. My guess is that most long-time readers have done at least 3 of these. Perhaps there are a few who have done at least 8 of them. I would be pleasantly surprised if there are any long-time readers who have done them all.
My Top 10 Deals in the Last 10 Years
- 2005 — PenFed was offering 6.00% APY on a 7-year CD in December 2005. I’ve been reporting on PenFed’s competitive CD rates and easy field of membership since 2005. For my 2005 best deal, I almost chose the 6.25% APY 10-year CD that was offered by Ridgewood Savings Bank, but this was a local deal for the NYC area. I’m sure those who opened either of these CDs were happy with their decision. If you opened that 10-year CD, it will soon be maturing in a few months. Make sure you don’t let it automatically renew. Ridgewood’s longest-term CD is now a 7-year CD with an APY of only 1.60%.
- 2006 — E-LOAN launched its internet bank on September 2006, and its online savings account had the best rate for quite a while. When it launched, the savings account had a 5.50% APY. E-LOAN still offers the savings account, but the rate hasn’t been competitive for years. However, E-LOAN will occasionally offer competitive CD rates. Currently, they’re on top for 5-year CDs.
- 2007 — PenFed came out with great CD rates at the start of 2007. The best was a 6.25% APY for terms from 3 to 7 years. I made the mistake of choosing the 3-year term. With savings accounts and checking accounts paying 6%, a 6.25% CD didn’t seem that great. Within a couple of years, those savings and checking accounts rates plummeted while those who opened the 6.25% CDs continued to enjoy that "high" rate.
- 2008 — WaMu’s 5% 1-year CD — This was the year of the financial crisis. Major banks started to fail, but that didn’t directly hurt most savers. In fact, it resulted in some unique CD deals. One was a 5% 1-year CD at Washington Mutual (WaMu). In late September, WaMu became the largest bank in the U.S. ever to fail. The FDIC arranged for Chase to assume all of WaMu’s deposits, and Chase decided to honor all of WaMu’s existing CD rates. So those who purchased those WaMu CDs, became Chase customers earning 5% on their 1-year CDs. In fact, Chase let WaMu continue to offer those 5% 1-year CDs for weeks after the WaMu failure. It might be a long time before we see 5% 1-year CDs at Chase (their current 1-year CD rate is 1/100th of 5%).
- 2009 — Bank2’s reward checking account — High-yield reward checking accounts gained popularity among DA readers in 2007. They offered rates 100 to 200 basis points above the best internet savings accounts without sacrificing any liquidity. The downsides were a balance cap and activity requirements that typically involved around 10 debit card purchases a month. Just like savings accounts, rates weren’t guaranteed to last unless a bank was running a promotion in which they guaranteed a rate for a certain period of time. One good reward checking deal in 2009 was at Bank2 in Oklahoma. In March 2009 it started to offer a nationally available reward checking account with a 5.01% APY for balances up to $25K that was guaranteed to last through December 2009. As a comparison, the best internet savings account was only offering 3.25% APY. The rate and balance cap fell in 2010. The rate continued to fall, but it remained a competitive reward checking account. The deal did attract many new customers. In May 2009, the bank changed the eligibility policy on this account. No longer could people in any state apply. New accounts became limited to Oklahoma residents.
- 2010 — WT Direct’s Bonus — We were well into the ultra-low interest rate environment in 2010. Internet savings account rates had fallen below 2%. Without a high rate, an internet bank offered a savings account deal that attracted DA readers. It was WT Direct, and it offered new customers a bonus of up to $500. For every $10K deposit, the bonus increased by $100 to a maximum of $500. For savers looking to earn some money on their savings accounts, this was easy money. The deal didn’t last long. It ended only a couple of days after I reported on it. WT Direct also didn’t last long. Its parent bank was acquired by M&T Bank Corporation which decided to end WT Direct.
- 2011 — PenFed’s 5% 10-Year CDs — By the end of 2010 it looked like the 5% CDs were a thing of the past. Thanks to PenFed, that wasn’t the case. In January of 2011 PenFed offered existing members several great CD rates including a special 10-year CD with a 5% APY. These CD specials were originally intended to be just for members with maturing CDs. However, PenFed made a mistake that allowed all members to participate. Some people were worried that a 10-year term was too long. I think it’s safe to say most people who went with that 10-year CD are happy with their decision.
- 2012 — TIAA Direct’s Savings Account — We were deeply entrenched in the zero-rate environment in 2012, and it was hard to find 1% savings account rates even at internet banks. So when TIAA Direct was launched in February 2012 with a money market and savings account that paid 1.25% APY, it looked very appealing to DA readers. As with all past savings account deals, it didn’t last long. In July TIAA Direct stopped accepting new customers, and in January 2013, the rate started to fall. They started to accept new customers again in 2014, but its rates never became competitive again.
- 2013 — PenFed came back with another great CD deal in late 2013. While the best 5-year CD rates at internet banks were in the low 2% range, PenFed offered 5-year and 7-year CDs with a 3.04% APY.
- 2014 — Valor FCU’s Prime Rate CD — PenFed wasn’t the only credit union that offered great CD deals. After PenFed 3.04% CD deals ended in February 2014, I reported on another 3% CD deal. This time it was at Tobyhanna Federal Credit Union (now called Valor Federal Credit Union). It had a special 7-year CD which it called Prime Rate Certificate. Its rate was based on the Prime Rate with a floor rate of 3.04%, and members were allowed to make additional deposits to the certificate. This Prime Rate Certificate attracted so many deposits that the credit union not only ended the certificate in 2015, but it tried to implement a sneaky fee that would ruin the add-on deposit feature. After numerous complaints, Valor changed its mind and decided not to implement the fee.
Finally, we don’t want to rest on our laurels. Are there any improvements you would like to see at DepositAccounts.com? What would you like to see more of?
Thanks again to all of the regular readers and commenters. Your emails and comments have been very much appreciated. I look forward to another great 10 years of bank deals at DA!