Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Timeline of Rate Chasing Insanity

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

rate chasing piggy says, i no longer know how to feel

With internet banks dropping their high yield savings account rates, I’ve been looking for a better place to deposit our savings. I thoroughly considered my own buried treasure method until I realized I don’t have a shovel.

So I started to look around at other internet banks for a better rate. Fortune smiled upon me and threw up a fantastic deal all over me on a 7-month CD with an effective APY of 9.36%. Since first seeing the deal last Thursday, it’s been a crazy ride full of suspense and anxiety to get this CD opened. I thought you might enjoy looking at a timeline of my adventures in rate chasing.

Thursday

1:30pm. During lunch, first saw the thread on FatWallet about a 9.36% 7-month CD at SECU, a small Maryland credit union, starting Saturday and running until whenever.

4:45pm. Finished lunch. Remembered I lived in Maryland!

5:10pm. Filled out an online application for SECU membership. Started second lunch.

Friday

8:30am. Finished second lunch. Received confirmation e-mail that SECU membership application has been received; a form requiring my signature before account opening would be mailed to me.

9:20am. Contemplated transferring savings from current internet bank of choice (we’ll call it Bank of Crap to protect the names of the innocent, crappy bank). Decided against it because Bank of Crap still had a high APY until Saturday.

Saturday

2:50pm. Woke up. Checked the mail. No SECU signature form.

2:55pm. Went back to bed.

Sunday

12:30pm. Sent usual weekly e-mail to Bank of Crap letting them know how much I hate their crappy bank and would leave it if their savings account rate weren’t so high.

4:45pm. Reply from Bank of Crap: “You’ll never leave us, you rate-chasing loser. Har har har.”

6:10pm. Read various responses on the FatWallet SECU CD thread. Lots of happy people with CDs. Some started posting pictures of themselves with their deposit slips. One person named his 7-month 9.36% CD “Franklin.”

7:30pm. Saw the CD listed on SECU’s website. It looked so beautiful.

11:15pm. Cried myself to sleep with no CD to comfort me.

Monday

10:45am. Memories of CD that could have been almost gone. Resigned to let my money sit in Bank of Crap at their new, lower crap savings rate.

4:50pm. Home from work. In the mail: Victoria’s Secret catalog (filed for later), credit card offers (ew, AMEX), and… the signature form from SECU.

5:00pm. Checked online to see if the CD was still available. Saw that CD was pulled from SECU website. Some FatWallet forum members say deal is dead; others: “deal ends Tuesday.”

5:10pm. Called SECU’s 800 number. Operator says I can bring my signature form to a SECU branch location Tuesday to open the CD.

5:20pm. Initiated a wire transfer for full balance from Bank of Crap savings account to my local checking bank. Wire fee supposedly $15. (An ACH three-day transfer would have cost me $23 in lost interest; irrelevant since time was of the essence.)

5:30pm. Read that Bank of Crap’s cut-off for same day wires is 5pm. Crapped my pants.

6:00pm. New pants. Meticulously scoured deal forums for more information on SECU CD. Found a PDF of the CD application; printed, signed, caressed.

7:15pm. A call from Bank of Crap. “This wire transfer… it’s a joke, right?” “No joke,” I responded. From Bank of Crap: “You’ll pay for this, Captain Planet.” Realized entire bank was on drugs the whole time. Worried I’ll never see my money again.

11:45pm. Bedtime. Set the alarm for 7:50am so I could get to SECU when it opened.

Tuesday

7:55am. Breakfast: wife still asleep, so I ate a jar of basil.

8:00am. Checked Bank of Crap. No sign that wire has been initiated. Decided to take my chances and go to SECU.

8:45am. Arrived at SECU branch a few minutes before opening. One person ahead of me; crazy woman mumbling something about “must withdraw, dig hole, bury money, Punny says so.”

9:05am. Met with SECU bank girl. Membership activated. I wrote a check from my local checking account, not sure if they’d verify the funds are in place.

9:15am. SECU girl tried to talk me into opening a checking account. Replied: “Thanks, I don’t even have any money in the ones I have!” Got a funny look back. Crapped my pants in fear.

9:25am. Left SECU, CD opened. Funds weren’t verified. Terrified that Bank of Crap will screw up something and the check will bounce any minute.

10:30am. Still no sign of wire transfer. Called Bank of Crap. Confirmed wire transfer in progress. Could have sworn operator concluded call with “thank you, have a crappy day.”

12:05pm. Local checking account shows wire transfer received. Crapped my pants in relief.

12:30pm. Deal forum members indicated that SECU closed the 7-month CD deal at noon. Rubbed my CD opening receipt all over myself.

Epilogue

A few additional funny moments in this SECU CD comedy:

  • Some people on various deal forums were weighing the cost of a round-trip ticket to Maryland just to open the CD versus the interest to be earned.
  • Several people out-of-state signed up for Maryland community college classes in order to claim credit union eligibility. Cheapest class found was $12: “TIS THE SEASON TO BE SINGING,” a zero-credit music course. I suspect the entire class will drop before it starts.
  • At least one person paid upwards of $70 to FedEx their CD applications overnight. Many of us (myself included) took wire transfer fee hits in the $5-$20 range. Before the $12 community college class was discovered, lots of folks paid $55 to become an honorary University of Maryland alumnus. (They never did anything to confirm my eligibility, but I am a genuine graduate of a Maryland public university.)
  • One person considered marrying a UMD alum to get in on the deal. Now that’s creative!

Lesson learned: rate chasing is not for those faint of heart… or those short on pants.

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Government Website Helps Victims of Bank Stupidity

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics:

an hows i spose ta mail dis here letter when the post office done put ma picshure up on deys wall?

Today must have been a bad day in the money world because I heard no fewer than three complaints from co-workers regarding experiences at their local banks, including:

  • “My bank only had one teller working with 15 people in line.”
  • “It took me two hours to get my deposit straightened out.”
  • “My girlfriend dumped me over the weekend. Yeah, she works at a bank.”

But where can a person turn when their banks or bank-affiliated girlfriends do them wrong? The Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks announced today that, after three years spent painting their name on the side of their office building, they’ve opened a new website to assist consumers with their banking maladies: HelpWithMyBank.gov.

At HelpWithMyBank.gov, you’ll find tons of answers to common banking questions, but here are a few of my favorites:

The bank charged $34 for an overdraft, which seems excessive. Is there a limit?

Federal laws do not establish maximum amounts for fees that national banks can charge on your account. These decisions are made by the bank—and in some instances, are prescribed by State law. [In other words, quit your whining, and next time, read the fine print.]

I was contacted by phone to apply for a credit card. The solicitor discussed a low interest rate and I agreed. But when I received the loan/credit card, the rate was higher. Can the bank do that?

Yes. The solicitor should have explained the steps the bank will take once you apply. Generally, the bank will review your credit report and the information you provide to determine if you meet the criteria for the offer. After the review is completed, you may not qualify for the terms that you requested—or even for the card itself. [In other words, why were you stupid enough to sign up for a credit card from a telemarketer?]

I wrote a check and post-dated it. However, the bank cashed it prior to the date written on the check. Can the bank do this?

Yes. National banks are permitted to pay checks even though payment occurs prior to the date of the check. [In other words, don’t write checks you can’t pay.]

Naturally, the answers to virtually every question on the website suggest that the consumer may be the one in the wrong most of the time. But for those who truly think their bank screwed them over, there’s a handy link to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s unwieldy complaint form. Simply fill out the form, whisk it off to Houston, click your heels three times, and your banking problems will be solved! (…Though likely to the benefit of the bank.)

Friday, September 29, 2006

How to Open Your New E-LOAN 5.50% APY Savings Account, Part 3

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

e-loan took my money! wait, i told them to. nevermind!

Those two test deposits from E-LOAN hit my Bank of America checking account yesterday. (And as they promised, E-LOAN didn’t let me keep those 40-some cents.) I also confirmed that my opening deposit was transferred. I logged into the E-LOAN savings website, verified them, and that’s it!

For those of you opening new E-LOAN accounts, write down the answer to your security question. You might think that, as long as you remember your password, you’ll never need to provide the answer to your security question. That’s not the case! Instead, you’ll be answering your security question each time you want to make a transfer into and out of your E-LOAN savings account. So be sure to jot down that pet’s name, car model, or ex-girlfriend’s favorite soft drink for future reference.

As we speak, my HSBC savings account is being drained into my Bank of America checking account. Once that’s complete, the vast majority of my savings will be with E-LOAN.

My final initial thoughts on E-LOAN: Simple, easy, awesome.

Unless something big happens, this will be the last post in the series. Feel free to ask questions about the E-LOAN savings account here and I’ll answer them as best as I can.

(And yes, I said “final initial.” I’m an oxymoron!)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How to Open Your New E-LOAN 5.50% APY Savings Account, Part 2

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

small test deposit coming soon

I received a lovely e-mail from the folks at E-LOAN today. My comments in bold.


Dear Nicholas [Please, call me Nick!],

Thank you for opening a Savings account with E-LOAN. Our online Savings and CD accounts offer the following benefits:

– The great rates you deserve [Actually, I deserve 100% APY!]
– Absolutely no fees
– FDIC insured

Within the next four business days [!!!], we will send [yay!] and withdraw [boo! cheap jerks!] two small deposits to and from your external bank account. They will be noted as “BPNA re: ELOAN”. Your initial deposit will also be withdrawn from your external bank account at this time. [Really, shouldn’t they wait for me to confirm my external account first before they take $5,000 out of it? What if I stole someone else’s account information? Honestly!] For your security, no further transfers or account changes can occur until you verify these deposits. [So I can steal someone else’s $5,000; I just can’t do anything with it. Ah.]

To complete your account verification, simply:

– Log on to your account at https://www.eloan.com/savings
– Click on “Verify”
– Enter the amounts of the deposits
– Press “Continue”

Please note that this verification must occur by Oct 26,2006. After that, we are required to close your account and return any deposited money and interest earned to your external bank account. This helps ensure your security.

Again, thank you for your business!

Sincerely,

E-Loan, Inc.
6230 Stoneridge Mall Road
Pleasanton, California 94588
deposits@eloan.com
https://www.eloan.com/savings
Toll Free: 866-576-7283

E-LOAN (R) – Radically Simple (SM)


More news on the E-LOAN savings account front as soon as I have it…

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How to Open Your New E-LOAN 5.50% APY Savings Account, Part 1

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

cracking open one piggy to feed another

My wife: Nick, are you feeling all right?

Me: Of course. Why do you ask?

My wife: It’s just that you haven’t opened a new online savings account in a couple months, and the last time that happened you came down with a mysterious illness that caused you to uncontrollably impersonate 1970s sitcom actors.

Me: What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?


Yeehaw! It’s that time again. Let’s open yet another online savings account together!

This time, we’ll be doing some banking business with the fine folks at E-LOAN, the internet mortgage lender. As found on the Bank Deals website, they now have a 5.50% APY online savings account similar to those of HSBC (currently 5.05% APY) and Emigrant Direct (currently 5.15% APY). The only caveat with E-LOAN’s savings account is that you need a $5,000 opening balance. Also note that E-LOAN’s rate chart indicates that balances dropping below $5,000 only earn a 5.25% APY–still higher than either HSBC or Emigrant Direct. It appears there are absolutely no fees associated with the E-LOAN savings account.

Enough talk. Let’s get bankin’!

Opening An E-LOAN Savings Account

It’s really, really simple.

  1. Pick your type of account. Go to the application start page. You want a “Savings Account” opened with “5000” (or more). Pick your ownership; I went with individual because there’s an option to add a beneficiary in the next step.
  2. Fill out the application. As usual with internet savings account, you’ll need to fill out an application online that asks for a good amount of personal details. Hopefully you know your name, address, and the like. If not, maybe you should let me hold onto your $5,000.
  3. Supply your other bank account information. Like HSBC and Emigrant Direct, you’ll need an account with another bank that will be linked to your E-LOAN savings account. It’s through that account that you get money to and from your new E-LOAN account. Make sure this account has enough money in it to fund your opening deposit!
  4. Verify that you’ve read the Terms. Just check the first box. Only check the second if the IRS told you to do so.
  5. Double-check and submit! Make sure your information appears correct on the final page. Then hit the big button at the bottom and you’re done with the application!
  6. Verify two small deposits. Also like other internet savings accounts, E-LOAN verifies your external banking account by sending it two small test deposits. After a couple of days, you’ll see those amounts in your external account. Log in to the E-LOAN savings account website with your username, select a security image, provide your password, enter the amounts of those two deposits, and your account is ready for action… well, as much action as money just sitting there gets.

Once my account is open and funded, I’ll write another article detailing anything else that might come up during the account opening process. But so far, this was the easiest time I’ve had opening a savings account online. And at 5.50% APY, E-LOAN has taken the lead from Emigrant Direct in the online savings rate wars.