Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Online savings review by mere-mortal

Recently I had a chance to review three online banks for personal savings: HSBC DirectAlly (ex GMAC) and Personal Savings from American Express.

I would not give you a comparison list like the most money  saving sites do.  They are rarely useful for making a final decision.  I'll just cover the most important points for a regular customer, like myself.

  • Both HSBC and Ally have a debit card attached to your account. (This is good.)
  • Both of them are subject to the federal rules for withdrawals from savings account.  Which is neither bad or good, it is just the way it is.  
  • Amex doesn't provide either debit card or checks for money withdrawals.  Online only.

  • Ally gives a better rate than HSBC (1.50% v. 1.35% at the moment of writing this).
  • Ally has a history of rebranding that it tries to run away from. (Personally, I had no chance to work with GMAC before, so it doesn't make any difference for me.)
  • Amex is a pretty strong brand.  Not perfect though, like the most of banks.

Account setup:
  • Ally account setup is very quick.  Super quick.
  • HSBC is super slow on setting up account.  It includes both online and offline steps that can make you hate the idea of working with them somewhere in the middle of the process.
  • Amex supposed to be quick, but if they put you for manual processing (what happen to me) they are slow.  But better than HSBC anyways.

Verify an account:
  • Ally and Amex are pretty quick on verifying accounts.
  • HSBC is slow.

Transferring money:
  • HSBC is super slow on transferring money.  They disappear from your account next day, and travel somewhere for around 3 business days.  Than they show up at HSBC, but it still takes a day or so to become available.
  • Amex is doubtful.  The money disappear next day, and appear on the account the same day, but as "current balance".  "Available balance" stays zero.  According to customer support, they take full 5 business days to make the money posted as "available balance".  They say the money don't loose interest, because it's counted on the "current balance", however, I never double-checked them myself.  (They can probably lie.  This happens with banks.)
  • I don't have much experience with Ally yet.  I'll try that shortly.

That's it.  Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions, I'd be happy to give you some insights and save you some time.

# Posted via email from opportunity__cost