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Alliant Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings, CD and IRA Accounts

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Year Established1935
Total Assets$11.2B
LEARN MORE Alliant Credit Union’s secure websiteNCUA Insured

Alliant Credit Union began back in 1935 as the “United Airline Employees’ Credit Union” for the sole benefit of United Airlines employees and their families.

These days, the credit union has expanded its membership criteria to people who work for or used to work for certain employers (including United Airlines), people who live or work in certain communities in Illinois, relatives of existing Alliant members, members of select organizations, or anyone who makes a $5 donation to the nonprofit group Foster Care to Success is eligible for membership.

Thanks to its expanded membership criteria, a well-designed online banking experience, and good rates on its deposit products, Alliant Credit Union has grown to 390,000 members across the U.S. and holds $10 billion in assets. The credit union offers a nationwide network of over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs to choose from, and it offers a full suite of loans and deposit accounts, including checking, savings, CD, and IRA accounts.

We’ll focus on the deposit accounts in this review and let you know how they compare to the best accounts in their class. We’ll also let you know any hidden fees or other tricks you need to know before opening an account at Alliant.

Alliant Credit Union’s Most Popular Accounts

APY

Account Type

Account Name

Compare Rates from Similar Accounts

2.10%

Savings

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Savings

2.20%

Barclays Online Savings Account

on Barclays’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Alliant Credit Union’s checking account options

High-Rate Checking

This is a great account to consider if you use ATMs frequently and want to earn a good interest rate.

APY

Minimum Balance to Earn APY

0.65%

$0.01

  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: Free. However, the ATM’s owner may charge a surcharge fee. If you use your card abroad, you’ll also pay a 1% foreign transaction fee.
  • ATM fee refund: Up to $20 per month in out-of-network ATM surcharge fees, not including the foreign transaction fees.
  • Overdraft fee: $28 for a courtesy pay, or $25 for a non-sufficient funds fee.

This account offers a very good interest rate. To earn it, you’ll need to jump through a few hoops. First, you’ll need to be signed up for electronic statements (if you opt for paper statements, you won’t earn interest and you’ll pay a $1 monthly fee), and you’ll need to have at least one electronic deposit into the account each month. For people with steady paychecks from employers, that might not be a problem. But if you’re self-employed with an erratic paycheck, you might need to pay attention to this “gotcha.”

Other than that, this account also comes with a free starter box of checks. And while it does offer a good interest rate and ample ATM fee policies, there are still a few fees you have to watch out for. If you close your account within the first 90 days after opening it, you’ll pay a $10 penalty. If you go more than a year without making any deposits or withdrawals, that’ll be another $10 fee, and Alliant Credit Union can close your account.

How to get Alliant Credit Union’s High-Rate Checking account

Members and non-members alike can apply for this account online. If you’re not yet a member, however, you’ll first need to join. This can also be done online, or you can send in a paper application.

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Free Teen Checking

If you have a teenager between the ages of 13 to 17, you can open this account with them, so they can learn money management skills.

APY

Minimum Balance to Earn APY

0.65%

$0.01

  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: Free. However, the ATM’s owner may charge a surcharge fee. If you use your card abroad, you’ll also pay a 1% foreign transaction fee.
  • ATM fee refund: Up to $20 per month in out-of-network ATM surcharge fees, not including the foreign transaction fees.
  • Overdraft fee: $25 for a non-sufficient funds fee. This account isn’t eligible for courtesy pay.

Checking accounts can pose a new challenge for young adults. That’s why Alliant Credit Union offers this checking account. Parents must agree to be joint owners on the account, and can sign up their children who are between the ages of 13 to 17. To earn interest, you’ll also need to make sure your teen is signed up for electronic statements and have at least one monthly direct deposit, ATM deposit, or transfer from another bank into this account (transfers from other Alliant Credit Union bank accounts don’t count, unfortunately).

This account comes with more limitations compared with the normal full-fledged checking accounts. Teens aren’t eligible for courtesy pay, and any checks ordered with the account (including a free box of starter checks) must include both your name and your teen’s name, reflecting the fact that it’s a joint account.

In addition, teens can’t make more than $300 in PIN-based transactions and $300 in signature-based transactions per day, or withdraw more than $100 per day from an ATM. As a comparison, adult accounts are limited to $2,000 in PIN-based transactions, $2,000 in signature-based transactions, and $1,000 in ATM withdrawals per day.

When your teen turns 18, this account will automatically convert into a Free Checking account. You’ll still be listed as a joint owner, so if you’d like your name removed from the account, their 18th birthday will be the time to do it.

How to get Alliant Credit Union’s Free Teen Checking account

In order to sign up for this account, you’ll need to download an application form online and then contact the credit union through an online form directly on this account’s main information page. Alternatively, you can also mail or fax in the application.

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Free Checking

You might be able to earn back some of the ATM surcharge fees you pay thanks to this account’s generous ATM fee reimbursement program.
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: Free. However, the ATM’s owner may charge a surcharge fee. If you use your card abroad, you’ll also pay a 1% foreign transaction fee.
  • ATM fee refund: Up to $20 per month in out-of-network ATM surcharge fees, not including the foreign transaction fees.
  • Overdraft fee: $28 for a courtesy pay, or $25 for a non-sufficient funds fee.

If you just want a basic checking account, consider this one. There’s no monthly requirements, but you do get a few small perks that come with all Alliant Credit Union accounts, such as a very good ATM fee reimbursement program and a free box of checks to start you out with your new account.

Even though these are great terms for a basic free checking account, there’s a few fees to watch out for as well. Make sure to make at least one withdrawal or deposit per year, otherwise Alliant Credit Union will charge you an “inactivity fee” of $10 and may even close your account. Make sure you’re signed up for electronic statements as well, otherwise you’ll pay $1 each month for a paper statement to be mailed to you. Finally, if you close your account within 90 days after opening it, you’ll pay another $10 fee.

How to get Alliant Credit Union’s Free Checking account

You can sign up for this account online or by sending in an application by mail. All you’ll need to provide is a government-issued photo ID, some sort of document proving your home address (such as a utility bill), and your social security number.

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How Alliant Credit Union’s checking accounts compare

We’re a fan of these accounts, but we still have some reservations. The interest rate offered on the High-Rate Checking and the Free Teen Checking accounts are quite good, even though it is possible to find a few banks and credit unions that pay even higher rates on checking accounts. We also really like the generous ATM fee reimbursement policy, which any frequent ATM user will also appreciate.

However, there are some hidden fees with these accounts, such as fees for closing your account early, letting the account go dormant, or receiving paper statements. Still, most people won’t be affected by these, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Alliant Credit Union’s savings account options

High-Rate Savings

This savings account offers an excellent rate, and allows you to create sub-savings accounts for specific savings goals.

APY

Minimum Balance to Earn APY

2.10%

$100

  • Minimum opening deposit: $5, and Alliant Credit Union will even donate this so you can get started
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: none
  • ATM fee: Free. However, the ATM’s owner may charge a surcharge fee. If you use your card abroad, you’ll also pay a 1% foreign transaction fee.
  • ATM fee refund: Up to $20 per month in out-of-network ATM surcharge fees, not including the foreign transaction fees — but only if you have a checking account open with Alliant Credit Union. If you don’t own an Alliant Credit Union checking account, you won’t receive any refunds.
  • Overdraft fee: $28 for a courtesy pay, or $25 for a non-sufficient funds fee.

If you’re looking to earn a good rate on your savings account at a credit union, you can’t do much better than this one. To keep the account open, you’ll need to keep at least $5 in it, and to earn interest, you’ll need to keep a reasonable $100 in the account.

One important point about this account is its ATM policies. If you have a checking account open with Alliant Credit Union, you’ll get one debit card to use for both your checking and your savings account. In this case, you’ll be eligible for up to $20 in ATM surcharge fee rebates for both accounts — checking and savings. But if you only open a savings account by itself, you’ll be issued a Convenience Card to use at the ATM, and this one doesn’t offer any ATM fee rebates.

One of the nice things about this account — other than the high interest rate — is that you can open up to 19 sub-accounts, called “Supplemental Savings” accounts. These earn the same rate as the High-Rate Savings, and you can name them according to your savings goals, such as “House Down Payment,” “Christmas Fund,” or “Vacation Savings.” It’s easy to open each of these individual savings accounts through the online banking portal, and each one also needs at least $100 in it before it’ll start earning interest.

The High Rate Savings and Supplemental Savings accounts are governed by federal Regulation D, which means that you can’t make more than six certain transfers out of the account per month. Once you reach that limit, you simply won’t be able to make any more transfers. Some types of transfers, such as ATM withdrawals, in-person withdrawals at a branch, withdrawals made by mail, or withdrawals made to pay an Alliant Credit Union loan don’t count towards this limit.

How to get Alliant Credit Union’s High-Rate Savings account

You’ll need a few things to apply for this account, such as a government-issued photo ID and your social security number. You can apply for this account online, and once approved, you can transfer over money from your existing bank account.

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Kids Savings Account

This is the same account as Alliant Credit Union’s regular High-Rate Savings, but age requirements are lowered so that children under 12 can get a joint account with a parent, guardian, or grandparent.

APY

Minimum Balance to Earn APY

2.10%

$100

  • Minimum opening deposit: $5, however Alliant Credit Union will donate this to get you started
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: Free. However, the ATM’s owner may charge a surcharge fee. If you use your card abroad, you’ll also pay a 1% foreign transaction fee.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $28 for a courtesy pay, or $25 for a non-sufficient funds fee.

Alliant Credit Union’s regular High Rate Savings account is indeed a very good savings account — but it’s only available to people age 12 and above. If you have a child, grandchild, or a ward under 12, however, you can still sign them up for this same account (only it’ll be called a “Kids Savings Account”) by agreeing to be a joint owner of the account.

This account abides by all the same rules of the High Rate Savings account as well. Unfortunately, this means that the child must also have at least $100 in the account in order to earn any interest. That’s a lot of lemonade for a kid to sell, or allowance money to earn on their own, so you may need to help them out a bit to get started.

There can be no more than six transfers out of this account per month, not including ATM, in-person, or by-mail transfers.

How to get Alliant Credit Union’s Kids Savings Account

To sign up for this account, you’ll need to fill out a form with your child/grandchild/ward. You can find this form on Alliant Credit Union’s main webpage for this account, and submit it online as well. You can also mail or fax the form in.

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How Alliant Credit Union’s savings accounts compare

We really like Alliant Credit Union’s savings accounts, for several reasons. First, there’s the interest rate. You can’t get much higher than this (although there are a few exceptions; see these savings accounts, for example). Then there’s the ATM policies: no Alliant Credit Union fees for using out-of-network ATMs, plus an allocated amount of refunds for surcharge fees from other banks (as long as you also have an Alliant Credit Union checking account), combine to make this a top-of-the-line savings account.

We also like the fact that you can open numerous Supplemental Savings accounts to save towards specific goals. Partitioning out your individual savings like this is very helpful because if you know a certain pot of cash has a specific use, and you may be less tempted to spend it on other things.

The only things we don’t like are that you need to watch out for a few fees still: fees if you opt-in for paper statements, closing your account early, or letting your account go dormant. These fees — which you probably won’t end up paying anyways — pale in comparison to the benefits of these accounts.

Alliant Credit Union’s CD rates

Regular Certificates

These certificates offer decent rates, and even better early withdrawal penalties.

Term

APY

12-17 months

2.70%

18-23 months

2.55%

24-35 months

2.70%

36-47 months

2.75%

48 months

2.80%

60 months

3.00%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: If you withdraw money from your CD within the first seven days, you’ll pay seven days’ worth of dividends on that amount. After that, how much you pay will depend on the term length of your CD:
    • For the 12-17-month CD, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 90 days’ worth of dividends
    • For the 18-23 month CD, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 120 days’ worth of dividends
    • For the 24-60 month CDs, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 180 days’ worth of dividends

CDs — or certificates, as credit unions call them — are a good way to earn the highest interest rate possible on an NCUA-insured bank account. These CDs fit the bill quite nicely, offering a decent interest rate and a wide range of term lengths to choose from. You will need at least $1,000 to open a CD, however, which can be a bit of a stretch for some people.

There are a few other nice things about these CDs too. Often, with other CDs, you may end up paying principal back when you make an early withdrawal. With Alliant Credit Union’s early withdrawal penalties, you will only ever owe dividends that you’ve earned — never any principal. You can also withdraw the dividends you’ve earned at any time. You won’t earn the stated APY if you do so, but you also won’t pay an early withdrawal penalty either.

When you open your CD, you’ll choose what happens after it matures. You can have the CD automatically renew for the same term length, renew for a different term length, or be automatically deposited into another bank account. If you elect to have it renew into another (or a different) CD, you will get a 10-day grace period after it renews to withdraw the money, if you change your mind. Alliant Credit Union will also send you a reminder 15 days before your CD matures, so you can change your options if you wish.

How to get Alliant Credit Union’s Regular Certificates

The easiest way to open these CDs is online. You can also open up a CD by sending an application in by mail, applying over the phone, or visiting a local branch in person.

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Jumbo Certificates

If you’ve got a lot of spare cash laying around, you can earn slightly better rates with these CDs.

Term

APY

12-17 months

2.70%

18-23 months

2.60%

24-35 months

2.70%

36-47 months

2.75%

48 months

2.80%

60 months

3.00%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $25,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: If you withdraw money from your CD within the first 7 days, you’ll pay 7 days’ worth of dividends on that amount. After that, how much you pay will depend on the term length of your CD:
    • For the 12-17-month CD, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 90 days’ worth of dividends
    • For the 18-23 month CD, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 120 days’ worth of dividends
    • For the 24-60 month CDs, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 180 days’ worth of dividends

Alliant Credit Union’s Jumbo CDs work the same as its regular CDs, with one exception: you need a much larger deposit — at least $25,000 — to open these accounts. After that, the policies are the same.

You can withdraw the dividends you’ve earned at any time without paying a penalty, but you will earn less than the stated interest rate if you do so. That’s because the quoted APY assumes you roll your dividends back into the account and keep them there until it matures.

When you open the CD, you get to choose whether it automatically renews for the same or a different term, or gets deposited into another bank account at maturity. Alliant Credit Union will send you a reminder 15 days before your CD matures so you can change your mind, if you want. If your CD renews and you change your mind, you get a brief 10-day grace period to withdraw the money penalty-free.

How to get Alliant Credit Union’s Jumbo CDs

There are four ways you can open these CDs:

  • Online
  • Over the phone
  • In person at a branch
  • By mail

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How Alliant Credit Union’s CD rates compare

Alliant Credit Union offers good rates on its CDs. Still, they’re far from the best. If you’d rather open a CD with the highest rates possible, we recommend these CDs with the best rates. Not only do these CDs pay higher rates, but some of them even have lower minimum deposit requirements, which is helpful if you can’t gather the minimum $1,000 needed to open a CD at Alliant Credit Union yet.

Alliant Credit Union’s IRA account options

IRA CD rates

These IRA CDs offer slightly better rates than Alliant Credit Union’s normal CDs.
Traditional IRA CD rates

Term

APY

12-17 months

2.65%

18-23 months

2.60%

24-35 months

2.70%

36-47 months

2.75%

48 months

2.80%

60 months

3.00%

Roth IRA CD rates

Term

APY

12-17 months

2.65%

18-23 months

2.60%

24-35 months

2.70%

36-47 months

2.75%

48 months

2.80%

60 months

3.00%

SEP IRA CD rates

Term

APY

12-17 months

2.65%

18-23 months

2.60%

24-35 months

2.70%

36-47 months

2.75%

48 months

2.80%

60 months

3.00%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: If you withdraw the IRA CD within the first seven days, you’ll pay 7 days’ worth of dividends on the amount you withdraw. After that, your early withdrawal penalty will depend on the term length of the IRA CD:
    • For IRA CDs from 12-17 months, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 90 days’ worth of dividends
    • For IRA CDs from 18-23 months, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 120 days’ worth of dividends.
    • For IRA CDs from 24-60 months, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 180 days’ worth of dividends.

If you’re looking to earn an even higher rate on your retirement savings than the regular IRA savings accounts offers, consider one of these IRA CDs. There’s plenty of term length options to choose from. One important thing to note is that you must maintain an IRA savings account with your IRA CD — you can’t have one without the other.

Unlike Alliant Credit Union’s regular CDs, you can’t opt for dividends to be paid out monthly if you’re under age 59 ½ (the IRS considers withdrawals from your IRA as “early distributions” subject to taxes and penalties if you’re under this age limit). Instead, they’ll just have to sit in the account until it matures. If you are above age 59 ½, however, you can elect to have the dividends on this account paid out monthly into your IRA savings account, although this will reduce your earnings a bit in the long run.

When your CD matures, you can opt to have it closed and deposited into your IRA savings account, automatically renewed into another IRA CD of the same type, or renewed into another IRA CD of a different term length. If you opt to have the IRA CD renewed and you change your mind, you will get a 10-day grace period to withdraw the money without paying any penalty.

How to get Alliant Credit Union’s IRA CDs

There are three easy ways you can open an IRA CD with Alliant Credit Union:

  • Over the phone
  • Inside of a physical branch
  • By mail

Unfortunately, you can’t open these IRA CDs online.

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Jumbo IRA CD rates

If you have at least $25,000, you can earn even higher rates with these Jumbo IRA CDs.
Jumbo Traditional IRA CD rates

Term

APY

12-17 months

2.70%

18-23 months

2.65%

24-35 months

2.70%

36-47 months

2.75%

48 months

2.80%

60 months

3.00%

Jumbo Roth IRA CD rates

Term

APY

12-17 months

2.70%

18-23 months

2.65%

24-35 months

2.70%

36-47 months

2.75%

48 months

2.80%

60 months

3.00%

Jumbo SEP IRA CD rates

Term

APY

12-17 months

2.70%

18-23 months

2.65%

24-35 months

2.70%

36-47 months

2.75%

48 months

2.80%

60 months

3.00%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $25,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: If you withdraw the IRA CD within the first seven days, you’ll pay 7 days’ worth of dividends on the amount you withdraw. After that, your early withdrawal penalty will depend on the term length of the IRA CD:
    • For IRA CDs from 12-17 months, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 90 days’ worth of dividends
    • For IRA CDs from 18-23 months, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 120 days’ worth of dividends.
    • For IRA CDs from 24-60 months, you’ll forfeit all of your dividends earned, up to a max of 180 days’ worth of dividends.

Alliant Credit Union’s Jumbo IRA CDs work the same way as its regular IRA CDs, just with a higher minimum opening deposit and higher interest rates. You’ll still need to open an IRA savings account to go along with these Jumbo IRA CDs.

Unless you’re age 59 ½ (an IRS-imposed limit on early IRA distributions), you can’t elect to have dividends paid out on a monthly basis. When your Jumbo IRA CD matures, you’ll have one of three options:

  • Close the Jumbo IRA CD and deposit it into your IRA savings account
  • Automatically renew the Jumbo IRA CD for the same term length
  • Automatically renew the Jumbo IRA CD for a different term length

If you change your mind after renewing the Jumbo IRA CD, you do have the option of withdrawing the money penalty-free during the first 10 days after it’s renewed.

How to get Alliant Credit Union’s Jumbo IRA CDs

Unfortunately, there is no way to open these Jumbo IRA CDs online. Instead, you’ll either need to head to a local branch, call them up over the phone, or mail in an application.

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How Alliant Credit Union’s IRA CD rates compare

Alliant Credit Union offers OK rates on its regular CDs. But for IRA CDs, it’s a different story. There are many banks and credit unions offering top-dollar rates on IRA CDs, and since Alliant Credit Union’s IRA CD rates aren’t much higher than its normal CD rates, Alliant Credit Union is somewhat outshone by its competitors.

It is nice that you can make an early withdrawal of your IRA CD without having the penalties eat into your principal (unlike most other banks). But the likelihood of needing to make an early withdrawal from an IRA CD is probably a lot less than with regular CDs, so this point is moot. Instead, we recommend looking elsewhere for your IRA CD investment.

IRA

Alliant Credit Union offers these IRA savings accounts as a Traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA.

APY

Minimum Balance to Earn APY

2.00%

$100

  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • Overdraft fee: $28 for a courtesy pay, or $25 for a non-sufficient funds fee.

If you want to open any IRA accounts at Alliant Credit Union, this one will be your first stop. It offers Alliant Credit Union’s stellar savings account interest rate which is pretty good on its own, but you’ll also need to have one of these accounts open and active if you want to open an IRA certificate as well.

You can open an IRA account as either a SEP IRA, Traditional IRA, or Roth IRA depending on what your goals are.

Since this is a savings account, you also can’t make more than six withdrawals per month. That shouldn’t be too hard, however, considering that IRA accounts are designed for you to stuff money into rather than taking it out until you’re retired. One final note is that this account doesn’t come with ATM access. If you need to make a withdrawal or rollover, you’ll need to fill out forms to do so.

How to get Alliant Credit Union’s IRA account

You can easily sign up for this account through your online banking portal if you’re a member. If you’re not yet a member, you’ll first need to join the credit union in order to get access to the online portal.

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Overall review of Alliant Credit Union’s banking products

We really like Alliant Credit Union for two things: its checking accounts, and its savings accounts. If you open both of these accounts together, Alliant Credit Union offers a generous ATM fee reimbursement for both accounts (you won’t get the fee reimbursements if you open a savings account alone, sadly). We also like the high interest rates offered by both account types. For frequent ATM users looking to earn high rates on their deposits, you can’t go wrong with these accounts.

Alliant Credit Union’s CD and IRA accounts, on the other hand, are a bit more lackluster. There are many banks and credit unions offering better rates on CD and IRA CD accounts. If these accounts are a part of your investment plan, we suggest looking elsewhere for better value.

Overall, Alliant Credit Union can be a great choice for your everyday banking needs.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Reviews

Simple Bank Review — a Simple Way to Budget

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Year Established1964
Total Assets$90.1B

LEARN MORE Simple’s secure website

Like most things in the world of “adulting,” managing your finances isn’t always as simple as it should be. This is where online bank Simple stepped in seven years ago, providing customers with a mobile bank account rolled into a budgeting app.

Acquired by Spanish bank BBVA in 2014, Simple was founded in Portland, Ore. in 2009 and launched commercial operations three years later. The money in a Simple account is held by BBVA Compass, the American subsidiary of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A., and FDIC-insured up to $250,000.

Though Simple offers only one type of bank account — consumer checking — it promises a simple way to save and budget while offering features found at bigger banks, such as photo check deposit, plus additional features, including Goals, Expenses, and Safe-to-Spend(R). In an effort to attract new banking customers, Simple is offering a 2.02% APY return on balances of $2,000 or greater in a Protected Goals Account. Otherwise, the APY is the normal 0.01%.

We’ll review Simple’s bank account, its pros and cons and what else you need to know to determine if it’s a good fit for you.

Simple’s Most Popular Accounts

APY

Account Type

Account Name

2.02%

Checking

Simple Checking Account + Protected Goals Account*

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What is Simple?

The Simple bank account is a checking account that incorporates budgeting tools into a consumer’s everyday banking.

Simple banking is provided through both desktop and mobile applications, although you will need to download the app to deposit checks using a photo. The free mobile app is available for Android and iOS-powered devices. You can complete all other necessary banking tasks on both platforms.

The Simple account

Minimum deposit amount to open

$0

Annual percentage yield

0.01% ($0 - $2,000)
2.02% ($2,000+)

Overdraft fee

$0

Monthly service fee

$0

ACH transfer fee

$0

ATM fee

$0

Out of network ATM fee

$0

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Simple Visa debit
Simple customers are issued a Simple Visa debit card for daily purchases and to use at more than 40,000 ATMs in the Allpoint network. In-network ATMs won’t charge you a fee, and are easily found using the ATM finder both online and in the app. Simple doesn’t charge you a fee for using an out-of-network ATM, but you may be charged by other banks and ATM owners.

Simple bank review
Simple

Safe-to-spend
Simple’s Safe-to-Spend(R) feature helps you resist the temptation to spend every dollar in your bank account when those funds should be reserved for more important and urgent things. The budgeting algorithm sets aside funds for spending categories in your budget and your savings goals. The app subtracts the amount of money you’ve set aside from your total account balance so you can easily see how much money you have left to spend — your safe-to-spend number.

Goals
The Simple bank account makes it easy to set aside money for long- and short-term goals. The feature also serves as a digital envelope budgeting system for your monthly budgeting needs.

A warning to chronic overspenders: Although the amount set aside for goals is subtracted from your total balance so you know what’s safe to spend, the goal money is kept in the same account as the rest of your funds, so you can spend the money if you really need to. We will address how to use goals to save and budget in the following section.

Simple bank review
Simple

Analytics
Simple provides spending reports to give you more insight on how you’re spending your money. You can use the graphs and breakdowns Simple creates to analyze trends in your spending. With that information, you can evaluate whether or not your budget is meeting your needs or if you need to make adjustments in your spending habits. You can also add hashtags, notes and images to each transaction.
You will need to go online to view reports as the feature isn’t yet available in the Simple app.

Protected Goals
You can set up separate savings goals and an emergency fund within the Protected Goals account. Unlike the money for your short-term goals, money in the “protected” account is separate from your main Simple bank account. If you need to use your money, you can make unlimited transfers from a Protected Goals account to your regular Simple checking account. That means there’s no need to worry about hitting the six withdrawals per month limit most other savings accounts have under Regulation D, and the common fees associated with making excessive withdrawals.

If you are looking for a high-yield account, the Simple bank account may be the one for you. Right now, you can earn up to 2.02% APY if you maintain a balance of $2,000 or more in the entire Protected Goals Account. If you choose to set up an Emergency Fund or Savings Goal under the Protected Goals Account and the amount combined is $2,000 or more, you’ll still qualify for the 2.02% APY. If you don’t, a Protected Goals account with Simple earns 0.01% APY, which is lower than the national average yield on checking accounts. So if you’re looking to earn a return on your savings and can’t make maintain a balance of $2,000 or more, you may want to look elsewhere.

Although they may lack the bells and whistles Simple incorporates, there are many alternative high-yield checking accounts that earn a much higher yield on your money with no minimum deposit. You can also compare rates and terms on the best savings options currently available here that also have higher rates than this account.

Simple Shared
Simple offers joint accounts it calls Simple Shared accounts. The Simple Shared account is a separate Simple bank account that you co-own with someone else. The joint Simple Shared account allows pairs to plan budgets and complete savings goals together. Couples can even save for an emergency under the Shared account. Emergency Funds are now available for Simple Shared accounts.

Both co-owners of a Simple Shared account must have individual Simple accounts, too, and they have to keep the individual accounts open in order to have a shared account. Your individual accounts stay private.

Simple Instant
Simple Instant is a peer-to-peer payments system exclusive to Simple users. It’s the quickest way to send money to other Simple account holders instantly, for free. After you add the Simple user to your Instant contacts, you can send money to them using an email address or phone number.

Simple bank accounts work with most third-party p2p payment services like Venmo and Square Cash, too, so you can still send money to your friends who don’t use Simple, although you may be required to pay for instant transfers.

Where Simple falls short

A 1% fee for foreign transactions
Simple doesn’t charge you any fees for making foreign transactions, but Visa does. Each time you swipe your Simple card overseas, you may be required to pay a 1% International Service Assessment fee to Visa. That fee may not be a deal breaker for some frequent travelers, but it’s a bummer to pay any more than you have to, ever.

Additionally. there is a $1,000 daily spending limit for international transactions, but you can have that temporarily raised to $6,000 if you let Simple know you’ll be traveling.

No checkbooks
Simple users are not issued checkbooks to write paper checks. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to send a personal check or pay a bill, you can use Simple’s free bill pay service to have Simple send a check on your behalf. The bill pay feature is found online and in the app. You may also request a treasurer’s check — similar to a cashier’s check — from Simple.

Simple mobile app

When you don’t know exactly how much you have to spend on the things you want but don’t need, you’re either constantly running out of time, money or both. When you’re running around living your life most of the time, keeping track of your money can become a chore.

The Simple mobile app incorporates features that help you keep track of how much money you have left to work with for the month while on the go. You can even get instant push notifications that will send you spending updates in real-time.

Features that stand out

The goals feature is what sets the Simple app and account apart from other mobile-first fintech startups and online banks, which we will get into in detail below.

Using Goals to save money
When you create a goal in Simple — after naming it and adding an optional memo — you’ll set the amount and date by which you would like to complete it. You can fund the goal in two ways: (1) set aside money right away, or (2) elect to save over time.

When you save over time, an algorithm will calculate how much money to move over incrementally from your safe-to-spend amount to the savings goal so it’s fully funded by your preset completion date. You can move money each day, or set a custom funding schedule so the app only moves money on predetermined days.

Using Expenses to budget
You can use the Simple Expenses feature to mimic old-fashioned envelope budgeting. Envelope budgeting is a method in which you set aside cash in physical envelopes for each budgeting category. You set aside what you think you’d need to cover categories like gas, groceries or shopping for a period and if you run out of money for that category, you stop buying in that area. Simple offers a digital version.

You would create an expense and name them for each spending category in your budget for the month and determine how much to set aside for purchases made from that category. Here’s an example budget from Simple:

Simple bank review
Simple

Ideally, you would fund the expense immediately and not over time. That’s what Simple really focuses on doing. It’s a “set it and forget it” mentality. This feature runs off of “Funding Schedules”. So, once you create an expense through this feature, Simple will recreate the expense for you so that it’s paid off again the next month. You can set this up by creating an Expense and choosing the category you want the Expense to automatically come out of. You only need to set this up once. After you’ve set up all of your expenses, the funds will be automatically debited from the appropriate Expense each month.

What if I overspend?
As mentioned earlier, you can intentionally or accidentally spend money set aside for your goals if you go over your safe-to-spend amount. Of course, dipping into your goal money may cut into your progress. If you fall behind on saving or need to edit a goal, you can always edit the target date and/or amount, or delete the goal. On the flip side, if you complete a goal and want to save more money, you can choose to automatically save more over time.

Other features that deserve an honorable mention:

  • You can deposit checks — This is the only feature exclusive to the app and may be in found in the “Move Money” tab. Simple recommends submitting the deposit before 5 p.m. EST, as it allows the bank to process the deposit on the same day. However, if you submit the deposit after 5 p.m. EST, the deposit won’t be processed until the next business day. Keep in mind that “processing” is not the same as “funding”. For example, if you make a Photo Check Deposit before 5 p.m. EST on a Monday, the deposit will be processed the same day, but won’t be posted to your account until Tuesday at 3 a.m. EST. If you make the deposit after 5 p.m. EST on a Monday, the funds won’t post to your account until Wednesday at 3 a.m. EST.

The limit on how much money you can deposit using a photo check will depend on factors such as how long you’ve been with Simple and the number of checks you’ve recently deposited, so it varies by individual user. You can find out your current check limit under “Deposit a Check.” If the check is too large, you can deposit it by mail.

  • You can block and unblock your debit card — Blocking your card is useful if you lose your card or think it’s been stolen. Go to your profile and select “Your Simple Cards” then block the Simple Visa card. If you see any unauthorized transactions made on your account, you may be covered by Visa’s Zero Liability policy if you report it in time.

How to open a Simple Bank account

Opening a Simple bank account is a quick and easy process (see how I didn’t use the word “simple” there? I saved you from a very punny sentence). Signing up takes all of about five minutes. Simple requires applicants to be U.S. citizens and 18 years or older with a Social Security number.

The company also recommends you have access to a device that can run its mobile app. The device will need to be running on either Apple iOS 10.0 or higher or Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher.

You can open an account online or on the Simple mobile app. The application requires you to create a username and password for your Simple bank account, and indicate how you plan to use the account. Then, it asks for personally identifying information like your name and Social Security number.

Simple bank review
Simple

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Who could benefit from the Simple bank account?

The Simple bank account would be most beneficial to individuals and household budgeteers who want to be able to manage their budgeting and bank account in one place, in real time.

Most household money managers are well aware how much their bills will come up to each month and what their short- and long-term monetary goals are. However, it’s naturally difficult to keep the numbers you’re juggling on the top of your head when you are busy and often on the go. Other budgeting apps may keep you organized, but you have to make an effort to keep them on track with your actual spending.

Simple makes keeping up with bills and savings goals effortless.

Simple’s safe-to-spend feature allows even the busiest among us to easily keep track of how much money you actually have available to spend freely. You can use Simple from virtually anywhere, desktop or on your phone, so there are no excuses. Just checking your bank account balance and seeing the difference between the total balance and your safe-to-spend will remind you of your budget and savings goals.

With Simple, you can create and automatically contribute to an emergency fund account, one separate from your other financial goals, so that it actually gets done this time around. The amount you want to save in your Emergency Fund is based on how much money you want to save in a certain period of time. Based on those two things, Simple will put together a daily contribution amount.

Simple’s Goals system can help you stay organized, compartmentalize your budget and keep your financial priorities straight. If you don’t immediately fund a goal, the app has your back. It calculates and makes small transfers to get you closer to your goal for you.

Alternatives

Simple is one of many fintech companies that have recently released a mobile-first or mobile-only banking option. Next, we take a look at how Simple compares with its peers: the Aspiration Summit account, Chime, Beam and Finn by Chase. Rates are as of  the date of publication.

Simple vs. Aspiration Summit account
 SimpleAspiration Summit

Overdraft fee

$0

$25

APY on Checking

Up to 2.02% APY

2.00% APY

APY on Savings

n/a

n/a

The Aspiration Summit account is the mobile-only banking option for those trying to be a bit more socially conscious. Aspiration’s standout feature is its Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM), which measures your social impact based on where you spend your money.

You get a personal AIM score, calculated based on the businesses you choose to support, which also each get an AIM score. For businesses, the AIM score is split in two: a “people score” based on factors like employee pay and access to health care, and a “planet score” based on things like the company’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to knowing how the money you spend affects the world around you, you can feel confident knowing Aspiration donates $0.10 of every dollar it makes to financially-focused charities.

Like the Simple bank account, the Aspiration Summit account is a checking account. While the Simple bank account earns up to 2.02% APY, the Aspiration Summit account earns a slightly lower 2.00% APY on all balances. But, Aspiration doesn’t give you the opportunity to open a separate account to set aside savings like Simple does. Aspiration also doesn’t provide any budgeting and goal-setting features on its account, while Simple does. Aspiration requires a $10 minimum deposit to open an account, but no minimum balance to maintain the account.

Aspiration charges is a $25 overdraft fee and a $5 daily fee for each day your balance remains negative. Meanwhile, Simple charges no fees but won’t allow a transaction if it will overdraft your Simple bank account. Like Simple, Aspiration doesn’t charge its users a fee to access ATMs anywhere in the world but goes a step further by fully reimbursing you (on the 10th of each month) if you’re charged a fee by an out-of-network ATM. If you’re traveling overseas, you’ll be charged a fee equal to 1.1% of the transaction using the Aspiration Mastercard debit card.

Simple vs. Chime Bank
 SimpleChime Bank

Overdraft fee

$0

$0

APY on Checking

Up to 2.02% APY

n/a

APY on Savings

n/a

0.01% APY

Chims is a fee-free, mobile-first banking option that features automated savings, but doesn’t come with the analytics and goal-setting features that Simple has.

With Chime, you can automatically save 10% of each paycheck in a savings account and, if you’re enrolled in direct deposit, you can get access to your paycheck up to two days earlier than the money would become available with most other standard checking accounts. Once enrolled in Chime’s automatic savings program, Chime will automatically round up each purchase made with your Chime Visa Debit Card to the nearest dollar and save the difference in your savings account.

If you ever need to split a bill, Chime does the math for you and lets you send a text to a friend with a link to pay you back using Venmo, or Chime’s in-app peer to peer payments feature (Pay Friends) if the friend is a Chime Member. Money sent between two Chime members is received instantly. Simple doesn’t do the math for you, but you can send money instantly to other Simple users using its built-in p2p system, Simple Instant.

Chime offers both a checking account and a designated savings account, unlike Simple, which offers a checking account and the option to save emergency funds in a “protected goals” account.

If your savings are in a Chime savings account, you won’t be granted more than a 0.01% yield on your funds. On the other hand, if you place your savings in Simple’s Protected Goals Account, you earn up to 2.02% APY on balances of $2,000 or more. Neither Chime nor Simple charge overdraft fees. While Simple doesn’t charge you for using out-of-network ATMs, Chime charges $2.50. You can find more than 38,000 in-network ATMs using the ATM map in the Chime app.

Simple vs. Beam
 SimpleBeam

Overdraft fee

$0

n/a

APY on Checking

Up to 2.02% APY

n/a

APY on Savings

n/a

2.00% APY; up to 4.00% APY

Beam is a fee-free, mobile-only high-interest deposit account. You can earn a much higher yield on your savings than you would with Simple. Beam accounts promise a minimum 2.00% APY compared with Simple’s 0.01% APY. Beam also gives its customers the opportunity to claim rewards that can earn them up to 4.00% APY on their funds daily. Beam calls its rewards “billies” and they can be earned by engaging with the app and doing things like referring a friend to Beam. The “billies” are awarded daily between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time. Neither service requires a minimum balance to earn interest on funds.

Beam doesn’t issue users a debit card or give users ATM access like Simple does. Beam is intended for use alongside a primary checking account as a supplementary bank account, while Simple is intended to be used as a primary checking account. If you want to use your money in a Beam account, you must first transfer it out to a primary checking account, which can take up to two days. Beam also doesn’t have any special saving or budgeting features and doesn’t show you spending analytics like Simple does.

As of this writing, Beam is not yet available for widespread use, but Simple is. Beam is still in a “private beta” stage, so it can only accommodate a limited number of customers. If you want to use Beam, you’ll have to sign up on the waiting list, which currently has more than 126,000 names.

Simple vs. Finn by Chase
 SimpleFinn by Chase

Overdraft fee

$0

$0

APY on Checking

Up to 2.02% APY

n/a

APY on Savings

n/a

0.01% APY; up to 0.04% APY

Finn by Chase is a free mobile-first banking option from Chase Bank. Finn by Chase offers checking and savings accounts, and you are required to have both types. For comparison, Simple only offers a checking account. Simple and Finn by Chase users earn the same 0.01% APY on balances below $10,000. For balances that are $10,000-$25,000, Finn users earn 3%, then 0.04% APY on higher amounts. Simple doesn’t offer increased interest on larger balances. Finn does not offer joint accounts, but Simple does.

Both banks issue users Visa debit cards for daily purchases and to use at the ATM. Finn charges $2.50 if you use an out-of-network ATM, while Simple doesn’t charge a fee at all. Finn says its users have access to more than 29,000 in-network ATMs while Simple advertises more than 38,000 in-network ATMs.

The banks both show users’ spending analytics and offer automatic saving features but differ in how their features work.

Finn lets users rate each transaction as a “want” or “need” and how it makes the user feel. Users can choose happy, sad or indifferent faces. Finn also provides users analytics via charts and graphs that summarize their spending habits.

Finally, Simple lets you send money instantly to other users using Simple Instant, but Finn by Chase lets you send money to anyone in the Zelle network, even if they are with a different bank, instantly for free. Both services let users send money with third-party platforms like Venmo, Google Wallet and PayPal.

The bottom line

The Simple bank account is a solid one-stop shop for hassle-free banking and budgeting. Simple, the company, doesn’t charge any fees, but BBVA Compass may charge fees. Make sure you to read the Simple Deposit Account Agreement. Fortunately, it won’t cost you to use their budgeting and analytics system if budgeting and saving is what you’re really after. Additionally, the 2.02% APY on balances of $2,000 or more is a huge perk if you can meet and maintain that balance requirement.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Brittney Laryea
Brittney Laryea |

Brittney Laryea is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brittney at [email protected]

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Earning Interest, Reviews

Discover Bank CD Rates Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Discover Bank
Most people know Discover as a credit card company, but it also operates an online bank and offers some of the best rates and terms on checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs).

Savings account bonus offer: Earn up to $200 on your first Discover savings account

As a bank, Discover offers some of the best products on the market. Currently, they’re offering a major deal on their online savings account, which currently earns 2.10% APY. If you apply for their savings account for the very first time by 06/03/19 and deposit a balance of at least $15,000 by 06/17/19, you can earn a $150 bonus. If you deposit a balance of at least $25,000 by the same date, you can earn a $200 bonus. Applying for the account is easy as you don’t need to go to a branch. The bonus will be credited to your account by 07/01/19. You can apply online or over the phone. Just be sure to enter or mention the promo code MM519 when you apply.

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If you’re looking for CDs in particular, Discover is currently considered to have some of the best CDs due to their customer service and digital tools.

Discover Bank CD rates

CD term

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

3 months

0.35%

6 months

0.65%

9 months

0.70%

12 months

2.65%

18 months

2.65%

24 months

2.70%

30 months

2.70%

3 years

2.75%

4 years

2.80%

5 years

3.00%

7 years

3.05%

10 years

3.10%

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How do Discover Bank CD rates compare?

While Discover Bank CD rates aren’t always the highest available, they are consistently among the top offers across all terms. However, you may be able to find a similar or even better rate with a CD that has a lower minimum deposit than Discover’s $2,500 requirement. Currently, several nationwide banks offered a 12-month CD at a rate higher than Discover’s 12-month CD APY, while requiring a lower minimum deposit. For example, at the same time the above rates were available at Discover, there were 12-month CDs with rates as high as 2.70% APY with a lower minimum balance amount to earn the APY.

It’s always great to go for the highest interest rates possible, but keep your CD investing strategy in mind. If you’re investing in CDs using the ladder strategy, it might be easier to keep everything in one bank since you’ll be switching in and out of CDs frequently.

Discover also stands out from its competition in the CD space with its mobile app and 24/7 U.S.-based customer service. If you value such features, keep those particulars in mind when weighing Discover CD rates against others’.

What you need to know about Discover Bank’s CDs

Discover Bank is very transparent in terms of fine print. It’s not difficult to understand what’ll happen with your money after you invest it. We’ll cover the basics here about what you need to know to invest in Discover Bank’s CDs.

How to open a CD

It’s very simple to open up a CD with Discover Bank. Go to their CD webpage and click on the orange “Open an Account” button near the top right of the page. You can then choose which accounts you’d like to open. Select “CD,” choose a CD term and enter how much you’d like to deposit.

You’ll then need to complete the application by providing your name, address, date of birth, phone number, Social Security number, employment status and possibly even your driver’s license. Once your application is complete and accepted, you’ll need to fund the account.

How to fund the CD

You’ll need to fund it within 45 days of submitting your application, which you can do in one of three ways:

  • Transfer funds from another bank account over the phone. (You can only do this when you first fund your account.)
  • Transfer funds from another bank via online transfer.
  • Write a check to yourself and send it to the following address:Discover Bank
    P.O. Box 30417
    Salt Lake City, UT 84130

The minimum deposit amount for each of Discover Bank’s CDs is $2,500. Once you open a CD, you can’t deposit more money later, so it’s a good idea to make sure you have all the cash you want to invest before you open the account.

Withdrawing funds from the CD

When you want to withdraw money from your CD, the biggest thing to consider is whether that CD has matured yet, or finished its term.

If your CD has not matured, you’ve got options: You can take the interest out penalty-free at any time, or you can withdraw the principal (or the money you deposited) at any time as long as you pay an early-withdrawal penalty. This penalty varies depending on the original term of your CD:

  • less than one year: three months’ worth of simple interest
  • one year to less than four years: six months’ worth of simple interest
  • four years: nine months’ worth of simple interest
  • five years to less than seven years: 18 months’ worth of simple interest
  • seven years or longer: 24 months’ worth of simple interest

If your CD has finished its term, you can withdraw your money penalty-free, allow the CD to renew or roll it into a CD of a different term length. (More on that in a bit).

Earning interest on a Discover CD

Your CD will start earning interest on the same business day that you fund the account. The interest will be added to your account once each month, however.

When it comes to what to do with your interest, you have two options: The default option is to allow it to compound within the CD (meaning you’ll earn interest on that interest), or you can have it automatically deposited each month into another Discover bank account.

What happens once the CD matures?

You’ll get a heads-up notice about a month before your CD matures so you can decide what to do with the money. You have two main options: Either reinvest it into another CD (of the same term length or a different term length), or withdraw the money from the CD and put it into another account (such as a checking or savings account, or perhaps a CD at a different institution).

If you don’t let Discover know what you want to do with the maturing CD, the CD will automatically renew into another one of the same term length. You have a nine-day grace period after your CD automatically rolls over to make any changes or withdrawals penalty-free.

The bottom line

As far as big-name banks go, Discover offers great CD products. Wells Fargo, for example, only offers interest rates as high as 1.55% APY on a $5,000 deposit for a 58-month CD. Chase Bank offers even lower maximum rates — an abysmal 1.05% APY, and only if you can commit a minimum of $100,000 for 10 years.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep your finances in one place, Discover also has great credit cards, as well as competitive online savings and checking accounts. No matter how long you’re considering putting money in a CD, Discover is worth a look. Even if it doesn’t have the best available rate, it’s usually within several basis points of the top offerings and well above the average APY.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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