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Congressional Bank Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Congressional Bank’s checking account options

Personal Checking

This checking account earns no interest and has a higher-than-average minimum balance requirement along with a monthly maintenance fee.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10, can be waived.
  • ATM fee: Only those imposed by the ATM operator.
  • ATM fee refund: First 7 ATM transactions every month will be credited back to your account.
  • Overdraft fee: $32 for the initial overdraft. Every day your account remains in the red, you will be charged an additional $5.

While it is nice that Congressional Bank credits ATM transaction fees back to your account for your first seven transactions per month, that’s about where the positives for this checking account end. You’re required to make an initial deposit that is high for an account of this caliber and, once deposited, none of your money earns interest. Then, you must keep the initial $500 minimum deposit in order to avoid the monthly maintenance fee. Overdraft fees are high and the charge for every day your account remains in the red is a fee you won’t find at all financial institutions.

How to get Congressional Bank’s Personal Checking Account

To open an account, call or visit your local branch in person.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Personal NOW Checking

An interest-earning checking account with three times the minimum balance requirement of the basic account.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10, can be waived.
  • ATM fee: Only those imposed by the ATM operator.
  • ATM fee refund: First 7 ATM transactions every month will be credited back to your account.
  • Overdraft fee: $32 for the initial overdraw. $5 per every day you continue to have a negative balance.

While Congressional Bank’s Personal NOW Checking account pays interest — something not offered on its standard personal checking option — it’s not worth giving up access to the $1,500 that you will need to keep account in order to avoid the monthly account maintenance fee. In fact, unless you keep that hefty amount of money in your checking account at all times, you’re more likely to incur fees than actually benefit from the interest you could earn. Contact the bank to obtain current rate information for this account.

How to get Congressional Bank’s Personal NOW Checking

To open an account, call or visit your local branch in person.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Congressional Bank’s checking accounts compare

Compared with the best accounts on the market, Congressional Bank’s checking account options come with high minimum balance requirements which are likely to force you to pay their monthly maintenance fees on occasion — or more often, depending on how much you regularly keep in checking. Interest is earned on one of the checking accounts, but you’ll have to call the bank to learn the current rates. Also, you will pay a high penalty should you ever overdraw. We’d recommend continuing your search for a checking account elsewhere.

Congressional Bank’s savings account options

Statement Savings

A standard savings account with a minimum balance requirement and the opportunity to earn interest.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $250
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $250
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5, can be waived.
  • ATM fee: Only those imposed by the ATM operator.
  • ATM fee refund: First 7 ATM transactions every month will be credited back to your account.
  • Overdraft fee: $32 for the initial overdraw. $5 per every day you continue to have a negative balance.

The fees on Congressional Bank’s savings accounts are definitely better than on its checking accounts, but that’s quite a low bar. The offered APY is not publicly available on the bank’s website, so you’ll have to call for the current rate. Some accounts elsewhere will let you know what the rate is upfront without mandating a minimum balance requirement. Once again, you will have to meet that minimum balance threshold in order to dodge the monthly account maintenance fee.

Because this is a savings account, it falls under Federal Reserve Regulation D, meaning you are allowed up to six certain debits per month from a savings account. If you do, Congressional will charge you a $5 fee per transaction. If you do this more than three times in a 12-month period, the financial institution will shut your account down, suggesting that you move your money into a checking account.

How to get Congressional Bank’s Statement Savings

To open an account, call or visit your local branch in person.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Congressional Bank’s savings account compares

Congressional Bank’s savings account is not one of the best around. Other options on the market tell you what its APY is upfront and have low or no minimum balance requirements. You can also find an account without those monthly maintenance fees, regardless of your account’s balance. Shop around for the best savings accounts, as you will not find them at Congressional Bank.

Congressional Bank’s CD rates

Certificates of Deposit

Certificates of deposit with a low barrier to entry — you’ll only need $1,000 to get started with these CDs.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Your penalty will be the interest that would have accrued over half your CD’s term length. For example, the early withdrawal penalty on a 12 month CD is 6 months’ worth of interest, on an 18 month CD the penalty would be 9 months’ worth of interest, etc.

Rates on Congressional Bank’s regular CDs are not advertised on its website, so you’ll have to call for current rates. However, if you have more money to stash away, you can look at its High Yield CD option (below) which offers promotional rates. When you look at the highest CD rates, most of them are going to be these promotional offers.

How to get Congressional Bank’s CDs

To open a CD, call or visit your local branch in person.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

High-Yield Certificates of Deposit

These certificates of deposit have a high APY, but you’re going to need a $25,000 minimum to get in on the action.

Term

APY

12 Months

0.95%

24 Months

1.05%

60 Months

1.20%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $25,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: If you withdraw money from your 12 month CD, you will be charged a penalty of 6 months’ worth of interest. 24 month CDs will incur a penalty of 12 months’ worth of interest, and 60 month CDs will incur a penalty of 30 months’ worth of interest.

Rates on Congressional Bank’s High-Yield Certificates of Deposit are much more competitive. In fact, they give some of the best CDs on the market a run for their money. However, to open one, you’re going to need at least $25,000, which is a bit steep compared with the competition.

How to get Congressional Bank’s High-Yield CDs

You can open a high-yield CD online from anywhere in the nation. In fact, it’s the only way to open this type of account with Congressional Bank.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Congressional Bank’s CD rates compare

Congressional Bank’s standard CDs are likely not worth your time. You’re trading the liquidity of your money to earn interest on what you deposit and the bank doesn’t even advertise these rates. There are other financial institutions out there that are transparent with its rates and have the same or sometimes even lower minimum deposit requirements.

However, the High Yield certificates of deposit have extremely competitive rates and are easily accessible to anyone across the nation thanks to the online application process. The minimum opening deposit is high, though; if you don’t have the mandatory $25,000, know that you can find similar CD rates with less money down.

Congressional Bank’s money market account options

Personal Money Market

A money market account with sky-high minimum opening deposit requirements.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

1.50%

$250,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $250,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10, can be waived.
  • ATM fee: Only those charged by the ATM operator.
  • ATM fee refund: First 7 ATM transactions every month will be credited back to your account.
  • Overdraft fee: $32 for the initial overdraft. Everyday your account continues to have a negative balance, you will be charged an additional $5.

If you have a large chunk of money that you’d like to earn interest on without putting your cash at risk through an investment, Congressional Bank’s Personal Money Market account may be for you. If you call the bank and discover that the interest rate may be worth earning, you may be discouraged by the fact that you need such a large amount to earn this high APY. This is likely going to be a major hurdle for most consumers. While you can open up a money market account with as little as $2,500, you need a minimum balance of $250,000 to earn the APY.

You may know that the federal government only insures deposit accounts up to $250,000 via FDIC insurance. When account balances go beyond this, Congressional Bank gives the account additional insurance. Certificates above $250,000 are insured through the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS), but money market accounts beyond the same threshold are insured through Insured Cash Sweep service (ICS). Both of these services spread your money out over multiple financial institutions so all of it is protected, but you won’t notice any difference as a consumer. Congressional Bank provides this behind-the-scenes service for free, and it’s a service many financial institutions don’t traditionally offer.

Money market accounts are also subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, so you are allowed up to six certain withdrawals or outbound transfers per month from this type of account. If you do, you will be hit with an excess activity fee of $20 from Congressional Bank each and every time you make an extraneous withdrawal.

How to get Congressional Bank’s Personal Money Market account

To open an account, call or visit your local branch in person.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Congressional Bank’s money market account compares

Congressional Bank’s money market accounts have a high barrier to entry. If you’re a high roller, this may not be a problem, and the additional insurance provided through the ICS process may make this account attractive despite the fact that it has some worthy competition.

However, know that if you aren’t sitting on a mountain of cash, you can still get a high APY money market account by shopping the competition. Some of them pay high rates without any minimum balance requirements.

Congressional Bank’s IRA account options

IRA CD rates

An extremely conservative investment option for your portfolio.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Your penalty will be the interest that would have accrued over half your CD’s term length. For example, the early withdrawal penalty on a 12 month CD is 6 months’ worth of interest, on an 18 month CD the penalty would be 9 months’ worth of interest, etc.

When you invest in an IRA, your goal is to make your money grow. To do this, you may invest in riskier options like stocks early on, moving to more conservative options like bonds as you near retirement age. IRA CDs are on the conservative side, but will allow you to earn a fixed interest rate. You’re money is guaranteed to grow, but at a slower pace than riskier investment vehicles.

It’s also important to remember that this is not a liquid investment. If you need your money back in an emergency, not only are you going to have to pay potential penalties and taxes to the IRS, but you’ll also have to pay penalties to Congressional Bank. If you’re looking for something more accessible, some IRA savings accounts pay higher interest rates while offering more liquidity. You’ll still potentially have to pay the IRS, but you’re less likely to incur penalty fees from the financial institution for withdrawals.

How to get Congressional Bank’s IRA CDs

To open an account, call or visit your local branch in person.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Congressional Bank’s IRA CD rates compare

While low rates on CDs are typical in the current economic environment, there are financial institutions out there that will surprise you with high rates on IRA CDs. The minimum deposits are just above or below Congressional Bank’s other deposit account options, making these IRA CD accounts a far better alternative than the offers shown above.

Overall review of Congressional Bank’s banking products

Overall, Congressional Bank is not your best option for personal banking. Many of its products are only available on a local level, but even if you live in the Bethesda, Md. area, you’ll be able to find better offerings by shopping the national market. High minimum balance requirements with accompanying monthly maintenance fees make most of these accounts obsolete for your average consumer.

However, if you have a ton of money in liquid savings, you may be attracted to the Personal Money Market account as it provides insurance above and beyond what you would traditionally get at your standard financial institution. You may also be attracted to Congressional Bank for its promotional CD rates, which are indeed competitive. You’ll once again have to have a large sum on hand to open this type of account, but if you do, these promotional CDs are not a bad place to stash your cash.

Ultimately, it depends on how much money you have and which banking products you’re in the market for. While most of Congressional Bank’s personal deposit accounts won’t be a good match for anyone, there are a couple that could be advantageous depending on your financial situation.

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.

Advertiser Disclosure

Auto Loan, Reviews

LightStream Auto Loan Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

Reviewed By

If you’re in the market for a quick, affordable and hassle-free way to finance your next car, a LightStream auto loan should definitely be on your radar. It’s particularly well-suited for deal-seekers with good credit who don’t mind working with an online company when it comes to financing their cars. If you’d rather work with a local company that can offer in-person support, however, you might want to skip this lender.

How LightStream auto loans work

LightStream offers a wide range of options for financing your next ride, including:

  • Purchase of a new or used car, either from a dealer or an individual
  • Auto loan refinance (except it does not refinance its own loans)
  • Auto lease buyouts
  • Loans for motorcycles, as well as boats and RVs
  • Classic car loans

Auto loans at a glance:

  • Starting APR range: 3.49%–9.49%
  • Fees: None
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Terms: 24–84 months
  • Credit requirements: Minimum 660 credit score
  • Mileage or vehicle restrictions: None

LightStream offers the same starting rate whether you’re buying a new or used car from a dealer, something you don’t see at other lenders. But keep in mind that the lowest rates go to those with the best credit who opt for the shortest loan terms possible and use autopay to make their car payments.

Satisfaction guarantee

If you see a lower rate elsewhere, LightStream will beat any verified offer with a rate that is .10 percentage points lower. It also promises a $100 guarantee within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied with your loan experience.

How to apply for a LightStream auto loan

The only way you can apply for a LightStream auto loan is through its online form. It is an online lender, after all, so you should be comfortable with handling your business details — including the loan application — online. You’ll need to:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of LightStream’s statement on the use of electronic records.
  2. Agree to receive electronic records.
  3. Agree to use electronic signatures to sign your loan documents.

You’ll also need to have a Visa or Mastercard credit card to apply, which LightStream uses during the verification process.

You will be asked to provide:

  • The purpose, term and amount of desired loan
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment information
  • Annual income
  • Total amount of assets and equity in your home

From there, LightStream may contact you for more details and documentation. If approved, you’ll need to sign your loan documents electronically and provide LightStream with your bank account details. The money will then be deposited into your bank account, which means you’ll need to pass it along to the seller, whether that’s a dealer or private seller. LightStream will not send the money to the seller directly.

It’s important to note that LightStream doesn’t offer any preapproval options, but if you apply and are approved for a loan, you are under no obligation to accept the loan.

How to qualify for the best rates

LightStream requires good credit at a minimum, but looks for excellent credit when giving the best rates. It defines excellent credit as:

  • Five or more years of significant credit history.
  • A credit history with a variety of account types such as major credit cards (for example, Visa, MasterCard, Amex), installment debt (vehicle loans) and mortgage debt if applicable.
  • An excellent payment history with no delinquencies or other problems repaying debt obligations.
  • A proven ability to save as shown by some or all of the following: liquid assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits, etc.), cash down payments on real estate, retirement savings and little, if any, revolving credit card debt.
  • Stable and sufficient income and assets to easily repay current debt obligations and any new loan with LightStream.

Pros and cons of LightStream auto loans

LightStream offers the convenience of an online lender with the backing of a brick-and-mortar bank as the online arm of Truist, the bank created by the merger of  SunTrust Bank and BB&T. But it’s important to weigh all of your options carefully when choosing an auto loan. It’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll make, after all.

Pros

  • Wide variety of loans: New, used, refinance and lease buyouts loans are available on a wide range of vehicles. Unlike other lenders, LightStream doesn’t place restrictions on your vehicle’s age, make, model or mileage.
  • Decent rates: We’ve seen lower starting rates at credit unions, but you’ll have to meet membership requirements. LightStream has no membership requirements and provides the same starting rates for new and used vehicles as well as refinance loans.
  • No down payment required: LightStream finances up to 100% of the car’s cost. Of course, it’s always best to put down as much as you can afford on an auto loan. This will help you save money over the life of your loan and avoid becoming underwater on that loan.
  • Quick funding: If you complete the application process and are approved by 2:30 p.m. EST, you could receive funds the same day.
  • Good reviews: LightStream auto loan reviews are generally positive.

Cons

  • Good credit required: To qualify for a LightStream auto loan you’ll need a credit score of at least 660 or better.
  • No preapproval process: Unlike many lenders, you’ll have to complete a full application in order to see your rates and terms. Still, the process is fast, and if you complete your rate shopping within a certain time period, multiple applications should not impact your credit any more than a single application.
  • No face-to-face service: If you’re the type of person who likes to seal the deal with a handshake after signing the documents, you’ll want to stick with some place local.

LightStream vs. Capital One

If you’d like a bit more of a guided approach to the car-buying process,  Capital One’s Auto Navigator loan options might be better for you. Rather than sending you cash directly that you can use on whatever car you want to buy, Capital One’s Auto Navigator service lets you first get prequalified for financing, and then shows you which dealers in your area may offer based on the type of car you want to buy and the financing you can afford.

If any of the offerings pique your interest, you can then finish the application and buy the car. It’s still a good idea to compare the offer with other new and used car loan rates.

LightStream vs. Carvana

Carvana works similarly to Capital One Auto Navigator in that you can prequalify for financing and browse real cars in your area that you may then be able to buy. It’s important to remember that Carvana only sells used cars and its financing is only available on Carvana cars. But it is possible to finance here with poor credit — Carvana requires borrowers to be 18 years old, have no active bankruptcies on their credit report and earn at least $4,000 per year.

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.

Advertiser Disclosure

Credit Cards, Reviews

CreditStacks Mastercard Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Written By

The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a unique opportunity for individuals with little or no U.S. credit history – such as recent college graduates or professionals relocating to the U.S. for employment – to be approved for a credit card.

That’s because instead of requiring a Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) as most traditional credit cards do, the CreditStacks Mastercard allows applicants to apply using a valid passport or U.S. government-issued ID, a U.S. visa or a permanent resident “green” card (if applicable), as well as proof of income. The CreditStacks Mastercard also allows you to apply up to 60 days prior to starting your new job in the U.S.

We break down the pros and cons of the CreditStacks Mastercard, and show how it compares to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, which is also designed to help individuals establish or rebuild credit.

CreditStacks Mastercard pros

No credit history required. With the CreditStacks Mastercard, you can apply without a Social Security number and with little or no U.S. credit history. Once you obtain your Social Security number, you must provide it within 60 days of account opening. At that point, CreditStacks will begin reporting your credit activity to the Equifax and TransUnion credit bureaus.

Note, if you have been living in the U.S. for more than one year, you will be required to provide a Social Security number when applying for the card. A credit check may also be performed.

Decent credit limit. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a credit line of up to $5,000 – which is a generous amount for an unsecured credit card that doesn’t require credit history.

Your credit limit will be determined by the proprietary underwriting procedures of CreditStacks, which will consider your current employment situation and additional factors, instead of your credit score.

No annual fee. The CreditStacks Mastercard comes with a $0 annual fee.

Additional CreditStacks Mastercard benefits:

  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection(™). Access free identity theft resolution services, as well as Mastercard ID Theft Alerts(™).
  • Extended warranty. Receive an extended warranty of up to one year past a manufacturer’s warranty of 12 months or less.
  • Purchase protection. If you are dissatisfied with a purchase, you may be eligible to receive a full refund for up to 60 days from the date of purchase.
  • Price protection. Get reimbursed for the difference if you find a lower price for an eligible new item within 60 days of purchase using your CreditStacks Mastercard.
  • Purchase assurance. Cardholders receive coverage if an item is lost, damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
  • Travel protections. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a MasterRental(R) collision damage waiver, lost or damaged luggage insurance, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance and trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. Plus, receive access to exclusive experiences and offers through Priceless Cities and special travel offers through Mastercard’s online booking tool.
  • Cellphone insurance. If you use your CreditStacks Mastercard to pay your monthly cellphone bill, you can receive coverage against theft or damage of up to $600 per claim and up to $1,000 per 12-month period.

CreditStacks Mastercard cons

No rewards program. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a sign-up bonus or rewards on the purchases you make using the credit card. That said, when trying to build or rebuild credit, it’s best to focus on paying your bill on time and in full (when possible) each month, rather than racking up rewards.

No intro APR on purchases. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a 0% intro APR on purchases – meaning, if you don’t pay your balance in full each month, you will be subject to interest charges at a rate of 15.49% Variable APR.

That said, the card’s ongoing APR for purchases is reasonable – considering that some cards designed for individuals with little or no credit come with APRs upwards of 26.99% (variable).

Compare it to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Similar to the CreditStacks Mastercard, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is designed for individuals with little or no credit. However, because it is a secured credit card, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, for an initial credit line of $200.

If you deposit more money before your account opens, you may be eligible for a higher credit line, up to $1,000. Additionally, you can be given access to a higher credit line after demonstrating responsible card usage by making your first five monthly payments on time.

While the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® does not require U.S. citizenship to apply, it does require a valid SSN or ITIN, as well as a residential address in the U.S. or a U.S. military location.

See how the cards compare side-by-side in the table below.

CreditStacks Mastercard vs. Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

 CreditStacks MastercardCapital One® Secured Mastercard®
Annual fee$0$0
Rewards rateN/AN/A
Credit lineUp to $5,000$200-$1,000
Deposit requiredNone$49, $99 or $200
Regular purchase APR15.49% Variable26.99% (Variable)

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® also comes with a number of benefits, including auto rental collision damage waiver, travel accident insurance, extended warranty and 24-hour travel assistance services. As a Capital One member, you will also have access to virtual card numbers and account alerts from Eno, as well as access to your credit score and fraud monitoring through CreditWise.

But if you plan to carry a balance on your card, you’ll be better off with the CreditStacks Mastercard, since the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® comes with a substantially higher APR of 26.99% (Variable).

Read our: Capital One Secured Mastercard review

Which credit card is best for me?

If you haven’t yet established credit in the U.S., the CreditStacks Mastercard could be a good fit. In addition to not requiring a Social Security number for approval, the card helps build your credit by reporting to two major credit bureaus.

But if you’re in the market for a secured credit card and already have a SSN or ITIN, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a good alternative. While the card offers a much lower credit line than the CreditStacks Mastercard, it does offer a variety of useful benefits that aren’t common for a secured credit card.

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.