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

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Updated on Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Essex Bank’s checking account options

Free Checking

This is a basic account that requires no monthly maintenance fees and three ATM refunds each month.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: 3 per month
  • Overdraft fee: $35

If you don’t care about anything else other than an account to help you pay bills and write checks, the Free Checking account is a decent choice as there are no monthly maintenance fees. You also get a free Visa check card, bill pay, e-statements, online and mobile banking. Right now, not all Essex ATMs accept deposits, but the bank is currently in the process of upgrading their machines.

Other features of the account include discounts on certain Essex Bank loans (subject to approval), free safe deposit boxes and notary services.

How to get the Free Checking account

Open a Free Checking account by heading to your nearest branch. Don’t forget to bring along your government-issued ID, Social Security number and a second form of ID like a pay stub. Also, bring your checkbook to fund your new account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Cash Back Checking

The minimum balance seems high considering the low APY.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.10%
$1,500
0.20%
$25,000
0.30%
$50,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $9.95 (this can be waived)
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: Up to 5 per month
  • Overdraft fee: $35

The Cash Back Checking account is best if you intend to use your debit card often, since you’ll get rewarded for your efforts. For each online or signature-based debit card transaction you make, you can earn up to 1% cash back, up to $10 each month. Aside from five ATM refunds a month, you also get free e-statements, bill pay, notary services, mobile banking, free cashiers checks and a 3×5 safe deposit box. Other perks include your first order of checks free and discounts on certain loans.

To waive the monthly maintenance fee, you’ll need to maintain a $1,500 minimum average daily balance or make a $500 minimum direct deposit each month.

How to get the Cash Back Checking account

You can apply for a Cash Back Checking account in person. Essex requires anyone opening an an account to provide their government-issued ID, a second form of ID like a utility bill and your Social Security number. You’ll also need a check or another approved method to find your new account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Essex Bank’s checking accounts compare

We’re not impressed with either of Essex Bank’s checkings accounts as they offer low (or no) interest. However, the 1% cash back offer for the Cash Back Checking account is a decent perk — if you can consistently maximize it to earn the $10 a month. We also like that both checking account options offer perks like discounts on loans, free safe deposit boxes and notary services.

If you’re only after the highest rate, then you’re better off with one of the alternatives we suggest on our list of the best online checking accounts.

Essex Bank’s savings account options.

Prosperity Savings

Even the highest tier offers a low rate when pitted against competitors.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%
$1,000
0.10%
$5,000
0.15%
$25,000
0.20%
$50,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $1,000
  • Quarterly account maintenance fee: $3 (this can be waived)
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

The Prosperity Savings account won’t exactly make you rich, considering the rates are a pittance compared with what you’d find elsewhere. What we do like is that you can request an ATM card, making it more convenient to access your money. However, you are limited to 18 withdrawals per quarter, or else you’ll be charged a $5 excess transaction fee. If you want to waive the quarterly maintenance fee, make sure you maintain a $100 minimum daily balance in your account.

How to get the Prosperity Savings account

Head to the nearest Essex Bank branch and bring along your Social Security number, two forms of ID, plus a way to fund the account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

E-Kids

Help your child save with this account that requires a low opening deposit and no monthly maintenance fees.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.25%
$5
  • Minimum opening deposit: $5
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $5
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

This account is for children under the age of 18, and an adult will need to be the joint account owner. Interest is posted quarterly to the account. Unlike the Prosperity Savings, you don’t get ATM access — you’ll need to access your money in person or through online transfers. Because of Regulation D, you’re limited up to six certain withdrawals each month. Essex Bank limits imposes a limit of 18 withdrawals per quarter and your transaction may be denied if you go over.

Once the minor turns 18, the account will be converted to a Prosperity Savings account.

How to get the E-Kids savings account

You and your child will need to head to the nearest branch to apply for an account. You’ll both need to provide our Social Security number and the adult will also need to provide a two pieces of ID.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Christmas Club

You can earn a higher rate than the Prosperity Savings account, but you can’t access the money as readily.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.25%
$5
  • Minimum opening deposit: $5
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $5
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

The Christmas Club account is meant to help you save up for the holiday season — but you can technically use this account for any short-term savings goal you wish. According to Essex Bank, there isn’t a specific time you need to open the account but you can’t take funds out until mid-October. If you do, your account will be closed, you’ll forfeit all interest earned and be subjected to a $5 early closure fee.

You can make deposits any time by check, automatic transfer from an Essex Bank account or direct deposit.

How to get the Christmas Club account

Bring two pieces of ID plus your Social Security number and head to the nearest branch to open an account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Essex Bank’s savings accounts compare

We’re disappointed in the rates Essex Bank’s savings accounts are offering. They’re extremely low compared with other accounts out there, like the ones on our list of the best online savings accounts. Many competitors offer no minimum balances and the ability to open an account online, making it extremely convenient for those who can’t physically get to a branch.

Essex Bank’s CD rates

Certificate of deposit

You can open an account with as little as $500, but these rates aren’t very competitive.
TermAPY
182 days2.02%
365 days1.55%
13 month special2.35%
19 month special 2.45%
36 months0.50%
60 months0.60%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $500
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 6 months’ interest

Instead of a Christmas Club account, a CD may be a better choice if you’re looking to earn a higher rate — though competitors are currently offering better rates. The rates you see above assume you’ll keep all interest — which is compounded and credited quarterly— in the account until maturity.

You have a 10-day grace period once the CD matures where you can make changes, or else the CD will automatically be renewed.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

No Penalty CD

You can make withdraw any amount without facing penalties with this CD.
TermAPY
365 days0.25%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $2,500
  • Early withdrawal penalty: None

The No Penalty is just that — a no-penalty CD. Essex Bank allows you to make withdrawals — with no limits on how much you can take out — on the principal without paying any fees but you’ll only earn interest if you keep the minimum balance. Like the regular CDs, interest is compounded and credited to your account each quarter. Upon maturity, your CD will automatically renew unless you make changes during the 10-day grace period.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Steady Saver and Flex CD

These CDs offer a lower minimum opening deposit and the ability make additional deposits.
TermAPY
365 days (Steady Saver)0.35%
14 months (Flex)0.37%
18 months (Flex)0.40%
24 months (Flex)0.45%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25 for (Steady Saver) and $500 for (Flex)
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $25 (Steady Saver) $500 (Flex)
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 6 months’ interest

These CDs are best for people who don’t have a lot of money to set aside, as they each have low opening deposit requirements. You can also make additional deposits after account opening. The difference is that you need to make a minimum deposit of $25 each time for the Flex CD and only $5 each time for the Steady Saver CD.

Interest is compounded and credited to your account quarterly. Your CD will also renew automatically at maturity unless you make changes during the 10-day grace period.

How to get Essex Bank’s CDs

You guessed it — head to an Essex Bank branch to apply for a CD. Remember to bring along two pieces of ID, your Social Security number and a way to find your account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Essex Bank’s CD rates compare

The low opening deposit requirements for both the Flex and Steady Saver CDs are affordable for people who don’t have a lot of money to set aside. We also like that you can make deposits at any time and in fairly small amounts. Some of the rates for Essex Bank’s CDs are on par with other competitors but the Flex and Steady Saver are half of those compared with ones on our list of the best CD accounts.

If you’re concerned about meeting a high minimum deposit, the Flex or Steady Saver CD may make sense but go elsewhere if you’re after the best rates.

Essex Bank’s money market account options

Prosperity Money Market

Account holders get free checks and ATM access with this account.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%
$0.01
0.10%
$5,000
0.15%
$25,000
0.20%
$50,000
0.25%
$250,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10 (can be waived if minimum balance of $500 is maintained)
  • ATM fee: No fee at U.S. ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $32

You get both ATM access and limited check-writing capabilities with the Prosperity Money Market account — but the rates aren’t exactly what we’d call competitive. To earn the highest rate, you need to meet an extremely high balance requirement, which is more than other competitors.

Features of the account include free checks, e-statements, an ATM or debit card, online and mobile banking. You can also waive the monthly fee if you maintain a $2,000 minimum daily balance. Because this is technically a savings account, Regulation D limits you up to six certain transactions each month, or else you’ll need to fork over $5 each time you make an excessive withdrawal.

How to get the Prosperity Money Market account

You need to go in person to open an account. Bring information such as your Social Security number and two pieces of ID to the branch, plus a way to fund your new account.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Maximum Money Market

You can earn an extremely competitive APY but the minimum balance requirements are steep.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.25%
$250,000
0.35%
$1,000,000
0.55%
$5,000,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $250,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10 (this can be waived)
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

We like the rates for the Maximum Money Market, but it comes with a cost — you need to meet their extremely high minimum balance requirements. Aside from the high rates, this money market account has the same features and terms as the Prosperity Money Market. You get limited checking-writing capabilities and ATM access. There are also free checks, e-statements and online and mobile banking. Waiving the monthly maintenance requires you to keep a $2,000 minimum daily balance.

Remember, you’re limited up to six certain withdrawals a month because of Regulation D. If you go over, you’ll be charged $5 for each excessive withdrawal.

How to get the Maximum Money Market account

You have to apply for the Maximum Money Market account in person. Essex Bank will ask you for your Social Security number and two pieces of ID so don’t forget to bring those when you apply.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Essex Bank’s money market accounts compare

The Maximum Money Market account offers rates on par with the best offerings out there but you need to have a huge amount of money to qualify for those rates — at least $5 million for the highest tier. We know that’s not attainable for most people. The Prosperity Money Market has a more reasonable minimum balance but the rate is low compared with other money market alternatives.

Even though you get ATM access and limited check-writing capabilities, neither of these accounts are worth it.

Essex Bank’s IRA account options

IRA CD

We’re not impressed with these rates.
TermAPY
182 days 0.20%
365 days0.35%
13 month special2.35%
19 month special2.45%
Flex IRA CD
TermAPY
14 months0.37%
18 months0.40%
24 months0.45%
36 months0.50%
60 months0.60%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $500
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 6 months’ interest

These retirement accounts are best for those looking for a guaranteed rate of return on their investment. Choose from a Roth or traditional IRA — talk to a professional to learn about your options. Interest is compounded and credited quarterly to your CD and the rates you see above assume you’ll leave the entire balance in your account until maturity.

The Flex IRA CD allows you to make additional deposits — in $25 increments — after account opening. However, IRS regulations limits you to a maximum amount you can deposit each year, so check their guidelines to ensure you’re compliant.

Once your CD matures your account will automatically renew unless you decide to make changes within the 10-day grace period. These changes include making additional deposits, renewing for another term or rolling your funds into another retirement account.

How to get Essex Bank’s IRA CDs

Go to the nearest branch to open an account. Remember to bring two pieces of ID, your Social Security number and your checkbook so you can fund your new IRA CD.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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How Essex Bank’s IRA CD rates compare

Essex Bank’s IRA CD rates are not what we’d consider the best out there. They’re much lower — some by at least one percentage point — than the competitors we’ve featured on our list of the best IRA CD accounts. If you want to deposit additional funds, the Flex IRA CD is a good choice. But if you want to maximize your retirement savings, check out alternative options.

Variable Liquid IRA

This is Essex Bank’s version of an IRA savings account.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.40%
$500
  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

You can open this account either as a traditional, SEP or Roth IRA — it depends on whether you want tax-deferred savings. Consider this account if you want to be able to withdraw funds whenever you want or you have retirement funds you’re saving to put into an IRA CD.

Regulation D limits you up to six certain withdrawals/transfers a month and your transaction may be denied if you try to go over that amount. You may also be subjected to tax penalties, so be careful before proceeding.

How to get the Variable Liquid account

Go to an Essex Bank branch to apply for a Variable Liquid account. You’ll need to bring two pieces of ID and Social Security number to do so.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Essex Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Overall review of Essex Bank’s banking products

Most of Essex Bank’s accounts fall flat when it comes to their rates.

The Maximum Money Market account does offer a competitive rate, but you need a substantial amount to qualify. The Cash Back Checking account offers a nice reward if you make purchases with your debit card, but the low rates aren’t worth it. Furthermore, the Flex and Super Saver CD are great options for those who want to make additional deposits but you have to sacrifice much higher APYs for the privilege.

All in all, we’re going to have to give these products a hard pass.