Advertiser Disclosure

Reviews

PenFed Credit Union CD Rates, Checking, Savings, Money Market, 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.

PenFed Money Market Certificates

High rates, great dividend payment, and renewal flexibility make this a great choice.

Term

APY

6 months

2.05%

12 months

2.10%

15 months

2.25%

18 months

2.25%

2 years

2.30%

3 years

2.35%

4 years

2.40%

5 years

2.45%

7 years

2.50%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • For a six-month CD, you’ll forfeit any dividends earned (if you withdraw the amount before 90 days), or a full 90 days’ worth of dividends (if you withdraw it after 90 days, but before the CD matures)
    • For a longer-term CD, you’ll forfeit all dividends earned (if you withdraw the amount within the first year), or 30% of what you would have earned if you kept the CD to maturity (if you withdraw the amount after one year, but before the CD matures)

One of the nice things about PenFed’s CDs is that they are very flexible in terms of how your dividends are paid out and what happens to the CD upon maturity.You can choose to have dividends reinvested into your CD or paid out each month by direct deposit into another PenFed Credit Union account, or mailed to you as a check. Of course, it’s always best to leave the dividends to pile up in your CD. If you choose to have dividends paid out, your APY may be lower than the stated rate.When you set up your CD, you’ll choose what happens at maturity. You can choose from three options: Renew the CD for the same term, deposit the funds into another PenFed account, or have a check mailed to you. There is no grace period for you to choose what happens after it matures as with most banks; rather, you choose upfront. However, you can change your mind at any time.The only down side of this CD is that you cannot make a partial withdrawal. If you need to withdraw the cash early, you can only remove the full amount. If you do need to withdraw the money, you can also only do so after giving written notice.

How to get a PenFed Money Market Certificate

To get a PenFed Money Market Certificate, you’ll need to be a member of the credit union. Joining is easy and only takes a few minutes. You may be eligible for membership based on your employer (such as the military) or by joining the Voices For America’s Troops or National Military Family Association for a one-time $17 fee.

As a part of the application process you’ll need to deposit at least $5 into a Share savings account. Once this is done, you can open up your CD with a minimum deposit of at least $1,000.

PenFed Credit Union will mail you a signature form to complete your account application, but you can still open new accounts online before completing this final check mark.

LEARN MORE Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

magnifying glass

How PenFed’s CDs compare

PenFed offers very competitive rates on their CDs. Each of their CDs carry a higher-than-average interest rate. These high rates, combined with flexibility on how you earn dividend payments and how the CD is renewed, make this a great choice for people looking for a well-rounded CD option from a credit union.

Still, if earning the top rates are your priority, there are currently higher CD rates out there with certain banks.

PenFed’s Coverdell Education Savings Certificates

Lower minimum deposit requirements make this account more accessible for parents.

Term

APY

1 year

2.00%

2 year

2.20%

3 year

2.25%

4 year

2.30%

5 year

2.35%

7 year

2.40%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $500
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • If you withdraw the CD before one year has passed, you’ll forfeit any dividends earned
    • If you withdraw the CD after one year has passed, you’ll pay a penalty equal to 30% of what you would have earned if you had kept the CD to maturity

PenFed’s Coverdell Education Savings Certificates are a great tool to save for college. These CDs have a lower (i.e., more accessible) minimum account opening requirement than their regular Money Market CDs—just $500. You can contribute up to the maximum yearly amount set by the IRS—currently $2,000 for 2018—to this Coverdell account.

When you set up your account you can choose what happens when the CD matures: either renew the CD for a similar term, or deposit it into a new Coverdell Education Share account. Unlike PenFed’s regular CDs, you do have the option to make a partial withdrawal during the term of the CD if needed, provided that it doesn’t drop the amount in your CD below $500 (if that happens, the entire CD will be closed and deposited into a Coverdell Education Share account). If you do make a partial withdrawal, that amount will also be subject to the early withdrawal penalties described above.

How to get PenFed’s Coverdell Education Savings Certificates

To get a PenFed Coverdell Education Savings Certificate, you’ll need to be a member of the credit union. Joining is easy and only takes a few minutes. You may be eligible for membership based on your employer (such as the military) or by joining the Voices For America’s Troops or National Military Family Association for a one-time $17 fee.

As a part of the application process you’ll need to deposit at least $5 into a Share savings account. Once this is done, you can open up your Coverdell account with a minimum deposit of at least $500.

Once your application is complete, or if you’re already a member, you can open any new financial product directly in your online account. PenFed Credit Union will mail you a signature form. However, you can still open new accounts before completing this final check mark.

LEARN MORE Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

PenFed checking account

Great interest rates, but make sure you can meet the requirements to waive the monthly fee.

APY

Account Balance

0.20%

Up to $19,999.99

0.50%

$20,000 - $50,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10
  • How to avoid the account maintenance fee: Keep a daily balance or monthly direct deposit of $500 or more
  • ATM fee: None for using either a PenFed ATM or a non-PenFed ATM; however, if using a non-PenFed ATM, the ATM’s owner may charge you a surcharge fee
  • Overdraft fee: $30

Unfortunately, this checking account does charge a monthly fee, but if you have a job with a direct deposit paycheck or at least a little bit of cash, it’s not a hard fee to skirt around.

What we really like about this account is that it charges zero ATM fees, except for any surcharge fees an out-of-network ATM owner would charge (but that’s out of PenFed’s control). If you’re looking for a high-interest-earning checking account and use the ATM a lot to get cash, this would be a great checking account for you.

How to get PenFed’s checking account

To get a PenFed Checking Account, you’ll need to be a member. Simply complete the application, deposit a Share savings account with at least $5 and join either the Voices For America’s Troops or National Military Family Association for a one-time $17 fee (if you don’t qualify based on your employment).

Once your application is complete, or if you’re already a member, you can open any new financial product directly in your online account. They will mail you a signature form, however you can still open new accounts before completing this final check mark.

LEARN MORE Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

magnifying glass

How PenFed’s checking account compares

We really love PenFed’s checking account for several reasons. It has a great interest rate, especially considering that many banks still don’t pay anything at all. PenFed Credit Union also does not charge any ATM fees with this account (although again, the other bank’s owner may charge you a surcharge fee), making this a cheaper option for folks who frequently use cash.

While this is a great checking account, it is possible to find better online checking accounts out there that offer higher interest rates, no monthly fees and ATM surcharge fee reimbursements.

PenFed Money Market Savings Account

PenFed offers very low rates for this account, even with a high balance amount—you can do much better elsewhere.

APY

Account Balance

0.05%

Up to $9,999.99

0.10%

$10,000 - $99,999.99

0.15%

Over $100,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: $1.50 for a withdrawal and $1.00 for a balance inquiry (including at in-network PenFed ATMs)
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $30
  • Excessive transaction fee: $10 if you exceed 6 certain transactions per month

PenFed’s money market account is designed to earn higher rates than their regular savings account, and that’s exactly what this account does — but only if you bring at least $10,000 of cash to the table to earn the second-tier or third-tier interest rates.

Although this account doesn’t have a monthly account maintenance fee, there are other fees to watch out for. You don’t typically use ATMs with a money market account as with a checking account, but if you do need to use an ATM, you’ll pay a $1.50 fee to make a withdrawal, even at an in-network PenFed ATM.

A better way to get your cash out of this account is with an account transfer (just don’t make over six in one month to avoid the excessive transaction fee), or with the free checks that they offer with this account.

How to get PenFed’s Money Market Savings Account

To get a PenFed Money Market savings account, you’ll need to be a member of the credit union. Joining is easy and only takes a few minutes. You may be eligible for membership based on your employer (such as the military) or by joining the Voices For America’s Troops or National Military Family Association for a one-time $17 fee.

As a part of the application process you’ll need to deposit at least $5 into a Share savings account. Once this is done, you can open up your Money Market savings account with a minimum deposit of at least $25.

They will mail you a signature form to complete your account application, however you can still open new accounts online before completing this final check mark.

LEARN MORE Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

magnifying glass

How PenFed’s money market account compares

As far as interest rates go, PenFed’s money market account is very low. In fact, you can earn even higher interest rates by keeping your money in PenFed’s checking account, which is strange.

Furthermore, we find it odd that they charge you to make an ATM withdrawal from this account — even from their own ATMs. At least they offer free checks, but that won’t help you much if you need cold, hard cash pronto.

If you’re looking for better rates and terms on a money market account, you can find better money market accounts elsewhere.

PenFed Savings Account

An overall lackluster savings account that offers a low rate and charges for ATM withdrawals.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.05%

$5

  • Minimum opening deposit: $5
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: $1.50 for a withdrawal and $1.00 for a balance inquiry (including at in-network PenFed ATMs)
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $30
  • Excessive transaction fee: $10 if you exceed six certain transactions per month

This is the basic account that you need to become a PenFed member and open any other account. It’s designed as a free savings account and does pay a small amount of interest, but don’t expect much more from it than that.

Furthermore, if you ever need to take out cash from this account, you’ll pay a $1.50 per ATM withdrawal, even if you use a PenFed ATM. And unlike with their money market checking account, you don’t get free checks with this account. That means the only way you can make a free transaction into or out of this account is either online or by visiting a branch in-person.

How to Get PenFed’s Savings Account

To get a PenFed savings account, you’ll need to be a member of the credit union. Joining is easy and only takes a few minutes. You may be eligible for membership based on your employer (such as the military) or by joining the Voices For America’s Troops or National Military Family Association for a one-time $17 fee.

As a part of the application process you’ll need to deposit at least $5 into a Share savings account. Once this is done, you can open up your savings account with a minimum deposit of at least $5.

The credit union will mail you a signature form to complete your account application, however you can still open new accounts online before completing this final check mark.

LEARN MORE Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

magnifying glass

How PenFed’s Savings Account compares

We’ll be honest here. The interest rate on PenFed’s savings account is awfully low compared with its competitors. You likely won’t earn much with this account, especially compared with other online high-interest savings accounts.

Furthermore, we don’t like the fact that you need to pay to use an ATM with this account, even for in-network PenFed ATMs. Most banks at least let you use their own in-network ATMs for free, so the fact that you need to pay to do so with this account seems silly.

However, even though all members are required to open this account when establishing their membership with PenFed, it doesn’t mean you have to use it. It’s perfectly fine to let it sit idle with the $5 minimum deposit since there are no monthly account maintenance fees. We instead view this account as a pesky requirement for working with the credit union if you’d like to use one of their other financial products.

PenFed IRA CD accounts

No fees on partial withdrawals for those ages 59 ½ and over make this a great account choice for mature consumers.

Term

APY

1 year

2.00%

2 years

2.20%

3 years

2.25%

4 years

2.30%

5 years

2.35%

7 years

2.40%

  • Minimum amount to open an account: $1,000
  • Minimum amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • If you withdraw the money in the first year, you’ll forfeit all dividends earned
    • If you withdraw the money after one year but before the CD matures, you’ll pay 30% of what you would have earned if you kept the CD to maturity

At first glance, PenFed’s IRA CDs look pretty run-of-the-mill. The minimum opening deposit is fairly high, especially if you’re a young saver just looking to start out. In fact, IRA CDs are fairly conservative investments anyway, and the people who can get the most benefits from them are mature folks nearing — or already at — retirement.

But what makes these IRA CDs really stand out as better options for more mature savers is that you can make partial early withdrawals from your CD completely penalty-free, assuming that you’re 59 ½ and over. If you need to take out the cash in retirement early, rest assured it won’t cost you anything to withdraw, as long as you leave at least $1,000 in the CD for it to stay open.

How to get a PenFed IRA CD

To get a PenFed IRA CD, you’ll need to be a member of the credit union. Joining is easy and only takes a few minutes. You may be eligible for membership based on your employer (such as the military) or by joining the Voices For America’s Troops or National Military Family Association for a one-time $17 fee.

As a part of the application process you’ll need to deposit at least $5 into a Share savings account. Once this is done, you can open up your IRA CD with a minimum deposit of at least $1,000.

They will mail you a signature form to complete your account application, however you can still open new accounts online before completing this final check mark.

LEARN MORE Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

magnifying glass

How PenFed’s IRA CDs compare

While PenFed doesn’t exactly offer the highest interest rates on their IRA CDs, they’re pretty darn close. If you’re looking to get as high in returns as possible it’s tough to go wrong with them, but you may be able to earn more with other IRA CDs.

The thing that stands out the most with PenFed’s IRA CDs is that people who are over age 59 ½ can make partial withdrawals from these CDs without paying any early withdrawal penalties (assuming they keep at least a $1,000 balance in the CD to keep it open). This is a really unique feature, and it’s why we would recommend PenFed’s IRA CDs to older adults looking to keep their options flexible.

PenFed IRA Savings account

Low interest rates make this an OK place to store your retirement funds, but not to grow them.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.05%

$25

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None

Remember how everyone is required to open up a PenFed savings account and fund it with at least $5 if they want to become a member? This account is the IRA version of that. Specifically, if you want to open up an IRA product — such as one of PenFed’s IRA CDs — you’ll need to open up one of these accounts as well.

This will be the default account that your IRA CD money is deposited into if you elect not to have the IRA CD auto-renew when it matures. It’s a great place to store your money in the short term until you withdraw it for retirement or move it to another IRA investment, however, it’s not a great place to grow your money due to the lackluster interest rate.

How to get PenFed’s IRA Savings account

To get a PenFed IRA savings account, you’ll need to be a member of the credit union. Joining is easy and only takes a few minutes. You may be eligible for membership based on your employer (such as the military) or by joining the Voices For America’s Troops or National Military Family Association for a one-time $17 fee.

As a part of the application process you’ll need to deposit at least $5 into a Share savings account. Once this is done, you can open up your IRA savings account with a minimum deposit of at least $25.

They will mail you a signature form to complete your account application, however you can still open new accounts online before completing this final check mark.

LEARN MORE Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

PenFed IRA Premier Account

The exact same account as PenFed’s regular IRA Savings account, just with a higher minimum balance requirement.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.05%

$10,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $10,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None

If you have at least $10,000 to keep in your retirement savings account, you can choose to open PenFed’s Premier IRA Savings account. There is no real benefit of using this account over PenFed’s regular IRA Savings account, because the exact interest rates are currently being offered for both accounts.

Typically, the more money you bring to the table, the higher the interest rate you can earn (as with PenFed’s Money Market Savings account), however that is not the case with this account. That could change in the future, however, if the credit union does decide to increase their interest rates for this account. But right now, we can’t really see any reason why you’d specifically choose this account over their regular IRA Savings account.

How to get PenFed’s IRA Premier account

To get a PenFed IRA Premier account, you’ll need to be a member of the credit union. Joining is easy and only takes a few minutes. You may be eligible for membership based on your employer (such as the military) or by joining the Voices For America’s Troops or National Military Family Association for a one-time $17 fee.

As a part of the application process you’ll need to deposit at least $5 into a Share savings account. Once this is done, you can open up your IRA Premier account with a minimum deposit of at least $10,000.

The credit union will mail you a signature form to complete your account application, however you can still open new accounts online before completing this final check mark.

LEARN MORE Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Overall review of PenFed’s banking products

When it comes to bank accounts, PenFed really shines in some areas and offers somewhat lackluster products in others. Specifically, we really like the high rates offered on their checking accounts and CD products, which are currently running near the top of the pack. The added advantage for people who are over age 59 ½ to withdraw money from the IRA CDs without paying a penalty as long as they keep at least $1,000 in the CD is also a great option.

However, other products — such as their savings and money market accounts — fall a bit short. We find it odd that they charge ATM fees for some of their accounts, even if you use a bona fide PenFed network ATM. Furthermore, each of PenFed’s savings accounts offers such low rates that we can’t really recommend them as a place to grow your money.

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

TAGS:

Advertiser Disclosure

Reviews

Review of Edward Jones CD Rates

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.

What are brokered CDs?

Edward Jones offers brokered CDs, which are a bit different from the standard bank-issued CDs that most investors are familiar with. Bank-issued CDs, as the name implies, are issued by individual banks for their customers. Since Edward Jones is a broker and not a bank, it cannot issue its own CDs. Instead, the firm offers a range of CDs issued by other banks and thrifts but sold via Edward Jones.

For the casual investor, it can be hard at first glance to tell the difference between bank-issued and brokered CDs. However, there are some important distinctions:

  • No early withdrawal penalties: Brokered CDs don’t have early withdrawal penalties. If you need to get out of your CD, you can usually sell it back to another investor through a brokerage firm. This means that brokered CDs carry some additional risk, as the price of these CDs may fluctuate on the open market.
  • Higher APYs: You can often get higher yields on a brokered CD than with a bank-issued CD. Brokers are able to negotiate higher CD rates since they can guarantee a large pool of buyers to CD issuers. In the era of online banking, however, even brokered CDs do not always garner the absolute highest rates.
  • Longer-term options: Brokered CDs often have longer-term options than are available with traditional bank-issued CDs, which are generally short-term investments only.

CD rates from Edward Jones

Edward Jones offers a fairly comprehensive range of CD maturities, ranging from three months to 10 years, although the firm doesn’t offer 6-year CDs, 8-year CDs or 9-year CDs. Rates and availability change frequently, oftentimes daily. The longer-duration CDs offered by the firm aren’t traditionally available at banks.
Edward Jones CD Rates
TermMinimum deposit to earn APYAPY
3 months$1,0001.95%
6 months$1,0002.00%
9 months$1,0002.00%
1 year$1,0001.95%
18 months$1,0001.90%
2 years$1,0002.05%
3 years$1,0002.15%
5 years$1,0002.20%
7 years$1,0002.45%
10 years$1,0002.60%

For all maturities, Edward Jones requires a $1,000 opening deposit, which is the same minimum required to earn the stated APY. As these are brokered CDs, there is no early withdrawal penalty. However, investors are subject to current market prices if they need to get out of a CD prematurely. If interest rates have risen since the date of purchase, you’re likely to get less money back than you originally invested in the CD.

One important difference between Edward Jones CDs and standard bank-issued CDs is that interest does not compound with Edward Jones CDs. All interest is paid directly into a money market or insured bank deposit at Edward Jones, unless you request it to be distributed. Either way, you can’t reinvest your distributions into your existing CD.

Unlike some banks, Edward Jones doesn’t offer any type of hybrid or alternative CD, such as a step-up CD or an adjustable-rate CD. There are also no bonus APR CDs available at the current time, just standard rates. Edward Jones also does not offer special rates for jumbo CDs, which traditionally require a $100,000 deposit. However, you can use the firm’s wide range of CD maturities for certain CD strategies, such as building a CD ladder. You can also buy their brokered CDs in an IRA.

Unlike bank-issued CDs, the brokered CDs offered by Edwards Jones do not automatically roll over into new CDs. At maturity, the banks that issued the CDs pay the proceeds to Edward Jones, which then forwards the money to your account. At that point, you can either select a new brokered CD to purchase, or keep the funds in your Edward Jones money market or insured bank deposit account.

How to get CDs from Edward Jones

You’ll need to open a brokerage account at Edward Jones to buy any CDs. The account minimum to open is $0, but as Edward Jones is a full-service brokerage, you’ll need to go into a branch and visit a financial advisor to open an account. There is no facility to open an account online.

You can open your Edward Jones account as rapidly as you can fill out the paperwork and fund the account. As soon as your deposit clears, you are free to buy a CD through your Edward Jones broker. If you change your mind, you can generally withdraw your funds within 4-6 business days after deposit, although this hold period may extend to 11 business days for new clients. Once you buy a CD, you can sell it at any time on the open market. As noted above, the amount you receive may be less than the amount you originally paid.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Edward Jones’s secure website

Member FDIC

magnifying glass

How do CD rates from Edward Jones compare?

Edward Jones CD rates are well above the national average, but they still fall considerably short when compared with the best available rates nationwide.

Unlike with many firms, Edward Jones doesn’t currently have any special-rate CDs, where certain maturities pay dramatically higher rates. Instead, rates at Edward Jones land along a traditional curve, gradually increasing in yield as maturities lengthen.

For example, as of July 3, 2019, the Edward Jones 2-year CD rate of 2.05% is far below the best available 2-year CD rates. Three-year CD rates top out nationally at 3.00%, but Edward Jones pays 2.15%. The pattern continues throughout the maturity curve, with the top 5-year CD rates nationally hitting 3.00% or more, while the 5-year at Edward Jones pays 2.20%.

As such, all rates at Edward Jones fall in the general area of being well-above national averages but still notably short of the best available rates.

Overall review of CDs from Edward Jones

You won’t be wasting your time investing in CDs from Edward Jones, as you’ll be earning rates far above the national averages. You’ll also benefit from the ability to construct a CD or overall investment strategy with the assistance of a full-service advisor. However, if you’re looking for the absolute best CD rates for your money, there are plenty of online banks that can pay you a higher rate.

CD investors who like a wide range of products may be disappointed at Edward Jones, as popular options such as step-up or no-penalty CDs are not currently available. However, Edward Jones CDs do benefit from offering brokered CDs. This provides a range of flexibility that standard bank-issued CDs cannot offer, as you can liquidate your CD position at any time without paying an early withdrawal penalty.

The bottom line is that yield-hungry investors that enjoy managing their own portfolios may be better suited at any number of online competitors. Those looking to incorporate decent-yielding CDs into their overall investment portfolio with the help of a full-service broker might prefer working with Edward Jones.

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.

John Csiszar
John Csiszar |

John Csiszar is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email John here

TAGS:

Advertiser Disclosure

Reviews

Wealthfront Cash Account 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.

Fintech startups are challenging incumbents in every corner of the financial services industry. Robo-advisor Wealthfront is part of this trend, one of many new investing apps that also offer cash management accounts with high APYs and a mix of features offered by traditional bank accounts.

Cash management accounts combine features like easy access to your money and a decent interest rate, typically found separately in checking accounts and savings accounts, respectively.  Wealthfront admits that its Cash Account won’t replace your checking account, instead touting it as a place to stash your emergency savings or achieve other savings goals and enjoy a high 2.57% APY, all with the FDIC protections of a traditional bank account.

Wealthfront Cash Account Pros

Wealthfront Cash Account Cons

  • Offers a high APY compared to other online savings accounts
  • Charges zero fees, $1 minimum balance requirement
  • Deposits are covered by FDIC insurance up to $1 million
  • Ability transfer funds from Cash Account into Wealthfront's taxable investment account.
  • Takes 1-3 business days to access your funds
  • You cannot make payments from the account

Let’s take a closer look at how Wealthfront’s Cash Account compares to both traditional bank savings accounts, and similar cash management offerings from other fintech startups, so you can determine whether it’s right for your savings.

Wealthfront Cash Account vs. online savings accounts

Wealthfront markets its Cash Account as a place to deposit savings you plan on spending in the next five years, or as a good place for an emergency fund. For longer-term returns on your money, Wealthfront advocates investing in the stock market using its core robo-advisor functionality. As an additional incentive to do so, Wealthfront allows you to transfer money from your Cash Account into one of the company’s taxable investment accounts. However, there is nothing in Wealthfront‘s terms of service that would discourage you from treating this account like any other online savings account.

Here’s how Wealthfront’s Cash Account stacks up against the highest-earning online savings accounts from our best online savings accounts review:

Financial InstitutionAPYMinimum balance
Wealthfront

2.57%

$1 minimum, no monthly fee
Vio Bank

2.52%

$100 minimum, no monthly fee
Customers Bank

2.50%

$25,000 minimum, no monthly fee
Barclays

2.10%

None
Marcus by Goldman Sachs

2.15%

$1 minimum, no monthly fee
Ally

2.10%

None

Judged by APY alone, Wealthfront‘s Cash Account emerges as one of the strongest contenders out there, surpassed only by Vio Bank’s online savings account. Like many online savings accounts, there’s a limit to the liquidity of the money placed in Wealthfront‘s Cash Account.

However, there is no option to withdraw funds or make payments from the account via check or ATM card. Your only way to get money into and out of the account is via ACH transfers to and from a separate checking account that’s held in your name. Transfers take one to three business days, and Wealthfront permits an unlimited number of transfers into and out of your Cash Account (with a daily limit of $250,000).

Wealthfront is not a bank, so it has deals with a network of regional banks that are FDIC insured. After you deposit your money in a Cash Account, your funds are swept into multiple accounts with Wealthfront’s bank partners, giving you FDIC insurance coverage up to $1 million (or $2 million if you have a joint Cash Account). This a big advantage that makes the Cash Account an attractive choice for anyone who wants FDIC coverage beyond the $250,000 limit available with a single online savings account.

Wealthfront Cash Account vs. robo-advisor cash management accounts

Many other robo-advisor firms offer cash management accounts. These accounts take varying forms: Some resemble a personal savings account, others have both savings and checking account features, while some are a type of investment account. Below we compare the Wealthfront Cash Account with cash management offerings from robo-advisors Betterment and SoFi.

Account nameFunctionFeesYield
Wealthfront Cash Account

FDIC-insured savings account

None

2.57% APY

Betterment Smart Saver

Low-risk bond investments

0.25% annual fee

2.14% APY

SoFi Money

FDIC-insured checking/savings hybrid account

None

An average of 2.25% APY

Wealthfront Cash Account vs. Betterment Smart Saver

Betterment‘s Smart Saver account is a low-risk investment account, not a deposit account, so it plays by a different set of rules than Wealthfront‘s Cash Account. For one, as an investment it does not have FDIC coverage. Betterment‘s website claims you could earn returns of 2.14% (which factors in the standard 0.25% Betterment charges for its services) — notice the word “could.” Money placed in the Smart Saver account is invested in a mix of treasuries and corporate bonds—fairly safe investment vehicles—but it still can’t guarantee the 2.14% return in the same way a deposit account can guarantee an APY.

The Smart Saver account does have some bells and whistles that may make it an appealing choice for your savings. These include:

  • Smart Sweep: This feature aims to maximize your investing returns by only maintaining as much cash in your linked checking account as you need for day-to-day spending. It works like this: After giving  access to your checking account, the app analyses how you spend money. Then it sweeps money above and beyond what you need to pay 35 days of expenses — up to $5,000 per sweep — into the Smart Saver investment account. Likewise, if the app thinks you’ll need more money to cover your expenses, it will sweep money from the Smart Saver investment account into your checking account. You can read more details here.
  • Tax relief: While you can’t avoid paying taxes entirely, the fact that 80% of the money placed in the Smart Saver investment account will be invested in U.S. Treasury bonds means that some of the earnings from the Smart Saver account won’t be subject to state and local taxes. You can read more details here.

Like Wealthfront’s account, there is an inconvenient waiting period to withdraw money from the account — four to five business days, which is longer than Wealthfront‘s one to three business days. This longer period accounts for the fact that your money is invested in bonds, making it less liquid than funds placed with Wealthfront in FDIC-insured deposit accounts.

Wealthfront Cash Account vs. SoFi Money

SoFi Money is a checking and savings hybrid account, meaning you earn both a high yield — 2.25% APY vs. Wealthfront‘s 2.57% APY — and enjoy instant access to your money with a debit card and paper checks.

Similarly to Wealthfront, SoFi Money spreads any funds you deposit across multiple FDIC-insured bank accounts — six in this case — providing up to $1.5 million in FDIC insurance vs. Wealthfront‘s $1 million.

SoFi Money may lag behind Wealthfront in terms of APY, but it makes up for this by providing the utility of both a savings and checking account. You can use your debit card to make purchases and withdraw money from ATMs (there is a daily limit of $610) just like you would with any other checking account. You can read more details on SoFi Money in our review.

Who should get a Wealthfront Cash Account?

If you’re looking for an FDIC insured account that provides one of the highest APY’s available, than the Wealthfront Cash Account may be right for you. However, you won’t have easy access to your funds like you would with a hybrid checking/savings account, such as SoFi Money. However the simplicity of the account, and the promise of additional features in the future such as a debit card and ATM withdrawals, could make it a compelling option for your savings.

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.

James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here

TAGS: