Advertiser Disclosure

Reviews

SmartyPig Savings Account 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

The SmartyPig Savings Account: At a glance

A SmartyPig account is a good way for new savers to get into the habit of saving little by little to meet timely goals

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

1.30%

$0.01-$2,500

1.30%

$2,500.01-$10,000

1.20%

$10,000.01-$50,000

1.20%

$50,000.01 - $250,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

This account is your standard high-yield savings account tied to personal goal planning. As of this writing, the online-only savings account promises account holders a variable 1.30% APY on all balances (although its website claims to offer tiered interest rates.) To put that into perspective, the FDIC reports the average savings account earns only 0.08% APY.

This account is free to open and charges no fees. Each account is FDIC insured up to $250,000 via Sallie Mae Bank. SmartyPig limits account balances to $250,000.

This savings account allows account holders to set automatic biweekly or monthly deposits to a primary savings account by either setting up direct deposit to the account or linking an existing checking or savings account elsewhere. You can only connect one account to fund your SmartyPig primary account. You can then set automatic transfers from your primary savings account to fund specific savings goal accounts with target dates, for a little extra motivation.

The company’s policy is to delay the availability of deposits made by bank transfer for five business days, during which you may not withdraw funds from the account and the funds can’t be used to make any payments.

When you reach your savings goal, the service automatically stops allocating contributions to the goal account — even if that’s prior to your predetermined target date — and you can transfer the funds out whenever you’re ready to use them.

Like most savings accounts, you are limited to making only six withdrawals per statement cycle from this savings account under Federal Reserve Regulation D. The company says it will not process any attempts to make excessive withdrawals. On the bright side, the limit applies to your primary account and each goal account individually.

What stands out about the SmartyPig account?

Goal planning

The account’s standout feature is its goal planning system. The feature can be helpful to someone new to saving or struggling to stick to their goal to sock away some money. The system allows you to set a deadline for their savings goals and make automatic recurring contributions to your primary account so you don’t have to think about saving.

Each savings goal must be a minimum of $50. You can set a target date for each goal, but no pressure — you won’t be penalized if you don’t reach your target date in time. You can always cancel the goal and the funds will be returned to your primary savings account, or you can reset the target date.

Automatic saving

Automation can make saving a painless and less-stressful practice. You can set biweekly or monthly direct deposits or transfers from a linked deposit account to fund your primary savings account. You’ll be able to schedule automatic transfers from your primary account to your goal accounts, too. If you choose to set a monthly or biweekly recurring goal contribution, it must be for at least $10.

Solid interest rate

This savings account rewards savers with a minimum 1.30% APY on account balances as low as a penny. That’s almost 20 times higher than the current national average interest on simple savings accounts. Interest is compounded daily and credited monthly.

Amazon connection

You can also use funds held in the account to order Amazon.com gift cards once your account has been open for at least 60 calendar days. The feature is useful if you want to make a purchase on Amazon but don’t want to wait up to three days for a transfer to an external funding source to post. Amazon gift cards can only be used on Amazon.com purchases and SmartyPig does not offer refunds or exchanges on unused gift cards.

Where the SmartyPig account falls short

We see four key shortcomings in the account.

Account holders can only link one checking or savings account as the external funding source for their SmartyPig primary account. The limitation can be a downside for anyone who uses more than one deposit account to manage their finances or wants to set recurring deposits from more than one account.

Another shortcoming is the $50 minimum that is required for the goal accounts. It can be a bit steep for some simple, short-term savings goals like birthday or holiday gifts.

SmartyPig is an online-only service, so you won’t be able to visit a physical branch to make changes to or address any concerns with your account in person.

Finally, account holders are not issued a debit card or granted ATM access to their funds. If you need to use your money, you’ll have to initiate a transfer from your savings goal account or SmartyPig primary account to your linked checking or savings account, which may take up to three business days to post.

How to open a SmartyPig account

You can open an account online where you will be directed to the online application form.

To open an account, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Have an existing checking or savings account; and,
  • He a U.S. citizen, permanent resident with a green card and Social Security number, or a U.S. resident with a Social Security number.

When you link a checking or savings account to your SmartyPig account as an external funding source, you must verify you own the account before you’ll be permitted to transfer any money from your SmartyPig account to the external account.

To verify the source, you’ll confirm the amounts of two deposits of less than $1 that the company will make to the external account. If you don’t verify your external account within 14 calendar days, the funding source will expire and you’ll need to start all over. There is no minimum deposit amount required at account opening.

SEE DETAILS 

Member FDIC

How the SmartyPig savings account compares

magnifying glass

SmartyPig offers an APY slightly lower than the best offerings currently available, but— if you’re new to saving — its goal planning feature may be worth missing out earning a few basis points more from a competitor. Check out our ranking of the best savings accounts currently available if you’re looking to earn the highest rate possible on a simple savings account. Additionally, a simple savings accounts is the only account offered. The company does not offer checking, money market or certificate of deposit accounts.

Overall review of SmartyPig savings account

The SmartyPig account is a solid simple, high-interest savings account and it’s goal planning system makes it a good option for anyone who is needs a little help trying to establish a savings habit. That said, if you’re already used to saving your money there are competitors worth considering as an alternative to the SmartyPig account that currently offer higher rates and may offer easier access to your cash when you need it.

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

Reviews

BrioDirect High-Yield Savings and CDs 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

BrioDirect is an online brand of Sterling National Bank, a brick-and-mortar bank based out of New York. By being online-only, BrioDirect is able to reduce its costs and potentially offer better deals for its customers. BrioDirect does not offer all the Sterling bank account types though, and only has two products: a high-yield savings account and CDs. Both accounts pay out respectable interest rates — especially compared with the returns at large national banks.

Our BrioDirect bank review covers the product details, along with the pros and cons, so you can decide if BrioDirect is the right place for your money.

BrioDirect High-Yield Savings account

APY

Minimum opening deposit

Monthly fee

1.25%$25None

Between a competitive interest rate, a low opening deposit requirement and minimal fees, the BrioDirect savings account is an excellent choice. However, it’s not the most accessible account, as it doesn’t come with a debit card and you can only take out money through bank transfers.

Rates

The Brio Direct savings account pays an excellent interest rate, competitive with the best online savings accounts on the market today. This high rate applies to all balances, large and small. You won’t earn more by depositing more but the upside is that even small accounts can earn a high rate. The only requirement is that you need to keep a balance of at least $25 in your account to earn interest.

Fees and minimums

The minimum opening deposit requirement for a Brio Direct high yield savings account is just $25. This account does not charge a monthly maintenance fee. If your balance falls below $25, you stop earning interest but there is no charge.

If you overdraft the account, BrioDirect charges $35 per overdraft/insufficient funds transaction. Since this is a savings account, you are limited to six withdrawals per statement cycle under the rules of Federal Regulation D. If you make more than six transactions, you will be charged $10 per excess transaction.

Transfers and limits

To deposit money into a BrioDirect Savings account, you can set up an ACH transfer from another bank account, send a check or make a wire transfer. Once your account is open, you can withdraw funds to another bank account by using the Sterling National Bank online banking portal or by calling the bank’s customer service hotline.

Since this is a savings account, you will face a $10 charge per excess transaction beyond the six withdrawals allowed per statement cycle mentioned above.

FDIC insurance

Considering BrioDirect is part of Sterling National Bank, you may be wondering whether Sterling Bank is FDIC-insured and if that applies to BrioDirect. The answer is yes, accounts at both organizations are insured by the FDIC to protect your deposits.

One point to keep in mind is that the FDIC maximum insurance limit applies to your combined account balances from both organizations. Now, since the FDIC limit is $250,000 per individual at an institution, this won’t be a problem unless you plan on having a six-figure balance. But if you do, make sure that your account balance combined at both organizations does not go over the FDIC limit.

Account accessibility

BrioDirect’s saving account offers online access through its website and mobile app. With these tools, you can check your balance and transfer funds to other accounts, like to a Sterling Bank savings account. However, Brio Direct Bank does not offer a debit card for ATM access. If you want to make a cash withdrawal, you’ll need to transfer money to another account first.

You also cannot service your account in person at a Sterling National Bank branch. For help, you need to either handle things online or by calling the customer service line.

BrioDirect High-Yield CDs

BrioDirect has a solid variety of short- and long-term CDs. The Brio CD rates are mostly competitive, especially compared with those at national banks, but they don’t quite match the very best online offers.

Rates and terms

Term

APY

30 day0.05%
3 month1.00%
5 month1.15%
9 month0.80%
12 month1.00%
18 month1.00%
24 month1.00%
30 month1.00%
36 month1.00%
48 month1.00%
60 month1.00%

The BrioDirect CDs come in terms ranging as short as 30 days to as long as five years. They are all traditional, fixed-rate CDs. They do not offer specialty products, like a bump-up CD that lets you increase the interest rate partway through the term.

The Brio Bank CD rates are mostly decent, except for their 30-day term, which is very low. However, while the Brio CD rates are respectable, you could potentially find even better rates with some of the best online CDs on the market today.

Minimum opening deposit

You must deposit at least $500 to open one of the BrioDirect CDs. It’s the same minimum opening deposit for any of the CD terms. If you make an early withdrawal and your balance falls below $500 for more than 20 days, the bank could close your account.

Early withdrawal penalties

You can withdraw your interest out of a BrioDirect CD before the end of the term without owing a penalty, though it will reduce your total earnings below the quoted APY. If you try to withdraw any of your deposit before your CD matures, BrioDirect will charge an early withdrawal penalty. The penalty depends on your CD term:

CD term

Penalty

Terms of 30 days or less30 days’ interest
Terms of 12 months or less90 days’ interest
Terms of 18 months or more but less than 60 months9 months’ interest
Terms of 60 months or more12 months’ interest

BrioDirect will charge the interest penalty even if it’s more than what you’ve earned. In other words, the bank could deduct the penalty from your initial deposit.

FDIC insurance

The BrioDirect CDs are also covered by FDIC insurance. However, since BrioDirect is part of Sterling National Bank, the limit applies to your deposit accounts at both institutions. FDIC insurance goes up to $250,000 per individual per bank. So long as your total balance in CDs and other deposit accounts at both organizations is below $250,000, you’re fully covered by FDIC insurance.

BrioDirect pros and cons

Pros

  • Competitive interest rates: The Brio Direct high yield savings rate is one of the highest on the market today, and is competitive even with the best online accounts. While the bank’s CD rates aren’t quite as high, they are still respectable for most terms.
  • Low deposit requirements: It only takes $25 to open a BrioDirect Savings account and $500 to open a CD, which is lower than the typical large lender. The bank’s accounts can be a good choice for customers with smaller balances.
  • Minimal fees on the savings account: The BrioDirect savings account does not charge a monthly maintenance fee. If your balance falls below $25, all that happens is you stop earning interest.

Cons

  • Lack of ATM access: The BrioDirect savings account does not come with a debit card. To withdraw cash, you’ll have to transfer funds to another account first, so your money is not immediately accessible.
  • Costly CD early withdrawal penalties: All the BrioDirect CDs charge early withdrawal penalties and they can be fairly steep, up to a full year of interest. BrioDirect does not let you withdraw any of your deposit without charging the penalty so make sure you can commit to the full term before signing on.
  • No in-person customer support: Since BrioDirect is an online bank, you can only get support through the website or over the phone. Even though BrioDirect is part of Sterling National Bank, you can’t visit a branch for in-person support.

How to open a BrioDirect Bank account

To open a BrioDirect Bank account, you apply through the bank’s website. You’ll need to provide your name, contact information, Social Security number and a form of ID like your passport, driver’s license or State ID. Since this is an online account, you can apply from anywhere in the United States.

You’ll need to make your opening deposit to complete the process of opening your account. BrioDirect suggests that you make the initial deposit by ACH transfer from an existing checking or savings account, but you can also deposit funds through wire transfer or by check. The bank’s website states it should only take a few minutes. Then, BrioDirect reviews the information to finish setting up your account.

Who is BrioDirect best for?

If you are comfortable with an online-only bank, BrioDirect could be an excellent choice. The bank’s high yield savings account is particularly impressive since there’s no monthly fee and the interest rate is competitive with nearly any account out there.

BrioDirect could also be a good fit for existing Sterling National Bank customers as they could manage both accounts through the same organization. If you’re on the fence about being a joint customer, this Sterling National Bank review can explain what the bank offers along with BrioDirect.

On the other hand, BrioDirect is not suitable for someone who needs fast and regular access to their money. Its savings account does not come with a debit card so to take money out, you need to make a transfer to another bank account, which takes time.

BrioDirect is also not a top choice for CDs. While its offers are decent, someone researching online could likely find a better offer. Finally, as an online-only bank, BrioDirect is not a good choice for someone who wants face-to-face customer service.

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.