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Wealthfront Cash 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.

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 1.82% 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

1.82%

$1 minimum, no monthly fee
Vio Bank

2.07%

$100 minimum, no monthly fee
Customers Bank

2.20%

$25,000 minimum, no monthly fee
Barclays

1.90%

None
Marcus by Goldman Sachs

1.90%

$1 minimum, no monthly fee
Ally

1.80%

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

1.82% 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 1.60% 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 — 1.60% APY vs. Wealthfront‘s 1.82% 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

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Credit Cards, Reviews

American Express Gold Card: Good Travel Rewards for a Fee

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. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

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The American Express® Gold Card is an upgraded American Express charge card without a pre-set spending limit. It’s also a card that rewards cardholders with American Express Membership Rewards® Points for airfare, dining, gas, and grocery spending.

A charge card is one that you need to pay off completely each billing cycle, so there’s no interest. However, since there’s no pre-set spending limit either, you need to keep an eagle eye on spending activity to make sure you can pay off the statement in full at month’s end. Making a late payment can cause you to forfeit Membership Reward points earned during that billing cycle.

In this post, we’ll discuss the American Express® Gold Card terms and how to redeem points. Keep reading for an overview on:

  • American Express® Gold Card basics
  • How to redeem Membership Rewards points earned
  • The fine print details
  • The benefits and protections
  • The pros and cons

The basics of the American Express® Gold Card

3X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).

$100 airline fee credit.

You can get up to $100 airline fee credit on your statement each calendar year to cover incidentals charged by an airline of your choosing. Qualifying incidentals are charges separate from your airline ticket like baggage fees and not ticket upgrades.

American Express® Gold Card

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American Express® Gold Card

Annual fee
$250
Rewards Rate
3X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

How to redeem Membership Rewards® Points earned

Through Membership Rewards®, cardholders can transfer points to participating travel and lodging loyalty programs or redeem points for travel bookings, gift cards, statement credits, and other rewards. The value of your points varies depending on how you choose to use them.

Flights, hotels, and vacations

You can pay with points for flights, hotels, and vacations on the American Express Travel site. Using points for flights offers excellent value.

Here’s the point value breakdown on travel and accommodations:

  • Flights: $10 per 1,000 points
  • Hotels, cruises, and vacation packages: $7 per 1,000 points

Transferring your Membership Rewards® Points

If you choose to transfer your points to another program, generally, 1,000 Membership Rewards® Points will transfer as 1,000 miles, points, or credits.

However, transfers that have a different value include (as of the publication date of this article):

  • British Airways and Iberia: 250 Membership Rewards points = 200 Avios
  • El AL Israel Airlines: 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 20 Matmid points
  • Hilton: 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,500 HHonors points
  • JetBlue Airways: 250 Membership Rewards points = 200 JetBlue TrueBlue points
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 333 Starpoints
  • Virgin America: 200 Membership Rewards points = 100 Elevate points

Occasionally, there are transfer specials for participating loyalty programs.

Statement credit and gift cards

Using points to put a dent in your credit card bill won’t be the best use of your points. 1,000 points equals just $6 in a statement credit.

Several of the gift cards through Membership Rewards® will give you more in cash value. For example, 1,000 points can get you a $10 gift card at restaurants, retail stores, and hotels including:

  • Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
  • Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
  • Maggiano’s Little Italy
  • Seasons 52
  • Banana Republic
  • Crate and Barrel

There’s an entire list of the redemption values for gift cards on the Membership Rewards® site.

Other rewards

Using points for shopping, charitable donations, and entertainment are other redemption options. But, again, these options won’t give you as much value for your points as redeeming for flights and gift cards.

The value of 1,000 points ranges from $5 to $7 when shopping at retailers through Membership Rewards® or at Ticketmaster, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, or Newegg.com.

The fine print

The American Express® Gold Card has an annual fee of $250. If you spend a lot of money on the card, the fee can be worthwhile. However, if you don’t spend a lot, you might want to consider a no fee option.

In addition – when you transfer points to a U.S. frequent flyer program, there’s a $0.0006 fee charged per point to compensate for the federal excise tax. Although this fee has a lot of zeros in it, the cost may still be impactful if you’re transferring a lot of points. For instance, 100,000 points transferred will cost you $60.

On the plus side, this card has no foreign transaction fee.

Benefits and protections

Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance

If you pay for a qualifying car rental with your American Express® Gold Card, the rental car is covered against damage and theft after declining the collision damage waiver. Rentals that won’t qualify for coverage are trucks, off-road vehicles, full-size sport vehicles, and exotic cars.

Purchase Protection

If an item you purchase is lost, stolen, or damaged within 90 days of purchase, you may be reimbursed for it.

Pros and cons

Pro: 3X points on travel. If you fly often for work or play, this card rewards you well each time you use it.

Con: The fee. The biggest con here is the annual fee. But, since there are several ways you can earn points in the 3X and 2X categories, you may be able to easily cover this fee throughout the year.

Pro: Membership Rewards. This card is enrolled in the Membership Rewards® Points program and gives you many options for point redemption. The Membership Rewards® site is also incredibly easy to navigate, and there’s no ambiguity in point value. The rewards portal shows examples of exactly what your points are worth for each redemption option.

Con: The fee to transfer points. The ability to transfer points to another program is a pro, but being charged for U.S. frequent flyer program transfers is a tiny gotcha in the fine print.

Pro: No foreign transaction fees. One area in the fees where you do catch a break is with foreign transaction fees. This aspect of the card is fitting since it’s one that rewards you for planning travel.

Who will benefit most from the American Express® Gold Card?

Your ability to earn enough points to surpass the fee will determine whether this is a good card for you.

And if you’re shopping around for a rewards program that will give you the most value for travel, Chase Ultimate Rewards® is an option you should compare to American Express Membership Rewards®.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card*, in particular, is part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program and allows you to transfer points to other travel partners as well. Plus, it has an offer that gives 1.25 cents per point for travel. This is slightly more value than what you get for flights with American Express Membership Rewards® since 1,000 points per $10 works out to 1 cent per point.

Before signing up for any rewards card, you should do this type of comparison shopping to figure out which offer will give you the most value for your spending habits.

*The information related to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Earning Interest, Reviews

Discover Bank CD Rates 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.

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

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

As a bank, Discover offers some of the best products on the market. Currently, they’re offering a major deal on their online savings account, which currently earns 1.80% APY. If you apply for their savings account for the very first time by 12/02/19 and deposit a balance of at least $15,000 by 12/16/19, you can earn a $150 bonus. If you deposit a balance of at least $25,000 by the same date, you can earn a $200 bonus. Applying for the account is easy as you don’t need to go to a branch. Bonuses will be credited to your account by 12/30/19. You can apply online or over the phone. Just be sure to enter or mention the promo code MM1119 when you apply.

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

Discover Bank CD rates

CD term

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

3 months

0.35%

6 months

0.65%

9 months

0.70%

12 months

2.10%

18 months

2.10%

24 months

2.15%

30 months

2.15%

3 years

2.15%

4 years

2.15%

5 years

2.20%

7 years

2.25%

10 years

2.30%

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How do Discover Bank CD rates compare?

While Discover Bank CD rates aren’t always the highest available, they are consistently among the top offers across all terms. However, you may be able to find a similar or even better rate with a CD that has a lower minimum deposit than Discover’s $2,500 requirement. Currently, several nationwide banks offered a 12-month CD at a rate higher than Discover’s 12-month CD APY, while requiring a lower minimum deposit. For example, at the same time the above rates were available at Discover, there were 12-month CDs with rates as high as 2.10% APY with a lower minimum balance amount to earn the APY.

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

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

What you need to know about Discover Bank’s CDs

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

How to open a CD

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

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

How to fund the CD

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

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

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

Withdrawing funds from the CD

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

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

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

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

Earning interest on a Discover CD

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

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

What happens once the CD matures?

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

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

The bottom line

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

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

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

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

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