CNBBankDirect Promotes Fiscally-Sound, Well-Informed Customers

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CNBBankDirect recently re-launched their website to make it a great resource for all types of financial advice. The bank also is offering a free savings account that pays 1.20% APY.

CNBBankDirect, a division of Citizens National Bank, has been previously featured on BestCashCow.com, but the bank recently redesigned and re-launched their website to make it easier than ever to obtain not only information on the bank's products, but also general financial news and articles for the everyday consumer. This is a refreshing change from many bank sites that only seem interested in promoting their own products. The Savings News section of CNBBankDirect’s website includes articles on things such as identity theft, retirement health care costs, and how to use Twitter to solve credit card problems with your bank. The bank's About Us section also includes links to other financial websites, including BestCashCow.com, to promote well-rounded, educated consumers.

Additionally, the bank is currently offering a high yield savings account that pays 1.20% APY. There are no monthly service fees, you need only $1 to open an account, and you earn interest on all balances $1 and more. You must open your account online, and you can link any non-CNBBankDirect checking or savings account and transfer money back and forth between them. Since CD rates have been so low recently, this bank account gives you a great way to easily earn a higher interest rate on your money but with instant penalty-free liquidity if needed.


Zions Bank: Offering Internet-Only Savings Rates with Brick-and-Mortar Locations

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The Zions Bank Internet Savings Account is currently offering a 1.11% APY, yet it also has over 125 physical branches you could visit if need be.

Recently, I discussed how many online-only banks, such as Bank of Internet, are able to offer better interest rates than many brick-and-mortar banks because they are able to keep their overhead costs low. But what if you just don't feel comfortable using an online-only bank? Even if people conduct most of their business via ATMs, the telephone, and online, some people just feel more comfortable knowing that there's a physical location they can go to if they have a problem, even if they never need to actually visit it. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, do you always have to forfeit that higher interest rate for the security of knowing there's a brick-and-mortar location out there?

Zions Bank may have found a solution to that dilemma. Zions has over 125 brick-and-mortar branches in the Intermountain West, it's headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah and it's been in business since 1873. Zions is currently offering an Internet Savings Account at 1.11% APY, which is competitive with some of the best online accounts offered. You get the benefit of an Internet-only rate, but the peace of mind offered by knowing the bank has many brick-and-mortar locations. In order to get this rate, account balances must be $1,000 or more, and you'll need a minimum opening deposit of $100 or more. Interest is compounded daily and paid monthly, and there are no monthly maintenance fees. You can make unlimited withdrawals via ATM, by mail or in person; however, since this is an Internet savings account, you would be charged $3 per withdrawal if you make the withdrawal in person. Of course, you don't need to live anywhere near a branch to open this Internet account, but it would come in handy if you ever plan to visit a branch.


When Cash Earns Little Interest, Should You Aim for Rewards?

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These days, the returns available for cash and short term CD investments are so low, many are just giving up on seeking higher rates and writing cash off as a lost investment. But, there are other options.

The idea of opening an account with 1.30% with the likes of Sallie Mae or American Express's Bank should get you excited because these rates are competitive and risk free. But, if you need some sort of other incentive, there are other things out there.

For starters, you might want to look into an outfit called BankDirect which is owned by an FDIC-insured outfit called Texas Capital Bank is willing to give you 100 American Airlines miles for every $1000 in your account each month.

Let's do the math, $100,000 at Sallie Mae or American Express is going to produce $1,300 this year (assuming rates stay the same and neither rise nor fall). $100,000 at Bank Direct is going to yield 120,000 American Airlines miles (assuming they continue the program). That's not an unattractive proposition for those who travel often and are savvy about frequent flier programs who can probably figure out how to get more than $1300 in value out of the miles. However, you should be reporting the miles as income on your tax returns so that should factor into your equation.

Likewise, those people shopping for CDs are likely to find that the best rate today, according to BestCashCow.com, is 1.85% for a 2 year CD (at CNB Bank Direct), 2.25% for a three year CD (at EBSB Direct) and 2.50% for a five year CD (at Acacia Federal Savings Bank). Yet, those out for rewards might be intrigued by a website called GiftsforBanking.com which is owned by Flushing Savings Bank and also owns IGoBanking.com. That website is offering CD rates of 0.75% on a 2 year, 1.05% on a three year and 1.75% of a five year CD. A $5,000 deposit for a 2 year period will get you a Cross watch or a Nambe bowl (among other things), but a $100,000 deposit will get you a cruise or a 46 inch TV or a bicycle with a 2 year commitment, and 5 year commitment will get you a 7 night getaway for two to Hawaii or St. Thomas or a 65 inch TV or all new Whirlpool appliances for your kitchen.

Let's do the math on this one. $100,000 is going to produce close to $3,800 over two years with a CNB Bank Direct CD; your giftsforbanking.com CD will earn $1,500 during the same time and give you something that probably isn't worth the difference. $100,000 in a five year CD is going to earn about $13,100 at 2.50% whereas the same money at Giftsforbanking.com is going to earn about $4,000 during the same period. Equally, you probably aren't going to find something on the giftsforbanking.com website that is worth the $9,100 difference.   To boot, Giftsforbanking.com makes it very clear on their website that they are sending you a 1099 for the value of the gift.