Ally Invest Offering $3,500 for New Account Holders Bringing Over $2 MM

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For many years, ETrade and TD Ameritrade have given customers $2,500 for bringing over $1,000,000 in cash or securities into a new or existing account (these bonuses are ordinarily limited to one per year).

Ally Invest today sent an email to their savings and CD customers, matching the ETrade and TD Ameritrade offer, and offering an additional $1000 (for a total of $3,500) for those new accountholders bringing a total of $2 million or over.  The Ally Invest offer expires on July 31, 2018 and you must have completed moving your assets into the Ally Invest account within the following 60 days in order to receive the full credit.  

Ally Invest is also offering smaller cash and trading bonuses for lesser deposits.   The full details are below.

Cash bonuses from online brokerages, of course, are reported on 1099-MISC forms and subject to taxes at your ordinary income tax rate.   TD Ameritrade and Fidelity once gave bonuses in the form of Apple gifts cards (also reported on a 1099-MISC) or your choice of American, United or Delta miles.   The frequent flier miles are not reported as taxable and therefore considered more attractive by many.

See how BestCashCow values frequent flier miles from the major programs here.

Brokerage bonuses of this nature usually contain a provision requiring that you not remove the assets from the broker for a year.   Nevertheless, a prudent self-directed investor who views online trading platforms as largely all providing the same level of service can easily receive one of these bonuses every year by rotating their account between ETrade, TD Ameritrade, Ally Invest and perhaps others.   Even though these bonuses are fully taxable, they represent a nice windfall when you make a practice switching brokers in order receive one every year.

See our comparison of online brokers here.



Open and fund a new Self-Directed Trading account to take
advantage of a bonus based on your deposit amount.

Your Bonus

Deposit or Transfer

$3,500 + free trades


$2,500 + free trades

$1MM - $1.99MM

$1,200 + free trades

$500K - $999.9K

$600 + free trades

$250K - $499.9K

$300 + free trades

$100K - $249.9K

$200 + free trades

$25K - $99.9K

$50 + free trades

$10K - $24.9K

Other terms and conditions apply. Offer includes a maximum of $500 of
commission-free trades for 90 days after you fund your new account.



Savings and CD Rates Move Higher In April – 5 Interesting Nationally Available Rates

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Following the Fed’s raising of the Fed funds rate in March, we have seen savings and CD rates begin to tick higher as we move towards the Fed’s second meeting with Jay Powell as Fed Chairman.  

Powell’s testimony following his first meeting in March continues to indicate that the Fed will be raised by 25 basis points at least 2 more times before the end of 2018 and as many as 7 more times between now and the end of 2019.   That continues to cause us to be very reluctant to recommend CDs.  However, our president has opted to engage China in a trade war, and against an increasingly uncertain economic environment that creates, small CD exposure can provide some protection within your investment portfolio.

Here are 5 products that have caught our attention as we begin April.

1. Popular Direct – 2.00% Savings rate

Popular Direct is a subsidiary of Banco Popular North America, a bank that continues to be the subject of acquisition rumors.  The online bank’s website was recently revamped, and it now has raised their savings rate all the way to 2.00% for new depositors.  We generally encourage depositors to be careful to stay below FDIC insurance limits with FDIC limits and we would recommend extraordinary caution here.

2. Purepoint – 1.75% Savings rate

Purepoint is a relatively new name in the space and we have written about the bank before.  There is plenty of things not to like about Purepoint (such as odd customer service hours and offering better rates in some areas than others), but the customer reviews on BestCashCow are generally very good.   The recent move in their savings rate to 1.75% shows some commitment to continue to be aggressive.

3. Marcus – 2.10% 1-Year CD rate

Marcus is the new name for Goldman Sachs’s online bank.  With generally outstanding service, we think that this is a good place to stash cash, and it is the only one of the major online banks where I would consider going over FDIC limits.  Their 2.10% 1-Year CD rate is among the best 1-year CD rates.   We see very little risk in locking in for such a short period.

Editor’s Note:  Marcus is an advertiser of BestCashCow.   Please read our Advertiser Disclosure here

4. Live Oak Bank – 2.40% 18-Month CD rate

Live Oak Bank’s 18-month CD is attractive as it offers a premium over one-year CD rates, yet the early withdrawal fee is only 90 days’ interest which will allow you to withdraw your month early with a payment of only 0.60% of your principal if rates were to move dramatically higher.

5.  Live Oak – 2.70% 5-Year CD rate

We certainly are not recommending a 5-year CD at this point in the cycle, but if you were to want to protect yourself from the possibility of a reversal in Fed policy, this would be the one to look at.   Live Oak’s early withdrawal penalty for their 5-year CD is only 180 days’ interest.   In other words, if rates move up, you can withdraw your money early with the payment of 1.35% of your principal (many other online banks have penalties for early withdrawal of 5-year CDs of at least one year’s interest). 

While the above rates are all available online, you may find better rates from brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions.  BestCashCow enables you to check the best savings rates for local banks and credit unions where you live.   CD rates for local banks and CD rates for credit unions can also be checked here.

Fed Hikes 25 Basis Points In Jay Powell’s First Meeting as Chairman

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The Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds rate by 25 bps to a target of 1.50% to 1.75% this afternoon.

The move marks the sixth such move since the Fed began moving the Fed Funds rate from zero in December 2015, and was unanimous.   While the Fed did not raise its outlook for 2018 (the median forecast remains at a total of 3 hikes), it raised its Fed funds rate forecast to 2.75% at the end of 2019 and 3.40% at the end of 2020 (the long-run forecast was also raised to 2.90% from 2.75%).

The Fed’s decision to raise to a 3.40% Fed funds forecast basically assumes an additional 2 more 25 basis point hikes over the next three years than it had guided to previously.  Interestingly, it is making these forecasts at a time when it also does not see inflation rising much above 2% between now and the end of 2020, and sees the unemployment rate falling from its current 4.1% level all the way to 3.6% in 2019. 

Unforeseen economic events can often cause the Fed to quickly change policy.  In this case, however, the Fed is guiding towards a faster pace of action against both the assumption of a very stable inflationary environment and the increasing likelihood of economic disruption caused by an unhinged President Trump.

We would, therefore, continue to be very, very cautious about locking into CDs longer than 1-year right now.  

5 Savings and CD Accounts to Take a Look at In March 2018

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Savings and CD rates continued their climb towards the end of February.  We expect rates to continue to go up into Jay Powell’s first meeting as Fed Chairman.  Powell’s testimony in front of Congress this week has made very clear that he will be a hawk and not a dove.  Interest rates are going up 3 times, maybe 4 and maybe even 5 before the end of 2018.  While we cover long-term CDs, we have never been as adversely inclined towards them as we are now.

Here are 5 related products that have caught our attention as we begin March.

1. Dollar Savings Direct – 1.80% Savings Rate

Dollar Savings Direct is a subsidiary of Emigrant Direct.  As we noted last month, DSD has been way ahead of the curve in raising their rates as rates have been increasing.   On February 27, 2018, they raised their savings rate by 20 basis points from 1.60% to 1.80%.   It continues to be a fairly solid bet and user reviews are generally good.  We’ve been made aware that they cannot link for ACH transfers with Morgan Stanley (UMB Bank) and Merrill Lynch.   And, given Emigrant’s troubles over the last decade, we’d be very careful to stay within FDIC insurance limits.

2. Popular Direct – 1.65% Savings Rate

Popular Direct is a subsidiary of Banco Popular North America, a bank that had real troubles in 2009 and been the subject of recent acquisition rumors involving some major Spanish banks.  The online bank’s website was recently revamped, and we think it could be worth a look, although we again urge you to be very careful to stay below FDIC insurance limits.

3. Marcus – 1.50% Savings Rate

Marcus is the new name for Goldman Sachs’s online bank.  While the rate isn’t so attractive at 1.50%, if you want to open a bank account at a place where you will feel comfortable occasionally exceeding FDIC insurance limits, Goldman Sachs is the one.

4. Live Oak Bank – 2.10% 1-Year CD rate

While we want to be cautious about CDs, Live Oak Bank’s 1-year CD continues to be the best nationally available online CD rate.  If you must submit to your desire to pick up a couple more basis points, this is the one to go for, especially since their early withdrawal penalty is only three months’ interest (other banks have more onerous penalties) and you will be able to get out with little damage if rates really start to move dramatically higher quickly this spring or summer.

5.  Capital One 260 – 2.65% 5-Year CD rate

Again, we certainly aren’t recommending a 5-year CD at this point in the cycle.  But, if you feel that rates aren’t going to get much higher and want to get into a 5-year product, this is the one we would recommend at the moment, especially since Capital One’s early withdrawal penalty for their 5-year CD is only 6 months’ interest (many other banks have penalties for early withdrawal of 5-year CDs of one year’s interest or even more). 

The great thing about the above rates is that they are all readily available online.  However, brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions are also becoming rate competitive.

Here you can check the best savings rates for local banks and credit unions where you live.   CD rates for local banks and CD rates for credit unions can also be checked here.

Five Reasons to Raise Cash Now

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You have probably been making a lot of money in stocks for some time now, or are jealous of those who have while you sat on the sidelines.  However, there are reasons for raising cash in your portfolio right now.  Here are five of them.

Stock Overvaluation

Just because stocks are expensive doesn’t mean they are going to decline.  However, when they do fall they will likely fall significantly allowing those with cash to purchase stocks at much cheaper prices.

Rising Interest Rates

Interest rates are rising which means that your bond portfolio is likely to lose value.  In addition, credit spreads are minimal so you are not getting paid for the risk you are taking when buying corporate bonds over government bonds.

Rising Rates, Part 2

Returns on CDs and money market accounts have been rising because the Federal Reserve has been raising short-term rates for 2 years.  Rates are not enough to keep you ahead of inflation, but they are no longer effectively zero, allowing patient investors at least some nominal return while they wait for a great opportunity.

Cryptocurrency Hysteria has Abated

For a while Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were going straight up.  It seemed like a good idea if you were keeping cash that you should be buying cryptocurrencies and have someone buy them from you at a higher price at a later date.  That trade was never risk-free. 

Liquidity Could Dry Up

Although this is unlikely in the near term, there are times when asset prices plunge because there are simply no buyers.  Would be buyers are not sitting on enough cash and buying an asset, no matter how attractive, is reliant upon selling another asset.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The material is for informational purposes only. It represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. It is not guaranteed by Kestra IS or Kestra AS for accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. It should also not be construed as advice meeting the particular investment needs of any investor. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC.,(Kestra IS) member FINRA/SIPC.  Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS.  J Matrik Wealth Management is not affiliated with Kestra IS, Kestra AS, or Five Star Professional.

Five Online Savings Accounts and CD Accounts to Consider in February 2018

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Rates are clearly going up now.  Whether you have extra cash that you are looking to move from a bank paying basically nothing or are removing money from a volatile stock market, here are some places to consider putting your money today. 

The great thing is that these five offerings is that they are all online offerings that enable you to make more on your money without getting off the couch.  However, you should note that some brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions are also becoming rate competitive.

Always check the best savings rates for local banks and credit unions where you live, and the best CD rates for local banks and credit unions where you live as you may find better rates there.

But, here are five very interesting online products.

1. Dollar Savings Direct, A Division of Emigrant – 1.60% Online Savings Account

Dollar Savings Direct is one of several Emigrant subsidiaries that we have seen over the last decade.  These days Dollar Savings Direct is their most aggressive savings account.  As savings rates increased in late 2017, Dollar Savings was always ahead of the curve, and while there are others who have now matched their rate, it seems like a safe bet to assume that they will continue to be aggressive as rates rise. 

Dollar Savings Direct has good user reviews on BestCashCow and we recently wrote about the bank here.  

2. Purepoint MUFG Union – 1.60% Online Savings Account

Purepoint entered the online banking arena in 2017, and while they have been slower to raise rates that many of their competitors, they recently catapulted their savings rate up to 1.60% provided you maintain a $10,000 balance.

Purepoint has good user reviews on BestCashCow (hyper: ) and stands out for the speed of their inbound and outbound ACH transfers.  We recently wrote about the bank here.  

3.  Live Oak Bank – 1.60% Online Savings Account

Live Oak is a new entrant to online banking.  This relatively small North Carolina bank has entered with a very aggressive online savings rate.  There are very few reviews on BestCashCow so far, and they are not universally great, but we think that the fact that they are aggressively courting new deposit accounts makes them worth a look for savings.

4. Live Oak Bank – 2.10% One-Year CD Account

As we wrote recently, we want to be pretty cautious about CDs in a rising rate environment, especially one where rates may now be poised to rise quite quickly.  But, if you are inclined to lock in for the next year, Live Oak has the best 1-year rate at the moment and their early withdrawal penalty on a 1-year CD is only 3 months’ interest.

5. Sallie Mae Bank – 2.00% 1-Year CD

Sallie Mae’s early withdrawal penalty on a one-year CD is also only 3 months’ interest.  There are user reviews on BestCashCow where users cite as an issue unduly long periods before money clears and is credited to their account.  However, if you open a CD funding it directly from an external account, you will begin earning interest on it immediately (and maturity will be one year from that date of opening), even though the principal may not have technically cleared. 

These are the places where we would look to put new money to work now.