Wachovia Way2Save Savings Account Program Pays 5% APY and Provides Up to $300 Bonus

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Wachovia's Way2Save program provides users with a 5% APY return on cash deposited into a savings account as well as a bonus of up to $300 dollars.

Wachovia's Way2Save program provides users with a 5% APY return on cash deposited into a savings account as well as a bonus of up to $300 dollars.  That's pretty good.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  There is no catch but the program has some unique characteristics that won't appeal to everyone.

To participate in the program, you need to open a checking account and then a Way2Save savings accounts.  Both of these accounts are free so there is no problem there. 

Once you open the account, you can fund it in one of two ways.

  • $1 transfer from your checking account to your Way2Save account for each Check Card and electronic payment transaction.  That is, every time you make a debit card transaction or pay a bill online, they will transfer a $1 from your linked checking account to your savings account.  That means you have to have money in your checking account to transfer.  The program is trying to automate your savings by matching the money you spend with $1 saved.  Clever.   
  • Recurring automatic transfer from your checking account to your Way2Save account, $100 maximum per calendar month.  So the maximum you can directly deposit per month is $100, for a total annual amount of $1,200.

Interest Rate

The interest rate you ean on this money is currently pegged at 5% APY the first 12 months and then drops down to 2% APY for years 2 and 3.  The rate is variable meaning it can be changed at any time.

Savings Bonus

Wachovia will also pay a bonus on the balance in the account at the end of each 12 month period.  This bonus is:

Year 1
5% of the eligible balance,
up to $300

Year 2
2% of the eligible balance,
up to $300

Year 3
2% of the eligible balance,
up to $300

 So, if you manage to put $2,000 in the account between periodic transfers and $1 transaction transfers, Wachovia would provide a bonus of $100 at the end of the Year 1.  You'd need $6000 in the account to receive the $300 maximum.  That's 67 debit or bill pay transactions per month.  It's a lot but I know people who do that many.

If you do have the level of activity, you can receive a 5% bonus from Wachovia and potentially receive 5% APY.  In addition, it forces you to put some money away.  That's not a bad program.

Thanks to BankVibe for pointing out the program.


Fed Cuts Rates to 0% But Still Some Savings and CD Rates at 4%+

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The Fed cut its Fed Funds rate to 0-.25% last week but there are still some very attractive savings and CD rates. Get them before they are gone.

The Fed cut its Fed Funds rate to 0-.25% yesterday but there are still some very attractive savings and CD rates.  Get them before they are gone.

These rates include:

  • EverBank is offering a checking account with a guaranteed 3 month bonus rate of 4% APY and a first year APY of 3.42%.  In addition, BestCashCow readers receive $40 when they open the account using this link and fund the account with $40,000 or more.  In one sense, the 3 month bonus is like a liquid 3 month CD.  At 4% APY it would be the highest rate by over 70 basis points.  Another bonus of Everbank, they were one of only a handful of banks that actually saw their Bauer rating for financial stability and solvency increase over the last quarter.  Everbank has told us that the rate will only last through the year.  They will be lowering rates in January.
  • A five year CD from Chase/WaMu paying 5% APY.

There are many other savings, money market, and CD accounts that are paying well above the national averages.

Rates are falling and banks have indicated to us that they will fall further over upcoming days and weeks.  But as chart below shows, savings and CD rates have held up incredibly well despite several rounds of Fed rate cuts.  Why?  Because there is competition for your money and banks needs your deposits to fund their operations and stay solvent.

CDandSavingsRateAnalysis-12/17/2008

 We expect rates to fall but if this trend holds anticipate top savings, money market and CD rates will not approach 0%, but rather come down to the 3-4% range.  Still, if you have money that you want to invest in an FDIC insured account, now is a good time to look into opening an account.


Money Market Fund Yields May Fall to Less Than 0%

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Money market funds invested in Treasuries will provide a negative return to investors if the Fed cuts rates next week, as its widely expected to do. This will be the first time this has ever happened. It's another

Money market funds that invest the bulk of their cash in treasury bills may provide a negative return to investors if the Fed cuts rates any further.  Low Fed Funds Rates combined with a rush to own the safety and security of treasury bills have pushed the yield on T-bills down to 0%.  Money market funds that invest in Treasury Bills therefore receive a 0% return, or a very low return from their investment.  Once the expenses of running the money market are factored in, the actual return of the fund will be less than 0%.

A Bloomberg article on this says:

'Record-low yields on government debt have already led money-market funds to waive fees to keep returns positive. If the Federal Open Markets Committee, as expected, cuts its target rate, some Treasury funds may allow returns to turn negative, said Peter Crane, president of Crane Data LLC, a money-fund research firm in Westborough, Massachusetts.

“No one has ever paid above and beyond their interest income to be in a fund,” Crane said. “But if we see another cut, we’ll likely see negative yields."'

If returns turn negative, Crane believes that the funds will cover the shortfall by charging customers in the form of monthly fees.  The end results would be a negative return for investors.  This is different from a money market fund breaking the buck.  When a fund breaks the buck, the value of its assets fall, wiping out some of the principal of the money  market.  That is what happened to the Reserve Primary Fund  (RFIXX) when it lost considerable money due the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros.

Remember, this would only happen to money market fund that invest primarily in US Treasuries.  The BestCashCow Money Market Fund Rate Table lists several funds that are far above 0%, the highest paying 2.57%.  This is a far cry from September when the collapse of Lehman froze the money markets and drove yields up to the 4-5% range. 

The question is how long will Treasuries stay below 0%.  Even if the Fed drops the Fed Funds rate to 0%, some believe that Treasury yields will still rise.  Bill Gross, manager of the world's biggest bond fund had this to say on Bloomberg TV:

"“Treasuries have some bubble characteristics, certainly the Treasury bill does.  A Treasury bill at zero percent is overvalued. Who could argue with that in terms of the return relative to the risk? There is no return.”

After bank deposit accounts and treasuries, money market funds are considered the safest and most liquid places to store money.  Despite being safer than money market funds, bank savings and money market accounts pay far more interest.  For example the top savings account on the BestCashCow rate table pays 4.00% APY why the top money market fund pays 2.57%.  

Money market funds, which are not FDIC insured should be not confused with money market accounts, which are.