Seniors, like all other Americans, seek the safety of FDIC insurance and higher returns on their cash when depositing money in an online bank. However, those in their third age are particularly sensitive to the following ten factors:
- Website Clarity – the website should be clean and absent of clutter from the moment the user signs on and thereafter.
- Website Ease of Setting up Account – It should be easy to set up an account, including the ability to easily create passwords and password hints. The user should not be put through contortions here.
- Availability by phone of US-based customer service personnel skilled at directing newcomers through the website
- Brand Recognition and Comfort
- Ease of Use and Access to Account on a regular basis – seniors need to know that they have arrived at the landing for accessing their savings and CD accounts, and the website shouldn’t share an interface for accessing information about car loans, student loans or home loans
- Clear Disclosure of Savings and CD rates at all times (seniors do not want to be vulnerable to bait and switch; they want to know their rate at all times)
- Ease of setting up and directing ACH transfers to savings and checking accounts at other institutions.
- Quick execution of ACH or wire transfers
- Absence of all limitation (e.g. d low volume and dollar limits) on ACH and other transfers
- Absence of account service and maintenance fees or other hidden fees
On each of the above ten factors, BestCashCow has ranked the following as the three best online banks:
Personal Savings by American Express
American Express’s Personal Savings product offers outstanding online and phone service from a name that is well recognized and trusted. The bank ranks excellent on each of the above factors, but excels particularly in all aspects involving phone support. Plus, with no minimum opening balances or minimum maintenance requirements, Personal Savings by American Express is a clear winner for folks in their third age in 2014. One clear downside of Personal Savings by American Express, however, is that their rate is currently slightly below that of their competitors and their CD rates are not competitive.
GE Capital Bank benefits from the solid GE and GE Capital brands. It also provides no minimums, no transaction fees and multiple ways to access capital easily and quickly. Customer service that is available during normal business hours and responsive immediately to online requests makes GE Capital Bank an online bank where seniors should feel comfortable stashing cash.
While perhaps less well known than others on this list, CIT Bank offers a high quality online savings account with virtually no fees to open, maintain or operate as long as a $100 minimum balance is maintained. Those maintaining $25,000 or more in an account with CIT Bank also receive a slightly higher rate and a waiver of outgoing wire transfer fees (ordinarily only $10). With both outstanding service and great rates make CIT Bank an excellent choice for seniors.
An account with each of the above three online banks provides someone in their third age with the ability to comfortably and safely deposit, fully insured by FDIC, up to $750,000 ($1,500,000 if a couple) and to earn much more on this money than he or she can through any other absolutely safe, no risk investment (6.5x to 8x what is earned at brick and mortar banks). In short, these three banks are safe for anyone and worth looking at, but especially worthy of a look for seniors who have until now been uncomfortable with online banking.
NOTE: BestCashCow undertook this survey and analysis totally independently from the banks studied, including the above three winners.
For the sake of disclosure, CIT and GE Capital Bank are advertisers on BestCashCow. They did not directly sponsor this article or the study behind it.