In early 2012, TIAA-CREF Trust Company launched an online bank which was only made available to employees. A very few unaffiliated individuals reported being able to open accounts on the site although most others reported being unsuccessful.
BestCashCow.com has now been informed that the online bank, called TIAA Direct, has quietly been opened up so that it is available to everyone, and as of July 2012, the online bank is offering a rate of 1.25%, placing it at the top of online savings rates.
TIAA-CREF, the bank's parent company, is an insurance provider, providing retirement accounts and disability insurance to employees in non-profit sectors, primarily academia. Neither TIAA-CREF nor its bank subsidiary is known for providing strong customer service.
EDITOR'S Note: On July 23, 2012, just days after opening its online bank to the public, TIAA-CREF announced that its online bank offers would not be available to new depositors.