EmigrantDirect has been my online savings account until recently. The change of banks was a result of my research on high yield savings accounts. EmigrantDirect also started requiring paper verification of new funding sources. Between the higher interest and being able to verify everything online I went with FNBO Direct. Both banks are FDIC insured and require no minimums.

Signing up
The sign-up process wasn’t completely easy but it was manageable. One thing I didn’t like was the requirement to tell them where you were getting the money. I’ve never had to give that information before so it can’t be required by law. They also pulled my credit to open the account. I’m not sure if it was a soft pull or a hard pull. In retrospect it would have been nice if they had given me warning that opening an account involved pulling my credit. I’m sure they disclosed that in the eight page ‘terms and conditions’ I agreed to.

Connecting my external bank account
This part was easy and it only took a few minutes to do. The best part is that FNBO Direct offered two options to add an external bank account. The first option requires two small amounts being deposited into your original bank account. This method is the most common practice among online banks. It usually takes about a week for everything to be deposited and verified. The second option is much quicker. In lieu of the deposit method FNBO simply asks for your login name and password at your current bank’s internet site. After 30 seconds my bank account was verified and I could add funds to my new savings account.

This is FNBO’s strong suite. They were very thorough about security. Other banks I’ve worked with sacrifice usability to increase security. FNBO allowed me to pick the answer to my secret question without any problems. Other banks will ask a question like “What’s your nickname?” and if you type in “Bob” an error message will show up saying “Your answer is too short.”. If your nickname really is “Bob” this is really frustrating. This is not the case with FNBO. Their secret questions are easy to set up and you can make them anything you’d like.

Another positive thing for FNBO is that every page on their site started with the secure https://. For those not familiar with what that means let me explain. Regular website addresses start with http://. When a website is encrypting data their website addresses will start with https:// (notice the extra ‘S’ at the end). Any time you enter your financial information or sensitive passwords make sure you look for the “S”. Some websites won’t start using encryption (https://) until you’ve gotten a little deeper into the sign up process. FNBO has it on every page of their website.

Depositing Money
An FNBO Direct account doesn’t require a minimum deposit to get started but I deposited funds anyways. It took a few days for the transactions to register in the account. FNBO doesn’t post the new deposit to your account for three business days. This is an industry standard. Something that surprised me is that FNBO doesn’t show any evidence that a transfer has occurred until the funds have settled. Most banks will show an increase in your balance but your ‘available balance’ won’t change until three business days have passed. FNBO does have a note stating that funds take three days to show up in your account.

Nice little extras
FNBO automatically sent me an ATM card which is free to use on all ATMs on the Star system. It’s a nice feature they don’t mention as I was signing up. They other nice feature they don’t mention is their Bill Pay feature. I’ve been using the Bill Pay feature with my current bank and I love it.

So…Am I done now?
When I first signed up I wasn’t sure if I was done yet. There weren’t any clear messages that said, “Thank you, you’ve completed the first stage of the sign-up process”. Instead they offered me an account number and a summary of my signup. But when I tried to sign in FNBO wouldn’t accept my new account number. What they hadn’t told me is that it takes a day to verify the account. Once the account is verified they allow you to set up your username and password. To their credit they did send some emails with these instructions but they didn’t show up for a few hours. To say the least, I was confused after I signed up.

Any regrets?
I’m kind of wishing I signed up for eTrade. While eTrade has the highest rate I was hesitant to sign up with them because they are the worst for nickel-and-diming their brokerage customers. On further inspection it looks as if they are sincere with their “No fees” claims. Right now eTrade has FNBO beat by 0.25% of a percent offering 4.10%.

FNBO is a great company and I feel secure with managing my online savings account with them. Their rates are among the highest (anywhere). They would be a good choice for anyone wanting to open an online savings account.

If you have a savings account that you enjoy please leave a comment.