Archive for October, 2011

Fairwinds Credit Union Offers as High as 2.33% on 5-yr CD

Currently the highest 5-year CD rate being offered is by First Indiana Bank and Intervest Bank at 2.00% APY. However, at Fairwinds Credit Union you can get as high as 2.33% on a 5 year CD. Now, why is it “as high as”? First of all, the 5-year CD rate of the credit union is actually at 1.82% which isn’t so bad in itself. However, the union allows its depositors to earn a higher interest rate simply by getting some “relationship rewards” points. By doing so, you can get a rate of 2.07% on a 5 year CD, or even as high as 2.33%.

How does Relationship Rewards Work?

The Fairwinds Credit Union Relationship Rewards is simply their member loyalty program. The points that you earn in the program can allow you to bring your CD rates higher or reduce your auto loan rates. Earning points is simple, the more products and services you use, the more points you can earn. Here are the ways to earn your points:

– 2,500 points for every family member or friend referred that opens a checking account
– 250 points for every Fairwinds loans you set up on auto pay from a Fairwinds checking or savings account
– 100 points for each year of membership
– 1 point for every $1 paid in interest on loans
– 1 point for every $1 in interest or dividends earned on deposit accounts

How Can You Get A Higher CD Rate?

The Rewards Relationship program allows you to add 0.25% to 0.50% on their currently existing CD rates. By having 2,500 rewards points, you are eligible to add 0.25% to your rate, and by earning 5,000 rewards points, you can add a whopping 0.50%.

Since their 5 year CD rate is currently at 1.82%, having 2,500 reward points will give you the 2.07% rate, while having 5,000 points will earn you the highest 5 year CD rate available at 2.33%.

The same can also be done to other rates at different terms.

Fairwinds Credit Union Membership

Most of the time, the only thing that’s stopping us from joining a credit union is because of its membership eligibility. Some of their eligibility requirements include being a resident, working, or schooling at certain counties in Florida, being an employee in several companies in Florida, and being related to any account holder. Further details can be found at their website.

Popular Community Bank Offers Highest 1-Yr CD at 1.15%

For a couple of weeks now, the highest 1 year CD rate offered by banks was at 1.15%. Before, it was only Doral Bank who offered this rate, but now Popular Community Bank is offering the same along with CIT Bank.

Is Popular Community Bank the same as Banco Popular?

For those who are familiar with Banco Popular, Popular Community Bank is actually one and the same since the company decided to rebrand itself last August. The rebranding was a strategy in order to demonstrate that the bank wants to serve the entire community and not just limit its services to Hispanics.

Since the rebranding was meant to capture a larger audience, it seems Popular Community Bank is living up to its promise as it offers one of the highest CD rates nationally available. Check out these other rates below:

Popular Community Bank CD Rates

3 month CD – 0.25% APY
6 month CD – 0.30% APY
12 month CD – 1.15% APY
18 month CD – 0.85% APY
60 month CD – 1.60% APY

How Does Popular Bank Compete with Other Banks?

Although Popular Community Bank is offering a juicy 1 year CD rate, the other rates in different terms are somewhat lower than those nationally available. The leading 3 month CD is from Onewest Bank at 0.60%, while the highest 5 year CD is being offered by First Indiana Bank and Intervest National Bank at 2.00% APY.

Popular Community Bank Background

The bank now has over 117 years in experience since it was built in 1893. It was first established in the United States in 1961 and has grown to have about 100 branches in these five states: California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York. The bank also caters to online deposit accounts through E-Loan, a subsidiary of the bank. Popular Community Bank has steadily grown as it is now the 19th largest bank in Central Florida with over $264.1 million in deposits.

Get Up to $396 When Banking With First Tennessee Bank

First Tennessee Bank is offering a lot in bonuses. At this time, consumers can get up to $396 in bonuses just by doing their normal banking business.

The Offer:

The earnings are divided into four ways. Consumers may choose to avail of only one of the services to get just a portion of the cash bonus.

1. $100 for Opening A Checking Account – There is a wide array of checking accounts to choose from. The bank offers premier checking, express checking, select checking, and classic checking. Each type of checking account offers different features that suit your needs.

2. $100 for Opening a Money Market Account – Their Money Market Account is tiered, offering larger interest rates on a bigger balance. Their lowest APY is at 0.35% with deposits of less than $10,000 and their highest APY is at 0.55% for deposits larger than $100,000.

3. $100 for a real estate secured loan – First Tennessee Bank is currently offering a variable rate of as low as 3.7% on their loans. Plus you get a free $100 Visa Gift card once you close.

4. $96 for attaining all three – If you availed of all three offers, you are eligible to receive an extra $96.

This brings us to a total of $396 for doing your business with First Tennessee Bank. These extra perks should help you decide where to open that checking and money market account, as well as where to get that loan.

About First Tennessee Bank

First Tennessee Bank is a member of the First Horizon National Corporation family of companies with about 180 locations all over the state. The bank has roots that go as far as 1864 where the first institution was called the First National Bank of Memphis. It has also received numerous awards, some of it is the Best of the Best award for Best Mortgage Lender and the 2010 Greenwich Excellence Awards for Middle Market Banking and Small Business Banking.

This is offer is good to last until October 30, 2011, so there’s no time to lose. Also, this offer is only available in Tennessee.

CIT Bank Offers 1.15% On 1 Year CD

Currently the top nationally available 1 year CD is at 1.15% from Doral Bank. Apparently, CIT Bank also has the same rate to offer. CIT Bank launched a separate website for their online banking, which is It is common knowledge that online banks are able to give better rates to consumers because of their considerably lower overhead as compared to brick and mortar banks. It seems CIT Bank has lived up to this promise as they offer a 1 year CD with a rate that’s worth having.

CIT Bank Achiever CD

Aside from the high 1.15% interest rate, the CIT Bank Achiever CD has other perks to offer. There are two things that make this CD more interesting than others:
First, depositors are allowed to change their rates once. That means if they come across a rate higher than what they already locked in, they can choose to change their rate even if they are already at the middle of their term.

Second, depositors can add more to their already existing amount. If at any point of your CD term you suddenly have extra cash that you want to put in, no problem. The Achiever CD allows you to do that once.

These two perks alone gives the Achiever CD an edge over CD offers made by other banks. And of course, we can’t forget that juicy interest rate. Another benefit from the CD is the daily compounded interest, which allows your earned interest to also earn interest –daily. This maximizes your potential earnings to the fullest. Plus, the CD charges no monthly maintenance fees or account opening fees. Just open your account and you’re good to go. Also, CIT Bank is FDIC insured, ensuring your money for up to $250,000.

The minimum deposit for the Achiever CD is $25,000. If this amount is too high for you, CIT Bank also offers a 1-year CD with $1,000 minimum deposit but with a rate of 1.13%, which is still considerably high. Of course this low minimum term CD does not have the same perks as the Achiever CD.

About CIT Bank

CIT Bank belongs to CIT Group Inc., a bank holding company with $35 billion in finance and leasing assets. It is well known for its commercial financing and services to small and middle market businesses. CIT Group is different from Citigroup Inc., which in the same way CIT Bank is different from Citibank.

Free Finance Webinars for Students at Great Lakes

Student loans are becoming an increasingly heavy financial burden on young American adults. This can be even more of a financial disaster early on in life if young people do not really understand what they are getting into. Most of the time because of their youth and inexperience, they can jump into loans without really understanding the ramifications of their decisions. Even if students know the importance of educating themselves financially with regards to student loans, most of them don’t really take the time to read about it. This is where Financial IQ Webinars from Great Lakes come in.

Great Lakes or is a student loan servicer that offers free online webinars that educates students on various financial literacy topics. Webinars are about one hour long, which is just about enough to hold a student’s attention. Below are the categories that Great Lakes have to offer:

* Student Loan Repayment Smarts – This webinar teaches how students can plan to repay their loans by knowing who they owe, how much, and different repayment plans they can use.

* Money Smarts – This teaches how to be wise with money while featuring easy steps they can do right now.

* Credit Smarts – This educates students on different types of credit and debit, helping them understand what they should apply for.

* Credit Rating Smarts – This helps students understand how to protect, improve and manage their credit score while the slate is still clean.

* Tax Smarts – One of the basic things students must know is understanding their tax advantages to gain them great financial benefits.

* Identity Smarts – Every year, 10 million Americans suffer from identity theft. By learning about it, students can refrain from being a victim.

All of these sessions are presented by Accredited Financial Counselors and aside from the one hour lecture session, it also includes a question and answer portion.

Below are the upcoming sessions and their schedules:

Money 411

October 21 at 1:00 pm Central Time
October 28 at 1:00 pm Central Time

Credit Card Smarts

November 4 at 1:00 pm Central Time
November 11 at 1:00 pm Central Time

Student Loan Repayment- Everything You Need To Know

December 7 at 3:00 pm Central Time
December 9 at 1:00 pm Central Time

Register to these sessions now, these one hour lectures just might help you save a few thousand dollars in the future.

15 Interesting Ways to Save

For most of us, savings can be elusive if we don’t put it in our heads to do so. Most of the time we end up realizing that our savings just isn’t enough to cover emergencies, extra investments, and even the holiday travels that we’ve always wanted to have. So what can we do to start saving more? Below are 25 creative ways to save that can encourage us to keep tucking away that extra cash. Before you know it, your savings account will be growing in no time.

1. Place a piggy bank in several areas of the house. Whenever you find a stray coin in the laundry, on the floor, in a pants pocket, and so on, immediately put it in your piggy bank and deposit the money when it gets full.

2. Make it a resolution not to spend small bills. For example, if you decided on saving $5 bills, whenever you come across one in your wallet, don’t spend it. Tuck it away safely and watch it turn into $100 or more.

3. Don’t bring around too much cash. Having less cash in your wallet will prevent you from buying unnecessary things such as sodas or junk food. Plus, people are naturally more cautious when they have to swipe the purchase off debit.

4. Buy used stuff instead of new ones. There’s a lot of secondhand goods milling around that are still in superb condition. Take advantage of online selling platforms and scout around for the best deals.

5. Save on energy and you’ll save on money. Be sure to turn off those lights and turn down the heating, and your electricity bill won’t be so high either.

6. Shop after the season. You’ll be surprised how cheap things can be when January comes. That’s when year end sales and post holiday promotions come out. Buying things such as Christmas decor and saving them for next Christmas can save you a whole lot.

7. Every time you take cash out of an ATM, place the same amount in your savings account.

8. For every dollar you spend on bills, save at least half of the amount. It can be difficult, but it’s a quick way to fatten up your savings.

9. Encourage everyone in the family to save. You can do this by creating a competition such as “the first one to fill up his piggy bank will be relieved from washing the dishes for a month”.

10. Take advantage of coupons.

11. Steer clear from unnecessary and expensive purchases such as that mocha frappe in Starbucks.

12. Save on exercise. Instead of going to the gym, why not sign up in a local community college, or maybe jog to work?

13. Take care of your stuff. The more you maintain the good condition of your things, the less you will spend on buying replacements.

14. Be creative with your wardrobe. Instead of buying something new every month, why not discover how you can wear each piece differently? For example, you can wear that skirt as a tube top, or you can pair off the skirt of a dress with a cute blouse. Yes, it can work.

15. Save money on home entertainment by watching videos online instead of renting.

These tips do not only save you money, but they are also very doable as well. Anyone with discipline and a sense of fun can play around with these techniques to save more.

Mortgage Rates Finally Rise

Last week things finally started looking up for the US economy. Investors have started becoming less pessimistic about the debt crisis in Europe, and it seems that confidence in the market is regaining. This led to the rise of mortgage rates this week, and hopefully for the sake of the economy, the trend will keep going up.

Mortgage Rates Last Week

The benchmark 30 year fixed mortgage rose as high as 16 basis points last week, going up to 4.37%. Although this is a sharp rise and has been the best improvement for about 2 months, this rate still registers among the historic lows.

The benchmark 15 year fixed mortgage also followed suit with the rise, gaining 13 basis points to 3.59 percent. The 5/1 adjustable mortgage rate also rose 15 basis points to 3.26 percent, and jumbo 30 year fixed rates went up to 4.9 percent or 8 basis points.

Again, the 30 year fixed mortgage rise is the highest we’ve seen since August 31st when the rate was also at 4.37 percent. But this still falls short since one year ago, the rate was at 4.47 percent.

Mortgage Rate Predictions This Week

Despite the sharp spike of mortgage rates last week, only 27% of financial analysts predict that the rates will continue to go up. Their reason for the continued rise is the growing loan demand and the hope of improvement of the economic situation in Europe. However, 55% of analysts say that the rates will be going down because despite the hope that Europe will find a solution to their debt problem, there is still no concrete plan or evidence to back up this claim.

What This Means for Refinancers

Despite the sudden climb of interest rates for mortgages, many analysts say that the rates are unlikely to rise during the next few weeks. For those who are looking to refinance their home and who are still in the process of applying, analysts are saying that there’s no need to lose sleep over the potential rise of rates next week. However, this smorgasbord of low rates have been dangling in our faces for more than two months now, and despite the majority vote that rates will not go any higher, it is best to lock in that rate while it is still in historic lows. Even in the stock market, nobody can really predict when rates will hit rock bottom, so the best thing to do is be satisfied with the fact that the rate you lock in now has been one of the lowest in the past 50 years.

The Good Ones: Banks Who Still Offer Free Checking

With the sudden barrage of debit card fees and the plummeting interest rates, consumers are wondering if all banks are going downhill. Luckily for us, there are still some banks who are sticking to their free checking promotions, and who continue to offer great rates. For those of you who want to transfer banks, but are unsure about joining a credit union, here are some banks that may be worth your while:

1. Ally Bank – This bank has been around for a long time, with over 90 years of experience. It has been dubbed as one of the best banks in 2011 by Money Magazine and it serves over 15 million customers nationwide. Ally still offers a free checking account with no monthly maintenance fees for the everyday management of your checking account. Ally also offers competitive CD rates and is often one of the top providers of the best CD rates. They also give out interesting promotions such as the Raise your Rate CD and the No Penalty CD.

2. Classic Bank -For the regular checking account, Classic Bank advertises a monthly fee of $7.50 for its checking account. However, this only applies should your balance fall below $750. Aside from that, Classic Bank also offers a totally free checking account with absolutely no minimum balance and no monthly fees. If that’s not enough, Classic Bank is also giving away a rewards checking with a whopping 3.01% APY. How’s that for high interest?

3. Incredible Bank – This bank was featured by CNN as the one of the top online banks because of its high yield checking and no ATM fees. Right now the checking account can offer a yield of as much as 1.06% APY on balances up to $249,000.

4. PNC Bank – Although PNC Bank is best known for its student loans and mortgages, it also offers a free checking account which can be rare nowadays. PNC Bank offers free ATM transactions, no monthly service charge, free online banking and bills payment, plus unlimited check writing. Also, there is no minimum monthly requirement to keep your account free.

These are only some of the banks who still offer totally free checking accounts and high interest rates. For sure there are more banks out there who may have better deals to offer. If your bank is offering a great rate or charges less in fees, feel free to share by commenting below.

McGraw – Hill Credit Union Offers 2.00% on 8 month CD

McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union is offering one of the best (if not the best) short term CD rates. Currently it is offering a 2.00% interest rate on an 8 month CD. This is certainly one of the best rates available since even the highest 1 year CD rate is only at 1.15% APY from Doral Bank and even the highest 2 year CD is only at 1.30%. With the large difference in rate plus the 4 month to 1 year difference between maturity, there’s no other offer that comes close to this. A 2.00% interest rate is currently at par with some bank’s 5 year CD’s.

The Offer

McGraw-Hill is calling this special 8 month CD as the Solar CD. It is currently promoting awareness of solar energy and consumers who open an account with the Solar CD will help support a groundbreaking solar energy project led by McGraw-Hill Companies and NJR Clean Energy Ventures.

The Fine Print

To earn the advertised rate, consumers must open a checking account with direct deposit. A minimum deposit of $1,000 is required with a maximum of up to $25,000. Aside from that, a minimum direct deposit of $500 per month must be credited to the checking account monthly. Direct deposits may come from your salary, pension, Social Security, or any other regular monthly income. Should initial deposit not be completed upon six weeks of account opening, the rate will change to 0.40% APY.

The promotion has been available since September 22 of this year, and is subject to change or withdrawal without prior notice.

About McGraw-Hill

McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union has been around since 1935, serving employees of the McGraw-Hill companies in New York City. Since then it has opened up its membership to other companies and it is currently serving 18,500 members throughout the world. The credit union has assets exceeding $268 million.

Membership Eligibility

Credit union membership is traditionally restricted to people who share a common factor such as the community they are living in, or a common profession. In this case, membership is limited to those who are employed under the McGraw-Hill group of companies. However, McGraw-Hill is also offering an express application in which interested parties can be a member of the credit union when they opt to join the VOICE foundation. To join the foundation all you have to do is pay a $25 membership fee. The express application can be filled up and submitted online, but for faster approval, you may also visit their branches located at New York, NY and East Windsor, New Jersey.

There is no doubting the fact that this offer is definitely one of the best there is. A 2.00% APY on just an 8 month CD is hardly available anywhere else. The only thing you need to consider is having to make a direct deposit of $500 to your account every month. However, if you can link this to your salary payroll, then this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Given the free for all eligibility and the impressive rate, would you open a Solar CD now?

Credit Unions VS Banks: Which One To Choose?

We all know how the US economy has been struggling for stabilization. But with the uncertainties of countries in Europe such as Greece, the US can’t help but be swept along with the tide. This of course leads to lowered interest rates with bank CD’s and savings accounts, and to top it all off, banks are now announcing that they will be charging monthly fees to debit cards. With all the hullabaloo going on with our trusted banks, many consumers are starting to look for better options. And right now, credit unions have got their attention.

The popularity of credit unions is slowly growing, but what do we really know about them and what is their difference to banks? Below is a quick comparison of credit unions and banks.


This is where the big difference lies. Banks are for-profit organizations that are owned by shareholders. Since it is an institution where profit is foremost at their minds, this could mean that customers can become a means towards that end. This doesn’t mean that banks don’t care about their consumers, but it does mean that they are still looking to make a profit without driving their customers away.

Credit unions on the other hand is a non-profit organization that is owned by membership. Meaning, once you join a credit union, you will be a member and an owner at the same time. This gives you the right to run for the Board of Directors, and each member will get one vote regardless of how much money he has in the union. The ownership allows members some control on how the union is run, and even the directors are all volunteers without a salary. This process ensures that the union will look out for the financial interest of the members, and not a small group of private shareholders. Credit unions are also allowed to make a profit using the pooled money of its investors, but the reserve earnings is just to ensure the safety of the union in case of economic turmoil. The Board can also agree that once the reserve amount is reached, the excess can be given back to its members in the form of lowered interest rates or even bonus checks.

The only downside to credit unions is its membership. Most CU’s have a restriction with regards to eligibility because the members share a common denominator such as belonging to the same community, or having the same occupation. Bank membership however, is open to all.


Banks and credit unions basically have the same products to offer. Whether it’s savings accounts, checking accounts, loans and certificates of deposit, you name it, credit unions have it too. The advantage that credit unions usually have over banks is that they can offer better rates such as higher interest rates for CD’s and lower mortgage amortizations. Banks on the other hand are often much larger than credit unions and may be able to offer more services and promotions as compared to smaller credit unions. Aside from that, banks also offer excellent online banking services and much more efficient customer service that is available 24/7.


Banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company or FDIC for a maximum amount of $250,000 while Credit Unions are also insured by a different entity called National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund or NCUSIF. Some claim that the NCUSIF is arguably stronger than the FDIC. When it comes to choosing banks or credit unions however, aside from checking whether they are insured, it is also important to look at the reputation and the number of years the institution has been in service. Banks are generally larger and thus harder to topple down when an economic crisis hits, and insurance or not, it does take some time before depositors can claim their money should a financial institution closes.

As we can see, both banks and credit unions have their own pro’s and con’s. Banks are larger, considered to be safer, and may offer more services. Credit Unions on the other hand offer better rates, and are geared towards the financial interests of its members rather than private shareholders. It’s really up to the consumer which institution caters to their needs best. What about you? Which one do you prefer?

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