Friday, August 17, 2007

Countrywide Bank SavingsLink

On PFStock, I have posted extensively about my experiences with NetBank. I have found a replacement for the funds that I withdrew from NetBank when I closed my account with them. The winner is ... Countrywide Bank.

Recently, I opened a SavingsLink account at Countrywide Bank. The highlights are that they pay 5.25% APY interest if you have more that $10k, and 5.4% APY if you have over $50k. The interest rate drops to 4.0% APY if your balance is below $10k. The account itself works like an ING or iGo savings account. If you are not familiar with these, the SavingsLink account is an online only account that must be linked to a regular savings or checking account that you have at another institution. This is pretty much the only practical way to transfer funds in or out.

Countrywide Bank actually has a branch within walking distance of my home. But unlike most regular banks, the branch doesn't have an ATM and a prominently displayed sign says that they don't have any cash in the branch. When I asked the asked the sole employee of this office how to make a deposit, he showed me a deposit envelope, which was actually a Federal Express envelope. Apparently if you give them a check, they will send by overnight mail to Texas where the deposit is processed. Countrywide did send me a few postage paid deposit envelopes, but I assume that the FedEx method would be faster.

The SavingsLink account doesn't come with either checks or an ATM card. So, most transactions have to go through your linked account. SavingsLink only allows one linked account at a time, and the process of linking an account is cumbersome. Countrywide Bank uses what is known as "trial deposits". When you request that they link an external account to your Countrywide Bank account, they will make two random deposits (of less than $1.00 each) to your external account and ask you to verify the amounts that were deposited. This is to assure that you are actually the owner of the external account, and this process usually takes 2-3 days to complete. One other little hassle is that deposits are subject to a 10 business day hold. This basically means that you won't be able to withdrawal any deposit for a period of two weeks.

In spite of a few hassles to setup a Countrywide SavingsLink account, their interest rates are much better than at NetBank. Indeed, the 5.4% APY rate is better than the vast majority of bank savings accounts available.


This article was originally published on May 1, 2007. It is being republished today due to previous posting problems.


Anonymous said...

Seems like a slightly risky choice here. CFC stock has been trading down a lot because of the credit crunch. Most likely they will be fine, but is it worth $500 for the risk that the bank may go under (say 0.5% on 100,000)?

Anonymous said...

There's news, though, that CFC may be a takeover target by Buffet.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was me again.

pfstock said...

You have a good point. I opened my SavingsLink account long before Countrywide's current troubles. In any case, the deposits are FDIC insured, so I am not overly concerned about an actual loss. Though I can admit that getting funds back from FDIC could be a hassle.


Oh yes countrywide.