Ally’s Holiday Rate: 2.00% APR on a 12-Month CD

For those who like good rates but not too crazy about rate chasing or long term commitment this one’s for you. Ally Bank just announced a special rate for the holidays. From today till Jan 2, 2018, you can open a 12-Month CD with a 2.00% APR with no minimum deposit required. This is one of the best rates (if not the highest) on the market right now. There is an early withdrawal penalty though, but at least it’s a short term commitment.  If you already bank with Ally, this would literally take you less than 5 mins to open. For more details, you can visit here.

Santander’s extra20 Checking Account Gone for Good & New Signup Bonus


sov-san-daul-logoSantander’s extra20 checking/savings combo was just too good to last. I started mine a little over 2 years ago and some time last year, Santander no longer promoted the extra20 checking accounts. Starting July 1st, if you have a Santander extra20 account, you will no longer be receiving the extra $20 perks every month.

As an interim bonus, you can refer a friend to open a new Santander checking account and you will BOTH receive a $50 Visa Gift Card.  Your referral will need to open a new Santander Checking account, have 1 direct deposit over $250, and 5 debit card transactions within the first 60 days of account opening. More details here.

And for those who need a referral – my referral link here.

In search of a new savings combo! What are you using right now?

Mortgage Amortization Spreadsheet

I finally got the first home I wanted. Yay! Now onto paying off the mortgage over the next 30 years. I can’t wait till the day comes when I write my last check to the bank. Though I really don’t want to imagine myself, 30 years older, but that is reality. This is better than paying rent till the day I die, hopefully longer than 30 years…

I made it my next goal to shorten the term, by making additional payments every month. Sure, I could have just sign up for a shorter term loan but I would not have been able to make the higher payments. How much additional payment do I have to make to trim 1 year, 2 year, or 5 years off my loan? How soon can I pay off my mortgage if I reduce my coffee/bubble tea fund and use it to pay toward my mortgage? I found a mortgage amortization table online and customized it to calculate just that. I also discovered after playing around with the table a bit, that a 4% annual interest rate is equivalent to 72% interest over a 30 year period. In the end, the banks are the real winners in this real estate business.

The Spreadsheet

Download Mortgage Amortization spreadsheet here. Start by entering a few numbers: home purchase price, down payment, first payment date, loan period and interest rate. Next, enter an amount in the “Extra Payment” column ($50 from my coffee fund) and the number will be automatically repeated for the length of the loan. The “Key Figures” section will show you how many years you saved by making the extra payments, and when exactly is your last payment date, etc. In this snapshot, on a $80,000 loan, $50 additional monthly payment shaved off 5.9 years off the 30-year loan.



New Santander Checking Account Opening Bonus

santanderOctpromoThere’s a new checking account opening bonus at Santander Bank. If you open a checking account and set up a direct deposit of $500 or more within the first 3 months, you will get a $150 added to your account within the 4th month of your account opening. Unfortunately this does NOT work if you open their extra20 checking (which we reviewed here).

More details on the offer here. You can open online or at a local branch.

I’m always thinking when they’ll end their extra20 promotion, though it’s been more than a year since I’ve opened my account and it sounds like they’re going strong, they can still end it any time. This sign up bonus might be a safer bet.

Discover Checking Review

Discover Cashback Checking Debit CardAn offer got mailed to me to open a Discover Checking account, so I decided to give it a try. I am currently using this account to pay all my online bills. This checking account is online only, includes free checks and a debit card. Withdrawals are free and reimbursed from any ATM. The biggest benefit is the 10 cents you get for every debit card purchase, online bill pay and check that you write. While this isn’t much, it’s still good for those times that I can only use online bill pay for such as paying for utilities such as gas or electricity, as well as paying off credit card bills. So on top of the points you earn for using your credit cards, you will get another 10 cents for paying off that credit card. There is also a promotion going on right now that will last until July, all debit card purchases will earn double rewards (20 cents).

If this isn’t a big enough incentive (which I admit is quite small), you can check out my other post about the best banking combo that I’ve come across. Both the Santander and Apple Bank offers are still available.

Also, the access to this checking account will be combined with your Discover credit card log in. If you have 2 Discover credit cards like I do, you will need to decide which account to link this checking account to. Reward redemption can either be transferred to your credit card or transferred to the checking account, but will need to be manually redeemed. There are no minimum redemption amount.

Free FitBit Flex with TD Bank Account Opening


Just saw this new promo and had to share. From now till March 7, TD Bank is offering a free FitBit Flex (normally $99). All you need is to open up a checking or savings account, get a debit card and set up your online banking. There’s no mention of any minimum deposit requirements or crazy hoops. Not available online, you will have to go in person to a local branch. More details here.

If you’re interested, some ideas of possible accounts are the TD Simple Savings or TD Convenience Checking. The TD Simple Savings account has a requirement of minimum daily balance of $300 and 0.05% APY interest rate. The TD Convenience Checking is a minimum daily balance of $100 to waive any monthly maintenance fee.

Would you be taking advantage? Do you currently own a fitness tracker? Both Tracy and I active fitness tracker wearers and so expect detail reviews to come up soon.


Best Banking Combo: Santander and Ally

In pursuit of higher interest rates, I’ve decided to open a consumer account at Santander and at Ally.

sov-san-daul-logo As part of Santander’s extra20 program, you will get both an extra20 checking and savings account opened at once. You will receive $10 if you set up direct deposit of at least $1,500 per month and another $10 if you pay at least 2 bills using their website. The $20 will be deposited into your extra20 savings account at the end of each month.

allyAlly is currently offering a 0.86% APY with their savings account and free ATM withdrawals nationwide. My plan is to move any extra balance from Santander and into Ally to get the interest. Also I can withdraw from any ATM and the fees are reimbursed at the end of Continue reading

Renew Your Ally CD for an Additional Interest Rate Boost

ally If you’ve read through my devotion to Ally Bank CDs, you might have seen me mention about Ally Bank’s loyalty reward. I think they’ve finally posted up some official terms online. You can read it here.

Basically, if you renew any of your maturing Ally Bank CD, they’ll offer you an additional 0.25% interest rate boost to whatever is the current interest rate of a new CD.  So for example, if you have a 1 year CD maturing on Dec 1, you can roll the CD into another 1 year CD at 0.98%+0.25%=1.23% interest rate. That’s probably one of the few higher CD interest rates out there already.

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Current High Interest Saving Solutions

(Updated as of Dec 21, 2015)

Though current high interest saving accounts aren’t what it used to be at it’s peak, but they are still relatively a lot higher than typical saving accounts. So check here often to make sure you are making the most out of your nest of savings.

Saving Accounts

Ally Bank is offering a 1.00% APY on their Online Savings and 0.85% APY on their Money Market accounts.


American Express is offering a 0.90% APY in their online savings account with no minimum deposit.


Discover is currently offering 0.95% APY on theirdiscover online savings account with no minimum deposit.


Santander Bank has a promotion on their extra20 checking account that gives you a total of $20 if you have $1500 in direct deposit and 2 bill payments monthly.
Certificate of Deposit (CDs)

Ally Bank still has a higher rate at 2.00% APY on a 5-year CD. 

New Ally Bank CD Early Withdrawal Fees

I just received notice from Ally Bank that they will be changing the early withdrawal charges on their CDs. If you’ve followed any of my CD posts, you will see that I have created a CD ladder at Ally Bank. I chose Ally Bank because of it’s low early withdrawal fees, making long term 5 year CDs a little more “liquid” than other long term CDs. But unfortunately it looks like Ally Bank can’t keep those rates anymore and decided to increase the early withdrawal fees.

Here’s a breakdown of the new fee system: (taken from Ally website)

Before 12/07/2013
All CD terms 60 days of interest
After 12/07/2013
2 years or less 60 days of interest
3 years 90 days of interest
4 years 120 days of interest
5 years or longer 150 days of interest

This means a 5 year CD can make you lose 5 months of interest! With a 5 year CD rate at 1.60% and high yield savings account at 0.86%, it might be more worth it to just keep a high yield savings account. With higher early withdrawal fees, my CD ladder seems to make even more sense to me now.