Sallie Mae Bank review: high APYs, no monthly fees

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  • Sallie Mae Bank (Member FDIC) is an online bank that offers savings accounts, a money market account, and CDs.
  • The SmartyPig savings account lets you name individual savings goals and set deadlines.
  • The bank doesn’t have a checking account, so you’ll have to transfer funds to an external bank account to access your savings, which could take a couple business days.
  • Sallie Mae pays competitive rates on its savings and money market accounts, but you can find better CD rates elsewhere.
  • See Business Insider’s picks for the best CD rates »

You might like Sallie Mae if you:

  • Are comfortable banking digitally
  • Want to earn a competitive APY on a savings and money market account
  • Want a savings account that lets you save for individual goals
  • Prefer a money market account that comes with paper checks

You might not like Sallie Mae if you:

  • Aren’t comfortable banking digitally
  • Want to open a checking account
  • Are looking for the highest rate on a CD
  • Don’t have $2,500 to open a CD
  • Need to deposit cash
  • Think you may need access to your savings quickly
  • Prefer a money market account that comes with a debit card

The bottom line: Sallie Mae’s savings and money market accounts pay high rates and charge low fees, but its CDs are less competitive.

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Rate decreases when your balance hits $2,500.01, $10,000.01, and $50,000.01
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured
    Pros
    • High APY
    • Save for separate goals
    • No minimum opening deposit
    • No monthly service fees
    Cons
    • APY decreases as your balance increases
    • No way to deposit cash
    • Must transfer funds to external bank account to access money

    The Sallie Mae SmartyPig Account pays high rates on your savings balance. The APY decreases as your balance increases, but even the lowest rate is competitive. You can name separate savings goals, such as “Emergency Savings” or “Travel Fund,” and set deadlines for each goal.

    Sallie Mae also has a High-Yield Savings Account that pays the same rate on all balances, but its rate isn’t quite as high as any of the SmartyPig Account’s rates.

    Depositing and receiving your cash can be a problem with Sallie Mae, though. Because it’s an online bank, there’s no way to deposit cash. And since Sallie Mae doesn’t offer a checking account, you can’t just transfer savings into your checking account and access the funds immediately. You’d have to transfer money to an external bank account, which could take a couple business days.

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Terms ranging from 6 months to 5 years
    • Early withdrawal penalties: Terms of 12 months or less are charged 90 days simple interest; terms of over 12 months are charged 180 days simple interest
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    Pros
    • Competitive APY
    • Low-to-standard early withdrawal penalties
    Cons
    • $2,500 minimum deposit
    • No terms under 6 months or over 5 years

     

    You’ll need at least $2,500 to open a CD with Sallie Mae. If you don’t have that much money, you can find a bank that requires less.

    Sallie Mae pays higher rates than you’d earn at a brick-and-mortar bank. The bank pays competitive rates on terms under one year, but as the terms get longer, rates become less competitive.

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Comes with paper checks, but no debit card
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured
    Pros
    • Competitive APY
    • No monthly service fees
    • No opening deposit or minimum account balance
    • Paper checks
    Cons
    • No debit card
    • No way to deposit cash

    Sallie Mae pays a competitive rate on its money market account, and unlike most banks, it doesn’t require a minimum opening deposit.

    The main draw of a money market account over a savings account is that the former makes it easier to access your savings. Sallie Mae does this by sending you paper checks, but it doesn’t send you a debit card like some banks do. You may find this inconvenient if you primarily make payments with a debit card.

    Sallie Mae is an online bank that offers savings accounts, a money market account, and CDs. Sallie Mae doesn’t have a checking account, which can make it difficult to access your savings quickly.

    The Sallie Mae mobile app has received 4.6 out of 5 stars in the Apple store and 3.5 out of 5 stars in the Google Play store.

    You can speak with a live customer service representative Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. Sallie Mae doesn’t offer customer support on weekends, and there’s no live online chat feature.

    Your deposits are FDIC insured for up to $250,000, or $500,000 for a joint account.

    We’ve compared Sallie Mae with two other online banks that pay competitive rates: Ally and Marcus by Goldman Sachs.

    sallie mae logo



    Sallie Mae


    ally bank logo



    Ally


    marcus logo



    Goldman Sachs


    Account types

    Savings, money market, CD

    Account types

    Checking, savings, money market, CD

    Account types

    Savings, CD

    Savings APY

    0.70% to 1.10% APY

    Savings APY

    0.80% APY

    Savings APY

    0.60% APY

     

    Minimum opening deposits

    $2,500 for CDs

    Minimum opening deposits

    None

    Minimum opening deposits

    $500 for CDs

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    Sallie Mae Bank review vs. Ally review

    Sallie Mae and Ally are both good options if you want a savings account that lets you set up separate savings goals.

    You might like Ally if you’re looking for a place to open a checking account. This way, you can a) keep all your money with the same bank, and b) have faster access to your money if you need to transfer money from savings to checking.

    Your choice between the two banks could come down to which is paying higher rates. Just remember that rates fluctuate, so even though one bank pays a higher APY now, that might not be the case later.

    Sallie Mae Bank review vs. Marcus review

    Neither Sallie Mae nor Marcus have checking accounts. But Sallie Mae is the clear winner if you want a money market account, because Marcus doesn’t have a money market account, either.

    You’ll probably prefer Marcus for opening a CD. Its minimum deposit is lower than what Sallie Mae requires. In addition to its regular high-yield CD, Marcus also has a no-penalty CD that won’t charge you if you withdraw funds from your CD early. If a no-penalty CD appeals to you, then you may want to consider Marcus.

    Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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