I have reviewed quite a few banking sites in the recent past and the first thing that struck me about FNBO Direct is that it is about as close to a “one stop shop” for banking that I’ve been able to find. One of their most attractive feature is their 1.1% APR for their online savings account. While this isn’t anything drastically out of the ordinary, you need to also consider all the other great services that they have to offer.
First, let’s get through the basics. FNBO Direct offers an online savings account which can earn up to 1.1% APR. The rate is a variable one of sorts, and although they say there is no minimum for your account, you do need to carry a minimum of $500 to get this rate. And you do need a minimum of $500 to open the account.
They offer a variety of companion accounts as well, such as checking and others. They also offer a BillPay service.
Additionally, they offer certificates of deposit and even have a credit card with a pretty decent “teaser” rewards program for the first 12 billing cycles. You can double your rewards in the first year.
FNBO Direct offers a drop down menu which includes a variety of “calculators” which can help you determine anything from how important an interest rate is on a new credit card to helping you decide whether to buy a new or used vehicle.
They offer another very appealing concept, based on the “pay yourself first” premise. They call it a Savings Finder. Basically, it outlines for you the importance of paying yourself first. I love this feature of FNBO Direct.
Basically, you can set up a savings account with them. Then, you can also set up a BillPay account or a checking account. You would then set up a direct deposit to transfer your income into the savings account. Then, FNBO takes care of transferring only the amount you need to pay your bills each month to either your BillPay or checking account. By doing so, this will maximize the interest you earn on your “leftover” money in your savings account. I can certainly attest to the fact of leaving some money on the table in this respect. The account I pay my bills out of earns no interest, and I could certainly make some extra change each month if I had a setup like this.
They also offer an interesting service called “Popmoney” that I can best describe as a mini-PayPal. You can send money to anybody with an email address, mobile number, or bank account directly from your FNBO accounts. It is a great service; however, keep in mind that fees do apply.
In case you’ve never heard of FNBO Direct, it stands for First National Bank Omaha. They are a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska. They’ve been around for about 150 years, and according to their site they’re the largest privately owned banking company in the United States.
Fees, Oh Those Pesky Fees
FNBO Direct has the same cryptic phrase as many other websites do now; they claim to have no “monthly fees.” Of course, they do have a variety of non-monthly ones.
Honestly, when I dig into the fine print of these websites as I am researching them, it is almost comical the way they disguise some of their fees and how hard it is to find them. This is not directed squarely at FNBO Direct, but more the banking industry in general.
Regardless, FNBO does have its share of fees, and they make it as difficult as other places to even find them. My eyes hurt by the time I was done digging through all of their fine print.
They have the typical inactivity fee that you find everywhere although they choose to call it a “dormant account fee.” They also hit you with $25 the first month your account is dormant and $5 for each additional month. I guess this is the latest twist in the “fees” game. They also have the standard fees for using “foreign” ATMs as well. Keep in mind that “foreign” doesn’t mean out of the country; it means any machine without their logo on it.
They have fees for different types of domestic wire transfers as well.
Also, as stated, keep in mind that fees do apply for their Popmoney services. It is $2 for standard deliveries and $10 for next day deliveries. This may be worth it though because keep in mind that in most cases, either the sender or receiver is charged money when using PayPal. If you use Popmoney in place of PayPal in certain instances, you could save yourself some money.
The funniest fee that I’ve found in awhile is one I found at FNBO called a Copy Request fee. It is $5 per request. All I can say is that I’d love to see the copier they use or the paper those copies come out on. Must be some pretty expensive stuff!
A lot of these fees are probably ones you’ll never run into, but I still think it’s worth mentioning upfront.
FNBO Direct offers a variety of accounts, but keep in mind that the number of transfers you are granted for each billing cycle is limited. I believe they are limited to six per month. It doesn’t say there is a fee if you go over that, just a limit. So I’d imagine if you try to do more than six, then the transfer simply isn’t processed.
They don’t really have a blog per se, but rather a quarterly newsletter. And it doesn’t just contain bank-related articles, but also a variety of savings topics, security advice, and college savings ideas. Pretty good stuff to read.
The Last Word
I think that FNBO Direct has some great attributes and is well worth checking out if you are in need of an online savings account. They truly do offer that, and a whole lot more. Their rate of 1.1% APR is pretty competitive compared to other online savings accounts, but where they really set themselves apart is all the other awesome services they offer.
Their “Pay Yourself First” service is truly directed at helping their customers, and it crystallizes a concept that should be key to any long-term savings plan—paying yourself first.
They also offer checking and BillPay accounts, so you can really just about do it all here on one site. Their Popmoney service is great for those that need to make money transfers. And the fees associated with it may actually be a little less than PayPal in some instances, so there are some possible savings and convenience here as well. They offer customer service via email or by phone, 24/7, which is another nice touch.
All in all, I’d say give them a shot. Read the fine print as with anything, but they sure can offer you a lot of services all in one place.
Have you had any experience with FNBO Direct? Feel free to share below.