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FNBO Direct Review: A One Stop Shop For Banking

By David Bakke

online savings account reviewsI 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.

The Basics

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.

Calculators

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.

Savings Finder

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.

Popmoney

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.

FNBO’s History

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.

Popmoney Fees

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.

Transfer Limitations

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.

Their Blog

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.

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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Comments

  • David Bibby

    Getting to the topic of FNBO Direct. I must say that I have really enjoyed having my savings account there. About once or twice a month, I log into FNBO, and I initiate a transfer from my checking account at another bank to my savings account at FNBO. There is NO FEE for doing a transfer across different banks…but it does take about 3 business days to complete. This is fine for me because this is a savings account afterall.

    They also give you an ATM card to get to your savings account quickly if you need to.

    I am concerned about that “Dormant” fee though.. how long does the account have to be inactive..and what do they consider INACTIVITY. The reason I ask this is because once my fund reaches where I want it to be… I plan to let it “sit” there. The last thing I need is a $25 fee eating up all the interest I earned.

  • David

    David

    Great stuff, seems like its quite convenient.

    I would dig into the fine print on their website for the inactivity fee. I would have but you have to go through the application process I think just to get there.

    I’d guess thirty days, but I’m not sure.

    One way I’ve gotten around it in the past is to set up a recurring small transfer back and forth between bank accounts.

    Thanks for chiming in!

  • David Bibby

    Here is what they say about Dormant Accounts:

    Dormant Accounts. If two consecutive statements are returned to us due to an invalid e-mail address and/or an invalid mailing address, and there is no activity by you on your account, we may consider your account dormant. If your account becomes dormant, we may cease sending statements, and may assess dormant account fees, as outlined in the fee schedule of the Disclosures.

    I’ll just make sure that I deposit every month. Even if it’s a small amount.

    Thanks David!

    • David

      Good deal David

      And as I said, if you want to make it more convenient, just set up an automatic type thing so you don’t even have to worry about it.

      Don’t let them getcha on those fees!

      Ever!

      Thanks for the discussion

  • Guest

    Thank you for your input. Am considering opening an account at FNBO, and was researching the reviews.

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