Bank5 Connect is the online-only arm of Fall River, Massachusetts-based BankFive, a small outfit that has about a dozen branches in southeastern New England. Don’t worry: as long as you have a U.S. address, you’re eligible to open a Bank5 Connect account.
Bank5 Connect’s distinguishing characteristics include a high-yield, highly flexible checking account and a solid savings account. The bank also has a novel Investment CD that accepts multiple deposits over the life of its term. Like almost all U.S.-based banks, Bank5 Connect provides depositors with FDIC insurance up to $250,000 per account.
Bank5 Connect also has a less common (but potentially very useful) form of deposit insurance: DIF insurance, which insures account balances in excess of $250,000. DIF is funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and only covers banks headquartered within it. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a resident of the Bay State to be protected.
Bank5 Connect isn’t a one-stop banking shop. It lacks any sort of credit offerings – no loans, lines of credit, or credit cards here. There’s also no money market account, retirement options, or brokerage. However, the bank’s straightforward checking and savings options, plus solid CD yields and added perks such as DIF insurance, make it a great option for everyday spending and saving needs.
Bank5 Connect’s high-interest checking account, known simply as Connect Checking, requires a minimum opening deposit of $10, yields 0.76% APY on all balances above $100, and doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance fee. The account comes with a free Visa debit card and 50 free checks. There’s a $1 monthly fee for paper statements.
When you open your high-interest checking account, you’re automatically enrolled in Bank5 Connect’s UChoose Rewards program, a purchase rewards program that earns you 1 point for every $2 spent with your debit card. You can redeem points through UChoose’s shopping portal, which partners with popular retailers such as Kmart and Sears to offer exclusive discounts and deals.
Bank5 Connect’s high-yield savings account requires a minimum opening deposit of $10, yields 2.05% APY on all balances above $100, and charges no monthly maintenance fee. There’s a $1 monthly paper statement fee. By law, you’re limited to 6 withdrawals per statement cycle. Each withdrawal above the limit incurs a $10 penalty.
Connect CDs (Traditional CDs)
Bank5 Connect has several different traditional CDs, known as Connect CDs. There are 6 terms: 6, 12, 18, 21, 24, and 36 months. All require a $500 minimum deposit to open. Yields range from 1.45% APY on the 6-month CD to 2.90% APY on the 36-month CD. The 6-month CD comes with an early withdrawal penalty equivalent to 3 months’ interest. The others take 6 months’ interest for early withdrawals.
Bank5 Connect also offers a special type of CD called the Investment CD. This product comes with just 1 term length (24 months) and yields 2.70% APY. The nice thing about the Investment CD is its flexibility. At any time after opening, you can make additional deposits by transferring funds from a linked checking account or by mailing a check. There’s no limit to the number of additional deposits you can make.
The Investment CD requires a $500 minimum opening deposit and charges 6 months’ interest for early withdrawals of any amount. In other words, while you can add to your CD’s value at any time during its term, you can’t subtract from it.
Third-Party ATM Reimbursement
It’s free for Bank5 Connect checking customers to withdraw cash from any ATM in the SUM network, a nationwide network of several thousand ATMs. The bank reimburses any fees charged by out-of-network ATMs as well, up to $15 per month.
Bank5 Connect has an opt-in overdraft protection feature, covering both checking and savings accounts, that charges a 1-time fee of $15 per overdraft transaction. You can also get 6 free checking overdrafts per month by linking your checking and savings accounts. When you attempt a checking transaction that would normally result in a negative balance, Bank5 Connect automatically transfers funds from your savings account to keep your checking balance positive.
Bank5 Connect has a handy online bill pay feature that lets you make 1-time or recurring payments to utilities, lenders, service providers, landlords, and other parties without writing a check. There’s no fee to use this system.
Bank5 Connect has a free P2P transfer system that lets you make 1-time or recurrent transfers to friends and family members. This is handy for consumers looking to settle private debts and split bills. According to Bank5 Connect, P2P transfers aren’t yet available through the bank’s mobile app.
Bank5 Connect has Android- and iOS-compatible mobile apps that include all the major functions of the bank’s main website, save for P2P transfers. The apps also have a mobile check deposit feature that lets you make on-the-go deposits by snapping a photo of the front and back of the check.
Bank5 Connect makes live human operators available from 7:30am to 5pm Monday through Wednesday, from 7:30am to 7pm Thursday and Friday, from 7:30am to 3pm on Saturday, and from 11am to 3pm on Sunday (all times Eastern Standard Time). There’s also a live onsite chat feature that’s staffed from 8am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday.
1. Excellent Checking Account Yields With Minimal Restrictions
Bank5 Connect’s checking account yields 0.76% on all balances above $100, providing an incentive to pad it with more money than you might otherwise put in a checking account. Other popular online banks, including Ally Bank (0.10% on balances up to $15,000 and 0.60% on balances above $15,000) and Capital One 360 (0.20% on balances up to $49,999), have much less attractive yields. Even banks with comparable headline yields, such as Bank of Internet USA (0.71%) impose substantial restrictions, such as a $5,000 minimum daily balance to prevent a monthly maintenance fee.
2. Low Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements
Bank5 Connect’s checking and savings accounts require a minimum deposit of just $10 and a minimum balance of $100 to earn interest. This compares favorably to some other online banks with attractive checking and savings yields but relatively high minimum deposit or minimum balance requirements, including TIAA Bank, which requires a minimum deposit and balance of $1,500.
3. Account Balances Above $250,000 Carry DIF Insurance
Though this advantage doesn’t apply to every customer, it’s certainly nice to know Massachusetts’s DIF insurance program provides Bank5 Connect accounts with a second layer of deposit insurance protection. DIF protects account balances in excess of $250,000, picking up where standard FDIC insurance leaves off. And it covers every account, not just those belonging to Massachusetts residents.
By definition, only Massachusetts-based banks have this advantage – and that sets Bank5 Connect apart from many of its competitors, including popular online outfits like Ally Bank and FNBO Direct.
4. Overdraft Protection Is Affordable
Bank5 Connect’s opt-in overdraft protection service costs just $15 per transaction. That compares favorably to competitors like FNBO Direct ($33 per transaction) and BankDirect ($38 per transaction).
Additionally, Bank5 Connect offers a free overdraft transfer service that automatically moves money from your savings to your checking account to cover overdraft transactions. Though some online banks offer free overdraft transfers, many don’t.
5. Investment CD Is Unusually Flexible
Bank5 Connect’s Investment CD is unusual in that it blends the deposit flexibility of a savings account with the attractive yield of a longer-term CD. You can open your CD with a modest deposit and build its balance over time – as your financial situation allows. By contrast, traditional CDs require a larger opening deposit that could potentially create a short-term hardship. Few other online banks offer similar products.
1. No Credit Products Available
Bank5 Connect doesn’t offer any loans, credit cards, or lines of credit. If you’re looking to do all your borrowing, spending, and saving under the same online bank’s roof, you need to look elsewhere. Capital One 360, for example, has a multitude of interest-bearing deposit accounts, as well as access to credit cards, mortgages, and other credit products.
2. UChoose Rewards Program Doesn’t Measure Up
Though Bank5 Connect’s UChoose Rewards program is designed to reward customers for checking account purchases made with their Visa debit cards, it doesn’t stack up to other popular purchase rewards programs. Notably, it only pays 1 point for every $2 spent, as opposed to the credit card industry’s standard 1 point per $1 spent (not including bonus categories or introductory bonuses, which many credit cards offer).
Banks can also feature more attractive debit card rewards though. For instance, Republic Bank’s Purchase Rewards program offers retailer-specific shopping discounts that can amount to 5% or more off the final sale price.
3. Relatively Few CD Choices
Bank5 Connect has a relative dearth of CDs – just 4 traditional CDs, plus the Investment CD. By definition, this limits choice, particularly for those looking for long-term options. With Bank5 Connect’s longest CD term clocking in at just 36 months, folks looking to tie up their funds for several years in exchange for higher yields need to look elsewhere. Ally Bank, FNBO Direct, Capital One 360, and TIAA Bank all offer 5-year (60-month) CDs.
4. No Retirement Accounts
You can’t structure your Bank5 Connect savings or CD account as an IRA, as is the case with other online banks such as Ally Bank and FNBO Direct. This is a big drawback for those who seek to blend the safety and predictability of FDIC-insured savings products with the tax advantages of a retirement account.
5. P2P Transfers Aren’t Available Through the Mobile App
Bank5 Connect’s mobile app can’t yet support P2P transfers. This is a notable inconvenience, though Bank5 Connect does insist mobile P2P functionality is coming.
Whether we’d like to admit it or not, researching online banks is another great way to keep on the lifelong learning bandwagon. For instance, many people – even state residents – aren’t aware of Massachusetts’s DIF program, a deposit insurance program that protects account balances above the $250,000-per-account limit on FDIC insurance. Unless you keep more than $250,000 in 1 bank account, DIF insurance probably won’t make or break your decision to do business with Bank5 Connect (or any other Massachusetts-based bank), but that doesn’t mean the information won’t prove useful. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power.
Do you have an account with Bank5 Connect? How has the experience been so far?