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TIAA Bank Review – Full Service Online Banking and Mortgages


FEATURED PROMOTION

Tiaa Bank Logo

Our rating

4.0/5

TIAA Bank

  • Accounts: Yield Pledge Checking (high-yield checking), Yield Pledge Money Market, Yield Pledge CDs, Bump Rate CDs, CDARs Service, Basic Checking (no yield), Basic Savings, Basic CDs
  • Bonuses: None
  • Monthly Maintenance Fees: None
  • Minimum Deposit Requirements: $100 for Yield Pledge Checking accounts, $500 for Yield Pledge Money Market accounts, $1,500 for Bump Rate CD, $1,000 for Basic CD accounts, higher minimums for investment vehicles
  • Benefits: Full mobile banking functionality, online and mobile deposits, fee reimbursement at virtually all U.S. ATMs


Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

TIAA Bank is the online banking division of TIAA, a major financial institution that caters to “people who do good” — educators, public sector employees, nonprofit employees. TIAA Bank assumed its current configuration after acquiring the assets of Everbank, a regional bank based in north Florida.

If you’re at all familiar with the products once offered by Everbank, an early online banking leader, TIAA Bank’s will seem eerily familiar to you. If not, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Read on to learn more about TIAA Bank’s banking and lending services for consumers across the United States.

Key Features

These are the most important features of TIAA bank. 

Yield Pledge Checking Account

TIAA Bank’s Yield Pledge Checking Account, billed as one of the oldest high-yield checking accounts, offers competitive interest rates (annual percentage yields), no account maintenance fees, and no-cost overdraft protection for clients who link their accounts to a TIAA Bank savings or money market account. 

The Yield Pledge name evokes a longstanding TIAA Bank policy: Its interest rates always remain within the top 5% of all U.S. banks’ interest rates, as defined by Bankrate.com’s National Average survey, which updates at the beginning of each month.

Upon opening a new account, for which a minimum deposit of $5,000 is required, account holders currently receive a 12-month introductory interest rate that’s close to category-leading. After the first year, rates drop but remain quite competitive. 

Yield Pledge Money Market Account

TIAA Bank offers a money market account under the Yield Pledge banner. This account guarantees that its rates remain in the top fifth percentile of all U.S. banks, as defined by the Bankrate.com National Average, which is updated monthly. 

TIAA Bank requires a $500 opening deposit and allows up to six outbound transfers or withdrawals per month, as per federal regulations. Inbound transfers and deposits are unlimited.

As with TIAA Bank’s checking account, no monthly maintenance fees are associated with this product. 

New accounts are eligible for a 12-month introductory interest rate on up to $250,000 in deposits. Beyond $250,000, the rate on all funds is slightly lower but still quite attractive. After the first 12 months, the rate drops to a lower but still competitive APY. All rates are subject to change on a monthly basis, as per the BRM Index.

Bump Rate CD

TIAA Bank’s Bump Rate CD has a 42-month term, during which account holders have the option to raise their rate once if prevailing rates rise. The Bump Rate CD’s APY is highly competitive. There’s a maximum deposit amount of $250,000. A minimum deposit of $1,500 is required to open a Bump Rate CD account. The maturity warning window is 20 days.

Basic CDs

TIAA Bank’s Basic CDs have terms ranging from three months to five years. Competitive yields apply to balances up to $1 million. There’s a $1,000 minimum deposit requirement for all accounts and a 20-day maturity warning.

Foreign Denominated Deposits

Advanced investors and savers can take advantage of currency fluctuations by making foreign-denominated deposits into TIAA Bank’s Access Accounts, CDs, and CD Baskets. 

These accounts currently offer access to approximately 20 foreign currencies, including popular denominations such as the Australian dollar, the euro, and the pound sterling, as well as less common varieties such as the Hungarian forint, Danish krone, and Polish zloty. Interest-bearing CD accounts are available in some — but not all — of these currencies.

When an account holder deposits or redeems foreign-denominated funds for U.S. dollars (or vice versa), TIAA Bank pays out within 1% of the prevailing market exchange rate, which is an unpublished, variable rate that governs currency exchanges between banks. Basically, the markup it charges for currency exchanges isn’t constant, but it does not exceed 1% under normal circumstances.

As deposit accounts, all of TIAA Bank’s foreign currency products are FDIC-insured up to a limit of $250,000 per account. However, this insurance only covers funds lost due to a failure of TIAA Bank itself. It doesn’t cover potential losses due to depreciation of the currency in which your funds are denominated relative to the U.S. dollar. 

Minimum deposits range from $2,500 (or $100 per month) for the Access Account to $20,000 for the CD Baskets.

CDARS Service for Higher FDIC Limits

TIAA Bank offers access to the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS), which provides FDIC insurance above the typical $250,000 account balance limit. 

The company’s CDARS products include three-, six-, 12-, 24-, and 36-month CDs with solid but not spectacular yields. There’s a $12.5 million funding limit on the three shorter-term CDs. The 24- and 36-month CDs have lower limits of $2.5 million and $1 million, respectively.

All TIAA Bank CDARS accounts require minimum deposits of $10,000, lack maintenance fees, and come with 15-day maturity warnings. Per CDARS’s regulations, automatic rollovers aren’t available on these products. However, clients are free to open new CDARS accounts when their old ones mature.

Mortgages and Refinancing Products

TIAA Bank markets traditional, jumbo, FHA, and VA mortgages to individual clients. Within these categories, borrowers can find 15- and 30-year fixed mortgages, as well as 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). 

Rates vary according to borrowers’ credit scores, borrowing amount, and geographical location. For borrowers with excellent credit, mortgage rates are competitive with other major banks in the same geographical area. TIAA Bank’s mortgage products are available through the company’s internal lending department and local partner lenders in all 50 states. 

Current homeowners also can find a range of refinancing and leverage products, including home equity loans and loans that shrink or lengthen terms on traditional and jumbo mortgages. 

In addition, the company also helps underwater homeowners — those who owe more than the current value of their homes — refinance their mortgages through the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

Finally, TIAA Bank offers access to the Federal Housing Authority’s Streamline Refinance Program. This is a limited-time initiative that also helps underwater homeowners remain in their homes.

Precious Metal Investments

TIAA Bank allows its brokerage and wealth management clients to invest directly in gold and other commodities. Interested account holders have two options.

First, TIAA Bank’s allocated accounts facilitate direct, undivided investment in physical gold and silver. With an allocated account, you can take physical delivery of individual bars or coins, including gold and silver bars that range from one to 100 ounces, and one-ounce gold and silver coins issued by the American, Austrian, Canadian, and South African governments. These require a minimum deposit of $7,500 and accrue storage fees for clients who don’t take physical delivery.

Second, unallocated accounts are precious metal investment pools with many different participants, and they don’t facilitate undivided ownership of physical gold or silver. However, unallocated accounts do facilitate ownership of fractional shares of bars and coins — you own a specific amount of gold or silver, but you are not assigned to a particular bar or coin. They require a minimum one-time deposit of $5,000, or a commitment of at least $100 per month to an ongoing purchase plan.

It’s not possible to take delivery of metals included in an unallocated account, but TIAA Bank doesn’t assess storage fees on them either. TIAA Bank’s precious metals offerings aren’t FDIC-insured, but they are insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation.

Retirement Accounts

Individual TIAA Bank account holders can open traditional and Roth IRA accounts, which can hold bank account products such as money markets and CDs, as well as foreign currencies, precious metals, stocks, options, bonds, and mutual funds.

Business Accounts

TIAA Bank offers a full lineup of accounts for business clients. These generally mirror its options for individual depositors — its checking, money market, CD, and CDARS accounts also apply to businesses — although rates on checking accounts for larger businesses are lower. 

TIAA Bank also offers some business accounts that aren’t available to individuals, including a Business Analysis Checking product that provides fee credits for companies with high transaction volumes.

Like individual depositors, business clients can also open foreign-denominated accounts, but TIAA Bank offers a special foreign exchange service for companies that need to exchange U.S. dollars for other currencies on a regular basis. This service offers better exchange rates than individual accounts, for which currency exchanges can cost up to 1% of their total value. 

TIAA Bank doesn’t offer retirement products, such as 401(k) plans, for businesses.


Advantages

TIAA Bank has a lot going for it. These are some of its top advantages.

1. Access to a Multitude of Savings and Investment Vehicles

Some online banks are known for offering solid interest rates on a small number of account types, such as checking and savings only or money market and CDs only. Others allow users to open deposit accounts and trade securities through an in-house brokerage account.

TIAA Bank offers the best of both worlds. In addition to common account types like checking and savings, which all offer competitive interest rates, TIAA Bank lets depositors open accounts through which they can purchase precious metals or foreign currencies. Although TIAA Bank has no in-house brokerage, its parent company does offer brokerage services.

2. Lots of Options and Flexibility for High-Asset Accounts

On top of its comprehensive savings and investment options for rank-and-file clients, TIAA Bank caters to high-asset account holders and small- to medium-sized business clients.

Ally, Capital One 360, and FNBO Direct don’t work with CDARS, the organization that provides FDIC insurance on individual CDs worth more than $250,000. They also don’t have separate wealth management divisions that provide expert strategic advice and manage portfolios, which may include currencies, equities, bonds, CDs, and precious metals. 

Such services are more common at high-end investment firms like Franklin Templeton and full-service brokerages such as Schwab, which don’t have flexible deposit accounts like TIAA Bank.

3. ATM Reimbursements for Qualifying Accounts

TIAA Bank reimburses all ATM fees charged by U.S. banks on an unlimited basis, provided that the account holder maintains a balance of at least $5,000 during the pertinent statement period. 

Some online banks, including Ally Bank, reimburse ATM fees as well. However, brick-and-mortar banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America are much more stingy about this, often limiting reimbursements during a statement period or refusing to reimburse any fees incurred outside their ATM networks.

4. Highly Competitive Checking Yields

Yields on TIAA Bank’s high-yield checking account are far more generous than those of other banks. Many brick-and-mortar banks, such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America, don’t pay interest on funds in checking accounts — and yields on their savings accounts are often laughably low as well, amounting to just less than 0.05% in both cases. 

With TIAA Bank’s Yield Pledge, which is a literal pledge to keep its checking yields in the top fifth percentile relative to the national average for U.S. banks, customers don’t have to worry about rates not being competitive.

5. No Overdraft Fees With Linked Accounts

Even if they lack sufficient funds in their checking accounts, TIAA Bank customers don’t have to pay overdraft fees if they link them with in-house money market or savings vehicles from which the bank can automatically pull. This safety net is limited by restrictions on outbound transfers — no more than six per statement period.

TIAA Bank also allows customers to opt in to a personal overdraft line of credit that provides a cash advance, at rates under 10%, in the event that the linked account lacks sufficient funds to cover an overdraft. There’s no fee for this credit line, but interest begins accruing on the day of the overdraft and continues to accrue until the full advance has been paid down. 

Customers also can opt out of overdraft protection altogether.


Disadvantages

TIAA Bank isn’t perfect. These are the most notable disadvantages.

1. No High-Yield Savings Accounts

For such a comprehensive institution, TIAA Bank has a curious omission: it doesn’t offer any high-yield savings accounts in the mold of Ally’s High-Yield Savings Account. The upshot is that TIAA Bank’s Yield Pledge Checking boasts savings account-like yields, and the Basic Savings account has a decent yield as well.

2. High Minimum Deposit Requirements on Some Accounts

Some TIAA Bank accounts have high minimum balance requirements (account minimums), namely the CD accounts. By contrast, many online banks, including Ally Bank, don’t require minimum deposits for checking, savings, or CD accounts with tangible yields. 

For savers who want to spread their money across multiple high-yield accounts or simply don’t have a lot to invest, TIAA Bank’s account-size restrictions can be onerous. 

3. No Lending for Autos or Other Big-Ticket Purchases

TIAA Bank’s individual and commercial mortgage options, not to mention its refinancing vehicles, have a lot to offer for prospective homebuyers and commercial real estate developers. Unfortunately, its lending operations don’t extend to auto lending or other big-ticket purchases. 

By contrast, Ally Bank has a robust auto lending operation, and GE Capital Retail Bank offers financing for everything from furniture and residential appliances to medical bills and jewelry.

4. Limited Access to Fee-Free ATM Withdrawals

Banks with nationwide physical branch networks, such as Wells Fargo and Chase, have thousands of branded ATMs scattered about the country, making it easy for depositors to access their money without paying third-party ATM fees. By contrast, TIAA Bank has a relative handful of its own ATMs (fee-free for all account holders), mostly at its dozen Florida bank branches. 

Unless they can maintain a checking account balance of at least $5,000, TIAA Bank customers who use their debit cards at a non-TIAA Bank ATM must pay any fees charged by the ATM’s owner.

5. No In-House Brokerage or Wealth Management Services

TIAA Bank customers can invest with TIAA’s brokerage, which provides a range of options for passive and active investors, but there’s no way to do so directly through TIAA Bank’s online banking portal. TIAA Bank also has no in-house wealth management vertical, a blow to the company’s high net worth customers. 

By comparison, some competitors have fully integrated brokerage verticals. Ally Bank has Ally Invest, for instance, and TD Bank has long had a close association with TD Ameritrade, a full-service broker. If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for spending, saving, and investing in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, and bonds, look to one of those options instead.


Final Word

TIAA Bank is a full-service online bank that also has physical branches in Florida and a handful of mortgage lending outposts across the south-central United States. Its flagship product, the Yield Pledge Checking Account, offers one of the best checking account yields of any national bank, and its money market accounts and CDs are competitive, as well.

At the same time, many TIAA Bank accounts require high minimum deposits, and its ATM fee reimbursements don’t kick in until account holders keep more than $5,000 in a single checking account. Unlike Capital One 360, which actively caters to smaller savers and investors while limiting options for advanced investors and high-asset savers, TIAA Bank definitely sets its sights on a wealthier customer set.

If you have ample reserves of cash and can easily clear the company’s minimums, you could reap solid rewards from its high-yield accounts and personalized financial services. However, if you’re just starting out down the savings trail, a friendlier bank like Ally or Capital One 360 might be more your speed.

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The Verdict

Tiaa Bank Logo

Our rating

4.0/5

TIAA Bank

TIAA Bank is ideal for affluent customers seeking high yields on checking, money market, and CD accounts. With more exotic financial products such as CDARS service and foreign-denominated accounts, it’s also useful for advanced savers and investors who need to park lots of money or who seek exposure to less common assets.

However, relatively high minimum deposit amounts for high-yield accounts, the lack of any high-yield savings account options, no in-house brokerage, and some key loan omissions hurt the case for TIAA Bank.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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