American Express is best known for its award winning credit cards. What many don’t know, however, is that American Express also offers an online bank with competitive interest rates.
American Express Bank, FSB is an FDIC-insured online bank (FDIC Certificate #35328) located in Salt Lake City, Utah. It offers two savings products. First, the bank has high-yield certificates of deposit with terms ranging from six to 60 months. Second, it offers a high-yield savings account.
In this review, we’ll look at the accounts AMEX offers, its rates and fees, and how the online bank works.
Deal of the Day: Earn 1.30% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Synchrony Bank.
High Yield Savings Account
The high yield savings account works like most savings accounts. Funds deposited in the account earn interest. You can withdraw money from the account at any time. Keep in mind, however, that you are limited to six withdrawals per month. This limitation is not set by American Express. It’s actually a federal law:
Reserve Requirements for Depository Institutions (12 C.F.R. 204, Regulation D) is a Federal Reserve Board regulation. It limits the number of withdrawals and transfers from a savings or money market account. Regulation D (Reg. D) applies to all U.S. banking institutions offering such accounts. Personal Savings customers may make a maximum of six (6) Reg. D-covered transfers or withdrawals per statement cycle. There is no limit on the number of deposits that can be made.
The interest rates offered by American Express are competitive with other online banks. The yield on the savings account is currently 1.15% APY (as of September 20, 2017) and is subject to change. This rate is competitive with the highest available yield on savings accounts that we track.
American Express currently offers CDs in terms ranging from six to 60 months. As with most CD products, the interest goes up for longer term CDs. It’s important to note, however, that there may be penalty fees for taking your money out of the CD before it matures. The amount of the penalty depends on the term of the CD:
- For a CD with a Term of 12 Months or Less: If you withdraw all of your principal balance, or if the account is closed for any other reason, the penalty is 90 days’ interest on the withdrawn amount, applying the interest rate disclosed in your account-opening documents.
- For a CD with a Term of More than 12 Months: If you withdraw all of your principal balance, or if the account is closed for any other reason, the penalty is 180 days’ interest on the withdrawn amount, applying the interest rate disclosed in your account-opening documents.
Because of the penalties, it’s important to make sure you can keep your money in the CD during the entire term. If you are unsure, consider a shorter term CD or the savings account option.
I’ve not listed the CD rates because quite frankly, they suck. When compared to other online banks like Discover, Ally, and CIT, the CD interest rates for American Express don’t hold water. The value in owning personal savings products from American Express account comes from the high yield savings account.
Related: Learn how to build a CD rate ladder
Fees, Minimums & Support
- Fees: There are no monthly fees
- Minimum Balance: There is no minimum balance requirements.
- Support: Because we’re talking about an online bank, customer service is critical. American Express Bank offers 24/7 account access. You can access your account online or call AMEX.
Opening an American Express Bank Account
Here’s how you sign-up for an American Express account:
Step 1: Gather Your Information
You will need this information for both primary and joint applicants:
- Social Security number
- Home Address
- E-mail address
- Phone Number
- Date of birth
- Your existing bank account and routing numbers (if funding electronically)
Step 2: Submit Application
Here you’ll choose the type of account you want to open, either a High Yield Savings account or a Certificate of Deposit. You can apply online or by phone at 1-800-446-6307.
Step 3: Receive Confirmation
You will receive an online and/or email confirmation when your application is approved. Additionally, you will receive an American Express® Personal Savings Welcome Kit in the mail within a few days.
Step 4: Fund Your Account
You can fund your online account either by linking your current bank account or by mailing a check. That’s why you’ll need your existing bank account and routing number. Online banks are generally funded electronically by transferring funds from your primary checking account. The idea is to move money you want to save to an online bank such as American Express in order to earn a higher interest rate than most brick and mortar banks pay.
Savings accounts and CDs aren’t designed for everyday spending. That’s what a checking account is for. So money you transfer to an account at American Express should be for longer term savings. These are also good options for emergency savings.
That being said, you can fund an account at American Express via check if you want. You also get your money out of the bank the same way you deposited it, via electronic transfer.
Why I Bank With American Express
Chasing interest rates is a difficult job, especially in a market like this one, where they’re constantly changing. Sometimes that means American Express has a top interest rate, and sometimes it means American Express does not. Seeing as I’m not tucking away hundreds of thousands, I choose to use my online savings accounts to track savings.
American Express is one of those accounts. I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with their customer service team, and their interface is simple to use. Transferring money in has always been quick, and if you find yourself in need of an online savings account (not CDs!), American Express Personal Savings has my recommendation.