TIAA Direct Online Bank Review – Great CD and Money Market Rates

Thinking about making the switch to an online bank? TIAA could be a good choice for you, especially if you’re interested in stashing your cash in a CD or money market account. But before you move your money, be sure to read our full TIAA Direct Online Bank Review.

TIAA Bank

Abby Hayes's rating
9.5
TIAA Bank
Fees 8.8
Interest Rates 9.2
Ease of Use 9.8
Customer Service 9.8
Mobile Accessibility 10.0

Pros

  • Competitive rates on CDs and money market account
  • Mobile-friendly
  • 24/7 phone support

Cons

  • Lack of ATMs can make fees add up
  • Low APY on Basic Savings and Checking accounts
  • $5,000 minimum deposit on Yield Pledge accounts


Table of Contents

About TIAA

TIAA, formerly known as TIAA-CREF, stands for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association. But you don’t have to be a teacher to benefit from the TIAA Direct online bank. This bank, originally founded in 1918, is adapting to the times offering an online-only banking arm to its customers.

TIAA Direct lets TIAA customers log in online to take care of their accounts. So regardless of what type of account you have with TIAA, you can log in online to check your account, transfer money, or set up online bill pay. Here, we’ll talk about the different account types TIAA Direct offers, interest rates and fees, what you can do online, and more.

TIAA Account Features and Fees

TIAA offers both banking and borrowing services with an assortment of account types, including:

High-Yield Accounts

TIAA Bank features three different high yield accounts: Yield Pledge Checking, Yield Pledge Money Market, and Yield Pledge CDs.

Yield Pledge Checking currently offers a 1.21% 1-year intro APY for first-time checking account clients with balances of up to $250,000. The variable ongoing APY ranges from .25% to .71%, depending on account balance. These accounts have no monthly account fee and no minimum balance, but they require a $5,000 minimum deposit to open. If your balance is $5,000 or more, you’ll be reimbursed for all ATM fees charged by other banks. And even if your balance is less than $5,000, you can be reimbursed for up to $15 per month in ATM fees.

Yield Pledge Money Market is currently offering a 1.80% 1-year introductory APY, with an ongoing APY of between 1.10% and 1.70%, depending on account balance. This account also has a $5,000 minimum deposit to open. As with the checking account, there’s no monthly account fee and a $0 fee for online bill pay. ATM fee reimbursement also applies.

Yield Pledge CDs have a minimum opening deposit of $5,000 but guarantee a high yield. CD APY ranges from 1.75% on a 3-month CD to 3.10% on a 5-year CD.

Specialty CDs

If the Yield Pledge CDs aren’t what you want, you can also take advantage of TIAA Bank’s two specialty CD options:

Bump Rate CDs are great in a rising-interest environment, as they let you bump your CD’s rate once during the lifetime of the CD. So if interest rates climb, you can take advantage of this without pulling your money out and paying a penalty. As of this writing, the Bump Rate CD has a 3.5 year term, $1,500 minimum to open, and a 2.85% APY.

CDARS Service allows users to invest in CDs from multiple banks while allowing one bank to administer the account. This can give you more financial security without the hassle of managing multiple CDs on your own. You can find out more about this service here.

Basic Accounts

If you don’t have a $5,000 deposit to open a Yield Pledge account, you can take advantage of TIAA Bank’s basic checking and savings accounts.

The Basic Checking account has a $25 minimum to open, and carries no account fee as long as you maintain a balance of at least $25. It offers ATM fee reimbursements, mobile check deposit, and free online bill pay.

Basic Savings also has a $25 minimum deposit to open and no monthly fee as long as you maintain at $25 minimum balance. It also allows for mobile check deposits. Basic Savings accounts currently offer a .61% APY.

Mortgage Loans

TIAA Bank home lending solutions include home buying and building mortgages, refinance options, and home equity loans. It also offers HARP refinancing and FHA streamline refinancing.

As with all mortgage loans, rates and terms depend on your situation and creditworthiness. You can apply for a mortgage or refinance to see what your terms might be.

Business Accounts

TIAA Bank also offers business-specific accounts, including:

Business Checking features a $1,500 minimum deposit to open, free processing of the first 200 items each month, no monthly maintenance fees for accounts that maintain a $5,000 minimum balance, and mobile deposit. It also lets you make ACH state and federal tax payments and offers handy online reporting tools that suit most of your business needs.

Small Business Checking has a similar structure to the business checking account, except that it’s an interest-bearing checking account. It gives you a 1.21% introductory 1-year APY right now with ongoing APYs of between .20% and .61%, depending on your account balance. This account also requires a $1,500 deposit to open. It’s specifically created for sole proprietors and single-owner LLCs and combines the benefits of business checking and savings.

Nonprofit Checking is specifically for not-for-profit and faith-based organizations. It is a high-yield checking account with a $1,500 minimum opening deposit. It has no monthly maintenance fee for accounts with a $5,000 minimum deposit, and has an APY of between .20% and .61%, depending on account balance.

Business Interest Checking gives you a business checking account with .61% APY and a $1,500 minimum to open. And Business Analysis Checking offers a .55% APY on 90% of the account’s balance and a $1,500 minimum deposit to open.

Business Money Market account offers a .70% APY and no monthly maintenance fees with a $5,000 minimum monthly balance. With this account, you’ll need a $1,500 deposit to open, and you can move money up to six times a month without incurring excess transaction fees.

Opening an Account

Filling out the application is fairly simple online. There, you can view the different banking and business accounts and choose the account (or accounts) that suit your particular needs. During the application process, you’ll need standard information like your personal address and ID number–typically your driver’s license. You’ll also need information to proceed with your opening deposit, since all TIAA Bank accounts have a minimum deposit requirement.

One thing that’s nice is that you can open multiple TIAA Bank accounts with the same application, so think carefully ahead of time about which accounts you plan to open.

Synchronization

Besides withdrawing your money through an ATM, TIAA Bank allows you to move money between TIAA accounts and between these accounts and other financial institutions online. So you could use your TIAA account to earn interest, but then make a free transfer to a local bank account before withdrawing from an ATM to avoid ATM fees altogether. Remember, different types of accounts, particularly money market accounts, have their own withdrawal and transactions limits. So be sure you familiarize yourself with these rules when you open your account.

Security

Are these accounts safe? TIAA Bank is FDIC-insured. That means that checking and savings accounts, along with CDs, are insured for up to $250,000 per depositor. It doesn’t get much safer than that.

What about online security? Concerned about the security of your banking account online? Don’t be. TIAA Bank uses the best encryption around to ensure that your information stays safe, even when you’re logging in online or from your mobile app.

TIAA Bank Mobile App and Online Banking

With TIAA Bank, you can access online and mobile banking for any of their accounts. Signing up online is easy and allows you access the following:

  • Set up account alerts so you’ll know when your account balance is low, etc.
  • Manage online bill payment options so your bills all get paid on time
  • Online deposits between TIAA Direct accounts or between your TIAA Direct account and other financial institutions
  • Online statements and check images so you can keep track of your balance and spending

On the TIAA Bank mobile app, you can do all of the above plus deposit checks via your mobile phone. Just snap images of the check front and back to make a mobile deposit, so you never have to make an emergency ATM run to deposit checks again.

Customer Support

One thing to pay attention to particularly with online banking is customer support. Since you can’t easily walk into a bank branch, you need to know that you can get your questions answered in other ways. TIAA offers 24/7 phone support and via Twitter during business hours. You can also get information from the bank online and through its mobile app.

Customer support has middle-of-the-road ratings on various review sites. As with most online banks, it will likely depend on the support rep you happen to connect with.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Plenty of account options
  • Competitive rates on CDs and money market account
  • FDIC-insured
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Online bill pay available
  • 24/7 customer support by phone

Cons:

  • $5,000 minimum opening deposit for Yield Pledge accounts
  • Relatively low APY on basic checking and savings accounts
  • Limited ATM access

ATM access one of the biggest limitations for TIAA Bank. It doesn’t offer a lot of ATMs in the U.S. However, on most accounts, if your balance is more than $5,000, you can get reimbursed for any ATM fees you incur. And if your account balance is below $5,000, you can be reimbursed for up to $15 per month in ATM fees. That’s not a bad rate, considering that will cover two or three withdrawals at most ATMs. Just be sure that you consolidate your ATM withdrawals as much as possible to avoid excess fees.

Alternatives

When you’re shopping for an online bank, there are a few features you want to be sure to check off your shopping list–fees, interest rates and convenience are high priority. Most importantly, find the features that fit what you need. For example, if you already have an established fee-free checking account you might be more interested in the rates of a CD or a high yield savings account from another bank.

If you’re goal is saving, you’ll want to look into a new product that recently launched called CIT Savings Builder. When you commit to saving at least $100 a month in this account, you’ll earn a rate of 2.15% APY. It’s a great incentive to save and an excellent way to build the habit of paying yourself first.

Remember, it’s important to comparison shop before you choose a bank. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of Best Online Banks you’ll want to refer to before making a decision.

Bottom Line – Is it for you?

TIAA Bank isn’t the best in the market for basic savings and checking, with a relatively low APY compared to other online banks. However, if you’re in the market for a CD or a money market account, it’s a great place to look. Its CD rates are near the top of the market, and its introductory 1-year APYs–and ongoing APYs–are also competitive on these accounts.

As long as you can avoid the ATM fees and account maintenance fees with your account balance, TIAA Bank is a solid option for online banking that actually earns you some money.

Topics: BankingReviews

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