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Sallie Mae Bank Review: Savings and CDs

Oct. 23, 2018
Banking, CDs, Savings Accounts
Sallie Mae Bank Review
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.
4.0 NerdWallet rating

Where Sallie Mae Bank shines:

  • High rates on savings and CDs.
  • Low opening deposit on savings accounts.
  • Few and relatively low account fees.

Where Sallie Mae Bank falls short:

  • Limited customer service hours and options.
  • You’ll need another bank to fund your account.
  • Does not offer checking accounts.

Where Sallie Mae Bank shines:

  • High rates on savings and CDs.
  • Low opening deposit on savings accounts.
  • Few and relatively low account fees.

Where Sallie Mae Bank falls short:

  • Limited customer service hours and options.
  • You’ll need another bank to fund your account.
  • Does not offer checking accounts.

Where Sallie Mae Bank shines:

  • High rates on savings and CDs.
  • Low opening deposit on savings accounts.
  • Few and relatively low account fees.

Where Sallie Mae Bank falls short:

  • Limited customer service hours and options.
  • You’ll need another bank to fund your account.
  • Does not offer checking accounts.

 

The bottom line

Sallie Mae Bank

at Sallie Mae Bank,

Member, FDIC


If you’re comfortable with online banking, Sallie Mae Bank has high — though not quite the highest — savings rates, and it won’t drain your account with fees. Its website is easy to navigate, but the bank has limited customer service hours, and making a phone call is the main way to get in touch.
Best if: You want high rates on savings but don’t need a new checking account.

Read on for details on Sallie Mae’s savings products, app ratings, bank experience and more.

savings: 5.0/5.0

Sallie Mae Bank offers several different savings options, including a high-yield savings account, a money market account and SmartyPig, an interest-paying account with goal tracking. The money market account allows for easy withdrawals and offers an excellent annual percentage yield.

The upsides:

High interest: You’ll find a few other banks that pay more, but the money market account’s 2.12% APY is near the top of the pack.

Low opening deposit: Unlike many other banks, there’s no minimum deposit required to open a money market with Sallie Mae. There’s also no minimum amount required to earn interest.

Reasonable fees: Sallie Mae’s list of fees is short, and its insufficient funds fee is $19, much lower than the national median overdraft fee of $34.

Check writing: You’re allowed to write checks from the money market account. Checks ordered at account opening are free; otherwise they’re $5.

The downside:

You’ll need an account outside of Sallie Mae: You can fund your money market — or other Sallie Mae account — only with an electronic transfer or a check. So you need at least one additional account at another institution to move money around.

How does Sallie Mae Bank compare?

Sallie Mae Bank

Money Market Savings

NerdWallet Rating

APY

2.12%

Monthly Fees

$0

Bonus features

No Monthly Fee

Competitive APY

Goldman Sachs Bank USA

Online Savings

NerdWallet Rating

at Goldman Sachs Bank USA,

Member, FDIC

APY

2.05%

Monthly Fees

$0

Bonus features

No Monthly Fee

Competitive APY

American Express National Bank

High Yield Savings Account

NerdWallet Rating

at American Express National Bank,

Member, FDIC

APY

2.00%

Monthly Fees

$0

Bonus features

No Monthly Fee

Competitive APY

Not for you? Read more bank reviews

CDs: 4.5/5.0

Sallie Mae Bank offers CDs in a variety of term lengths, from six months to five years. Just know that you’ll have to put quite a bit of cash down to get the benefits.

The upsides:

Varied term lengths: If you’re interested in depositing your money for, say, 11 or 13 months instead of one year, Sallie Mae’s got you. The bank has eight deposit options for two years or less.

High rates: Sallie Mae’s CDs don’t stack up quite as well as its money market, but they’re still very good. They pay between 1.30% and 2.95%. Interestingly, the 36-month CD pays the best rate. (The longest term lengths typically earn the highest rates.)

The downsides:

Limited long-term options: CDs top out at 60 months, and there are no terms between three and five years.

Large opening deposit: You’ll have to pay in $2,500 to get a CD from Sallie Mae Bank. This is higher than some online banks, many of which don’t have minimum deposit requirements.

BANK EXPERIENCE: 3.0/5.0

Like most online banks, you shouldn’t expect to do your banking at a branch with Sallie Mae — it just has one, in Salt Lake City. But the company doesn’t offer much in the way of customer service channels.

The upside:

Easy-to-understand website: Sallie Mae’s products are all easy to find on its website, and rates are clearly spelled out.

The downsides:

Limited customer service: To get in touch with Sallie Mae, you’ll likely have to call, and customer service hours are limited to weekdays. The company doesn’t offer live chat or other service methods.

Poorly rated apps: Neither of Sallie Mae Bank’s apps cracks 2.5 stars in the Android or iOS app stores.

Sallie Mae Bank

at Sallie Mae Bank,

Member, FDIC


» Ready to make a choice? Sallie Mae is primarily known for student loans, but its savings options are excellent. The money market account pays one of the best available rates, and its CD offerings are good.

If you’d like other all-around options for both checking and savings accounts, read NerdWallet’s best banks and credit unions.


Ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, bank experience and overdraft fees.

Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

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