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Sallie Mae Bank Review: Savings and CDs

Aug. 1, 2019
Banking, CDs, Savings Accounts
Sallie Mae Bank Review
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4.0 NerdWallet rating

Where Sallie Mae Bank shines:

  • High rates on savings and CDs.
  • No minimum opening deposit on savings or money market 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.
  • Doesn’t offer checking accounts.

Where Sallie Mae Bank shines:

  • High rates on savings and CDs.
  • No minimum opening deposit on savings or money market 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.
  • Doesn’t offer checking accounts.

Where Sallie Mae Bank shines:

  • High rates on savings and CDs.
  • No minimum opening deposit on savings or money market 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.
  • Doesn’t offer checking accounts.

 

The bottom line


Sallie Mae Bank offers 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 multiple 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 2.15% APY is near the top of the pack.

No opening deposit required: Neither the money market nor the high-yield savings account has a minimum deposit to open or earn interest.

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

Reasonable fees: Sallie Mae doesn’t have monthly fees or many other fees. Its only overdraft-related fee, an insufficient funds fee of $19, is much lower than the national median overdraft fee of $34.

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.

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 open one.

The upsides:

Varied term lengths: Sallie Mae has more CD options than most online banks, including uncommon terms such as 11 and 13 months. 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 from 2.20% to 2.45%. Interestingly, the 2-year CD pays one of the better rates. (At most banks, 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. You can find online banks with lower or even no minimum deposit requirements.

BANK EXPERIENCE: 3.0/5.0

As with 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. And 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.


» 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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