Sometime in the last month or so, (or longer, I have no idea honestly) a new high yield savings bank appeared with little fanfare or press: Dollar Savings Direct. It’s a division of Emigrant Bank, FDIC Certificate #12054, which is the same parent company of Emigrant Direct. On the face of it, it appears there’s little difference besides interest rate and minimums. Dollar Savings Direct has a higher APY at 2.05% but has a minimum balance of $1,000 but no fees (if your balance falls under the minimum, you earn only 1%). If you go to their respective homepages, they’re designed with nearly the same elements (layout is the same except on Dollar Savings you have a picture of Benjamin Franklin versus a patriotic top hat, the buttons are basically the same, color-schemes, etc).
What’s the deal? Well, I called Dollar Savings Direct and chatted with a very nice CSR who explained the whole story. She confirmed that there was no difference other than APY and minimums, that was interesting. She also explained that Dollar Savings Direct was merely Banco Fortuna, Emigrant Bank’s foray into the Spanish-speaking banking market, rebranded in English. I suppose Emigrant’s foray wasn’t as productive as they had hoped. If you visit the Banco Fortuna homepage, it redirects you to Dollar Savings Direct, confirming the CSR’s explanation.
So, from someone who didn’t know about Banco Fortuna (or that it was going away), it appeared as though Emigrant Bank was trying to get more deposits without having to pay their existing Emigrant Direct customers. It now appears that isn’t the case.
The last question I had for the CSR was whether I could transfer between the two accounts and she said no. They were two separate banks, despite having the same FDIC certificate, so to transfer funds you’d need a checking account intermediary.