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FNBO Direct High Yield Savings Account Review

A reader emailed me, after reading my post about high yield savings accounts [3], asking whether Emigrant Direct [4] should even belong on the list. She recommended her number one choice, FNBO Direct [5], because it crushes Emigrant’s 3% APY interest rate.

I think I was always partial to Emigrant Direct because they’ve been around for so long, but, she had a point. There are plenty of banks on the north side of 3% and Emigrant doesn’t offer any particularly innovative features that would justify it being in the top five with that rate, so I sought to review her number one choice. (Another name that appeared a couple times in the comments and emails was Provident Direct, the online bank of Provident Bank).

Application Process

Last week, I opened an account at FNBO Direct, a process that took less than five minutes. There were all the obligatory personal information fields, a quick credit verification (where they ask three questions from your credit report), and my online savings account was “opened.” A few more screens later (login credentials, funding the account) and I was done.

One nice feature in the process, one that HSBC Direct also uses [6], was online bank account verification. You enter in your online access credentials and they try to login to verify you are who you say you are. While it worked at HSBC Direct, it didn’t at FNBO Direct and I had to wait for the two trial deposits. Those arrived the very next day (the ETA was 3 business days). I went back to the FNBO application, entered my two trial deposits, and my application was complete. Within an hour, FNBO sent me an email indicating the initial transfer was being initiated. The next day, I was told my account activated and I could log in.

Here’s where I ran into problems, all of my own doing. I tried to login and was prompted with two security questions – two questions I had never answered. Turns out that at the end of the application, on the page that said “Done,” there was an Activate button. That’s where I was supposed to setup all the security information, select the personal message, etc. After that brief three page process I was set up.

If you were like me and somehow missed that, you can always return to the application, view the confirmation page, and then hit the “Activate” button on that screen.

Account Features

The features of the FNBO Direct account are your standard options for a high yield online savings account. To the right I included a screenshot but it’s very plain looking – which is exactly what I like in a bank website. I want a bank website to be fast loading, simple to navigate, and FNBO delivers on both points. You won’t find a fancy CD laddering form like you can on ING Direct [7] (they’re the only ones, as of this writing, that offer it) but I’ll take a fast loading site over a fancy form any day (ING loads fast too). Plus, the less time they put towards their website, while still giving you the basic functionality, the better. It means they can offer a higher yield.

In the screenshot you’ll see the standard Account Detail, Account Services, Transfer Funds, and BillPay buttons. They all lead to your standard screens with all the expected functionality. I won’t go into those.

More FNBO Direct Information

Here’s some useful information you may need somewhere down the road if you get an FNBO Direct account:

Overall, FNBO Direct is as I expected it to be. A functional high yield savings account with a 3.50% APY yield with no minimum balance requirements. I’m going to try to link up other high yield savings accounts to this one, to expedite any transfers, but otherwise this matches up with every other bank.