5.05% APY is a pretty healthy yield and one of the highest in the nation now (top high yield savings accounts ) that the Fed has been pulling interested rates down (much to the chagrin of overseas travelers and those shorting gold) so last week I opened up an E*Trade Complete Savings account  yielding exactly that. To open an account, just go to this application page and submit your information. Now, here are a few tips after you open the account as I found the start-up and activation process to be a little confusing (it was the first time I called up the help services of any bank to assist me with opening an account, if that’s any indication).
Incidentally, E*Trade Bank is FDIC insured and has been since June 23, 1955; much longer than I had thought they’d been.
After you create the account, you can log into E*Trade but the account won’t immediately appear. At first I chalked it up to the account not being established yet; but after I received all the account documentation in the mail and didn’t see the Complete Savings account listed in my Accounts Complete View, I was surprised. Apparently what you need to do is click on the “Banking & Credit Cards” tab located at the top of your screen and then look for an “Apply for access” link. I thought I already applied! Anyway, there will be three boxes that appear for you to enter in your social security number, your account number, and your zip code. After that, you new account will appear. I’m not sure why this is necessary or why none of the introductory material had a “Get Started” section to explain this. Another way to reach this is to find the link that says “Don’t see one of your accounts?,” that’ll bring you to the same page.
Adding External Accounts
When you first open your account you need to add an external funding account, I added my Bank of America account since everything funnels through there. Well, the initial $100 was withdrawn but I can’t immediately transfer money yet – I have to verify it! To do that, look for the “External Account Added” in the “Alerts” section to the right of your screen, click that and then click on “Verify your external account now” in the window that pops up. That will take you to a page that details the external account, click on the Verify link next to the “Verified on:” text label. (There are about a million ways to get to the verification page, so don’t fret).
Now there are two ways to verify an account, username and login or two small deposits. I’m willing to wait and go the two deposits route even though they claim that “Your external account login information is maintained within a secured session and will not be stored to perform this verification.” That’s okay, waiting 2-3 business days for two small deposits is acceptable.
What I don’t understand is why I need to verify an account that already has been debited in the first place. My Bank of America account was used to fund this account so why would I need to verify it one more time? The only time this makes sense is if I were to open up a bank account in someone else’s name (knowing all their information), gave it an initial deposit, but didn’t want that person to have access to my bank. Is that scenario common? I wouldn’t think so. I am pretty sure every other bank I’ve worked with has automatically added the initial funding link without having to go through this process.
Fast Help Desk
I did have to call 1-800-ETRADE-1 (1-800-387-2331) to find this and it took me about two minutes to reach a representative (it was also 8AM this morning), very quick considering I didn’t feverishly hit “0” in an attempt to reach a representative ASAP. They were very helpful and we resolved this issue, probably something they hear all the time, in about a minute. Unfortunately, I have no basis for comparison because I’ve never had to call ING Direct  or Emigrant Direct  for anything. 🙂