Over the past few months, a number of readers have recommended that I check out FNBO Direct as an online savings alternative. Given the interest out there, I thought I should investigate. After a bit of digging, I was impressed enough with what I saw that I decided to open an account this weekend.
Strengths of FNBO Direct
One of the biggest reasons that people have given me for liking FNBO Direct has been their high interest rate. In fact, they have consistently outpaced online bank stalwarts such as ING Direct. Another strength of FNBO Direct is that they don’t have a minimum balance requirement, and there are no monthly fees.
In addition to the above, FNBO Direct is not only FDIC insured (as are all of the major players), but they also have a Bankrate “Safe & Sound” rating of 4 stars, which makes them one of the safest online banks.
Finally, while I have yet to test this out myself, I’ve heard from at least one reader that it’s dead easy to get a real, live human being on the line when you call customer service.
Opening an account
Given the above, I decided that I’d give FNBO Direct a try. What follows is a walk-through of the account opening process. All told, the process took about 10-15 minutes for a joint account (it would be a bit quicker for an individual account).
Step 1: Initiate your application.
Simply visit FNBO Direct and click on “Open an Account.” You should be greeted with a page that looks something like this:
Simply check the box for starting a new application and then click “Next Step.”
Step 2: Enter your personal information.
On the subsequent pages, you’ll select whether you’d like to fill out an individual or joint application, and then you’ll be asked to provide your name, social security number, date of birth, address, etc. Pretty standard stuff. If you’re opening a joint account, you’ll have to provide this information for both account holders.
Step 3: Confirm your identity.
Next, you’ll be asked a couple questions drawn from your credit record to make sure that you are who you say you are. In our case, we were asked about which bank holds our mortgage and how much we pay per month. These are multiple choice questions, so you just select the proper answer from a list of option.
Step 4: Fund your account.
At this point, you’ll be asked how you’re planning on funding your new account. While they don’t have a minimum balance requirement, you have to deposit at least one dollar to get the account up and running.
You have two options when it comes to funding your account. You can other do so electronically, via an electronic bank transfer, or you can send in a check. We opted for an electronic transfer. At that point, you’ll be present with a screen that looks something like this:
Simply provide the requested information, choose a deposit amount, and then choose an account verification methods, as follows:
We opted for trial deposits, which means it will be a day or two before we have full access to our account. The online verification provides you with instant access to your account, but it requires that you provide the username and password associated with your linked bank account.
The next step
That’s all there is to the account opening process. As I said, very quick and easy. In the next day or two we should be getting an e-mail saying that they’ve made the trial deposits. At that point, I’ll just have to check exactly how much they deposited (it’s usually a few cents) and then hop back on over to the FNBO Direct website to verify the amounts.