Choosing a high-yield online savings account can be quite a headache, so hopefully this review will help you in your search for an online savings account.

As with all federal savings bank, E-Trade Bank is a member of the FDIC (certificate #30746), with all deposits in E-Trade banking accounts insured up to $250,000. E-Trade currently offers a few different options for their banking products, including high-yield savings & CDs, and high-yield checking.  For this review, we’ll be taking a look at the high-yield Complete Savings Account.

E-Trade Complete Savings Account Features:

  • No minimums or account fees. FDIC insured.
  • Yields more than 8x the national average.
  • Easy access to money with Quick Transfer.
  • Secure electronic statement.

Account Opening Process

After opening more than eight other high-yield online savings account, you’ll start to appreciate online accounts with simple opening processing. E-Trade made the account opening process fairly painless. You start with the usual personal information, follow by a quick identity verification (no hard credit inquiry, screenshot below).

E-Trade Identity Verification E-Trade Opening Process Complete

Once you verify your identity, your account will be opened and you’ll be presented with a screen providing you with your Complete Savings account number. It is recommended you print this page or write down the account number so you can immediately set up your online account functionality.

Within about a week or so, you’ll receive a mailer from E-Trade Bank. This was a pleasant surprise as most other online savings usually don’t bother to follow up with a banking and website usage guide.

E-Trade Banking Quick Start Guide E-Trade Banking Guide with Account Forms and Terms

The E-Trade’s Banking Quick Start Guide provides you with three quick step to get you started. 1) Log-on to account 2) make a deposit 3) maximize your money (by setting up automatic savings, online bill pay, etc.).  Included in this mailer is also a sheet of deposit slip for those that needs it, pre-addressed envelopes,  account agreement terms, privacy statement, and rate and fee schedule.

You’ll also find an “Account Holder Signature Card” in the mailing, which you’ll need to sign and mail back to E-Trade to complete your account opening. If you forget to send in your signature card, E-Trade will send you another mailing in about a few weeks to remind you.

Account Usage and Transfer Speed

Although E-Trade’s site has more navigation and menus that you’d clear to examine, once you’ve logged in, the account usage is pretty easy and straightforward. You’ll be presented with an overview page, listing the type of accounts you have (screenshot below), along with a Quick Transfer interface, giving you quick access to the ability to transfer your funds in and out of E-Trade.

E-Trade’s Quick Transfer setup is the same as any other Automated Clearing House transfer setup, put in the routing number and the checking account number for the banking account you want to link to your E-Trade account, and you’ll be presented with two methods to verify your external accounts (screenshot above).

You can choose the instant verification method which takes only a couple of minutes, and is available if your financial institution has an online website. You provide your website username and password and E-Trade will verify your account ownership.

If you’re not comfortable with the online instant verification method, you can use the good old deposit verification method, which entails E-Trade making two small random deposits into your external account, which you’ll have to verify. The deposits usually takes about 2-3 business day to show up.

Once you’ve finished setting up the Quick Transfer accounts, you’ll find that E-Trade fund transfer is one of the fastest in the industry. Tested fund transfers usually gets withdrawal from external account at the very next business day (if you initiate transfer before 4 P.M. EST), and is cleared for withdrawal from your E-Trade savings on the evening of the 3rd business day after the day of deposit.

Without a doubt, E-Trade’s fund transfer is as fast ING Direct’s transfer speed (if not faster), and E-Trade clearly beats out HSBC Direct or FNBO Direct in terms of fund transfer speed.

Customer Service and Overall Impression:

Contacting E-Trade is straightforward enough. If you click on the “Online Service Center” link on the upper right hand corner of your screen, you’ll be brought to the Service Center page, which includes a link for you to send a secure message to an E-Trade representative.  Some basic questions regarding withdrawals and transfers were sent to customer service for testing, and an E-Trade customer service representative was able to reply (correctly) to the question within about 48 hours.  Not too bad, but nothing stellar either.

Customer service is of course, a your-result-may-vary issue that deeply depends on the complexity of your question or problem.  If you need immediate customer service, you should consider calling E-Trade Bank at 1-800-387-2331, from 7 A.M. to midnight ET.  You can also fax E-Trade Bank at 1-800-664-4641.  Take note that these customer service numbers are different than those of E-Trade Securities.

Overall, E-Trade’s Complete Savings account is a no frills high-yield online savings account.  It’s account opening process was easy to navigate, and they provide you with useful literature and instructions by paper mail once you’ve signed up. The annual percentage yield rate has been competitive with other high-yield savings, thus making rate-chase a lesser issue.

If you’re already an E-Trade brokerage customer, you’ll have instant access to your cash to/from your savings to your brokerage account.  If you’re looking for a new savings account, you should have little issues with E-Trade’s offering — whether you’re a veteran online banking user or a newcomer.

E-Trade Bank Online Savings Review Rating:

Account Opening Process: 5 out of 5

Rate Competitiveness: 4 out of 5

Ease of Use: 4 out of 5

Customer Service: 3 out of 5

Pros:

  • Account opening a breeze. Useful account usage literature provided after sign-up.
  • Rate has been consistent and remains competitive, if not the best at times.
  • Transfer speed is one of the fastest, compared to other high-yield online savings.
  • Perfect for those with an E-Trade Brokerage account for faster fund transfer between savings and investment accounts.

Cons:

  • Customer service via phone is a bit lacking.
  • E-mail customer service is better but response time could be faster.

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