American Express National Bank Review - Everything You Need to Know
Perfect for high-yield savings and CDs with no monthly fees or minimums
You’re probably already familiar with American Express payment cards. But American Express National Bank is an FDIC-insured online bank account with a simple lineup and no fees (other than early-withdrawal penalties on CDs). Read on to see our review and what the financial institution has to offer.
Who Is American Express Bank Best For?
American Express has a broad range of products, but the banking offerings focus on the basic task of growing your money. Amex may be right for you if you want:
High interest rates on your savings
No monthly fees or minimums
24/7 customer service by phone
Types of Accounts
- High Yield Savings
- Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
High Yield Savings
The High Yield Savings account is an online savings account that pays a high interest rate and doesn’t charge monthly fees. Some other highlights:
- It pays 1.70 percent APY
- There are no minimum balance requirements
American Express Bank does not provide an ATM card for your savings account. That’s not unusual among online banks, but some banks (like Synchrony or Alliant Credit Union) provide cards for your convenience. To access your funds, transfer money to a linked bank account by ACH, wire money out, or request a check.
As with any savings account, remember that certain transfers out of your account are limited to six per month. When you move money to a linked external bank account, that counts as one of your six.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
American Express offers standard CDs that allow you to secure a high interest rate in exchange for locking up your money. Rates are competitive if you look beyond the one-year CD, but banks like Ally and Capital One 360 pay more if you prefer a short-term commitment.
American Express CD rates:
|6 months||0.40% APY|
|12 months||0.55% APY|
|18 months||1.80% APY|
|24 months||2.00% APY|
|36 months||2.05% APY|
|48 months||2.10% APY|
|60 months||2.15% APY|
If you withdraw funds before the CD matures, you typically have to pay an early-withdrawal penalty. Penalties depend on the length of your CD when you originally buy:
|Less than 12 months||90 days of interest|
|More than 12 months, but less than 48 months||270 days of interest|
|More than 48 months, but less than 60 months||365 days of interest|
|More than 60 months||540 days of interest|
Those penalties are on the high end of what other online banks charge, so plan carefully if you use a CD at American Express Bank. Penalties come out of any interest you earn, and they can even eat into your original (principal) deposit if the interest isn’t sufficient to cover the penalty.
Interest on American Express Bank CDs compounds daily and pays out monthly. You can leave the funds in your CD to compound, or you can automatically have the money sent out to another bank account.
Other Types of Accounts
American Express Bank does not handle trust accounts or individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Payable on death (POD) registrations are available. Loans and investments are also not part of the American Express National Bank offering, but Amex (the larger organization) offers several payment cards for individuals and businesses.
Amex Serve Prepaid Card: The Serve prepaid debit card is a bank-like product that allows you to use American Express for payments. If you like American Express but you’re disappointed by the lack of online checking, a prepaid card may fill the gap.
Some perks include:
- Potentially no monthly charges
- Free online bill payment
- Depositing checks with your mobile device
- Depositing cash at selected retailers
There is no direct link between balances in American Express National Bank accounts and Amex credit cards or prepaid cards.
How to Bank With American Express
To open an account, visit AmericanExpress.com or call 1-800-446-6307.
Like most financial institutions in the U.S., American Express requires you to provide the personal information below to open an account:
- Names of all account owners
- Social Security Number (SSN) or Tax ID Number (TIN) of all account owners
- A physical address of account owners (mailing address optional)
- E-mail address and phone numbers of account owners
- Basic employment and income information
- Bank account information for any accounts you wish to link to American Express
You can fund your account with direct deposit, ACH transfers, wire transfers, remote deposit, or deposits by mail. American Express allows you to link up to three external bank accounts. That’s a relatively low number compared to other banks, but most people don’t need more than that. If necessary, you can daisy-chain accounts and transfer money through multiple banks.
To get money out of your Amex accounts, you can transfer funds to your linked account, request a check, or request a wire transfer. Wire transfers are free, but require a minimum transfer amount of $500.
American Express National Bank does not charge any monthly fees, overdraft charges, excessive withdrawal charges, wire transfer fees, or other transaction charges. According to Amex, the only way to potentially pay fees to the bank is to take an early withdrawal from a CD.
When you deposit money into your account, American Express may hold the funds temporarily. Doing so can reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of a deposited check being returned unpaid, and Amex’s policy is competitive with other banks. Wire transfers appear to take an extra day, but this is a savings account—not a payment account—and you earn interest on your money while it’s being held. After reading the policy, always verify the estimated timeline with a customer service representative if you think you’ll need the money anytime soon.
American Express National Bank’s funds availability policy is refreshingly brief.
- Check deposits should be available on the fifth business day after Amex processes your deposit
- ACH deposits that you initiate through Amex should be available on the fifth business day after you request the transfer. That accounts for a few days of transfer time, plus a short hold
- ACH transfers that you initiate elsewhere should be available on the day American Express receives the funds
- Wire transfers should be available on the business day after American Express receives the transfer
All that said, actual hold times may be beyond your control. You may experience delays due to environmental or technology events, so it’s critical to discuss funds availability policies with customer service whenever you make an important deposit. Even if the bank allows you to withdraw money, you’re still responsible if a deposit goes unpaid.
About American Express National Bank
American Express is a household name in the U.S., primarily because of Amex payment cards. The firm was established in 1850, and the banking division, headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT, was founded in 1985.
American Express uses security measures typical of the financial services industry in the U.S. Communication between your devices and Amex is reportedly encrypted, and the company monitors systems for potential fraud. That said, a data breach is possible at any institution, large or small.
Federal law protects your account from certain types of fraud and errors. However, you need to notice problems quickly and report them immediately for the greatest protection.
When you log in with a new device, Amex sends a code that you must enter before logging in (via text, e-mail, or voice call). For maximum security, you can tell Amex not to remember your devices, and you’ll need to enter a code every time you log in.
The Bottom Line
Benefits American Express Bank has a simple offering, which may be all you need. It’s hard to pay fees, so the savings account (which pays a relatively high rate) may be an excellent choice for those who just want to grow their savings. With 24/7 customer service, even non-tech-savvy customers with busy lives can take advantage of online banking.
Drawbacks The lack of easy spending options makes it harder to use your money—if that’s important to you. Banks like Discover, Ally, and others provide free checking accounts and money market accounts that allow you to spend money without transferring out to another bank. Also, the one-year CD is notably lower than other online banks, forcing you to sit in savings or commit to longer terms.