Dollar Savings Direct Review
Is Dollar Savings Direct a good bank?
Dollar Savings Direct is an online-only bank offering deposit accounts at an impressive interest rate. Dollar Savings Direct is a division of Emigrant Bank, a privately held bank founded in 1850 by Irish immigrants and has $6 billion in assets as of 2020.
This in-depth review will help you decide if Dollar Savings Direct is the right choice for you.
What We Like, What We Don't Like
1.00% APY on savings accounts
Certificates of Deposit yield up to 1.10% APY
No fees or service charges
No minimum deposit required
No checking accounts
Other online banks may offer higher APY
No ATM access
No mobile banking app
Who Is Dollar Savings Direct Best For?
- Have a sizable savings account balance
- Are looking for a certificate of deposit
- Are OK with having your savings account at a different bank than your checking account
- Are comfortable using online-only banks
What Does Dollar Savings Direct Offer?
When you bank at Dollar Savings Direct, your choices are simplified. Dollar Savings Direct offers:
- Savings account
- Certificate of deposit
- Online banking
Dollar Savings Account
Dollar Savings Direct calls its savings account the Dollar Savings Account—it’s their version of an online high-yield savings account. Advantages of this account include:
- No monthly fees or service charges
- No minimum balance requirement
- A competitive 1.00% annual percentage yield (APY) as of July 1, 2020
- No fee for excess monthly withdrawals
Banking with Dollar Savings Direct will feel like a no-frills experience. If you’re looking for a modern, technology-driven, bells-and-whistles mobile app experience, you’re not going to like Dollar Savings Direct because it has no app. Even their website looks like something from 10 years ago, without the features you may have gotten used to with other bank websites.
To open a Savings Account with Dollar Savings Direct, you either need to mail in a check, or you can fund the account by linking a checking account held at another bank outside of Dollar Savings Direct.
While you can use a check for the initial deposit, all other deposits to your Dollar Savings Direct account must be by electronic transfer from your linked checking account.
Normally, you're limited to six withdrawals from a savings account. If you go over six, your bank has the right to charge you a fee for each withdrawal. Some banks charge as much as $15, but Dollar Savings Direct, in keeping with its no-fees approach, charges nothing.
Dollar Savings Direct isn’t completely without fees, but they are for situations a typical customer would infrequently find themselves in: There is a $100 legal fee for processing subpoenas and a $30 fee for outgoing domestic wires.
To access and manage your money and your account, you'll sign in to Dollar Savings Direct's online banking portal. Once signed in, you can transfer money electronically between your funding bank and your savings account, update your account details, or set up recurring transfers. The bank uses two-factor authentication and the most up-to-date encryption standards and cybersecurity practices to keep your online account safe.
Also, keep in mind that you won’t get ATM access or a debit card through Dollar Savings Direct. Although this seems like a pain, remember that this isn’t your primary bank; you're simply parking your money. Since you aren’t paying bills or writing checks out of this account, the lack of ATM access or debit card shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
Because Dollar Savings Direct doesn’t offer a checking account, you have to be OK with banking at more than one financial institution. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop, Dollar Savings Direct isn’t for you.
Certificate of Deposit
Dollar Savings Direct’s Certificate of Deposit is for current savings account holders only. Advantages include:
- Minimum deposit of $1,000
- Interest compounded daily and credited monthly
Certificates of deposit are one of the easiest financial products to shop for because you can easily compare rates and terms. Dollar Savings Direct offers five CDs of varying term lengths.
All have a minimum balance requirement of $1,000 and you can’t withdrawal the principal until the maturity date of the CD without paying an early withdrawal penalty. You also can’t add to the principal once you initially fund. You will have to wait until the CD expires or, if you have more than $1,000, you could fund a second CD.
Just like its savings accounts, Dollar Savings Direct’s CDs are FDIC-insured up to the maximum amount: $250,000.
Your accounts are insured up to $250,000 per depositor, so you can be insured up to $250,000 for your individual accounts as well as $250,000 for your joint accounts, for a total of $500,000 in protection.
Other Financial Products From Dollar Savings Direct
In addition to its account options, Dollar Savings Direct also sells and stores gold and other precious metals for its customers. In fact, nearly half of its FAQ page is devoted to its precious metals business.
Customers can purchase gold bullion bars and coins provided by the United States Mint, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury. Coins are only bullion coins, meaning that they aren’t valued by anything other than weight. These aren’t commemorative coins that may have value based on how many were minted, their age, or rarity. Bullion coins are just like gold bars.
You can only purchase precious metals from Dollar Savings Direct with funds from your savings account.
You must also be logged in to see current pricing. Like any precious metals site, prices change frequently with the market. Minimum purchase amounts may depend on your state of residency, but you can purchase as much as you have the funds to buy. However, Dollar Savings Direct may impose a limit on individual purchases for security reasons.
You can't place a precious metals order over the phone; it must be conducted online through your account.
Along with buying, you may also sell your precious metals at competitive rates. Funds from the sale are deposited directly into your Dollar Savings Direct savings account. Any fees associated with the sale will be deducted from the proceeds of your sale.
Finally, Dollar Savings Direct will store your gold for you as well, at a rate of .80% of the daily value of your holdings per annum. It will be insured by Lloyd's of London for 100% of the purchase value. You may also have your gold shipped to your door. If you’re ordering a large quantity to be shipped, Dollar Savings Direct will arrange for armored car delivery.
Dollar Savings Direct Customer Service
Dollar Savings Direct’s website provides a very bare-bones user experience. When you visit the site, your options are opening an account or logging in. There's a brief list of account highlights to entice new customers, but no menu of services or other information.
There are no bank branches, no ATMs, and no mobile apps—just the website.
There's no online chat or support forums, either. For customer service, you can phone a representative between 8 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET seven days a week. You can also send an e-mail or mail a letter.
How to Bank with Dollar Savings Direct
It is simple to open an account with Dollar Savings Direct. As with other banks, you'll need to provide personal information and verify your identity.
You must already have a personal checking account with another bank to open an account. You'll fill out an online application; if you're approved, you can log on immediately. Otherwise, you may need to wait a few more business days to hear back.
You can use a check or electronic transfer as your initial deposit, but those are your only options.
The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line
Unlike some banks whose interest rates on savings accounts approach zero, Dollar Savings Direct’s APY is competitive with the high-yield offerings from other online-only banks. It's not the highest, but it ranks with big names such as Ally and Capital One.
In a world where people generally don’t trust big banks, largely because of the hefty fees they charge, Dollar Savings Direct shines with its no-fee promise.
The tradeoff is that Dollar Savings Direct has no physical locations, offers no checking account, has no ATMs, has no debit card access, and provides a bare-bones website.
However, if you just need a place to park your extra cash, it does just fine.