Review of First National's Online Banking
FNBO Direct is an online-only bank offering checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, and other financial services. The accounts are best for customers who bank virtually, performing transactions electronically instead of via a brick and mortar branch.
FNBO Direct is part of the First National Bank of Omaha, which is a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska, a banking institution with over 160 years of history.
Opened in late 2006, FNBO follows a model similar to other online banking giants: high interest and low fees.
Checking and savings accounts are the main attraction at FNBO Direct. To use these accounts, you’ll open the account entirely online and fund the account electronically (via ACH) from an existing checking account. The minimum to open an account is $1.
Customer service is all handled online or on the phone, and customer reviews suggest that most people are satisfied with how they’re treated.
Free checking is available at FNBO direct. There are no monthly service fees, and you get several handy account features, including:
- Free online bill payment
- Alerts by text or email to keep you up to date
- A debit card for in-store or online purchases (and cash withdrawals)
- Free P2P payments using Popmoney
- Free stop payment service
You’ll also earn interest on your checking account balance, which is a nice bonus.
At the time of this writing, the rate was certainly competitive, more than you’d get from Ally Bank or Capital One 360 unless you keep a large account balance at those banks. For low balances, FNBO Direct might be a good option. However, checking accounts are more about easy access than earnings, and you’ll probably spend money about as quickly as it comes in.
If you want to juice up your rate, use a savings account.
Savings Accounts and CDs
FNBO also offers an online savings account that pays more interest than the checking account. Again, there are no monthly maintenance fees, and it’s easy to transfer money in and out of the account. That said, remember that savings accounts have limits: certain transfers out of the account are limited to six per month so plan ahead if you’ve got a lot of expenses coming up.
To earn even more, use a certificate of deposit (CD). These accounts lock your money up for a certain amount of time, such as six to eighteen months, for example, in exchange for a higher interest rate. But taking your money out early can cost you. Early withdrawal penalties might add up to more than you’ve earned, so you’ll actually walk away with less than you started with.
Popmoney is a P2P payment service included with FNBO Direct accounts. If you frequently pay friends and family, you might appreciate that “standard” Popmoney payments are free. Expedited payments cost extra, but any expedited payment costs money. However, this might not be a major decision factor: other P2P services, like PayPal and Venmo, are also free for personal payments.
A Good Deal?
FNBO offers attractive rates at a low price. For a simple online savings account (or high-yield checking), it’s not a bad choice.
As of this writing, it is not clear that FNBO Direct offers remote check deposit to customers. If you receive the occasional check, that’s a valuable service for making quick deposits. That said, paper checks are less common than they used to be, and you might never need that service (you can always make deposits at your brick and mortar bank and transfer the funds to FNBO direct later).
This article was updated by Justin Pritchard.