Sallie Mae is most well-known for being a student loan lender, but it also has an online-only consumer bank that offers high-yield savings accounts, money market accounts, and CDs. The bank also offers three different types of credit cards.
Sallie Mae has been around since 1973, when it originated as the Student Loan Marketing Association. This detailed review can help you determine if Sallie Mae is the right bank for you.
- Pros and Cons
- Company Overview
Competitive interest rates
No monthly fees
Several savings options
No checking account option
Limited customer service
- Official Website www.salliemae.com
- Bank Product Offerings Savings, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, and credit cards
- Customer Service Available by phone Monday through Friday (numbers and hours vary by account type) and by live chat on the website.
- Year Founded 1973
Who Is Sallie Mae Best For?
Sallie Mae will likely appeal most to you if you want to take advantage of competitive rates on savings accounts and CDs, but don’t need a checking account (the bank doesn’t offer one). It may also be ideal if you:
- Don’t need a lot of support, as customer service options are limited
- Want multiple savings options, from CDs to high-yield savings accounts
- Don’t want a minimum deposit for the money market or high-yield savings accounts
What Does Sallie Mae Offer?
Sallie Mae’s consumer banking options are a bit limited:
SmartyPig Savings Account
SmartyPig is a free, FDIC-insured savings account that can help you save for either short- or long-term goals. This account, which allows you to create and track goals, and set up bi-weekly or monthly contributions, also offers competitive, tiered interest rates.
As of July 2021, the interest rate is as high as 0.70% APY depending on your balance. While not the highest in the market, the rate is still pretty competitive compared to the best high-yield savings accounts.
Sallie Mae also gives customers a $10 bonus when they refer a friend who signs up and funds a SmartyPig account with at least $25 within 30 days of that referral. You can refer up to 100 friends to earn up to $1,000.
Remember, federal law limits withdrawals to only six from your savings and money market accounts per month. Sallie Mae will refuse withdrawal requests that are initiated after you’ve reached the monthly limit.
High-Yield Savings Account
Sallie Mae offers a high-yield savings account with a 0.35% APY as of July 2021, which is comparable to other online savings accounts. The account has no minimum balance requirement or monthly fees. The bank compounds the interest daily and pays it monthly.
You can make up to six withdrawals per month.
Money Market Account
This Sallie Mae account can also help your funds grow with a 0.40% APY (as of July 2021). While this account’s APY is lower than SmartyPig’s rate, it gives you the ability to write checks. So, if you prefer to write paper checks to pay bills and send money, Sallie Mae’s money market account may be a good fit for you.
As with the savings account, there is a withdrawal limit on your account: six withdrawals per month.
Because Sallie Mae does not offer a checking account, you may need to link an external bank account to fund your Sallie Mae accounts.
Certificates of Deposit
Sallie Mae offers certificates of deposit (CDs) with a variety of terms. These are savings tools with a locked-in interest rate for a set term. When the term is over, you can either withdraw your funds or renew for another term.
As of July 2021, Sallie Mae’s rates range from 0.30% APY to 0.70% APY on terms of six months to five years. These rates are competitive, but you may be able to earn more with one of the best CD rates from another bank or credit union.
There is a minimum deposit of $2,500, a minimum balance requirement of $2,500 and no monthly fees apart from a $5 returned deposit fee.
|Sallie Mae CD Rates|
Sallie Mae imposes an early withdrawal fee if you take money out before the CD’s maturity date. The penalty is based on the CD term:
- 12 months or less: 90 days of simple interest on the amount withdrawn
- More than 12 months: 180 days of simple interest on the amount withdrawn
Sallie Mae offers three credit cards: A card meant for students, a cash-back card and one that rewards you for paying your student loans.
Other Financial Products From Sallie Mae
Sallie Mae also offers other financial products that are focused on helping customers' finances and planning for education expenses.
- Student loans
- College planning
Sallie Mae Customer Service
You can reach Sallie Mae via live chat on its website, or by phone. The bank has different phone numbers and hours depending on which product you have questions about. While Sallie Mae does offer customer service via phone and live chat, its phone hours are limited.
- Savings, CDs and money market accounts: 1-877-346-2756, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST
- SmartyPig accounts: 1-877-751-6884, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST
- Credit cards: 1-888-295-3447, Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST
In 2019, J.D. Power awarded Sallie Mae bank with its “Certified Customer Service” distinction, which recognizes companies dedicated to “providing the highest levels of customer satisfaction.”
How to Bank With Sallie Mae
Sallie Mae’s banking products are best for anyone with long-term savings goals as it offers high-yield savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs with competitive rates. It also has three different credit card options, one of which rewards users for paying student loans. This bank is ideal for savers who don’t need a checking account.
Sallie Mae has two blind spots when it comes to personal banking: lack of comprehensive customer service hours (no hours on the weekends) and no checking account option. Otherwise, Sallie Mae is an option for those interested in opening a CD or money-market account for the first time.
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "Regulation D Reserve Requirements," Page 3. Accessed July 21, 2021.