Cruising around the personal finance blog-o-sphere, you see many bloggers with referals to online bank savings accounts. Usually, you will receive a bonus in your newly opened account and the blogger will receive something for referring you to the online bank.
I have been looking at those offers and thinking about them. The idea of an online bank sounds fascinating because of the great rates they offer compared to traditional banks. I also like the convenience of merely going online to make a transfer to a savings account.
Now, saving up an emergency fund before I paid off debt was something I didn’t want to do. It didn’t make sense to me to only make 2% or less on my money in a savings account and paying much more in interest to finance charges. But, those online banks with their higher rates (around 4-5%) combined with a bonus when you sign up tempted me.
There are a few banks out there offering these specials. I believe ING has a program where you can start an account for $250 and then receive $25 as a bonus. Taking $250 out of the debt payoff plan was a lot of money, and I wasn’t ready to go that far just yet.
Then I found Virtual Bank. For their offer, you only needed to deposit $100 into their account and you would receive $20. I thought it over for a few months, and then decided to go ahead and do it last month. I contacted a fellow blogger who already has an account for a referral (they receive $20 as well) and signed up.
I was very pleased with the application process at Virtual Bank. It was pretty painless overall to sign up. Once you sign up, they deposit two small deposits into the account you will be transferring money from and then you log back in to verify the deposits.
I hit a snag there…I didn’t remember the password, and I didn’t write it down! Almost all of our accounts have different passwords and so far I have been good about remembering them all – except for this one. I felt silly calling customer service, but I did.
OMG – a real person answered the phone! When I call my local bank I get a recording and have to go through the hoops of pressing numbers to speak to someone. That wasn’t the case here. A real person answered and asked how he could help. I told him I forgot my password and he transferred me right away.
I expected to hear some hold music, but instead I was greeted by the customer service rep immediately. I told her my problem, and she verified my identity and gave me a new password to use. It just took a few minutes of my time for the entire call and I was taken care of.
I was pretty impressed. A few days later, I received a letter in the mail welcoming me to Virtual Bank and it was hand-signed by my personal banker representative. No stamp or pre-done signature. Again, I was impressed.
Virtual Bank probably isn’t that big yet, and once they grow bigger some of the personalized touches may disappear. I hope they don’t, because for some reason I like the personalized touch. Probably because they are purely an online bank with no physical branches.
The only complaint with Virtual Bank that I have is that the online maneuverability once you are logged in isn’t as user-friendly as I would like. I have used the online features of many different banks and I had to hunt around the Virtual Bank site to find things I was looking for. I ended up just clicking on everything that was clickable just to get a feel where everything was.
I’m not ready yet to contribute to the account on a regular basis. I am more comfortable with paying off the debt right now. But, I admit, it’s nice knowing that I do have a little over $100 if I need it for something. And, the account will still be there when the debt is gone and it’s time to start saving 🙂
UPDATE: I have $20 Virtual Bank Savings bonus referral links if you are interested.