Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wachovia, My Arch-Nemesis Bank, Offers Very Tempting 5% Plus Bonus Savings Account Deal

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

wachovia is on the prowl for your savings

I haven’t been chasing savings account rates as much as I used to lately, mostly because the bulk of our savings is sitting in a nice 9%+ APY 7-month CD that still has a few months left on it. We have since picked up a few more liquid bucks that have been bouncing back and forth between savings accounts averaging only 4.5% to 5% APY, waiting for the next wild deal to appear.

It looks like Wachovia, my banking arch-nemesis, has decided to issue that deal.

I used to have all of my accounts at Wachovia—checking, savings, CDs, safe deposit boxes. Then I realized they were shafting me with sub-1% interest rates and horrendous customer service, so I jumped ship and took all of my loot with me. Now it seems they’re offering a crazy savings account promotion that may even be too much for this hardcore Wachovia-hater to pass up.

More details are available on this FatWallet discussion and this Bank Deals post, but I will summarize:

  1. Open a Wachovia checking account and the new Way-2-Save savings account. You need both. Existing checking accounts are fine (including their Free Checking option).
  2. The base yield on the Way-2-Save savings account is 5.00% APY.
  3. You get an end-of-year bonus of 5% of your balance, up to $300. (Second- and third-year bonuses are 2%.)
  4. You can’t just deposit money at will into the Way-2-Save savings account. In order to get money into it, you can: (1) deposit up to $100 a month directly, (2) automatically have $1 moved from your attached checking account into the Way-2-Save account for each debit card purchase, online billpay transaction, or other debit deductions.

So say you have 100 qualifying purchases or billpays or other debits on your checking account each year, and you put $100 into the savings each month. That would be $100 x 12 plus $1 x 100, or $1300. The 5% bonus on that would be just $65, but that’s still a very nice bonus. Even if you don’t do any debit transactions or billpays, you’d still get a $60 bonus just doing the maximum $100 monthly transfers. And don’t forget the 5% APY that $100 a month earns, though that rate could change at any time, in theory.

Just how good is this deal? Well, on a scale of 1 to 50 million, I’d give it a 39,194,942, which is pretty good! I deducted 10 points off the top just because it’s Wachovia, but the rest of my deductions are because of Wachovia’s attempt to get you to use your debit card more. As everyone knows, debit cards are evil and should not be used, even for what works out to be a 5-cent bonus on each transaction.

Wachovia does give you one extra option that could allow you to make up to $300 a year just doing the $100-a-month transfers: you can have up to 5 Way-2-Save savings accounts at once, each hooked up to a separate Wachovia checking account. I don’t know what kind of weirdo has five Wachovia checking accounts, but I’m told it’s possible.

The deal officially starts on January 15, 2008, but some people have reported success opening the Way-2-Save account already by calling their local branch and getting transfered to a call center operator who helped them open the account. I might give this a try with one or two checking accounts to put some miscellaneous funds to good use. I’m just hoping I don’t get the customer service runaround from Wachovia as they were so fond of doing to me.

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