I recently opened deposit accounts at Green Bank — and had a decidedly mixed experience.
The Houston-based bank (which advertises itself as “a champion for a cleaner, healthier environment”) is a newcomer to Internet banking, offering accounts nationwide only since last fall.
Although it markets a variety of personal, business and retirement accounts at its multiple Texas locations, Internet-based products are limited to its GO! money market accounts and GO! CDs (www.greenbank.com/go).
Rates are competitive.
The MMA rate, guaranteed through June 30, 2013, is 1.00% APY on balances between $500 and $500,000.
That ranks just below the best nationally available deals.
Certificates of deposit pay:
- 1.00% APY for 1-year CDs
- 1.20% APY for 2-year CDs
- 1.35% APY for 3-year CDs
- 1.95% APY for 5-year CDs
The 5-year rate tops our CD Rates Leaderboard.
The minimum opening CD deposit is $1,000, with a maximum $250,000 per CD.
I opened an MMA because of the rate lock.
I’m trying to buy vacant land adjoining my property and expect protracted negotiations. The MMA allows me to temporarily park funds, at a fixed return, for rapid deployment to close escrow.
I opened a 5-year CD because I liked the rate.
The account-opening process presents issues, however.
First, although GO! stands for Green Bank Online, accounts are established partly online, partly by mail.
Once you complete an application on the website, you must mail a signature card and a check. The account isn’t officially “opened” until these arrive.
New accounts can’t be funded by ACH transfers.
This is cumbersome, but Green Bank isn’t the only institution doing things this way.
And CD rates are locked in for 15 days, pending your check’s arrival.
A more serious issue is the relative paucity of website information about GO! accounts, particularly CDs.
The bank doesn’t furnish a full-blown Truth-in-Savings Act disclosure, or even a detailed FAQ, on the site. A complete written disclosure of terms and conditions only surfaces post-funding.
I had to call ahead to learn how often CD interest is paid (quarterly), whether posted interest can be withdrawn (yes, by check or transfer to your MMA) and what the early withdrawal penalties are (a mere three months’ interest on a 5-year CD, I was told).
The customer service representative was friendly and helpful, but the lack of website disclosures risks miscommunication or misunderstanding.
Again, though, an opaque website isn’t unique to Green Bank.
As the bank gains experience, I hope the new account procedure is streamlined and disclosures improved.
And, naturally, that rates remain competitive.