Bank review: American Express Bank

American Express is a brand that is almost synonymous with credit cards, but in recent years they have also built a sizable base of deposit customers. By offering very competitive online savings rates, American Express Bank has grown its deposits from $7.2 billion to $26.5 billion in just five years.

American Express Bank is part of a new generation of banks that has focused its customer service efforts online to avoid the expense associated with building and maintaining an extensive branch system. This cost advantage is one reason the bank can offer higher interest rates to its customers, fueling the massive growth in deposits.

Savings accounts

Most prominent among its financial services product line-up, the online savings account at American Express Bank features competitive interest rates, sometimes at more than ten times the national average savings account rate. Deposits can be made by electronically linking other bank accounts, by direct deposit, or by check — making regular saving all the more convenient. There is no minimum deposit amount, so deposits of all sizes can easily reap the advantage of strong interest rates.

Certificates of deposit

For those interested in certificates of deposit, American Express Bank offers a full suite of CDs with above-average interest rates. The rates for CDs represent a strong choice for short-term depositors in particular; but rates for six months, one year, 18 months right on up to five years are available and are designed to be competitive as well. American Express Bank’s certificates of deposit offer depositors the flexibility they need along with the better interest rate options they want.

Customer service

The customer service experience online is user-friendly. Yields on savings accounts are prominently displayed, and links to product and procedural information are clearly laid out. In addition, both the savings account and CD pages feature a savings calculator, a tool which allows the user to enter a deposit amount and a time frame, and see how much interest an account of that size would earn over the specified period. This is useful for turning interest rates into more concrete dollars-and-cents terms.

Besides product information, the American Express website also provides access to account information for current customers. Additionally, there is a 24-hour customer service telephone number for people who prefer to get information that way.

Consumers are often asked to pay extra for better service. Online banking is the rare exception where customers generally can get both convenience and better financial terms. That convenience extends to being able to readily compare interest rates and other attributes of banking products, and customers making such a comparison are likely to find that American Express Bank is one of the best institutions to consider.

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