The Bottom Line: TIAA Bank gives savers some nice options for parking their money. CD rates are some of the best available, and the money market account has an attractive introductory rate. The low minimum balance to avoid fees on its basic checking account is a bright spot, too.
TIAA Bank operates almost exclusively as an online bank. Their customers can enjoy high-yielding CDs, money market accounts, savings, and even checking accounts.
But that comes with some of the highest account minimum requirements in the industry. What money-saving options can you take advantage at TIAA Bank?
Keep reading to find out.
Account Minimum: $25
CD: 2.65% APY
Promotion: Checking account service fee is waived with a $25 minimum balance
Where TIAA Bank Shines
TIAA services its consumers almost exclusively online. But they do have physical locations within the state of Florida.
The highest concentration of physical locations is in their “hometown” of Jacksonville. They’re somewhat of a hybrid between a traditional bank and an online bank.
But they offer some great perks that you might only expect of an online bank. Keep reading to learn about them.
Top 5% Yield
This is arguably the most attractive feature of TIAA Bank because it eliminates the need to constantly rate shop.
In their Yield Pledge offerings, which include checking, money market accounts, and CDs, TIAA Bank promises that your yields will be within the top 5% of competitive accounts.
Their competitive accounts are similar accounts from the 10 largest banks and thrifts in the 10 largest U.S. banking markets.
TIAA Bank analyzes data from bankrate.com’s National Average survey on the last week of each month to evaluate and adjust their current rates.
Higher Introductory APR
On top of their top 5% guarantee for Yield Pledge accounts, TIAA Bank also offers higher introductory APR on certain accounts for one year for balances up to $250,000.
Here are the current rates you can take advantage of:
- Yield Checking: 1.21%
- Yield Pledge Money Market: 2.15%
Awards and Recognition
Reviews and ratings dictate a lot of the decisions people make, and banking should be no different.
TIAA Bank has achieved recognition on several fronts:
- 5-Star Bauer Financial Rating: Bauer Financial is an unbiased and independent organization that has been rating institutions since 1983. TIAA Bank received this recognition based on their financial strength and stability.
- Best Banks of 2019: GOBankingRates evaluated banks based on service, checking account fees, APY on savings accounts, 12-month CD APY, and BauerFinancial Star Rating. TIAA landed this recognition because of its wide range of financial products and dedicated personal service.
- 5-Star Lender: Zillow’s client reviews, based on quality products, dedicated service, and seamless process, has lead TIAA Bank to a 5-star rating.
Why Use an Online Bank
Online banks are becoming the norm of the banking industry and with good reason. By minimizing the costs associated with keeping physical locations, online banks are able to pass along savings to their consumers.
Most online banks have a leg up on their brick and mortar competitors on a few fronts.
Higher Interest Yields
Online banks generally offer higher interest yielding accounts when compared to traditional banks with physical locations.
Choosing an online bank can put more money in your pocket year after year.
Better Loan Rates
If you’re taking out a loan for a home, mortgage, or other long-term need, you can expect to find better rates with an online bank.
Low-Cost or Free ATM Access
It’s tough to freely access your cash with online banks because they don’t have any physical locations. Instead of making you rack up fees for using ATMs, most online banks offer to reimburse you for your ATM fees to ease the financial impact.
Lower Service and Maintenance Fees
Many banks will charge monthly service or maintenance fees on a variety of their account offerings. This is especially true if your account balance reaches below a certain threshold.
Online banks tend to have lower service fees when compared with traditional banks.
Excellent Customer Service
Traditionalists may get hung up on the lack of human interaction involved with online banking.
Online banks understand the importance of customer service and have compensated for it by funneling financial resources into customer-facing processes.
That gives you a great service experience, even without having a physical location with customer service reps.
If you’re looking out for our planet, using an online bank could be a step in the right direction.
Because they don’t keep physical locations, online banks use fewer resources, like electricity, paper, and water.
How TIAA Bank Works
Here are some of the basic information you’ll want to know when starting a banking relationship with TIAA.
Signing up for an account with TIAA is very simple. There are just three steps:
- Apply online
- Fund the account with a deposit by mail, mobile deposit, or mobile transfer
- Start banking and watch your money grow
After your initial funding, there are a few options for depositing money into your account.
Your options include:
- Direct deposit
- Mobile deposit
- Online transfer - either with TIAA bank accounts or other banks
- Send funds via mail
- Wire transfers
- Online check scan - like mobile deposit, except using a physical scanner, not a cell phone
Without having a physical location to visit, mobile banking is a must. TIAA Bank’s app is free to download on Google Play and the App Store.
Within the mobile app, you can manage all of your accounts, make mobile check deposits, pay bills, and execute internal and external transfers.
For an added benefit, you can add your TIAA debit and credit cards to a mobile wallet. Check out Apple Pay, GooglePay, or SamsungPay.
You’ll be able to pay for transactions at participating merchants without ever having to get your card out - just wave your phone over the terminal.
TIAA Bank’s mobile app is equipped with Zelle. This secure service allows you to easily send and receive money with friends, family, and other people you know.
With Zelle, you can transfer money directly from your TIAA Bank accounts, such as savings or checking. It’s much quicker if the recipient also has a Zelle account, but it’s not required.
Aside from checking accounts, your TIAA Bank accounts will be limited to 6 transactions per month, per account.
The transaction types include:
- ACH transfers
- Debit card transfers
- Preauthorized or automatic withdrawals
- Transactions initiated by phone, internet, or mobile device
Account Protection and Security
Most of your interaction with TIAA Bank will be online. It’s important that they have the proper security and account protection to keep you, your identity, and your funds secure.
Here’s what they can offer:
- Encryption: technology to protect your username, password, and personal account information
- Fraud detection: they monitor your data to detect fraud and unauthorized use
- Web safety guarantee: provides protection for certain lost or misdirected funds and any bill payment fees incurred resulting from a mistake made by TIAA Bank
- Restricted access: only employees who need your nonpublic personal information to service your accounts will have access to it
- Identity theft-related reimbursement: If your TIAA debit card is subjected to fraud, you could be reimbursed for up to $1,000 for related expenses.
- FDIC insured: up to $250,000 per depositor
Earning interest on checking accounts is nearly unheard of. That’s not the case with TIAA Bank.
You have two options for checking accounts, and one of them offers significant interest earnings. Keep reading to learn about it.
Yield Pledge Checking Account
TIAA Bank promises that their yields stay within the top 5% of competitive accounts. That reward comes at a price, however. You’ll need a whopping $5,000 to open this account.
Plus, you’ll need to maintain that balance if you want to reap the rewards. If you do, you’ll enjoy unlimited ATM fee reimbursements and no account fees.
Currently, TIAA Bank offers an introductory APY of 1.21% for the first year. Here are the current ongoing rates:
$100,000 - $10,000,000
$50,000 - $99,999.99
$25,000 - $49,999.99
$10,000 - $24,999.99
$0 - $9,999.99
If you don’t have $5,000 to maintain a balance in the Yield Pledge account, you can still open a basic checking account with TIAA. You won’t earn any interest, but you’ll still get some great features.
You’ll need $25 to open this account. If you maintain that balance, you won’t incur the $5 monthly maintenance fee. TIAA Bank will reimburse you up to $15 per month for any ATM fees.
TIAA Bank offers a basic savings account option. Currently, it has 1.10% APY with a minimum balance requirement of $25.
If you maintain that balance, the $5 monthly maintenance fee will be waived. It’s also IRA eligible.
Money Market Account
The Yield Pledge Money Market account comes with TIAA Bank’s promise to be in the top 5% APY of competitive accounts.
There is a high minimum balance requirement of $5,000 that must be maintained in order to avoid any monthly fees.
This account is IRA eligible and you can make up to 6 withdrawals or transfers throughout the month.
Currently, you’ll receive a 1-year introductory APY of 2.15%. Here are the current ongoing rates:
$100,000 - $10,000,000
$50,000 - $99,999.99
$25,000 - $49,999.99
$10,000 - $24,999.99
$0 - $9,999.99
CD Options and Rates
TIAA Bank offers several options for certificate of deposits (CDs). Each comes with unique features, balance requirements, and rates. Read on to learn about them.
Yield Pledge CD
The Yield Pledge CD comes with the promise that yields are kept within the top 5% among competitive accounts. This CD is IRA eligible and automatically rolls over at the end of the term.
You won’t pay a monthly account fee, but there is a $5,000 minimum required to open. Below are the terms and current APY associated with each.
3.5 Year Bump Rate CD
It’s frustrating to sign up for a long-term CD, only to see the APY increase during your term.
TIAA Bank’s Bump Rate CD offers you an option one-time rate bump during your term. If the APY does rise, you can choose to take advantage of the higher rate.
The only term available for this CD is 3.5 years. Currently, the APY is 2.78%. When the term ends, you’ll automatically roll into a new term unless you say otherwise.
The minimum required to open the account is $1,500. You can only have one Bump Rate CD at a time.
The Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS) is a network of institutions that help you overcome the FDIC insurance threshold of $250,000.
Once you’ve reached your FDIC insurability limit at one institution, CDARS can spread your money across the network, giving you access to FDIC insurance coverage on millions in deposits.
There’s no setup charges or account fees. There are also no automatic rollovers, so you’ll have to look for their 15-day maturity alert and decide how to move forward.
There’s a minimum of $10,000 needed to invest in this service. Below are terms with their associated rates and limits.
But the APY is based on investments of $5M or less. If you plan to invest more than that, you’ll need to call for a quote.
If you can’t meet the minimum balance requirements for the other CD options, TIAA Bank’s basic CD can be an great alternative.
]It only requires $1,000 to open and offers several terms between 3 months and 5 years. You’ll get a 20-day maturity alert, but you can also let the CD automatically rollover.
The current rates and terms are below. The APY is for balances up to $1M. If you plan on investing more, you’ll need to call for a quote.
Foreign Currency and Precious Metal Investments
In addition to the standard accounts that TIAA Bank offers consumers, there are also some unique investment opportunities.
Read on to learn how to get involved in foreign currencies and precious metals.
Minimum to open
$2,500 or $100/mo.
Open in your currency of choice
Purchase plan available2
Foreign currency offers a way to diversify your portfolio on an international basis. FDIC insurance coverage is available for any failures of the bank. But that won’t protect against market fluctuations.
If the currency of your choice appreciates against the U.S. dollar, you’ll reap the reward. Just the opposite is true if your chosen currency depreciates against the U.S. dollar. Keep reading for your options.
A foreign currency access account is like a savings account but kept with foreign currency. You can hold, transact, and earn money within the currency of your choice.
Currently, there are 20 foreign currency options to choose from. There is a required minimum of $2,500. Or you can set up a purchase plan for at least $100 per month.
World Currency CD
There are about 14 different currencies to choose from and you’ll need $10,000 to open this type of CD. You’ll pay an exchange rate when getting the foreign currency.
But it’s within 1% of what TIAA Bank pays. There are terms available between 3 and 12 months with no rollover fees or account fees.
World Currency CD Baskets
If you’re not certain of where to invest, or if you’d like to diversify with multiple currencies, a World Currency CD Basket could offer what you need.
Again, you’ll pay an exchange rate within 1% of what TIAA Bank pays. The terms available are 3 or 6 months and you’ll need $20,000 to invest.
TIAA Bank has three groups of baskets for a total of 14 options.
- Commodity Rich: countries that could benefit from increased demand for their natural resources
- Economy Driven: countries with sound economic strategies
- Geographically Inspired: countries with regional strengths and geopolitical strategies
Sometimes you want to invest in something solid and tangible. Precious metals could be your answer.
You can purchase gold, silver, platinum, and palladium within 1% of the price available to TIAA Bank. Note that precious metal investments are not FDIC insured.
You have two options for investing: allocated and unallocated.
This option means you’ll own an undivided interest in a specific quantity and type of metals stored at a third-party repository in bulk form, in TIAA Bank’s name.
But you can have them delivered to you for an extra fee between 1.0% and 1.75%. You have the option between coins and bars.
There’s a minimum investment of $7,500 required.
Here are the account fees based on the average daily account value of the metal:
- Gold: 1.5%
- Silver: 2.5%
- Platinum: 1.5%
- Palladium: 2.0%
TIAA Bank holds an undivided pool of interest in the metal on your behalf.
There is no specific segregation or designation of particular types of metals.
The physical metal is kept by a third-party repository. You can convert these to allocated coins or bars.
There is a minimum initial investment requirement of $5,000.
Or, you can set up an automatic purchase plan with a minimum of $100 payment per month.
TIAA Bank Rewards Credit Card
TIAA Bank members can apply for the rewards credit card. There’s no annual fee and you’ll have the choice between cash back or points for rewards.
Plus, you can access your FICO Score for free. Keep reading to learn about the rewards you can earn with this credit card.
With this option, you’ll earn cash back for every dollar spent on eligible purchases.
The cash back credit is automatically applied to your account each month. Or, you can redeem at any time online.
Here’s the cash back breakdown:
- Gas and Grocery: 3% per dollar spent
- Wholesale Club Purchase: 2% per dollar spent
- All other Eligible Purchases: 1% per dollar spent
If you choose to get reward points instead, you can redeem the points you earn for travel, merchandise, gift cards, and more.
There are certain retailers that you can shop with to receive bonus points.
Here’s the breakdown on eligible purchases:
- Gas and Grocery: 3 points per dollar spent
- Wholesale Club Purchase: 2 points per dollar spent
- All other Eligible Purchases: 1 point per dollar spent
TIAA Bank Pros and Cons
TIAA Bank offers some great products and services, but it does have its downsides.
Here are the pros of TIAA Bank:
- Guaranteed Competitive Rates: Their Yield Pledge accounts promise to be in the top 5% APY of competitive accounts.
- CDARS: If you want to put over $250,000 in CDs, you can still get FDIC insurance coverage.
- CD Options: There are several options depending on what you can set aside and what kind of return you’re looking for.
- Free ATM Access: Certain accounts allow you to have unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.
- 24/7 Banking: TIAA Bank primarily operates online and they offer 24/7 customer service for nearly all their business segments.
- Few Physical Branches: There are only a handful of branches, and they’re only in Florida.
- High Minimum Balance Requirements: To get the best deals, you have to be able to keep several thousand dollars in an account. That could be difficult for some people.
- Best Rates are Temporary: Several accounts offer great introductory rates. But once the year is up, you’ll be placed at the ongoing rate.
- ATM Limitations: If you regularly use an ATM, you might not be reimbursed for all your ATM fees. Depending on your account, you might only be entitled to $15 of reimbursement per month.
Earn More, Do More with Your Money. Explore Our Innovative Banking Solutions. Member FDIC. Easy Deposits. High Yield Accounts. No-Fee ATMs. Nationwide Banking.
Should You Signup For TIAA Bank?
TIAA Bank is shaking things up in the banking industry. They’re offering guarantees for high-yielding accounts with their Yield Pledge.
Plus, with their operations being almost exclusively online, you can get some great perks like ATM fee reimbursement and 24/7 customer service.
Their options continue with foreign currency investments and a plethora of CD choices to fit nearly any need. Their rewards credit card is a nice compliment to some of their high-yielding accounts.
Check TIAA Bank out and see if you can quit the rate shopping game once and for all.
Kim Shackleton is a former accountant, bridging the GAAP between numbers and words. She takes the complexity of the financial world and breaks it down into digestible pieces to guide people down a path toward financial freedom.