I was attracted by the savings interest rate since it was the highest advertised at the time. Account set up was lengthy, many steps and a lot of security questions, and back and forth with emails and verifications. They even hard mail you a little battery powered token code generator that has to be used to get a new code for each login. At first I though it was fine, plenty of security is positive, although the set up became a little tedious. I ran into a the show stopper when trying to set up external bank-to-bank transfers. Even though the trial deposit to the other bank had already been completed and I had verified it on line, they called me by phone about half an hour after I did the verification. They told me that they have an extra account number verification step where they have to get identity confirmation over the phone from the other bank, and the other bank would not do that without my approval, so they had to set up a conference call with myself and the other bank to take care of that. That was already very irregular, I have never heard of anything like that for any other bank before and it made me uncomfortable. The real sticking point was, the first question they asked me in the conference call was to give them the account number for the other bank. That set off all the alarms. If they even bothered to read the warnings on their own web site home page, you should NEVER give out any account information over the phone. I read that as, no account information for their bank as well as any other bank. They would not back down on that issue and I ended the conference call with the approval not done. After all, how could I confirm in real time if the call was legitimate, or if I was being scammed and the other bank representative wasn't just a confederate sitting at another desk at the same place on another phone line? I later spoke with Clear Sky customer service and was informed that the conference call for verification is their policy, but their representative should not be asking me for the account number over the phone. It's not clear if they consider their own account number special in that regard and don't care about the other bank account number. I checked a few days later and the link was still pending approval so I decided to abandon the account.
A second lesser but common issue I have experience with other banks, the advertised savings interest rate dropped from 1.50% to 1.40% before my account application was even approved. That has become a very annoying trend with the banks, to lure you in with what appears to be a good rate but is actually just a carrot dangling in front of your face with no intention of every actually paying out that rate. I think it's dishonest and weighed in significantly for why I gave them the lowest possible rating.
Posted by bankfox3 -- June 15, 2010
A Real Contender
I was pretty interested to see Clear Sky Savings pop-up on the radar recently. They're offering a good rate, and a first visit to their website offers the potential for a legitimate internet bank. So I called them up hoping for the best.
And it looks like they might be for real. The Savings account offers a 100% online application, online statements, their own ACH system with up to 3 linked accounts, and only a soft credit check. And with the rates that they’re offering, Clear Sky’s Savings account is a real competitor to ING’s Orange Savings.
However, there are 2 places they fall short relative to ING - 1) Clear Sky has a max account balance of $250k per person. While this won’t affect me, nor the majority of america, I’m sure there’s a few people out there that it matters to and 2) Clear Sky has some real inconvenient limits on their ACH system - at $50k/day for deposits, and $10k/day for withdrawals. *But* - when I spoke with the csr, she informed me that if I needed to move more money - in either direction - I would just have to call in to get a temporary increase up to $250k. And given my experience with their friendly customer service and (lack of) wait times, this is not a problem for me.
Even with a few limitations, I think Clear Sky is a new contender in the online banking world. And once they get their ACH system improved, they could shoot right to the top.