Sallie Mae Bank Review 2022: Student Loan Servicer with Competitive Savings Rates

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Good for Fee-Free Savings
Sallie Mae Bank Review
Sallie Mae Bank
Good for Fee-Free Savings
Sallie Mae Bank Review
  • refinance rates icon inactive
    Good interest rates
  • how to get a personal loan icon inactive
    $2,500 minimum for CDs
Overview:

Sallie Mae offers several account options for both short-term and long-term savings. This bank can be a good option if you’re looking to grow your emergency fund or everyday savings with a solid rate, but it has some shortcomings compared to other top online banks.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • High-yield savings offers competitive rates with no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements
  • Money market accounts come with check-writing access
  • Competitive rates
Cons
  • $2,500 minimum balance requirement for certificates of deposit (CDs)
  • Low customer review ratings
  • Some fees can apply for certain account activities
  • No way to access your funds at an ATM

Additional Details

  • No minimum balance requirements for savings and money market accounts
  • $2,500 minimum deposit for CDs
  • Your account may be closed if its dormant for longer than 12 months and you have less than $100
  • No monthly account fees
  • CD terms are available from six months to 60 months
  • Access your accounts online or by mobile app
  • Some other fees may apply depending on how you use your account: insufficient funds fee, stop payment fee, and early withdrawal penalties, among others
  • Sallie Mae also offers student loans and co-branded credit cards
  • Sallie Mae deposits are FDIC-insured

Editorial Independence

We analyze and review banks without influence of partnerships or advertising relationships. For more information about our scoring methodology, click here.

Sallie Mae Bank Full Review

You may know Sallie Mae best for its student loan and refinancing products, the bank also offers a few different accounts to grow your savings, including a high-yield savings account, money market account and certificates of deposit (CDs). Each of Sallie Mae’s deposit accounts are FDIC-insured and you can access online or via mobile banking app.

Savings Accounts

Sallie Mae’s high-yield savings account has no minimum balance requirements, no monthly fees, and a competitive interest rate that’s competitive with other top online banks today. 

You can make transfers and withdrawals by electronic transfer, direct deposit, mobile check deposit, or mailed check. 

You may be charged fees for outgoing wires ($20 each), returned checks, and expedited check delivery. And while there’s no minimum balance requirement, if you have a dormant account with less than a $100 balance for 12 months or more, the bank may close your account.

In addition to the high-yield savings, Sallie Mae’s SmartyPig online account (also with no minimum balance and no monthly fees) designed to help you work toward specific financial goals. It’s a tiered interest account that rewards you more the more you save. However, these rates are variable and tiers can vary. Right now, for example, the APY you’ll earn is the same across all balance tiers. 

Money Market Accounts

Sallie Mae’s money market account is similar to its high-yield savings, but offers a slightly higher interest rate and access to checks you can use to withdraw from your account.

The check-writing ability does come with some added potential fees to watch out for: $5 for checks ordered after account opening, $15 to stop payments, and $19 if a check can’t process due to insufficient funds.

Otherwise, the same transfer and withdrawal options apply, and there is similarly no monthly fees or minimum account balance requirements.

Certificates of Deposit

Sallie Mae offers a few high-yield certificates of deposit (CDs) with terms from six months to 60 months. You’ll need a minimum deposit of $2,500 to open a CD, but there are no fees. You can fund your CD with a check or electronic transfer.

Your CD will renew at the end of the term, unless you choose to close the account or move it elsewhere during the 10-day grace period after the CD reaches maturity. If you want to withdraw your money before the CD matures, you’ll pay a penalty based on the term length. Early withdrawal penalties are equal to 90 days of interest on the amount withdrawn for CDs with terms of 12 months or less, and 180 days of simple interest on the amount withdrawn for terms longer than one year.

Other Products

While Sallie Mae offers credit cards and student loan products in addition to deposit accounts.

Student Loans

Sallie Mae is a private student loan servicer with loans for undergraduate, graduate, and professional training or trade certificate courses. There are also options for student loan refinancing. Loans are capped at 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance. Sallie Mae student loans also come with no origination fees, and you can get four free months of Chegg Study.

Credit Cards

Sallie Mae’s trio of no annual fee credit cards all earn cash back on everyday purchases, and allow you to redeem your rewards toward your student loans. Depending on the card you choose, you’ll earn different amounts of cash back across different categories or spending requirements.

Customer Experience

There are a few communication and customer service challenges that may be a drawback of banking with Sallie Mae, depending on your goals.

Sallie Mae is an online-only bank, but you’ll have the option to bank via online account or mobile app. There’s no ATM or branch access and no way to deposit cash directly, but you can cash checks using remote deposit and send or receive checks by mail. 

Unfortunately, Sallie Mae’s mobile banking app gets mixed reviews, including an average star rating of 1.8 out of 5 stars on Google Play and an average star rating of 1.5 out of 5 stars in the App Store. Across various reviews of the app, customers complain about lacking customer support and constant issues when trying to log into their accounts.

Sallie Mae does have a few different options for reaching a representative, including a phone line available Monday through Friday during business hours, mailing address, or online chat. The online chat function can be a big benefit compared to some other online banks. You can use to get answers to basic banking questions during regular business hours. However, the chat function requires you to answer an array of questions before you can chat with a live customer service agent. 

Accessibility

According to its website, Sallie Mae “strives to develop and update website content in compliance with” Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA, an international standard. You can also reach out via a dedicated email address with any questions or for assistance.

We reached out to the bank for more information about accessibility features, but did not receive a response by time of publish. This piece will be updated if more information becomes available.

Is Sallie Mae Bank Right for You?

Sallie Mae Bank offers a few different banking products that can make for straightforward savings options. The high-yield savings account and money market account can both help you streamline your savings, while the CDs may have a slightly higher barrier to entry with the $2,500 minimum deposit. 

Nevertheless, each of these accounts earn competitive interest rates among other banks today.

The biggest obstacle for some customers may be how Sallie Mae compares to some other banks we’ve reviewed when it comes to customer service and account access. Its mobile apps — which are one of the primary methods for accessing your account — have very low ratings, and no option for depositing cash could be limiting depending on your individual situation. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Sallie Mae Bank

Does Sallie Mae have savings accounts?

Sallie Mae offers high-yield savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts.

Is Sallie Mae a federal student loan?

Sallie Mae only services private student loans, not federal.

Is Sallie Mae an online-only bank?

Sallie Mae is an online-only bank. You can access your account online or through the bank’s mobile banking app.