American Express Bank is a creation of American Express Company (also known as AMEX) which was started as an express mail business in Buffalo, New York in the year 1850. AMEX was born out of a merger between three express companies: one owned by William Fargo, another owned by Henry Wells and a third owned by John Warren Butterfield.
American Express officially born when William Fargo and Henry Wells both parted ways over business-related irreconcilable differences, forming what is still known today as the Wells Fargo company. Today, American Express is a multinational financial corporation headquartered in New York City, New York. Their American Express Bank, FSB, is a branchless bank that offers accounts with competitive rates and no hidden fees. The company prides itself on what they call “Blue Box Values” which reflect the principles the company stands for. The Blue Box values are: Customer Commitment, Quality, Integrity, Team Work, Respect for People, Good Citizenship, A Will to Win and Personal Responsibility.
- Services and features
- No fees
- Savings accounts
Services and Features
American Express is a 100% virtual bank, which allows for easy customer access 24/7. It does have a brick and mortar address customers can contact through postal mail, however. AMEX also has a toll-free 800 number for transactions and inquiries.
Access can be gained from anywhere there is internet access via computer or mobile device.
Unlike other banks offering personal financial products, American Express offers accounts with no fees, including:
- No monthly fees. American Express Savings Accounts have no monthly or annual maintenance fees. There are no hidden fees and there are no latent fees waiting to be activated with a drop in balance. Customers can rest assure that when it says no fees, it means no fees under any circumstances.
- No minimum balance required in order to be exempt from monthly fees. Many banks offer savings accounts with a minimum balance requirement unless customers incur a monthly fee of $5 or higher. The only way a customer can waive this fee is to get direct deposit of a minimum amount i.e. $250. American Express offers savings accounts that are fitting for people of every tax bracket.
- No need to switch banks. American Express allows customers to transfer money easily. External bank accounts can be linked directly to AMEX's savings or CD accounts. Customers can directly deposit all or part of their payroll, Social Security or pension fund payment into their Savings account. There are no fees for account linking and transfer.
- FDIC insured. AMEX insures account holders to at least $250,000
- 24/7 account access. American Express has a simple and easy protocol for transactions like deposits and withdrawals, such as:
- Bank account easily linked to Personal Savings
- Transfer funds 24/7 online or by phone
- Start earning interest on the same business day AMEX receives customer's deposit into high yield savings accounts
American Express savings accounts accrue interest automatically. If a customer deposits a check into their account, it begins earning interest the very same day (if deposit is made on a business day). Customers may make up to six preauthorized, automatic, telephone or online transfers or withdrawals from a High-Yield Savings account during any monthly statement cycle.
- CDs. Interest is credited to AMEX CD accounts on a monthly basis. Customers may also elect to:
- Keep credited interest in your CD account until maturity
- Receive credited interest in the form of checks AMEX mails to customers
- Have credited interest transferred automatically each month from CD account to their High-Yield Savings account, a linked account or your original CD funding account
Limitations on CDs are standard for CDs at most banks. Such as:
- Additional deposits may not be made into a Certificate of Deposit account before maturity.
- Account holders can only withdraw the entire principal before maturity. They cannot withdraw partial amounts.
- Customers can withdraw interest accrued and credited to their Certificate of Deposit account before maturity at any time without penalty.
- A withdrawal of interest before maturity will reduce CD earnings.
- Online banking
- Limited transfers and withdrawals
- High yield savings account
Banking 100% online has a downside. Any transfer of money that is not electronic, i.e. money orders, is not as simple and easy as direct deposit or electronic transfers. There is a huge drawback for people who do business with varying forms of checks. If a customer wants to deposit a check into their account, there are a few stumbling blocks. Deposits made by check are accepted in American Express Bank's sole discretion. This means they reserve the right to refuse, return or limit any deposit a customer makes to their account. Examples of items they do not accept for deposit include: multiple-endorsed checks, counter checks, starter checks, travelers' checks and money orders. This "discretion" poses a severe limitation to customers, arguably putting AMEX more in control of an individual's account than it should have. It also creates a severe inconvenience factor, especially if the customer is getting paid from a third party. They are either forced to convert the checks to acceptable forms of payment themselves or request third parties to pay them electronically or by direct deposit. Unfortunately, that is not always an option. This is not the easiest option for people of lower financial means and limited resources who may not have options on how they receive money.
Limited Transfers and Withdrawals
Customers are only allowed to make no more than six preauthorized, automatic, telephone or online transfers or withdrawals from their Savings account during any monthly statement cycle. This "preauthorization factor" can potentially prove to be a convenience with the power in the hands of AMEX to determine what monies can and cannot be both deposited and withdrawn.
High Yield Savings Account
Another note regarding the high yield savings accounts is the time factor. If a customer is receiving payments and is waiting to withdraw the funds, it may take a little longer than expected. Funds from check deposits to AMEX savings accounts will generally be available for withdrawal on the eleventh business day after receiving the deposit. Electronic deposits into savings accounts that are linked directly, i.e. transfers from a linked external bank account, generally are available for withdrawal in six business days. Direct deposits from third parties (such as an employer) are available the same business day.
The Bottom Line
American Express Bank is a function of American Express (AMEX), a multinational financial services corporation based in New York City. The Bank is addressed to Salt Lake City, Utah. AMEX has been in business since the 1800's. Their American Express Bank, FSB, is a branchless bank that operates completely online. AMEX bank offers high yield Savings accounts and Certificate of Deposit (CDs) with competitive interest rates and no hidden fees such as transaction fees. There are no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance. There is also no minimum opening deposit. Customers should also understand the drawbacks of banking 100% online. Customer deposits and withdrawal of money is completely up to the sole discretion of American Express Bank, who can deny checks or withdrawals at any time. Fund withdrawals can take between six and eleven business days pending on the type of deposit.