Banks aren't answering my Frequently Asked Questions

Partly open laptop computer

Frequently Asked Questions, or FAQs, are ubiquitous on websites trying to sell things. Bank websites are no exception.

Now, I have no objection to bank FAQs as such. I’m all in favor of full disclosure.

The trouble is that I find most of limited value to me as a CD investor.

For example, next to CD rates and early withdrawal penalties, the questions I most frequently ask when considering a CD are how often interest is paid and whether (and how) I can withdraw that interest.

I’ve checked this out in the FAQs of eight banks at which I have online CDs.

The FAQs of Capital One, MetLife and iGO Banking tell me how often interest is paid, but nothing about withdrawing it.

AIG Bank’s FAQs say I can either leave interest in my CD or have it credited to another AIG account every month. (Actually, the bank also permits ACH transfers to an external account.)

The Nationwide Bank, Salem Five and Ally FAQs tell me nothing about interest payment frequency or withdrawals.

Only Discover Bank’s FAQs answer my questions fully, telling me that monthly interest can be transferred to another Discover or an external account, or paid by check.

Now, I’m not accusing anyone of hiding anything.

Usually, I find relatively complete answers to my questions somewhere on a bank’s website -- like in the fine print of the notes to the interest rate table, or the Truth in Savings pages, or the bowels of the deposit contract.

And I can always call the bank’s toll-free number.

But I don’t want to talk to a customer service representative!

Particularly if I’m closing my CD. I hate explaining to a rep why I’m doing it or listening to one trying to get me to redeploy my money into another account or service.

Can I just send an email -- or maybe a fax -- instead?

Salem Five and iGO Banking FAQs tell me an email is OK. Ally says I have to speak to someone.

The other five bank FAQs are silent or confusing, meaning some CSR contact will be inevitable.

All this leaves me wondering who writes these FAQs.

Most likely people who don’t have -- and have never had -- a CD account at a bank.

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