Best insurance-industry banks: MetLife and Nationwide

Bank sign on building

Among the banks at which I have accounts, four are affiliated with big insurers -- Allstate Bank, Nationwide Bank, MetLife Bank and AIG Bank.

I’ll dispense with Allstate by simply noting its pending acquisition by Discover Bank.

All things considered, Nationwide and MetLife are my favorite banks.

Both offer relatively decent CD rates, excellent customer service and efficient online banking operations.

(Being partial to beagles, I also love MetLife’s Snoopy logo. And I’ve always appreciated Nationwide for being "on my side.")

Nationwide and MetLife post more-than-competitive rates for CDs with maturities up to three years. They also provide higher rates for larger balances ($100,000 for Nationwide, $25,000 for MetLife).

MetLife has, for some time, offered the same rates on 48- and 60-month CDs as on 36-month CDs. Nationwide is more generous on the longer maturities.

MetLife occasionally does promotions (like a great 1.65% APY 18-month CD in late 2010), while Nationwide seems to rely on good everyday rates to attract depositors.

When I recently established a real money market account (i.e., one for more than just parking CD interest and principal payments or getting "relationship" CD rates), I chose Nationwide, with its 1.05% APY versus MetLife’s 0.75% APY.

I have a love-hate relationship with AIG.

I hate AIG’s online banking system. I’ve lost track of how many times applications and transactions I’ve initiated online have gone awry.

It began with my first CD, when the AIG system didn’t recognize the apostrophe in my mother’s maiden name (O’Connor), and culminated recently when a new CD failed to materialize on my online banking page for more than two weeks.

I attribute these snafus to AIG’s software, not erroneous input by me or AIG personnel.

What I love about AIG, on the other hand, is the dedication of its customer service representatives. Having experienced so many problems with my online accounts, I’ve developed a close working relationship with several of them.

AIG’s CD rates, which were once consistently good, have lagged of late. However, the bank, in effect, offered me a "loyalty bonus" earlier this year to roll over CDs, and from time to time it does CD promotions exclusively for existing customers.

All three banks carry four stars on Bankrate.com's Safe & Sound rating system.

Although I won’t be buying insurance from any of their affiliated companies, I’ll be sticking with these banks -- provided, of course, they keep offering respectable rates and good service.

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