CD adventures with Flushing Savings

Benjamin Franklin's face on $100 bill

I recently stumbled upon two long-term CD rates deals offered by iGObanking.com, the online arm of Flushing Savings Bank.

One was a 7-year, 3.10% APY certificate (it's currently 3.00% APY), the other a 10-year, 3.50% CD.

Past experience suggested proceeding with caution.

I first encountered iGObanking in 2009, when plunging rates had me frantically moving money from TreasuryDirect into CDs.

I applied for a 24-month "iGOcd" -- and was turned down flat.

Apparently, ChexSystems –- a check verification and credit reporting service -- showed too many "inquiries" about me.

Of course, the inquiries were from other banks at which I was (without hitch) opening certificates of deposit.

But iGO didn’t care.

I was lumped with suspected terrorists, money launderers, drug dealers, dead-beat dads and other ne’er-do-wells.

About 18 months later, I overcame my bruised ego and applied when iGO offered a 2.25% APY 24-month deal -- a rate almost half a percentage point more than that of other banks.

This time, it welcomed me with open arms.

Unfortunately, the certificate was relatively small. So, when a jumbo CD matured about a month later at another bank, I revisited the iGO website, only to find the rate now 1.00%.

Flushing Savings, however, was posting a 2.00% APY 24-month rate on its GiftsforBanking.com site.

GiftsforBanking offers "gift" premiums for CDs opened online. The gifts are, of course, taxable.

After checking retail values on other websites, I figured that, by choosing a luxury watch, I could finance the tax bill by selling it at a pawn shop.

My 1099, however, listed the watch’s value at twice the retail price I’d seen online. It was even $500 more than the price tag in the box.

I’m still trying to sell it. Maybe I’ll donate it to charity.

So, when I saw the recent long-term deals, I was wary. I checked the fine print.

The bank’s disclosures, while showing a six-month interest early withdrawal penalty, also said "you may make withdrawals…before maturity only if we agree at the time you request the withdrawal."

Forget these, I thought.

But, being super-cautious, I checked the disclosures again a week later.

The offensive language had been removed.

The bank most likely heard from customers -- and changed its ways.

I ultimately passed anyway. But I applaud iGO for listening to customers.

And the bank does offer superior rates from time to time.

But the Devil’s in the details, so be careful.

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