Marcus by Goldman Sachs is ideal for customers who value higher savings rates and lower fees over product features. Named after founder Marcus Goldman, it is the first retail offering from well-known investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Marcus started as an online lender in October 2016 but quickly grew into a digital bank offering high-yield savings accounts, CDs and unsecured personal loans. Headquartered in Manhattan in New York City, this up-and-coming challenger holds its own against traditional brick-and-mortar banks and regional operators. Its focus on simple and inexpensive savings and loan products has been a real hit with customers in both the U.S. and UK.
How Marcus Stacks Up
- Earn high yields on savings products
- No minimum opening/ongoing balance requirements/account maintenance fees
- Fee-free, fixed-rate personal loans
- Access to personal financial management software Clarity Money
- Automatic transfers to build savings balance
- Lack of checking account means inability to make payments
- Lack of mobile app – access account through web browser only
- Digital only – no ATM network for deposits and withdrawals
- Auto-renewals for CDs after 10-day grace period
- Doesn’t offer mortgages
- Doesn’t offer car loans
What we like about Marcus by Goldman Sachs
By taking away fancy features and complicated options, Marcus is able to attract customers with a simple value proposition: no-fee personal loans and high-yield online savings. But while Marcus’ offering is compelling, it isn’t unique — online banking players like Ally Bank and Capital One 360 offer reasonably high yields and fee-free savings, too.
So what makes Marcus stand out? The backing of Goldman Sachs certainly helps. Customers know Marcus was brought to life using the financial expertise of the 150-year-old investment banking giant. Signing up means tapping into industry best practices and storing your money somewhere reputable. With Goldman’s experience and deep pockets, the prospect of new features is never far away, either.
Things to consider
The most obvious trade-off you’ll be making by choosing Marcus is convenience. Marcus isn’t – and doesn’t pretend to be – a one-stop shop for all your banking needs. Unlike some of its rivals, Marcus doesn’t offer everyday banking products like checking accounts and credit cards, and you won’t be able to access or deposit money through an ATM network.
This means you’ll need another provider to pay bills and handle other day-to-day requirements. You’ll also need to set up transfers from an external checking account to add money into your Marcus savings account (or mail in a check, which is even less convenient).
Given that Marcus is an online platform, it is rather perplexing, if not disappointing, that there is no dedicated mobile app. You have to access your account the slow way: through a web browser.
Checking and Savings Accounts
Marcus differentiates itself from competitors by consistently providing a significantly higher APY than the national average on its online savings accounts. While there are other online players with decent interest offerings, Marcus is usually able to edge them out with a slightly better rate.
With no minimum deposit requirements, Marcus would also appeal to savers with not-quite-enough funds to qualify for the highest rates at other banks. When you combine its attractive yields with benefits like zero setup and ongoing maintenance fees, Marcus is undoubtedly a top choice for someone who wants to get more for their money.
That said, there are a few restrictions with Marcus’ online savings accounts you should be aware of. First, there is a maximum deposit of $1,000,000 per account, and your accounts combined cannot exceed $3,000,000. Second, there’s a limit of six withdrawals or transfers per month. Third, you can’t withdraw more than $125,000 online. To transfer more than this out of your account requires a phone call to the customer service center.
Since Marcus doesn’t offer a checking account or a mobile app, adding money to your online savings account requires you to transfer funds from a linked external bank account, mail in a check, directly deposit your payroll or Social Security check or send a domestic wire transfer. Though not exactly a deal breaker, especially as accounts from competitors like American Express Bank operate the same way, less patient customers may prefer Ally Bank and Capital One 360 for their mobile check deposit facilities.
Money Market Accounts
Marcus bank doesn’t offer money market accounts, or MMAs. Of the digital banking platforms, Capital One 360 tends to have the best MMA rates, but you’ll need a balance of $10,000 or more to qualify. For those with smaller sums to invest, Ally Bank is a good alternative from a yield perspective.
Certificates of deposit (CDs) provided by Marcus are great products all around. Their interest rates are highly competitive and are consistently right up there with market players that provide the best yields. Their biggest strength, though, arguably lies in their simplicity. Whereas some banks offer different rates depending on the amount of your opening deposit, with Marcus you get a single fixed rate for your chosen term irrespective of the size of your deposit. Moreover, you just need a minimum of $500 to get started, making this product easily accessible. The terms of the Marcus CDs vary from 6 months to 6 years.
Savers who want to earn competitive CD rates without locking in their money can opt for Marcus’ no-penalty CDs instead. Unlike ordinary CDs, which must be held to maturity to earn the agreed interest rate, these instruments allow early withdrawal without penalty. As you would expect, no-penalty CDs come with a slightly lower yield, and you can choose from 7-month, 11-month or a 13-month terms.
The no-penalty or liquid-CD space is less competitive, with Ally bank being the other major online provider. You’ll likely get better rates with Marcus, unless you have a deposit north of $25,000.
Since Marcus is not in the business of meeting regular banking needs, they do not offer credit cards. In fact, one of Marcus’ key products is unsecured personal loans for credit card debt consolidation. This means rolling all your high-interest credit card debt into a single loan, and refinancing at a lower rate to pay it off faster. Boasting no sign-up, prepayment or any other fees, you can borrow anything from $3,500 to $40,000 for a period of 3 to 6 years with Marcus.
However, if you need a credit card and are searching for one that gives you more, Capital One is a solid alternative. They have several credit card options, but their QuickSilverOne Rewards card is hugely popular because it is available to people with average, fair or limited credit rating.
Customers can apply for a personal loan from $3,500 to $40,000 with a variable APR of 6.99% to 24.99%. Loans can be used for a variety of purchases, including home improvements, wedding planning, moving, relocation and vacations. Marcus prides itself on offering personal loans with no sign-up fees or prepayment fees. Loan terms range from three to six years, and Marcus’ fully transparent online portal lets customers know exactly how much debt they need to pay off and when their loans will be paid in full.
Marcus offers online, unsecured and installment loans, but doesn’t currently offer any options for mortgages. However, many financial institutions specialize in financing new homeowners. Quicken Loans is America’s largest mortgage lender and offers customers adjustable-rate mortgages with affordable interest rates and monthly payments. Down payments for home loan purchases can be as low as 5%, and applicants can manage the entire mortgage process online or over the phone.
Marcus doesn’t offer any solutions for mortgage refinancing. However, Bank of America is rated as one of the best financial options for customers wishing to refinance their homes. Bank of America prides itself on its Digital Mortgage Experience and makes it easy for customers to lower their monthly mortgage payments, pay off the mortgage completely, or cash out for other projects. Terms can vary from 30-year and 15-year fixed as well as 5/1 ARM. For Preferred Rewards clients, they may be able to qualify for a reduction of their mortgage origination fee for up to $200-$600, based on eligible balances.
Home-equity Loans and HELOCs
As a personal loan provider, Marcus does not offer any type of home equity loans or HELOC options. That being said, TD Bank is an excellent choice for individuals looking for flexible home equity financing options featuring low APR% rates and flexible payment options. TD Bank offers home equity loans with low fixed rates and predictable payment schedules. Customers can receive fixed rates of 4.29% APRM on a 120-month term. TD Bank’s HELOC options have variable rates as low as prime -1.01%, and owners of a TD personal checking account can receive an additional rate discount of 0.25%.
Marcus’ personal loans do not cover the expense of new or used car purchases. An excellent alternative for those looking for automotive financing is to go through Capital One, as it has designed a unique user experience online for customers looking for an individual or joint automotive financing option. Using Capital One’s online Auto Navigator, customers can get prequalified financing on the vehicle of their choice, and lending terms are easily communicated between the dealer and the bank. Customers can get prequalified for the vehicle in minutes with no impact on credit scores.
The Final Word
There are good reasons to use Marcus bank: they consistently offer top savings rates, simple products and zero fees on almost everything (apart from early withdrawal penalties on CDs). They are also reputable and backed by the world-famous Goldman Sachs. Marcus would most likely appeal to someone with low risk appetite and clear financial goals that they would like to achieve through easy-to-understand products.
On the other hand, people who value convenience would probably feel frustrated by Marcus bank’s lack of checking account and mobile app. It’s clear that Marcus is not a one-stop shop and does not intend to wow customers with tech-savvy solutions. The bottom line? Marcus is a top pick if you accept its no-frills setup.