TIAA Review

Since the creation of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1918, TIAA Bank has existed to serve customers in the Florida area. When it first opened, this bank was dedicated to providing life insurance and retirement income to teachers and other educators. TIAA expanded to offer its first variable annuity in 1952 with a product called the College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF), and it’s been adding more options ever since.

Today, TIAA Bank’s headquarters is in Jacksonville, Florida, and the only physical bank locations are in Florida. But even if you’re not located in Florida, the bank participates in a nationwide network of more than 80,000 ATMs, so members in other states can access their accounts at any of those locations without paying fees. To keep pace with the modern market, the bank offers decent interest rates on its savings, money market and CD accounts. Depending on the type of account, you may be able to get outstanding interest rates if you have a high enough balance.

TIAA Bank at a glance

Pros
  • Decent interest rates and a high-yield option
  • No monthly fees
  • Supports Zelle
Cons
  • Minimum opening deposits required for best interest rates
  • Few physical locations
  • Few accounts to choose from

 

What’s interesting about TIAA Bank

TIAA Bank offers above-average interest rates and select accounts that come with high-yield guarantees. The amount you received is tiered, so you are rewarded for keeping more cash on hand. For some people, the benefits make it well worth choosing to bank with TIAA. None of its accounts have monthly maintenance or access fees as long as you maintain the required minimum daily balance. TIAA Bank also supports Zelle so that you can send money to another person easily and quickly. TIAA Bank also offers online banking and an app that lets you make mobile deposits.

Things to consider

To get TIAA’s best interest rates, you will need to have a minimum opening deposit. In some cases, this is as high as $5,000. Also, TIAA Bank doesn’t have any physical banking locations outside of Florida. If you do not live in the Sunshine State, you may find it inconvenient, especially if you are not comfortable with online and mobile banking. Furthermore, TIAA Bank is not a very large financial institution. It does not offer dozens of account types, and that could mean that you do not get some of the same benefits a larger bank could offer, especially if you have an extensive portfolio or manage many investments.

Checking and savings accounts

TIAA Bank offers only one checking and savings account: the Basic Checking and Basic Savings accounts. These accounts require $25 to open, but you won’t pay a monthly fee as long as your account balances do not dip below that amount. The Basic Checking account comes with free online bill pay, reimbursements for ATM fees and mobile check deposits. The Basic Savings account is IRA eligible and lets you make as many as six withdrawals or transfers each month.

If you have $5,000 to open an account, you could opt for TIAA Bank’s Yield Pledge Checking account. It offers the same benefits as a Basic Checking account, plus you can earn interest on your checking account balance. TIAA Bank also offers something it calls a “Yield Pledge Promise” on this type of account, which means that the bank adjusts the yield it pays based on what its competitors are offering.

Money market accounts

TIAA Bank has a Yield Pledge Money Market account that is IRA-eligible with no monthly or ATM fees. While there is a required minimum deposit, you can take advantage of a one-year intro annual percentage yield (APY) that is great compared to many others on offer. After that, your ongoing APY will be lower and based on the balance you carry, but it will still be decent. This monkey market account comes with TIAA’s “Yield Pledge Promise,” so you get a rate that is on-par with the top banks. The first tier starts at $10,000; to reach the highest level, you will need $100,000.

CDs

TIAA Bank offers three types of CDs. The first is the Basic CD. This has the lowest minimum opening deposit of the CDs the bank provides and is IRA eligible, but that’s about it. If you can afford a slightly higher minimum opening deposit, you could choose the Bump Rate CD, which allows you to increase your annual percentage yield one time during the life of your CD. This way, you can take advantage of higher interest rates. TIAA Bank also offers a Yield Pledge CD. It requires the highest minimum opening deposit but offers a range of terms and a guaranteed high-yield. This offering provides an APY that is higher than many other banks, but its other rates are decent, too.

Credit cards

TIAA Bank offers a Rewards Credit Card for its customers. You have to have an account at the bank to qualify for the credit card. There is no annual fee and the annual percentage rate (APR) is on par or a little lower than many other options out there, especially if you have good credit. Plus, the reward options can be customized. TIAA Bank’s credit card lets you choose cash back or points as rewards and gives you free access to your FICO score so you can keep an eye on your credit rating.

Personal loans

Unfortunately, this bank does not offer any personal loans to its customers. You may need a personal loan for debt consolidation, a wedding, travel, relocation or medical debt. If so, it’s worth it to look into SoFi. With SoFi, customers can receive fast funding for up to $100,000. Furthermore, SoFi offers financial health tools and advisement to customers once they borrow with the lender. This would be a great option for someone who needs a little guidance with their finances, but not enough to hire a fulltime money management assistant.

Mortgage loans

Homebuyers are in luck with TIAA Bank, as it does offer mortgage products to its customers. TIAA Bank makes sure that homebuyers are getting favorable rates with Lock & Shop. If during the shopping process, rates increase before your loan is finalized, there’s no worry. The mortgage rate that you were preapproved at is still your rate. Even better, if the rates decrease, then you get a one-time float down offer for that new, decreased mortgage rate.

Mortgage refinancing

TIAA Bank offers several mortgage products, including mortgage refinancing options for customers who want to lower their rate or change terms on their home loan. TIAA is a nationwide lender, which means you can take advantage of its refi products in any state in the U.S., and their fixed-rate  refinance option is below 4% APR. TIAA will also allow you to refinance jumbo loans, which isn’t the case at all banks.

Home equity loans and HELOCs

TIAA Bank offers home equity lines of credit to customers who want to take advantage of their home’s equity. This bank’s current HELOC variable rates are as low as 5.750% APR, but you’ll have to have a good to excellent credit score to qualify (over 760) for the lowest rates. This bank also offers two different draw periods on HELOCs — five years and 10 years respectively — and you can apply online.

Car loans

TIAA Bank only offers home-related lending products, which excludes car loans, so you won’t find them here. But, if you’re looking for a car loan on a new or used vehicle, check out Capital One. It has streamlined the process with an Auto Navigator tool so you can find your new set of wheels and get funded all in the same place. Furthermore, Capital One’s preapprovals are good as 12,000 dealerships, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find a dealership that doesn’t work with Capital One.

The final word

TIAA Bank is a good no-frills option for a person just starting out. From checking accounts to savings and credit cards, its basic offerings are an excellent place to start building your financial future. Over time, TIAA Bank can help you gain more interest on your savings as your account balances grow. It is ultimately a smaller bank, though, and it is based in Florida. You may not be able to get some of the benefits a larger bank can offer, like investment management tools, and in-person banking is out unless you live in Florida.