FNBO Direct Review: Is This Online Bank Right for You?

FNBO Direct offers high yields and low fees.

FNBO Direct is the online version of First National Bank of Omaha. For those comfortable with an online experience, FNBO Direct offers lower fees and higher rates than its brick-and-mortar parent company. As an online bank, FNBO Direct doesn’t have the vast array of product options that many traditional banks do, but it does offer the types of accounts most popular with general customers. Here’s a thorough look at all of the products and services that FNBO offers, along with an analysis of who the bank might best serve.

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Who Is FNBO Direct Best For?

FNBO Direct is a good option if you’re looking for a bank with no standard fees and an adequate array of products. You’ll also have to be comfortable with the online banking experience. Although FNBO Direct is a subsidiary of brick-and-mortar bank First National Bank of Omaha, there is no crossover in terms of accounts and services. It’s imperative you understand that if you open an account with FNBO Direct, you’re getting a completely online banking experience.

For many customers, that’s part of the upside of FNBO Direct. As an online entity, FNBO Direct is able to offer lower fees and higher yields to its customers. Although the online product line isn’t as deep as with other multinational banks, most online customers only need or want the basics: checking, savings and CD accounts wrapped up in a low-cost package. If you’re comfortable with doing your banking on your computer or in the palm of your hand, you’ll likely find that FNBO Direct provides all of the basic features you could hope for, and then some. These are the reasons why FNBO Direct has been a member of GOBankingRates’ best banks list.

FNBO Direct Pros and Cons
ProsCons
High checking and savings annual percentage yields
No-fee accounts
Free bill pay and money transfer services
No-minimum accounts
High overdraft fee
Limited product line
No branch network

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Who May Want To Skip FNBO Direct?

In spite of its many advantages, there are some customers who will likely prefer other banks to FNBO Direct. First and foremost are customers who are not completely comfortable with the online banking experience. Tempting as the high rates and low fees might be, FNBO Direct will not be a good option for you if you still feel more at ease visiting a branch and dealing with bankers in person.

The online bank is also a poor choice if you frequently need quick access to your money. Although you can get some of your money from an ATM at any time, if you want to take all of your money in cash right away, you won’t be able to do that with FNBO Direct.

Lastly, those looking for a one-stop shop in their bank will likely find FNBO Direct’s offerings to be limited. Although the bank does offer a wide range of accounts, you won’t find the type of full-service, comprehensive financial services that you could with a brick-and-mortar bank. Even the bank’s own parent company, FNBO Bank, offers many more accounts than FNBO Direct, including IRAs.

 

FNBO Direct: Who’s It For?
Best ForWorst For
Customers seeking an online banking experienceCustomers wanting a vast branch network
Customers comfortable with DIY bankingCustomers wanting to talk to bankers in person
Customers seeking high yields and low feesCustomers willing to pay a fee for additional services
Customers who don’t need instant access to their fundsCustomers who regularly withdraw large amounts of cash
Customers needing only a few basic account typesCustomers seeking a one-stop shop with a multitude of account options
Customers looking for no-fee, high-rate checking and savings accountsCustomers needing loans, IRAs or investment options

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Types of Accounts Available

Although it doesn’t offer a comprehensive lineup of accounts, FNBO Direct does provide the types of accounts that most customers seek, particularly in an online bank. Here’s a look at the bank’s current product lineup.

FNBO Product Line
ProductAPYFeesFeatures
Checking0.65%$0Free ATMs and bill pay
Savings1.80%$0Free ATMs, $1 minimum
CDs0.16%-1.15%$500Automatically renew, terms up to 60 months
529 Savings PlanN/AMultiple investment options; $0 minimum to invest

Here’s a closer look at each individual product area offered by FNBO Direct.

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Checking

FNBO Direct’s Online Checking account provides what most customers want: high yields and low fees. This account offers a high 0.65% APY and is fee-free, which makes it stand out from many competitors who offer either a high yield or a free account, but rarely both. Additional features and benefits include the following:

  • Free online banking
  • Free bill pay
  • Free account alerts
  • Free Visa debit card
  • Free PopMoney person-to-person payments
  • Free fraud monitoring
  • Free incoming wires
  • Free stop payments
  • No fees for withdrawals from more than 2 million global ATMs (third-party fees might apply)

This checking account also comes with a mobile app and digital payment capability. Although FNBO Direct does not assess fees on third-party ATMs, terminal operators might.

An important thing to remember with the FNBO Direct checking account is that in spite of its name, checks cannot be used to access your funds. BillPay requests must be at least $5 and no more than $10,000.

Pros

  • No account fees
  • High APY, particularly for a free account
  • Vast network of free global ATMs
  • $1 minimum deposit to open

Cons

  • Although the bank lists it as a “pro,” this account has no paper check capability
  • Overdraft fee of $33

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Savings

The FNBO Direct Online Savings account has one of the highest APYs available and no fees. The account has the same digital payment and mobile capabilities as the bank’s checking account, and there’s only a $1 minimum to open. Thanks to all of its features and benefits, the account ranks as one of the Best Savings Accounts of 2019 in GOBankingRates’ annual study.

The account does have some limitations, however, as outlined below:

Online Savings Account Limits
Transaction TypeSingle Transaction LimitDaily LimitMonthly Limit
Transfer or Withdrawal$100,000$100,000$500,000
Deposit$250,000$250,000N/A
Maximum Account Size$1,000,000

Pros

  • Very high APY
  • No fees
  • $1 to open
  • No FNBO Direct-initiated ATM fees (might be third-party fees)

Cons

  • First deposit subject to a 10-day hold

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Money Market

At the present time, FNBO Direct doesn’t offer a money market account.

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CDs

FNBO Direct offers CD terms from six months to five years. Each CD account carries a $500 minimum deposit and a $500 minimum balance to earn the stated APY. Account maximums are $1 million per CD. CD accounts automatically renew at maturity unless you otherwise direct the bank. You can withdraw your balance for 10 calendar days after the maturity date, at which point the funds will automatically renew.

Here’s a look at the specific terms and rates offered on FNBO Direct’s CDs:

FNBO Direct CDs
TermAPYMinimum
6 months0.16%$500
9 months0.26%$500
12 months0.31%$500
18 months0.41%$500
24 months0.50%$500
36 months0.70%$500
48 months0.90%$500
60 months1.15%$500

If you want to withdraw your money before your CD matures, you’ll face early withdrawal penalties as follows:

FNBO Direct CD Early Withdrawal Penalties
CD TermPenalty
0-3 monthsAll interest
Over 3 months up to 1 year3 months’ interest
Longer than 1 year6 months’ interest

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Individual Retirement Accounts

At the present time, FNBO Direct doesn’t offer any IRA accounts.

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Investment (Nonbank) Options

FNBO Direct is a bit limited when it comes to investment options beyond savings and CDs. But the bank does provide access to the NEST 529 College Savings Plan. FNBO Direct is the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust Program Manager, so it’s the perfect institution to help you get started with your college savings. Like all 529 plans, the NEST plan is a way that investors can save for their children’s college while availing of various tax advantages. Nebraska residents are eligible for additional tax benefits, including an annual $10,000 income tax deduction.

The NEST 529 College Savings plan has no income limit or savings caps, and contributions are limited to a generous $400,000 per beneficiary. Contributions can be invested in one of three generic categories: Age-Based Investment Options, Static Options and Individual Options.

Age-Based Investment Options

Age-Based Investment Options change their portfolios as children age. The closer a beneficiary gets to age 18, the more conservative the portfolio becomes. The Age-Based Investment Options are further subdivided into Aggressive, Growth and Index portfolios.

For a child invested in the Aggressive option, here’s an example of how the portfolio composition changes over time:

Aggressive Age-Based Portfolio
AgeAllocation
0-2 YearsDomestic Equity 71.5%
U.S. Real Estate 5.25%
International Equity 23.25%
19+ YearsDomestic Equity 18%
U.S. Real Estate 2%
International Equity 5%
International Bond 4%
Fixed Income 50%
Cash Equivalents 21%

Static Options offer a fixed allocation through the life of the investment. The six subcategories of Static Options are:Static Options

  • All Equity
  • Growth
  • Moderate Growth
  • Balanced
  • Conservative
  • Bank Savings

As Static Options don’t change their investment allocation, you’ll be responsible for determining how much of each type of fund to own, if any.

By way of example, here are the current asset allocations for the Growth and Balanced portfolios, respectively:

FNBO Direct Static Option Asset Allocations
GrowthBalanced
Domestic Equity: 60%

U.S. Real Estate: 5%

International Equity: 20%

International Bond: 2%

Fixed Income: 13%

Domestic Equity: 39%

U.S. Real Estate: 3.5%

International Equity: 12.5%

International Bond: 3.5%

Fixed Income: 33%

Cash Equivalents: 8.5%

Individual Options

Individual Options allow investors to choose from among 15 premade portfolios from respected portfolio managers such as Vanguard, T. Rowe Price and State Street. Funds are chosen from the following categories:

  • Domestic Equity
  • U.S. Real Estate
  • International Equity
  • International Bond
  • Fixed Income
  • Money Market

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Loans

FNBO Direct doesn’t offer any standard loan products at the present time, but it does have a student loan refinancing program through a partnership with CommonBond. Every FNBO Direct customer who refinances a student loan with CommonBond receives a $200 bonus, and FNBO Direct Checking account holders can earn an autopay discount as well.

CommonBond offers low rates, payment protections and award-winning service. Here’s the current rate structure for student loan refinancing through CommonBond:

CommonBond Student Loan Refinancing Options
ProductTermAPY Range
Fixed5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years3.21%-6.45%
Variable5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years2.02%-6.30%
Hybrid10 years4.40%-6.22%

Student loans refinanced through CommonBond have no origination fees or prepayment penalties. The company also offers up to 24 months of forbearance over the life of the loan.

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How To Bank With FNBO Direct

You can open an account online with FNBO Direct in about 15 minutes. You’ll need the following information to get started:

  • Social Security or tax ID number
  • Driver’s license or state ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Employment information
  • Information about existing loans or mortgages for identity verification
  • Current bank account and routing numbers for funding purposes

You must be a U.S. resident at least 18 years of age to open an account with FNBO Direct.

Once you’ve established your account, you can bank with FNBO Direct either from your desktop or via the bank’s mobile app. The FNBO Direct app has full functionality, meaning you can use it to manage your entire account. Features available on the app include bill pay, funds transfer and mobile check deposit. You can also use the app to locate nearby ATMs or contact the bank via a phone call. The app uses industry-standard mobile security, including firewalls, customer authentication techniques and data encryption to keep client information secure.

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Fees

Although FNBO Direct doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees on its checking and savings accounts, it does have fees for certain transaction types. Most notably, its overdraft fees are relatively high. Here’s a look at the most notable FNBO Direct fees:

FNBO Direct Fee Schedule
Transaction TypeFee
Overdraft item fee (maximum four per day)$33
Return item (maximum four per day)$33
Domestic wire transfer (outgoing)$15
Next-day transfer fee (per withdrawal)$10
PopMoney standard transfer fee$0
PopMoney next-day delivery fee$10
PopMoney check issuance fee (per item)$5

Note that FNBO Direct provides one free overdraft or return item every 12 months. Also, FNBO Direct does not permit outgoing international wire transfers.

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Availability of Funds

FNBO Direct aims to make client funds available on the first business after receipt. Electronic direct deposits are available more rapidly, usually on the day the bank receives the deposit. The bank considers a deposit as having been received on the same day if it is made before 3 p.m. CST on a business day that the bank is open. Deposits made after 3 p.m. CST or on a day the bank isn’t open are considered made as of the next business day that the bank is open.

Depending on the type of deposit, FNBO Direct might hold your funds until the second business day after the day of your deposit. In this instance, the first $200 of your deposit might be available on the first business day. The bank will notify you if it is going to hold a portion of your deposit and will also tell you when the funds will be available. Under the following circumstances, check deposits might be held for a longer period of time:

  • The bank believes the check will not be paid
  • You deposit checks exceeding $5,000 on any one day
  • You redeposit a previously unpaid check
  • You have numerous overdrafts in your account over the prior six months
  • There is a failure of communications, computer equipment or other emergencies

The bank will also notify you of a delay due to any of the above circumstances. Even in these cases, funds are generally available no later than the seventh business day following your day of deposit.

Special Rules for New Accounts

For the first 30 days after opening a new account, customers have special rules regarding funds availability.

As with all customers, funds from electronic deposits are available on the day the bank receives your deposit.

The first $5,000 of deposits from cash, wire transfers, certified checks, teller’s checks, cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks and federal, state and local government checks are available on the second business day after the day of deposit. In the case of a U.S. Treasury check, funds become available on the first business day after deposit. Deposited amounts exceeding $5,000 are not available until the ninth business day from the day of deposit.

For all other types of check deposits, funds are available on the seventh business day after deposit.

Mobile Deposits

Mobile deposits have a longer deadline for determining the day of the deposit than other methods. As long as your deposit is made by 8 p.m. CST/7 p.m. MST, that day is considered your day of deposit. Funds deposited in this manner are generally available in no more than two business days. For deposits made on weekends or holidays, the next business day will be considered your day of deposit.

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Should You Bank With FNBO Direct?

FNBO Direct might have a limited product roster, but it excels at what it does. Both the checking and savings accounts are fee-free and high-yield, but the checking account doesn’t quite crack the annual GOBankingRates Best Checking Accounts of 2019 list. Although there are no branches you can visit, the bank’s interface allows comprehensive account management via its website and mobile app. For anyone comfortable with an online bank and is looking for basic account types, FNBO Direct can be a solid option.

Benefits

  • Fee-free, high-yield checking and savings accounts
  • Online CD accounts
  • Bill pay and person-to-person transfers
  • Mobile check deposit

Drawbacks

  • No branch network
  • Limited account roster
  • High overdraft fees

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More From GOBankingRates

Rates and fees are accurate as of Nov. 20, 2019, and are subject to change. This content is not provided by FNBO Direct. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by FNBO Direct.

About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.