Sallie Mae Bank Review: Great Rates and Customer Service

4.7
Our Take: If you're looking for an online-only bank that has no monthly maintenance fees plus great rates and customer service, Sallie Mae could be the perfect choice.
  • Rates
    4.8
  • Fees
    5.0
  • Opening Deposit Requirements
    4.5
  • Digital Experience
    4.5
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Competitive rates on high-yield savings and money market accounts
  • Various savings products, including an online piggy bank
  • Multiple private student loan options, including K-12 private education loans

Cons

  • No checking accounts available, so you'll likely need to have an account at another bank

About Sallie Mae Bank

Sallie Mae Bank, a subsidiary of the SLM Corporation, is an online bank headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. The bank, which was formerly a government-sponsored enterprise, became a private entity in 2004.

Although Sallie Mae is widely known for its private student loan products, the bank introduced certificates of deposit, money market accounts and high-yield savings accounts in 2010.

In its annual list of rankings by GOBankingRates, Sallie Mae has been named one of the Best Online Banks of 2021, as well as one of the Best Savings Accounts, Best CD Accounts and Best Money Market Accounts of 2021. Here’s a breakdown of the banking products Sallie Mae Bank offers.

Sallie Mae Banking Products

Sallie Mae offers a variety of private student loan options. However, you can bank with Sallie Mae even if you’re not a student loan customer. The bank offers a money market account, a high-yield savings account, an online piggy bank and CDs. Additionally, credit cards are part of its lineup.

Product Key Details
SmartyPig Account
  • Allows you to create and track long- and short-term savings goals
  • Tiered interest rates: 0.55% APY and 0.80% APY
High-Yield Savings Account
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No monthly fees
  • Competitive interest rate of 0.50% APY
Money Market Account
  • 0.55% APY
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No monthly maintenance fee requirements
  • Check-writing privileges
CD Rates
  • CD terms from 6 to 60 months
  • No monthly fees
  • Guaranteed returns
  • Automatic renewal option
Undergraduate Student Loans
  • Variable rates starting at 1.25% APR
  • Fixed rates starting at 4.25% APR
  • Four months of free Chegg study help
Career Training Student Loans
  • Variable rates starting at 4.25% APR
  • Fixed rates starting at 6.62% APR
  • Loans for non-degree-granting schools
Graduate Student Loans
  • Loans for medical, dental, health, MBA, law and other master’s and doctorate degrees
  • Rates vary by loan
Parent Loans
  • Variable rates starting at 3.50% APR
  • Fixed rates starting at 5.49% APR
  • Four months of free Chegg study help
K-12 Family Education Loans
  • Loans to cover children’s private K-12 education
  • Variable rates starting at 7.24% APR
Sallie Mae Ignite Credit Card
  • Earn 2% cash back on every purchase during the first year
  • $0 annual fee
  • 0% APR for the first 6 months
Sallie Mae Accelerate Credit Card
  • Earn 2.5% cash back on every purchase during the first year
  • $0 annual fee
  • 0% APR for the first 15 months
  • 25% bonus on cash-back rewards used to pay down a student loan
Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card
  • Earn 2.5% cash back on every purchase during the first year
  • $0 annual fee
  • 0% APR for the first 15 months
  • 25% bonus on cash-back rewards earned in the top two spending categories each month

Sallie Mae’s SmartyPig Account

Sallie Mae’s SmartyPig Account is an online piggy-bank that allows you to set short- and long-term savings goals through its simple goal trackers. The account has a competitive interest rate and allows you to earn a $10 reward for every friend you refer who opens a SmartyPig Account and makes a deposit. This feature is one of the reasons why GOBankingRates has ranked it as one of the Best Savings Accounts of 2021.

Features

  • 0.80% APY for balances $0.01 to $10,000
  • 0.55% APY for balances $10,001 and up

Pros

  • No fees or minimums
  • $10 reward for every friend you refer
  • Automatic biweekly or monthly deposits to build your balance

Cons

  • Rates are variable, subject to change

Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account

With Sallie Mae’s High-Yield Savings Account, you can earn interest faster than you would with most traditional savings accounts. The 0.50% annual percentage yield is 10 times higher than the national rate of o.o5%.

Features

  • 0.50% APY
  • No minimum balance and no monthly maintenance fees
  • Free transfers

Pros:

  • Higher interest rate offered than what you’ll find at brick-and-mortar banks
  • Interest compounded daily and paid monthly

Cons:

  • Advertised rate is variable, subject to change

Sallie Mae Money Market Account

Sallie Mae’s Money Market Account stands out among money market offerings from both brick-and-mortar and other online banks. It has a very competitive rate and a lack of fees, making this one of the reasons why GOBankingRates has ranked it as one of the Best Money Market Accounts of 2021.

Features

  • 0.55% APY
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance fees

Pros:

  • More competitive interest rate than many banks offer
  • No monthly maintenance or minimum balance fees
  • Free first check order when placed upon account opening

Cons:

  • Rate is variable, subject to change

Sallie Mae CD Accounts

Sallie Mae’s CD terms range from six months to five years. GOBankingRates has named Sallie Mae one of the Best CD Accounts of 2021, for the wide range of terms and APY rates, which vary by term. Here’s a quick look at what the bank’s CDs offer. Take a look to see if these qualify as some of the best CD rates you’ve seen.

Features

  • CD terms from six to 60 months
  • Six-, nine- and 11-month CDs: 0.30% APY
  • 13- and 15-month CDs: 0.50% APY
    • 1-Year CD: 0.60% APY
  • 18-month CDs: 0.55% APY
  • 24-, 30-, 36-month CDs: 0.60% APY
    • 5-Year CD: 0.45% APY
  • No monthly fees
  • Guaranteed returns
  • Automatic renewal option

Pros:

  • Various terms to fit your needs
  • Guaranteed fixed-rate interest
  • No monthly fees to eat into your earnings

Cons:

  • $2,500 minimum opening deposit

Banking Experience

When considering a bank, it helps to get the big picture. Here are some details about what it’s like to bank with Sallie Mae.

Customer Service

Sometimes you need to talk to a live person, and Sallie Mae offers a couple of ways to get in touch. Use online chat or call 833-558-6577. Agents are available 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Saturday.

Accessibility

Sallie Mae Bank is an online-only bank, so there aren’t any branches you can visit. However, accessibility is as easy as connecting to the bank on your mobile device or computer.

Mobile and Digital Experience

Sallie Mae Bank offers a mobile app for both Google Play and the App Store. The app’s rating is 4.6 out of 5 on the App Store and 4.3 out of 5 on Google Play. Sallie Mae was the first major private student lender to offer payments via the Apple Watch.

Convenience and Ease of Use

Sallie Mae Bank is entirely online, which means you can conduct much of your banking business 24/7. Use the Sallie Mae app to access your savings, money market and CD accounts. You can also use the bank’s mobile text banking capabilities to complete common banking tasks such as checking your balance or accessing your last five transactions via text messaging.

How To Open a Sallie Mae Account

Opening an account with Sallie Mae is simple. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the webpage that details the account you want to open, such as the High-Yield Savings, Money Market Account, SmartyPig or CDs.
  2. Click on the gold button labeled “Open an account.”
  3. Enter your email address and click “Start a new application.”
  4. Follow the prompts to complete your application.

Key Information

Customer Service Number: 833-558-6577

Routing Number: 124385119

Sallie Mae Fees

Sallie Mae Bank, like other banks, is not completely fee-free. Here’s what you need to know.

Monthly Maintenance Fees

Sallie Mae does not charge any monthly maintenance fees on its accounts.

Excessive Transfer Fees

Federal regulations limit savings and money market transfers to six per calendar month. More than six transfers will incur a $10 excessive transaction fee per occurrence.

Wire Transfer

Wire transfers from your Sallie Mae Bank account to another U.S. bank will incur a $20 wire service fee. The receiving bank may also charge a wire fee. Sallie Mae does not handle international wire transfers.

Non-Sufficient Funds Fee

For money market accounts, Sallie Mae’s non-sufficient funds fee is $19 per check. If your balance is less than $19, the non-sufficient funds fee will be reduced to the amount of your balance to avoid your balance falling below $0.

Sallie Mae vs. Competitors

Banks and fees are synonymous. Here’s a snapshot of some of the fee types and amounts that Sallie Mae Bank charges.

  • Monthly maintenance fees: $0
  • Non-sufficient funds fees: $19 per item
  • Wire transfer fees: $20 for incoming transfers

The fees Sallie Mae charges are much lower than what many other banks charge. However, the bank does not offer any checking products.

Bank Monthly Maintenance Fees Insufficient Funds Fees
Sallie Mae $0 $19
Bank of America $4.95-$25 $35
Wells Fargo $5-$30 $35
Chase $4.95-$35 $34

Sallie Mae vs. Bank of America

Sallie Mae’s NSF fee of $19 is $16 less than Bank of America’s fee of $35. Plus, Sallie Mae doesn’t have any monthly maintenance fees, while Bank of America’s are as much as $25, depending on the account.

Sallie Mae vs. Wells Fargo

Banking with Sallie Mae means that you won’t have to deal with monthly maintenance fees. However, at Wells Fargo, you’ll pay from $5 to $30 for such fees. And Wells Fargo charges $35 for non-sufficient funds, which is much higher than Sallie Mae’s fee of $19.

Sallie Mae vs. Chase

Chase’s non-sufficient funds fee is $1 less than Bank of America’s or Wells Fargo’s at $34. But it’s still $15 more than what Sallie Mae charges. And Chase’s monthly maintenance fees range from $4.95 to $35, which can’t compete with Sallie Mae’s lack of these types of fees.

Final Take

If you already have student loans through Sallie Mae, opening a savings or money market account could be a convenient way to pay your loans each month. Plus, if you open a Sallie Mae Accelerate Credit Card, you can earn a 25% bonus on rewards you use to pay down your student loan balance.

Even if you don’t have a student loan, the bank’s savings rates are competitive, which can help you meet your savings goals more quickly. That alone makes the Sallie Mae website worth a visit.

More Great Customer Service Banks

Bank Branches

Credit Unions

    Editor’s Favorite

    Sallie Mae offers a very competitive rate of 0.55% APY on its money market account, which beats what’s offered by brick-and-mortar banks — and many online banks. Also, the bank’s high-yield savings rate is 10 times higher than the national savings rate, which means you can get more bang for your buck.

    Sallie Mae FAQ

    Here are answers to some of Sallie Mae's more commonly asked questions.
    • Is Sallie Mae Bank FDIC-insured?
      • Yes, Sallie Mae bank accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. up to the $250,000 maximum per depositor.
    • Are there fees for Sallie Mae Bank's accounts?
      • No monthly or annual fees apply. However, there may be convenience fees, which can often be avoided.
    • How long does it take for a withdrawal or transfer to arrive in my linked account?
      • Two to three business days after you schedule your withdrawal.
    • Is there a fee for using mobile banking?
      • No, there are no fees for using the mobile app.
    •  Which accounts can I access with mobile text banking?
      • You can access your Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account, Money Market Account and CDs.
    • What is Sallie Mae e-deposit?
      • It allows you to make electronic check deposits via your iPhone or Android smartphone by taking and submitting a picture of the front and back of each check. As long as you make your e-deposit before 3 p.m. EST, your check will be processed the same business day.

    Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Dec. 8, 2020.

    This content is not provided by Sallie Mae. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Sallie Mae.

    Is this your bank?

    Stay Up to Date on the Latest From Your Bank

    Keep a good thing going with top financial tips and advice from GOBankingRates.

    Please enter an email.
    Please enter a valid email address.
    There was an unknown error. Please try again later.

    Thank You For Signing Up!

    Get ready to receive top financial tips from the experts at GOBankingRates.

    Take Advantage of our Best Offer(s)

    About the Author

    Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 12 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, Aol, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Times and The Network Journal. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

    Untitled design (1)
    Close popup The GBR Closer icon

    Sending you timely financial stories that you can bank on.

    Sign up for our daily newsletter for the latest financial news and trending topics.

    Loading...
    Please enter an email.
    Please enter a valid email address.
    There was an unknown error. Please try again later.

    For our full Privacy Policy, click here.