As mentioned in the blog post, I just happened to stumble onto this great CD deal in the process of answering a BH post asking about saving for a 3-5 year time-frame.
The process isn't complete, so I can't vouch for how it will all work out, but s So far it's looking really good, and the comments on the DepositAccounts.com blog post about this CD look fairly positive. We also grabbed one of these CDs for my fiancee; I think the second application took us about 10 minutes to complete.
EDIT: I've now completed or helped to complete four applications, and all have gone smoothly and been approved. However, some forum members and blog readers have had problems. Below I'm posting an addendum to share tips, tricks and "secret handshakes" that have been proven to make things happen more smoothly and quickly, or that may help you get through confusing parts of the process.
The most time consuming part of doing the first application was scanning through the hundreds of organizations to see if I might qualify for credit union membership without springing for the $10 to join the Financial Awareness Network. I suggested to my fiancee that she just wait until tomorrow, and I'd probably have my membership number so she could join for free as a member of an existing member's household, but she said she'd just rather spend the $10 and not take a chance of missing out on the deal
Joining Financial Awareness Network (FAN). Some people have been confused by this. There is no paperwork to submit, and nothing to do in advance. If you use the online application, you simply check the radio button below and to the left of "I qualify through my Employer or Organization", then scroll through the choices until you get to Financial Awareness Network Inc., then click Next. On the next page, in the dropdown selection box to the right of "Please enter your FAN:", select "Joining FAN", then click Next, then click Next again on the next screen, and continue on through the screens. When you get to the funding screen, you'll see that $10 will be charged for FAN.
Online Application Tool. As part of the online application process, you will create a login to the online application tool. This will enable you to track the status of your application, as referenced in tips below. Note that this is not the same as the login you will create to access your NWFCU account once it is approved and set up; you will then create another login for that. Confusing, but that's the way it is with some credit unions (exact same process with USAlliance Financial). I use LastPass, and so created LastPass sites named something like "NWFCU application", and then once account was approved, created a different LastPass site called something like NWFCU. Once your account is set up, you may never use the application tool login again, but I'm keeping mine just in case.
Overriding the $15K initial deposit limit. At the funding screen, you will see that the maximum deposit is $15,011, which I assume is $15K for the CD, $10 for FAN and $1 for the savings account. (You can leave the savings account deposit amount blank, and just enter $15,000 for the CD. What seems to happen is that NWFCU funds the savings account for you.) To make a higher initial deposit, up to the $100K max, send an email to email@example.com, and tell them how much you'd like to deposit. Include your application number in the email; you'll find your application number at the lower left of the web page used to track the status of your application. NWFCU will then modify your application to reflect the higher initial deposit amount.
Expediting processing of your application. After completing the online application, either upload an image of your drivers license using the online application tool, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org (include your application number); I used *.jpg format. Either way, send them an email asking them to complete processing of your application and to send you the DocuSign document to sign electronically. You can include your request to increase the initial deposit in the same email. This seems to fairly reliably result in your application being processed the same business day or next day.
Application statuses. If you successfully answer the four identification verification questions during the online application process, your application status should show INSTANT APPROVED via the online application tool. However, this is not really final approval, which requires manual processing by NWFCU, after which the status will change to APPROVED. If you fail to answer the questions correctly, or perhaps if you have your credit reporting frozen, your status probably will be PENDING or something like that, and you will have to contact NWFCU to resolve it. This hasn't happened to me in doing four applications, so no further advice on this.
$100K Maximum and interest earned. There is still confusion about this, and I don't have a definitive answer yet, but sSeveral forum members have reported that Customer Service Reps (CSRs) have informed them that the CD does earn interest if $100K is deposited, or if reinvested interest causes the CD to hit $100K. However, some reports have indicated that the interest goes to your NWFCU savings account if this limit is reached. Still waiting for a definitive answer, but oOne person I helped made the maximum deposit of $100K, and no flags have been raised yet. I received an email response from a NWFCU CSR stating that the limit only applies to deposits, and that the 3.04% APY is earned on all deposits up to $100K.
Making additional deposits. As mentioned in the blog post, the $15K limit in the online application worked out perfectly for me, but I do plan on making additional deposits to max out the CD over the next couple of months, as other CDs mature. I have not received a definitive answer about how to do this (I have sent an email asking), but several forum members report that it is done by pushing an ACH transfer from your external bank account into your NWFCU savings account, and then requesting that they transfer it from there into your CD. One forum member has reported that the ACH transfer can be done directly into the CD, but no one has verified this yet. I received an email from a NWFCU CSR saying that you can only do transfers from external accounts to the savings account--not directly to the CD account.
Account numbers. When you receive the DocuSign document, after doing the electronic signature and initials, scroll down to the bottom, and you should see your account/member number, which is an 8-digit number. You also should be able to find this by viewing your application in the online application tool. Hopefully you'll also see your savings account number, which is the same 8-digit number preceded by 10000. Somewhere I also saw the CD account number, which is the 8-digit number preceded by 90000. So if your member/account number is 12345678, your savings account number is 1000012345678, and your CD account number is 9000012345678. The NWFCU routing number is 256075025. You will use either the savings account number or the CD account number plus the routing number to set up the link for ACH transfers from your external bank account, which you would use to make additional deposits to the CD (see previous paragraph).
Transfers. You can set up a transfer link to an external account at NWFCU. Forum member tfb has informed us that this is for inbound outbound transfers only (and he quoted the disclosure on this later in the thread); i.e., ACH transfers initiated at NWFCU can only transfer money out of NWFCU to the external account. However, an NWFCU CSR told me by email that you could do inbound transfers initiated at NWFCU, but only $2,500 daily and $10,000 monthly. I just initiated the link, but haven't completed verification of the trial deposits, so no personal experience with this yet. I plan to set up the link for ACH transfers from my external bank account (Ally Bank checking) to enable making additional deposits., but am waiting to hear from them (in writing) if I can set up the link directly to the CD account, or if I must use You transfer into the savings account, and then have them transfer it into the CD. According to email I received from a CSR, external transfers can only be done to the NWFCU savings account, not directly to the CD.
IRA Accounts. NWFCU does offer both Roth and Traditional IRA accounts, and the application forms are easily found by searching on IRA in the search box on the NWFCU home page, but here is the link to save you 30 seconds: Applications & Forms - IRA | Northwest Federal Credit Union (NWFCU). However, forum members have reported that NWFCU CSRs have said by phone that they will not guarantee the CD special rate until the IRA transfer is complete. Therefore, I would not even consider doing an IRA transfer to buy this CD unless you get a rate guarantee in writing.
Additional tips shared with me by PM from a forum member:
KevinThe online application accommodates ACH transfers in. This doesn't work for everyone, ie your money is coming from a non-ACH institution or you need funds from more than one source to get to the $10k minimum. Strategy is to "push" funds into the Savings account. Then call customer service to purchase the CD from your $ in savings. The Savings to CD-buy cannot be accomplished online.
Secret handshakes I gleaned:
* Once you've got an application # AND you've sent your ID, you can call to get your account number (well they put you on hold and come back with it) req'd to "push" into savings.
* CSR can change CD at-maturity directive from "auto-reinvest" to "deposit to savings" instruction.
FWIW I sent my drivers license as a PDF in an email.