Money at 30: Marcus by Goldman Sachs Savings Account (and Marcus Insights) Review
Over the past few years, the bank Goldman Sachs has made a few moves intended to help it not only shed the negative image it’s endured since the Great Recession but also reach a new type of customer. These efforts include the bank partnering with Apple to release the Apple Card as well as them launching a consumer banking brand called Marcus by Goldman Sachs. While the name might make it sound like a designer label, Marcus by Goldman Sachs actually pays tribute to Marcus Goldman. More importantly, however, the brand offers a competitive free savings account among other financial products.
I was first introduced to Marcus when the brand purchased the now-defunct (as of March 5th, 2021) app Clarity Money. Incidentally, with the demise of Clarity, Marcus has now brought Marcus Insights to their platform. With that, let’s take a look at what Marcus by Goldman Sachs’ savings accounts has to offer along with a peek at Marcus Insights.
What is Marcus by Goldman Sachs and What Does it Offer?
Opening a Marcus account
The process of opening a Marcus by Goldman Sachs savings account is fairly straightforward. In addition to entering personal information such as your name, birth date, address, and more, you’ll also need to provide your Social Security number. You may also need to confirm your identity prior to your account being opened.
It should be noted that Marcus doesn’t have any minimum balance requirements or fees. Additionally, since Goldman Sachs is a bank, deposited funds are FDIC insured up to $250,000.
Desktop or app
Surprisingly, it wasn’t all that long ago that Marcus by Goldman Sachs debuted its own app. However, that time was well spent as the team behind Clarity Money helped craft an attractive and very useable banking app. The result is that you can now manage your Marcus account using the desktop site or the mobile app. Between the two, I’d say I find myself using the app more, but the desktop version is nearly as nice and easy to navigate.
One of the advantages of online savings accounts is that they typically pay out interest rates that are much higher than the 0.05% national average. Of course, these APYs are also subject to change — and have been hit hard by multiple Federal Reserve’s rate cuts in the past year or so. Nevertheless, Marcus continues to offer an above-average APY to its customers.
Currently (as of March 2nd, 2021), the APY for funds in Marcus Saving accounts is 0.50%. For reference, this matches what Ally is offering these days and is slightly above Discover Bank. It’s also higher than what some FinTechs are boasting at the moment — although there are some higher-paying options to be found. In any case, Marcus has maintained respectable rates and will hopefully raise their APY once again as economic conditions improve.
As I mentioned, I initially set up my Marcus account via Clarity Money. Thus, that was also how I originally managed the automated transfers I was making to my account. The good news is that you can still schedule recurring transfers, although the process isn’t quite as simple as it used to be.
First, to arrange a one-time or automated transfer, you’ll want to click “Make a transfer,” located next to (or, in the app, below) your Marcus balance. From there, you can select what account you want to transfer funds from, how frequent you want transfers to be — weekly, every two weeks, or monthly — and what date you want to start these transfers on. Okay, this isn’t really difficult, but I still prefer the Clarity interface. That said, between the two mediums, I’d recommend using the app to set up your transfers instead of the desktop site.
Also of note, if you want to view upcoming transfers, you can do so by visiting the Transactions tab. Here, you can also “Track” the status of your transaction. For example, I see a transfer that was initiated March 2nd and began earning interest on that date, but the funds won’t be available until March 8th. Meanwhile, I can also see next week’s transfer (March 9th) and have the option to cancel it ahead of that date if need be. Therefore, if you have any concerns about making automated transfers, be sure to pay attention to this tab and take action early.
Before we get into Marcus Insights, one other aspect I wanted to mention about Marcus is their intriguing referral bonus model. As of this writing (March 2021), customers can currently unlock a higher APY rate by getting their friends and family to open a Marcus account. For each successful referral, the referring customer will earn a 0.20% APY bonus for three months as will customers they referred. However, customers can only earn up to five bonuses per calendar year. Additionally, the current promotion is set to expire on June 20th, 2021.
Depending on how much money you have in your account, this extra 0.20% APY could amount to a lot — but it seems unlikely. Still, props to Marcus for thinking a bit outside the box on this one. Also, if you are interested in opening a Marcus account, feel free to use my referral link.
When it was announced that Clarity Money would be discontinued, it was also revealed that some of the apps features would be coming to the Marcus platform for an offering known as Marcus Insights. Because Insights is now a major part of the Marcus banking experience, let’s take a look at what you should know about this tool.
No bank account needed
First of all, in order to use Marcus Insights, you don’t actually need to open a Marcus account. Although you will need to set up a username and password, you won’t be required to open a savings account or other Marcus product. However, if you do already have a Marcus account, it’s easy to get started with Insights.
Linking external accounts
To get the most out of Marcus Insights, you’ll want to link your various other accounts to the service. This is accomplished by using Plaid — a secure API that allows you to log into your bank account so Marcus can retrieve the “read only” data. After linking accounts, they’ll be broken into various categories, including Cash, Savings, Investments, and Debt. By clicking/tapping any given account balance, you can also view recent transactions.
Beyond the basic aggregation, a couple of features plucked directly from Clarity exist in Marcus Insight. The first of these is a graph that breaks down your spending into various categories. By clicking this widget, you can also explore your spending in greater detail as well as view past months. Ultimately, this may not be a replacement for a full-fledged budgeting app such as Mint but it could be useful nonetheless.
What did I spend on…
Lastly, I’m excited to say that one of my favorite Clarity Money widgets has also made the jump to Marcus. The concept here is that you can select from a list of your most-frequented retailers and quickly total up how much you’ve spent with them during a certain timeframe. For example, it turns out that I spent a total of $465.18 on Amazon last year.
Admittedly, this is an extremely simple tool but it’s one I find to be incredibly effective. Sometimes seeing the specifics can be eye-opening and perhaps even inspire change. Therefore, I’m glad to see that this widget is still available.
Final Thoughts on Marcus by Goldman Sachs Saving Account
Overall, even with the added Marcus Insights, Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a fairly basic savings account. However, that’s also kind of its strength. With the ability to easily set up automated transfers and earn a higher-than-normal APY, the account makes for a nice place to park your extra money or save up for various financial goals. Moreover, while there are several FinTech banking offerings that I love, there is something to be said for dealing directly with an actual bank instead of a middle-man.
On top of that, while it’s not exactly a Clarity Money replacement, I do appreciate that a couple of features from the app have made their way into Marcus Insights. Plus, it’s evident to me that the team behind Clarity helped create the Marcus app as its aesthetics and color palette make it enjoyable to use.
With all of that considered, I’d say I’m a fan of Marcus by Goldman Sachs and would recommend them if you’re looking for a simple savings account. Meanwhile, with the company recently debuting its own roboadvisor, I’m also curious to see what other features they come up with down the line. So, whether you just want to try Marcus Insights or open an actual account, it may be worth taking a look at Marcus by Goldman Sachs.
Also published on Medium.