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3.01% Reward Checking Account at a Texas CU (United Heritage)

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United Heritage Credit Union

Update 6/27/10: The balance cap has fallen to $10K for new accounts, and the debit card usage requirement  has increased from 10 to 15.

United Heritage Credit Union is offering a reward checking account called Heritage Checking that pays 3.01% APY on balances up to $10K (1.01% on portions over $10K). It also offers automatic ATM reimbursements. The 3.01% and ATM refunds require the typical monthly reward checking conditions: 15 debit card transactions, direct deposit or auto debit ACH and receiving eStatements. Regardless of these conditions, there are no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. Also, there is no minimum opening balance requirement.

Update 4/08/09: The number of accounts allowed is now limited to 3 per member.

Field of membership includes those who live, work or attend school in Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Smith or Wood County, Texas. You can also be eligible via family or select employer groups. See site for details. Membership requires a minimum deposit of $1 into the savings account.

Branches are located in Austin, Cedar Park, Georgetown and Round Rock in Central Texas and in Tyler in Northeast Texas. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 68251). It has $481.5 million in assets and 50,024 members.

For a list of similar reward checking accounts in other parts of the country, please refer to my best checking account post. Thanks to the reader Nabil who mentioned this new checking account in the finding deals post.

Edit 10/06/07: The Board of Directors of United Heritage Credit Union has reduced the par share value required for membership from $25 to $1 and eliminated the $2 membership fee.

Rate History:
05/03/10: 3.01% APY up to $10K with 15 debit card purchases (new accounts only)
07/01/09: 3.01% APY
04/01/09: 4.01% APY, accounts limited to 3 per member
02/10/09: Credit union suspended opening new accounts.
11/01/08: 5.01% APY
06/02/07: 6.01% APY up to $25K with 10 debit card purchases

  Tags: United Heritage Credit Union, Texas, checking account, reward checking account

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Comments
21 comments.
Comment #1 by Mario and his wife (anonymous) posted on
Mario and his wife
We recently opened this account and were surprised to also get our first box of checks free (150 checks). The branch looked very modern and financial reps were friendly and knowledgeable about this account (it was advertised on banners inside and outside the branch). We opted for the $1 extra instant-issue debit card with photo option (photo taken in the branch). Bring proof of your social security number to open the account.

It seems they have planned this accout offering carefully, because a "high yield checking account in 2007" was already mentioned in their 2006 annual report. Note that bill pay is only free if actively used (3x per month). One area where this CU still needs to improve more (and I believe it's one of their priorities this year) is website layout and security.

Overall, we've had a very good first impression.

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Comment #2 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Thanks for the info. If you don't mind the 10 debit card usage requirement, this looks much better than that new high yield Capital One checking especially after the first year.

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Comment #3 by Mario (anonymous) posted on
Mario
Since we have both, we don't have to choose. ;)

Putting other advantages and disadvantages aside, Capital One has a guaranteed rate for a year, while UHCU doesn't guarantee it for any length of time (although the CSR said they think the 6.01% is sustainable in the future). So we'll just keep the majority of funds in whichever one will stay higher and use the advantages of both. I still think Cap One is a good "insurance" to have if rates should drop.

The other limitation of UHCU is $25k max for the rate (but CSR mentioned more than one account can be opened if necessary). In the near term, we'll probably use this account more like a savings account without the lost interest and time of sending money back and forth to FNBO.

I think we're very fortunate in the Austin area to have multiple competitive HY checking accounts!

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Comment #4 by Mario (anonymous) posted on
Mario
I suppose I should also mention that if you open a joint account, the 10 debit card transactions can be any combination of both debit cards, e.g. 5 + 5, per the CSR. We did 80+ per month for Bank of America's KTC promo so 10 seems easy in comparison. We'll probably designate a day of the month to buy 10 packets of Ramen or fill up our car in one dollar increments. ;)

For the joint account, we only paid $2 membership fee once, and only had to open one joint $25 savings account.

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Comment #5 by Mario (anonymous) posted on
Mario
I just received an email that I did NOT qualify for the 6% for this month. Of my 14 debit card transactions, the ten online transactions all were not counted (only POS). I'll try to have them correct it tomorrow.

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Comment #6 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Sorry to read that. I would have thought an online debit card transaction would be the same as a POS. Let me know how it goes.

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Comment #7 by Mario (anonymous) posted on
Mario
I'm happy to report that my dispute resulted in a successful conclusion (although it did take an intervention of an associate executive officer) and my interest was adjusted to 6%.

My online debit card transactions all came through as "ATM withdrawals" and were therefore only honored after I explained that I did select "debit card" for all my online merchant transactions. I'm testing this right now but think that you may have to classify it as "credit" instead of "debit" card to ensure it doesn't get processed through an ATM network that confuses UHCU's system into thinking it's not a debit card transaction.

Overall I'm having a very positive experience with UHCU now after the correction, and they were very courteous throughout.

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Comment #8 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Glad to read UHFCU came through. Is there any easy way to tell how the transactions are classified before it's too late for the month? Looks like this issue may be a problem for many of these reward checking accounts.

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Comment #9 by Mario (anonymous) posted on
Mario
As far as United Heritage is concerned ... I've seen three ways that transactions could post so far (they are showing in their online banking interface a few hours after the transaction usually!).

POS W/D
Debit Card W/D
ATM W/D

I'm very positive that all the "ATM W/D" do not count. I think they might include debit card transactions processed through the Pulse, Cirrus etc. networks instead of Visa.

I've tried the same merchant selecting "credit" for an online purchase and this time it showed as "Debit Card W/D" instead of "ATM W/D."

To summarize, none of the ones showing as "ATM W/D" will be counted; all mine that posted as "POS" counted (in my case they were pin based transactions in stores). This is the first month I managed to generate the "Debit Card W/D" ... one was online "credit" selected and one was signature based in a restaurant. We'll see if these count but I think they will.

As far as I know, all banks/CUs have slightly different rules what counts (signature-based, pin-based etc).

I'll keep you posted ...

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Comment #10 by Mario (anonymous) posted on
Mario
New on their website:

"The Board of Directors of United Heritage Credit Union has reduced the par share value required for membership from $25 to $1 and eliminated the $2 membership fee. We hope this action allows more eligible persons and businesses to join United Heritage and take advantage of desired products and services."

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Comment #11 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Thanks for the info. I've updated the post. That makes this checking account even more attractive, and I'm happy to see the 6.01% is holding.

I wonder if they have had trouble competing with CapOne's high yield checking.

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Comment #12 by Mario (anonymous) posted on
Mario
Banking guy, I'm pretty sure UHCU and Cap One have a fair amount of competition. Cap One seemed to have more banner/billboard advertising and I frequently heard UHCU's heritage account commercial on the radio ...

Here's another piece of news, I have received a ballot to vote on a measure passed by UHCU's board, which is to end NCUA insurance for UHCU accounts and replace it with $250k per account private insurance (American Share Insurance).

I'm personally going to vote against this. $100k backed by full faith and credit will always mean more to me than $250k by a private company. Plus, the change would result in a nominal one time cost to the CU.

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Comment #13 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Mario, Thanks for the info. This UHCU's checking account now has a big advantage since Cap One's intro rate has fallen to 4%.

I'm disappointed to hear about this decision by UHCU's board to drop NCUA insurance. I'm afraid that it's likely to pass since most CU members don't vote or vote what the board recommends. This is what happened to Patelco CU, but now they're trying to change back to being NCUA covered.

The $100K coverage by the NCUA can easily be extended via joint accounts or PODs if the CU understands this. So the extra coverage is a bad reason. I think the main reason is reduced cost in the long term. But as you said, the ASI doesn't have the same weight as the Fed. And for me to report on credit unions, it's much easier to say they're federally insured rather than privately insured which definitely makes it seems more questionable.

1
Comment #14 by Mario (anonymous) posted on
Mario
Received another flyer in the mail today with more details about the proposed insurance change. The $250k is for each account (as opposed to $100k across accounts for each different setup of individual, joint etc) so this *may* benefit some account holders with $$$ that are still single (maybe we have a lot of them in Austin?).

For this measure to pass, it requires 20% of the CU's members to vote. To be fair, the provided materials do explain the option of extending NCUA coverage. Well, we can only hope most members either like NCUA or don't care and don't bother to vote!

The flyer reiterated 6.01% interest rate, and didn't give any qualifying footnotes like "valid as of this date" or "subject to change" so let's hope the rate is here to stay!

1
Comment #15 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Update on their proposed insurance change:

I learned that members voted down the board's proposal to replace NCUA with ASI. So the NCUA coverage remains.

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Comment #16 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I opened 2 accounts for me and then two for my husband. It was painless and so far so good! I set up my ACH payments and as far as the 10 debits go, I just break up a few purchases at the grocery store using self checkout. It doesn't matter if you use debit or credit. They are very nice at the bank.

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Comment #17 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
So you need to do 40 Debit transactions total per month? Since you opened total 4 accounts between you and your husband?

Also, what do you guys think about the stability of this CU in the current economic condition? How can they afford to give 6% rate for such a long time?

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Comment #18 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
The V.P. Operations of this credit union sent me some stats about this checking account. As of last April, the average balance for a reward checking account holder was about $6,500.

To receive the 6.01% apy, there needs to be at least 10 debit card purchases for each checking account. If the average amount of debit card purchases is $1,000 per month, that would pay for almost half of the interest (assuming the credit union makes 1.5% off of each purchase).

This shows how it's possible for them to pay 6.01% for the last 15 months.

1
Comment #19 by jen (anonymous) posted on
jen
just got a letter....rate will drop to 5.01 effective november 1

1
Comment #20 by Aaron (anonymous) posted on
Aaron
I got the same 5.01% change notice. I also checked this link:

Rates

Does this mean they are dropping the rate to only 0.25% on November 1st?

1
Comment #21 by jen (anonymous) posted on
jen
yes i do make 40 debit transactions...i know it sounds crazy, but it's pretty easy. i split up my purchases when i grocery shop. if i do self checkout, then i break it up a lot :) also, when i pump gas, i break it up. sounds like a pain, but it's become part of my routine!

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