Update 1/3/2011: The top yield has fallen to 2.26% APY. Refer to the bottom of the post for the rate history.
Provident Credit Union has just started a reward checking account it calls Super Reward Checking with a 2.26% APY on balances up to $25K (0.31% above $25K) and rebates of ATM fees (up to $2.50 per transaction) if the typical monthly reward checking requirements are met: 1) 10 Visa Check Card transactions, 2) 1 Direct Deposit or an automatic debit, and 3) receive e-statements. If these requirements are not met, the rate falls to 0.00%. The minimum opening deposit is $25. There are no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. According to the online application, no free checks are provided.
Field of membership includes members of several associations. Some of the associations listed with national coverage include the American Cancer Society and the Sierra Club and Sierra Club Foundation. The Sierra Club has a membership page where you can become a member online. The lowest membership level costs $25.
For those in California, you can be immediately eligible to join if you live or work in one of the following counties: San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer and Humboldt. Also those in Los Angeles City are elibible. See the eligibility page for the full details.
Membership into the credit union requires a $10 membership fee, but this is waived if you apply online. A minimum deposit of $25 is required into the share savings account.
For those looking for a reward checking account at a large financial institution with easy membership, this might be the one. Provident is a large credit union with $1.5 billion in assets, $1.1 billion in deposits, 18 branches, 249 full-time employees and 94,300 members. It's federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 66343).
For other reward checking accounts in other parts of the country (and some without balance caps), please see my reward checking account page and my best checking account post.
Thanks to the reader Sree who mentioned this special in the finding deals post.
01/03/11: 2.26% APY up to $25K; 0.31% over; 0.00% base
01/03/10: 2.51% APY
05/07/09: 3.01% APY
03/04/09: 3.26% APY
01/02/09: 3.76% APY
04/01/08: 4.01% APY
03/01/08: 5.01% APY
12/29/07: 5.51% APY
07/06/07: 6.01% APY up to $25K; 1.01% over; 0.10% base (initial post)