Update 11/09/10: The bank failed in early 2010 but was taken over by a newly chartered bank that kept the Charter Bank name. The reward checking account rate is now only 0.25%
Update 11/02/09: Charter Bank has made big changes to the Turbo Checking Account. Top rate has fallen to 1.25% APY. The balance cap has risen to $50K. The debit card usage requirement has fallen to only 1 purchase per month.
Charter Bank is offering a reward checking account called Turbo Checking. It pays 0.25% and refunds ATM fees if the following monthly requirements are met: 1) 1 debit card transactions (down from 13 starting 11/2/09), 2) one direct deposit or ACH auto debit, 3) receive electronic statements, and 4) access online banking. If these are not met, the rate falls to 0.25%. The minimum opening deposit is $100, but there are no minimum balance or monthly service charges regardless if the above requirements are met.
Update 11/01/09: I received the following info from a Charter Bank rep when I emailed the bank regarding what happened to the Turbo Checking account:
We are still offering Turbo. The site is in the process of changing to our new rates and requirements. I do not know what the new rates will be. If you live in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho or Santa Fe then please come in to one of our branches to open the account. If you live out of state you can send a letter along with a photo copy of your drivers license and your social security number requesting that we open an account for you.
Update 11/13/07: The bank replied to my email about the branch visit requirement with the following:
You do not need to come to a branch to apply for the checking account. If you go to www.turbochecking.com, you can sign up. Once you submit your application and we verify your identity, we will mail you the paperwork for the Turbo Checking account. You would then need to mail back the signature card and you may also mail a check for deposit. Once we receive your signature card, we will sign you up for online banking and send you a debit card and checks, if you want checks, which will take approximately 10 days to arrive.
I was told last week when I called that they don't do a hard credit pull (just ChexSystem), and you have to pay for the first box of checks (but you can choose not to have any checks).
Update 8/30/08: A reader has reported that Charter will be limiting their Turbo Checking accounts to 1 per family as of September l, 2008. The reader also reported that Charter will start requiring 13 debit card purchases per month (up from 10) starting October lst.
Branches are located in the New Mexico cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The bank is FDIC insured (FDIC Certificate # 32498).
Other Reward Checking Accounts
To learn more about reward checking accounts, please refer to my High Yield Reward Checking Reviews post. For other reward checking accounts in other parts of the country, please see my reward checking account page and my best checking account post.
11/02/09: 1.25% APY for up to $50K; 1.01% over; 0.25% base; only 1 debit card purchase per month required.
05/01/09: 4.01% APY for up to $25K
02/02/09: 5.01% APY for up to $25K; other rates remain the same
10/01/08: Debit card usage requirement increased to 13 per month
11/07/07: 6.01% APY for up to $25K; 1.01% APY for above; 0.25% if req's are not met. 10 debit card purchases per month required.