Update 6/17/2010: There are now two top rates: 3.51% APY for Relationship Account members and 2.50% APY for general members. Both apply up to $15K. Please refer to the bottom of the post for the account history.
First New England Federal Credit Union is offering a reward checking that pays 2.50% APY on balances up to $15,000 (0.50% for over) and refunds ATM fees worldwide (up to $25 per cycle) if the following monthly requirements are met: 1) 12 debit card transactions, 2) one direct deposit or ACH auto debit, and 3) enroll in eServices. If these are not met, the rate falls to 0.10%. There is no minimum balance and no monthly service charge.
The credit union also offers a Platinum Rewards Checking for those with large savings and who don't want to worry about using the debit card. It pays 0.90% APY on balances from $40,000 to $50,000 when there's a monthly direct deposit of at least $500. Balances over $50,000 earn 0.25% APY. When the balance falls under $40,000 or if the direct deposit requirement is not met, the rate falls to 0.10%. There is no debit card requirement. Like the rewards checking, there is no monthly service charge. Update 6/17/10: A higher rate of 2.00% APY for $40K-$50K and 0.50% over is available for Relationship Account members.
Membership is open to Friends of the Lucy Robbins Welles Library. The online application allows you to select the option to join the Newington Friends of the Library. From the online application, it looks like you can pay the membership fee for this library association and fund your opening deposit through this application with an electronic funds transfer (see update below). The Rewards Checking is listed as one of the checking account options. The Share Savings Account is required for membership, and it has a minimum deposit of $10. For more details on credit union membership, please refer to their Who-Can-Join page.
Branches are located in the Connecticut cities of East Hartford, Vernon and Newington. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 2601). It has $62.3 million in assets and 9,344 members.
Update 2/19/08: I confirmed with the credit union that this reward checking account can be opened online. They will need a signature card and a copy of your driver's license after the account is opened. According to the customer service rep, this can be done by mail.
Update 5/31/08: A reader has reported that the credit union will pay for joining the Friend of the Lucy Robbins Welles Library.
All you need to do is send the CU the library's one-page membership application along with the CU signature page. The CU's online application lets you print both of these.
The reader also noted the rewards checking account comes with free checks.
Other High Yield Reward Checking Accounts
Please see my reward checking overview for general information and a history of these reward checking accounts. For other reward checking accounts please see my list of reward checking accounts around the nation and the best checking account post.
06/01/10: 3.51% APY for up to $15K; 0.50% APY for above (Relationship members), 2.50% APY up to $15K; 0.50% APY for above (general members) / Platinum Reward: 2.00% APY for $40K-$50K, 0.50% over (Relationship members); 0.90% APY for $40K-$50K, 0.25% over (general members)
04/01/10: 3.10% APY for up to $15K
10/01/09: 4.10% APY for up to $15K, 0.50% APY for above / Platinum Reward 2.51%
06/01/09: 3.65% APY for up to $15K
05/01/09: 3.65% APY for up to $20K, 1.25% APY for above / Platinum Reward 2.50% $40K-$50K, 1.00% above
02/28/09: 4.15% APY for up to $20K, 2.00% APY for above / Platinum Reward 3.01% $40K-$50K, 1.51% above
05/30/08: 5.15% APY for up to $25K, 2.50% APY for above
01/15/08: 6.01% APY for up to $25K, 3.00% APY for above
Edit 3/03/09: Updated rewards checking URL. Added info on Platinum Rewards Checking.
Edit 1/02/09: Added rate history. Added note on worldwide ATM refunds.