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High-Yield Reward Checking Account at an Arkansas Bank (Heartland Community)

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Update 7/03/10: The top rate has fallen to 3.25% APY. Refer to the bottom of the post for the rate history.

Heartland Community Bank is offering a reward checking account called Interest Plus Checking. It pays 3.25% APY on balances up to $30,000 (1.21% for above) and refunds ATM fees if the following monthly requirements are met: 1) 10 check card transactions, 2) one direct deposit or ACH auto debit, 3) access online banking and 4) receive electronic statements. If these are not met, the rate falls to 0.20%. The minimum opening deposit is $100. There are no monthly service charges or minimum balance requirements.

There's an online application link on their Interest Plus Checking page. They used to allow people from any state to apply. However, as of 9/26/09, the application limits new accounts to residents of Arkansas. For residents of Arkansas, you'll need to mail the deposit and signature card.

Branches are located in the Arkansas cities of Bryant, Fordyce and Sheridan. The bank has been FDIC insured since 1934 (Certificate # 28761).

Credit for this find goes to FW member jowaju who posted it on this FW thread.

Other High Yield Reward Checking Accounts

To find reward checking accounts in other areas of the nation or to learn more about these accounts, please refer to my High Yield Checking website.

Rate History:
05/12/10: 3.25% APY up to $30K
02/??/10: 3.51% APY up to $30K
12/08/09: 3.76% APY up to $30K; 1.21% over; 0.20% base rate
09/23/09: The account is now limited to Arkansas residents (per online application)
04/15/09: 4.02% APY
04/09/08: 5.06% APY
02/21/08: 6.01% APY up to $30K; 1.31% over; 0.30% base rate; available nationwide


  Tags: Arkansas, checking account, reward checking account

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Comments
Comment #1 by Dominic (anonymous) posted on
Dominic
These accounts fascinate me. I think the banks make a nice transaction fee off the check card and debit card transactions otherwise they would not dole out that much interest. I saw more new6.01% rates on money-rates.com for these accounts so they appear to be widespread across the country.

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Comment #2 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Yes, the debit card usage requirement is really the main thing that makes this different than other high yield accounts. So it must help the banks make these accounts profitable.

It seems likely that the banks get at least 1-2% in transactioin fees from all purchases. So if a customer makes $1,000 in purchases a month, the bank should be making $10 to $20 in fees. If that customer has a $10K balance, every one percent of interest costs the bank about $8 a month. The math can work out if the average balances are not too big and if the average debit card purchases are not too small. Hopefully, there will be enough average joes in these accounts who'll have small account balances and large debit card payments to make up for others who have large account balances and small debit card purchases.

These reward checking accounts are becoming widespread across the nation. I've posted on more than a 100 over the last year. This link has the full list. I still need to better group them by state.

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Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I just applied for the interest plus checking account at Heartland Comm Bank. No problems with the application but of course it has't been approved yet. I don't like the debit card requirements but have several CD'S maturing in next few weeks so I need some place to go with the money. This will be the only account I have with debit card requirements so 10 won't be a problem. Thanks to you Banking Guy and anyone else who helped with information on this bank.

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Comment #4 by Do away with balance caps (anonymous) posted on
Do away with balance caps
Wow, so many banks now have reward checking, but it seems that 99% of them have a balance cap.

I know Bank Guy linked to the page with a huge list, but it is quite long to scroll down and read all the text looking for a bank or credit union that has no balance cap or a balance cap of $100,000.

Does anyone have a link to a specific list of reward checking banks or credit unions that have a $100,000 cap or no cap at all? Yes, I am sure the list would be minuscule.

Thank you.

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Comment #5 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
I'll work on another label to categorize reward checking accounts by cap. I'm thinking of 3 labels:
1) $25K to under $50K
2) $50K to under $100K
3) $100K+
Seems like the Northeast (especially MA) has the most reward checking accounts with $100K caps.

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Comment #6 by Do Away With Balance Caps (anonymous) posted on
Do Away With Balance Caps
Thank you, Banking Guy.

I think that would be helpful to quite a few people (I know it would be helpful to me).

Hope you know many appreciate your efforts like I do.

I call on anyone who is able financially to click on "Tip Jar" on the main page and send Banking Guy a tip to show appreciation for all his efforts. I intend to do this tonight myself. Thank you.

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Comment #7 by Hans (anonymous) posted on
Hans
I applied online yesterday and was approved today after I faxed them my DL. Account will be activated and number assigned once they receive my signature card (printed out during online application). Can't wait to get a debit card that says "Shazam" on it. (Well, gollly!)

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Comment #8 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Banking Guy, it seems that credit unions are doing a better job than banks at maintaining a 6% APY on these reward checking accounts.

Perhaps you can do some analysis and make a recommendation to your readers.

After my experience with First Arkansas Bank and Trust ... they dropped the APY to 4.44% before I even got my debit card ... I'm passing on this opportunity.

I have two local credit unions (Eastern Financial Florida CU and Power Financial CU) that are still paying 6% APY and advertising it on TV.

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Comment #9 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
About the credit unions holding rates better, I'll have to look into that. One thing that is apparent is that banks that have had no balance caps like First Arkansas Bank and State Bank of Toledo have made major rate cuts and have added caps. So it looks like banks and credit unions with $25K balance caps are better able to maintain the high rate.

Another thing to consider is that many credit unions only change rates at the start of the month after the rates are reviewed by the board. So many credit unions may not have had the time to fully react to the massive Fed rate cuts at the end of January. If that's the case, we may see many more rate cuts in March.

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Comment #10 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Thanks for your response, Banking Guy ... I wasn't aware of the rate decision process at credit unions.

I guess that means I keep my fingers crossed next week and hope my current rewards checking accounts maintain their rates ... they are all credit unions with balance caps of $25K.

I thank you every day for getting me into 6% CD's at several good credit unions last year. I didn't even know about credit unions before I started reading your blog. I'm now happily addicted.

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Comment #11 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
thanks banking guy (my best friend on the internet) i opened this account the same day you wrote about this account.

turns out this is a very friendly bank. i received a letter of thanks from the president and a thank you card from the representative who has gone above and beyong the call of duty to help answer all my questions immediately and professionaly over the phone and through emails.

i plan to keep this account even if their rate drops below the 6% which i was told it will not even if the rates drop...we will see how long they will be able to hang one.

go south!

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Comment #12 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Thanks for the info. Did you open the account online? And did the account opening go smoothly?

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Comment #13 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I echo the above positive comments about my experience with Heartland. I receive exceptional personal service from them. I'm a national customer, yet they go out of their way to treat me with complete individual attention as if I were a local. I feel like I'm in a small town where the bank knows everyone. This bank knows me personally even though I have never met with them. They are a small little bank that's gone national, and they handle the demand with enthusiasm and appreciation. Oh, Banking Guy asked how the application process went. It took a few days total - submitting app, getting approved, mailing in a sig card, etc... they kept me informed of the status every step of the way. 6.01%!!!

1
Comment #14 by mikeanderson23 (anonymous) posted on
mikeanderson23
The Bank makes money primarily in two (2) ways. 1. When using a debit card, a signature based transaction will generate more fee revenue to a bank than would a PIN based transaction. and more importantly 2. Over Draft Fees!!! The last statistics I saw stated that for every 20 ATM transaction a consumer performed, on average they paid $237 in Over Draft / NSF fees. I believe it is this stat. that is driving the required number of debit card transactions.

1
Comment #15 by LORD OF ALL HUMANS (anonymous) posted on
LORD OF ALL HUMANS
So, theoretically, one could buy 10 packs of gum to cover the 10 debit card transactions, then have their savings money ACH deposited into the account to cover the other requisite, yesno? Because 6% is quite a bit more than the 3.55% HSBC's online savings account is offering.

1
Comment #16 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I applied a couple of days back, i got a email today, stating the interest rate is reduced to 4.85% with an APY of 5.06% starting mid april
Hot sand.

1
Comment #17 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I applied for this account mainly as an option for if (when?) some other Rewards Checking accounts cut their rates. They turned me down! They emailed me a form to get a ChexSystems report (apparently no hard pull), which I guess I'll do. I know there's nothing truly bad in my credit report, but I do have a few 0% or low-interest balance transfers ongoing, and some Rewards Checking accounts with other banks - some recently opened. Still, the denial is surprising - I wouldn’t have been surprised to have a credit card application turned down due to the balance transfers, but a checking account?

Questions for others here including Banking Guy - 1) anybody else have this happen? 2) any ideas about whether it was more likely I got torpedoed by the ongoing balance transfers or by the other Rewards Checking accounts? The latter one is interesting, because if true it may indicate that at least some banks see customers who also have Rewards Checking accounts at other banks as undesirable.

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Comment #18 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
I have heard about banks turning down new checking account applicants due to too many ChexSystem inquiries. If you have opened several accounts in the last few months, that could be the issue.

In my opinion this is an abuse of ChexSystem. It should only be used to ensure that you've been responsible at your other banks, and you shouldn't be penalized if you've opened too many accounts.

1
Comment #19 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I have one of the rewards checking accounts at Heartland and so far I love it. They are very nice people to deal with. They actually answer e-mails quickly and when you call you don't have a dozen menu's to go thru in order to get someone to talk to. Application went smooth. Was a small delay but it was my fault not their's. They probally won't be able to hold at 6.01 but I hope they will maintain well above 4% cause I want to continue using them.

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Comment #20 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Thanks for the info. Glad to read of the good customer service and the smooth application process. Did you have to wait for them to send a new account package in the mail before you could get online access?

1
Comment #21 by yomgui (anonymous) posted on
yomgui
I just tried to open an account: you have to be a US citizen. being a legal resident in the US is not enough.

1
Comment #22 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Letter from Heartland dated 2/5/09:

We have recently been notified that your debit card was compromised due to a security breach with Heartland Payment Systems.

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Comment #23 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I just got turned down by Heartland. After checking to see if my credit was compromised, I found that my credit is in excellent standing and I haven't had any ChexSystem inquiries since 11/8/08.

I have no other award checking accounts. I tried to open the account with $15K. I think there getting wise to people that just want a good rate. Buyer beware.

1
Comment #24 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I applied online two weeks ago. After waiting for a week I didn't hear anything back, so I phoned to ask about the status and was told that the person who was handling my application was away from her desk but would call me back. Now after two weeks, still nothing, so I'd have to call this bank a waste of time.

1
Comment #25 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
What did she say?
I'm considering opening this accout. Do they give a new member hard time to open it?

1
Comment #26 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I've also had a difficult time opening the account. I believe they have ONE person responsible for opening all the reward checking accounts, and since they are now among the highest rate nationally they are extremely busy. I have spoken to this lady a couple of times but the bottom line is it has taken nearly 3 weeks and I still do not have an account number let alone any checks or ATM card. They seem nice but are clearly overwhelmed with volume. If you are in a hurry I would suggest not using this bank.

1
Comment #27 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
It's free to apply, so I figured, nothing to lose.

Did the online application the other day, and within 24 hours got a rejection email from them...with no explanation of why...and only a referral to request a ChexSystems report.

I have excellent credit and haven't opened a lot of other accounts lately. And just to show how arbitrary the process can be, the next day, I applied for and was approved within 24 hours for a different rewards checking account that's high up on Bank Guy's list...

Heartland must not be too interested in getting new accounts right now. No problem, I'll put my money elsewhere.

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Comment #28 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Rate down to 4.02 APY.

1
Comment #29 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I definitely agree that they are not interested in getting new accounts. It has now been one full month since I applied and despite mailing in all the identity documents, signature card, etc I still do not have an account number or an account. And now of course they have dropped the rate during that one month period so the account is no longer worth opening.

I called them and told them not to bother opening the account. They didn't seem to care.

1
Comment #30 by Wilson (anonymous) posted on
Wilson
After two weeks I too received an email rejection from an illiterate CSR referencing ChexSystems. I requested my report, and it was clean. They probably just pretend to take deposits so that they are eligible to use the federal reserve system and FDIC. Can't really blame them for following the government's lead

1
Comment #31 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
No longer available to out-of-state (Arkansas) applicants, following West Bank's pattern.

1
Comment #32 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
They manually post the transactions late to avoid to pay the high APR for you.

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