Dedicated to Deposits: Deals, Data, and Discussion
DETAILSINSTITUTIONAPYMINMAXPRODUCT
West Bank0.75%-$30kReward Me Checking
Accounts mentioned in this post. Rates as of July 23, 2014

High-Yield Reward Checking Account at an Iowa Bank (West Bank)

POSTED ON BY

West Bank

Update 7/14/10: The top rate is scheduled to fall to 3.00% APY effective July 29, 2010. Refer to the bottom of the post for the account history.

West Bank is offering a reward checking account called Reward Me Checking that pays 3.00% APY on balances up to $30,000 (0.50% for above) and refunds ATM fees up to $25 per cycle if the following monthly requirements are met:

  • 12 signature based debit card transactions
  • 1 direct deposit put in or 1 direct payment taken out of your account
  • Receive electronic statement

If these are not met, the rate falls to 0.20% for that month. There are no monthly maintenance fees.

Update 4/04/09: The bank has changed their policy regarding eligibility. As stated in their online application: "The account owner must reside in Iowa at least part-time. Residency must be evidenced by a physical Iowa address (not a PO Box) which will be used as the address of record for the account."

According to the FAQs, you can apply by phone or by using their online application. I just called their toll-free number (800-810-2301) and confirmed that people in any state can apply online, and no branch visit is required. The CSR said they started offering this reward checking account in April 2008. According to the CSR, they only do a ChexSystem verification in the application with no hard credit pull.

West Bank is also the bank that holds deposits for SmartyPig. I reported on SmartyPig in early April just before West Bank started offering this reward checking account.

West Bank has several branches located in and around Des Moines, Iowa. It has been FDIC insured since 1934 (FDIC Certificate # 15614).

Thanks to the reader who mentioned this reward checking account in the comments.

Other 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:

  • 07/29/10: 3.00% APY up to $30K; 0.50% over
  • 10/29/09: 4.00% APY up to $30K; 1.00% over
  • 04/15/09: 4.00% APY up to $50K; 1.00% over; new accounts now restricted to only Iowa residents
  • 07/03/08: 5.00% APY up to $50K; 1.25% over

  Tags: Iowa, checking account, reward checking account, West Bank

Related Posts

Comments
43 comments.
Comment #1 by marc (anonymous) posted on
marc
seems like a great deal. the high limit and ability to do 1 electronic payment out vs. direct deposit as well at the 5% makes me consider the hassles might be worth it. not that it's a big deal, but i notice in the FAQ that their $1.50 internal foreign atm fee is included in the $25 refund limit.

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Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
"not that it's a big deal, but i notice in the FAQ that their $1.50 internal foreign atm fee is included in the $25 refund limit."

Yes, I noticed that too. That's sneaky! Yes, it is disclosed in the FAQ, but it seems sneaky to include that additional $1.50 per ATM transaction.

Anyway, my concern is their emphasis on "signature based" debit transactions. What exactly is that? I see lots of people using their debit/checks cards at groceries and they don't seem to be signing any slips. They just swipe and perhaps enter a pin. So are those considered signature based debit transactions?

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Comment #3 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
A signature based debit card purchase means that there's no PIN entered. The purchases still get debited from your checking account like PIN transactions. However, it usually takes a day or two longer.

Banks often require only this rather than PIN based purchases since they make a little more on the transaction fee from the merchant.

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Comment #4 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Thanks Banking Guy. So you mean this account requires that a patron press the "credit" key instead of the "debit" button at stores?

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Comment #5 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Yes. And if they don't give you the option, you typically can select the cancel key, and the credit option will show up.

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Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
"A signature based debit card purchase means that there's no PIN entered. The purchases still get debited from your checking account like PIN transactions. However, it usually takes a day or two longer.

Banks often require only this rather than PIN based purchases since they make a little more on the transaction fee from the merchant."

You know Banking Guy, PIN-less debit/check card transactions are my most feared and dreaded type of electronic transactions. If my Visa credit card is stolen and some guy starts charging up my card, I can dispute those charges and it's not immediately taken out of my own account. But if my checking account attached to a PIN-less debit/check card was to be accessed by a thief, I'd be in big trouble, especially since these reward checking accounts would be filled with $25k-50K cash balances. Once these charges go through, it's a direct withdrawal from my account. That is a huge concern of mine. Any thoughts Banking Guy?

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Comment #7 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
That's a good point that I'll have to do some research on. That is a nice feature of pure credit cards. You can dispute charges without worries of bogus charges automatically being debited from your account.

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Comment #8 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I was told by a bank officer that a signature based Debit Card transaction makes it fall under Visa/MC's usual protections. Thus, if there is any fraud related to the account using a signature based transaction, you'd be protected just as if it were a CC transaction.

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Comment #9 by rj (anonymous) posted on
rj
Im late to this party but just applied.

Verified the 5% is still valid as well as the $50k limit.

And 12 small transactions are OK.

No ACH in. No hard pull

This will just be my 2nd rewards checking. My other is down to only at 4.01% with a 25k limit.

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Comment #10 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Is there a minimum for initial deposit to open this account? Thanks.

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Comment #11 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Here is a quote from creditcards.com:

''In other developments, in 2006, MasterCard and Visa started permitting retailers to get rid of the necessity for a signature on debit card purchases of less than $25, although the merchant still pays the fee for a signature debit card transaction. The aim of that decision was to enable faster checkout lines at stores. The new "contactless" cards that can simply be waved near or tapped on a reader are also considered "signature" transactions.''

(Jeremy Simon, May 14, 2007, http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/merchants-encourage-debit-PIN-usage-1275.php )

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Comment #12 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Just signed up. Can anyone confirm, once and for all, that any (regardless of signature or amount spent) credit transaction (swiping card under the credit option) qualifies towards the 12 transactions needed to maintain the 5% yield?

Thanks,
PhillyGuy

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Comment #13 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
The electronic statement option is automatic with this account. You don't have to do anything online to set it up.

Per 2nd VP, Pam Wolf, "I'm sorry but West Bank does not honor POD's on deposit accounts."

To wire transfer you just need our routing number (073903354) and your account number (there is a $10 dollar fee to accept a wire transfer). Call Anita Pickerton (1-800-810-2301) if there are any other wire transfer questions.

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Comment #14 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
To answer the Philly guy's question: yes, all transactions swipped under credit option qualifies. I have this reward checking for 4 months now.

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Comment #15 by Julia (anonymous) posted on
Julia
Thanks for the "credit" explanation. Look forward to using this account.

Very much appreicated.

PhillyGuy

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Comment #16 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
There is a monthly dormant fee ($5 per month) and early closure fee (90 days), worth noting.

They do not mail out starter free checks any more for security reasons.

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Comment #17 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Just opened an account this month. Since it takes a while to get the Debit Card, do they waive the transactions requirement and still credit your interest for the first month?

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Comment #18 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
To answer the preceding question -- triple asterisk under requirements: "You will be paid interest and ATM fees on your first cycle regardless of qualifications."

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Comment #19 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Do they accept incoming / outgoing ACH ? How does one deposit the funds ?

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Comment #21 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
The account is in Yodlee. I looked it up before applying. Does anyone know if you are allowed more than one account per household?

1
Comment #22 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Received email from them saying that APY lowering to 4% soon.

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Comment #23 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
4.01% APY as of 4/15/09, with the herd effects. Most nationally availble reward checking accounts are coming back to norm (below 4% APY).

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Comment #24 by Seth Dallob (anonymous) posted on
Seth Dallob
Per CSR on 4/2, effective 4/15 the rate on this account will be 4% and the account will be limited to Iowa only.

1
Comment #25 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Man, I knew the good times had to end, but 4% is still nice. What happens to the existing out-of-Iowa account holders? Do we know if we are grandfathered in?

1
Comment #26 by marc (anonymous) posted on
marc
Strange, I did not receive the email about the rate going down.

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Comment #27 by rjm (anonymous) posted on
rjm
A couple of things...

I had requsted info but not yet sent it in and they told me I would be grandfathered in despite being out of state.

Also, the fine print mentions a $6 per year "debit card fee" but someone called and they said it didnt apply to the rewards checking.

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Comment #28 by marc (anonymous) posted on
marc
still see 5% on their site right now.

1
Comment #29 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Well, here it is, April 16 and they're still at 5%, both on the front page and on my account page.

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Comment #30 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Yes, until April 16, the rate is still 5%, anybody knows why?

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Comment #31 by RJM (anonymous) posted on
RJM
Saw this post on FW.

The 4% APY will be effective on 23 April (instead of the 15th) as quoted by a CSR.

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Comment #32 by rjm (anonymous) posted on
rjm
I sent in a check on Monday since they grandfathered me in as I has half way opened the account but not sent in my paperwork.

The $6 per year debitcard fee mentioned in the fine print does not apply to the rewards checking.

1
Comment #33 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Be wary about this bank. They would purposly post the debit card transactions much later than the actual transaction date to avoid qualifying customers for the interest reward. I just found out that i'm being ****ed by their cunning and dishonest process!

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Comment #34 by rjm (anonymous) posted on
rjm
I take exception to the poster above (which I reposted below)

All banks take a couple of days for "signature-based" charges to go through. This is nothing specific to west bank. It happens at ALL my credit cards as well as both my rewards checking accounts other than West Bank.

I am still in my first month with west bank and I havent used the card yet. I dont have to meet the requirements the first month.

My card is here but I have not opened the enveople yet.


------
Be wary about this bank. They would purposly post the debit card transactions much later than the actual transaction date to avoid qualifying customers for the interest reward. I just found out that i'm being ****ed by their cunning and dishonest process!

By Anonymous, at 2:49 PM, April 23, 2009

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Comment #35 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
There are still a fair number of rewards accounts offering more than 4 percent. Otherwise I'm very pleased so far with West Bank. Setting up the account is a little bit of a pain, and it's been smooth sailing ever since.

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Comment #36 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
My West Bank "non-PIN" debit card transactions are posting within 2-3 days... a perfectly reasonable amount of time. I would imagine it depends on the establishment. I find that major retailers and store chains post much sooner, on average 2 days total.

1
Comment #37 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Just a word of warning that accounts are closed immediately (ie, the very same day) if the balance hits zero. Not only do you lose any accrued interest, but the account disappears from the online banking system so you no longer have access to monthly statements or transaction history.

1
Comment #38 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
From WB e-mail today: The current tier structure allows you to earn 4.0% APY* on balances between $0.01 and $50,000. As of October 29, 2009, the tier will change to allow you to earn 4.0% APY on balances between $0.01 and $30,000. All balances over $30,000 will earn 1.0% APY.*

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Comment #39 by rjm (anonymous) posted on
rjm
REWARD ME Checking Change in Terms, as of October 29, 2009

The following is a summary of changes that are being made to your account terms. The effective date of these changes is October 29, 2009. There is no action required on your part for this change.

The current tier structure allows you to earn 4.0% APY* on balances between $0.01 and $50,000. As of October 29, 2009, the tier will change to allow you to earn 4.0% APY on balances between $0.01 and $30,000. All balances over $30,000 will earn 1.0% APY.*

Even with this change, Reward Me Checking remains a premier checking account with highly competitive terms and rates, along with nationwide ATM fee refunds.**

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Comment #40 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
At least they did not lower the rate. The continual trend to lower rate/limit indicates that reward checking does not prove to be so profitable as banks originally thought. Of course, the low rate climate is also a major factor. Soon 4%/$25K will be the norm and anything higher 9in terms of rate and limit) will be an endangered specy.

1
Comment #41 by cavegasguy (anonymous) posted on
cavegasguy
I am reading some old posts on "West Bank" dated 3-11-09

I have a copy of the application they sent me, they DO let you designate a P.O.D or you can open this as a Trust account.

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Comment #42 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I learned this month that West bank gives you interest ONLY on your available balance. This month I had few large checks deposited to the account. Therefore, I had significant differece this month in Ledger balance and Available balance. You can see the two balances in your monthly statement. I was assuming I will start receiving interst once the check was posted into the account. I know we have had this discussion on "when actually interest starts accruing" for this bank and many other bank. Typically, their terms and conditions says "interest start accruing as as we receive credit". It was debated many times in many bank forums what it means "when we receive credit"

But based on the interest posted this month, I can clearly say it is based on available balance. Does any one had similar expereince with Westbank. Did any of you contact Westbank regarding this policy and protested/complained? Any success?

1
Comment #43 by RJM posted on
RJM
Im closing my West account with the recent rate drop....a rep told me that taking your balance down to zero will close the account automatically.

 

.35% higher than INGs checking is NOT worth the 12 transactions for me.

 

Courtesy Notice about your Reward Me Checking Account

Beginning July 26, 2012, when you qualify the interest rate paid for your Reward Me Checking account will be 1.25% APY* on balances up to $30,000 and 0.15% APY* on balances exceeding $30,000. If you fall short of your requirements**, you will earn .01% APY* on all checking balances and your ATM fees will not be refunded.

We trust you will agree that interest rates on Reward Me Checking remain among the most competitive in our market for funds held in a transaction account.

If you have any questions regarding your Reward Me Checking account, please contact your banker or a Customer Service Representative at 800-810-2301.

Sincerely,
West Bank

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