Update 5/10/09: The top rate has fallen to 2.51% APY.
First New England Federal Credit Union has a checking account called Platinum Reward Checking that pays 2.51% APY on balances from $40,000 to $50,000 if there's a monthly direct deposit of at least $500. Amounts over $50K earn 2% APY. If direct deposit or minimum balance requirement is not met, the rate falls to 0.10%. There are no monthly fees regardless if the requirements are met.
Unlike the typical reward checking accounts, there are no debit card usage requirements. Also different is that it requires a minimum balance of $40K to earn the high yield. This may be a good alternative for those who have avoided reward checking due to the debit card requirements. But without the debit card requirements, I wonder how long they'll be able to maintain the high yield.
Credit union membership is open to Friends of the Lucy Robbins Welles Library. The online application allows you to select the option to join this library association. Refer to my September post on this credit union for details about joining this credit union and opening accounts. Note, the Platinum Reward Checking cannot be selected in the online application as of 12/30/08. You'll need to call to open the account.
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.
This credit union also offers a typical type of reward checking account that pays a top rate on balances up to $25K (see post).
Branches are located in the Connecticut cities of East Hartford, Vernon and Newington.
The credit union's ratings for soundness are mixed: 4 stars (excellent) at BauerFinancial and 2 stars (below peer group) at Bankrate.com. Both ratings are based on 9/30/08 data. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 2601).
Thanks to the reader who emailed me info on this account.
05/05/09: 2.51% APY
12/30/08: 4.01% APY