Dedicated to Deposits: Deals, Data, and Discussion

High-Yield Reward Checking Account at Bank of the Sierra in California

POSTED ON BY

Bank of the Sierra

Update 12/03/10: The top rate has fallen to 2.09% APY. Refer to the bottom of the post for the rate history.

Bank of the Sierra is offering a reward checking account that pays 2.09% APY on balances up to $25,000 (0.50% for above) and refunds ATM fees nationwide up to $25 per cycle if the following monthly requirements are met:

  • 12 check card purchases
  • one direct deposit or automatic payment
  • one online bill payment
  • Receive eStatements

If these are not met, the rate falls to 0.12%. The minimum initial deposit is $50. Bill Pay is free, and there are no monthly service charges and no minimum balance requirements. Multiple accounts can be opened, but requirements for each account must be met to receive the high yield.

The account can only be opened online. I called the bank, and according to the banking rep, it's available to people in any state. The online application uses the andera.com service, and it appears to allow electronic ACH funding. Update 4/25/2010: The start of the application now states that the account is limited to residents of CA and WV.

Branches are located in several Central California cities including Fresno, Bakersfield, Hanford and Porterville. The bank has been FDIC insured since 1978 (FDIC Certificate # 22597).

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.

Edit 8/08/09: Added ATM fee refund info and estatement requirement.

Rate History:

12/03/10: 2.09% APY up to $25K; 0.50% over

07/03/10: 3.09% APY up to $25K

04/23/10: Account is now limited to CA & WV

12/03/09: 4.09% APY up to $25K
12/03/08: 4.51% APY up to $25K; 1.01% over; 0.12% base

  Tags: Bank of the Sierra, California, checking account, reward checking account, West Virginia

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Comments
28 comments.
Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Why don't you list this bank over in the state (CA) listing also?

1
Comment #2 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Looks like I had forgotten to give it a California label. I've updated it, and it should appear on my next update of the table. Thanks.

1
Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
As of 7/14/2009 the rate is 4.51%. Soft pull on credit. Requires either a direct deposit or auto bill paid from the account. Can have multiple accounts open under one social security number. No closing fees. They will not order checks for you so you will have to order checks if you want them.

1
Comment #4 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Please update to include $25 in ATM refunds nationwide per cycle. Also, e-statements are a requirement.

1
Comment #5 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
These guys have some dodgy identity verification. It failed for me multiple times, and I've never had a problem anywhere else.

1
Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I just was failed too, my credit score from 3 agencies are 792, 768, 762 last checked about 2 weeks ago.

1
Comment #7 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I passed my identity verifications but couldnt fund it using my credit card...all the info was correct. Has anyone used their CC to open it (w/more than 50)? or has anyone had their cc rejected?

1
Comment #8 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
This one is the next to fall... either in terms of rate or losing national avalibility.

1
Comment #9 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I just applied and was approved in one of the smoothest processes I've ever experienced. The identity verification uses data that might or might not be accurate, so your verification is often luck of the draw. I've failed several times previously and I despise it. If you fail, be sure to complain to the bank: they're paying someone to provide that faulty service.

1
Comment #10 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
The ID Check system is definitely fishy, they seem to filter out some applicants for them so that they can get the most profit. Not worth the trouble, IMO. Like most here stated, it is not even a credit check or ID check, it is a stupid mysterious screening system.

1
Comment #11 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
To follow up, we used a different family member for application, it went smoothly. It seems to block out those with short credit history...

1
Comment #12 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I was declined...
I tried twice for application since the security question was kind of strange.
I noticed it lists phone number from 14 years ago...
Also I opened several reward checking accounts at other banks,
maybe that is why I was declined.

The initial deposit money is still somewhere else..
The customer support said the money will be back to the original place withih 5 business days.
How stupid I am for setting 25K as initial deposit.

It was bitter lesson for me.
I thought about opening account with my husband's name, but I decided to stay away from this bank.

I'm going to stick with cnbt.com that does not have maximum for reward checking account.

1
Comment #13 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
To above post: Sorry to hear your bad application experience. They definitely have some set criteria on who to accept, or else, they cannot keep this high rate with national availability and unlimited number of accounts. I was wondering how your $25,000 got deducted (from credit card?) when they rejected your application? During the application, I recall that you have to be approved before you reach the deposit page. Am I missing something?

1
Comment #14 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I too was rejected by their system and this has never happened before (and I've opened many other Rewards Checking accounts over the years). Does not instill you with confidence about this bank at all.

1
Comment #15 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I was the one who posted on 12:20 PM, October 07, 2009.

Yes, I thought I was approved.
I think the bank has some manual screening process after the automatic security clearance.
I specified the initial deposit method as ACH transfer and the money was deducted instantly.

This rejection was my first time too! How sad.

1
Comment #16 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Yeah, I think the first rule for these reward checking accounts is to put the minimum $50 initial deposit, instead of big sum (unless you want to have a big credit card charge to earn cash reward; that, itself, is a highly risky business -- with cash advance transaction fee). The second rule is to test out the requirements for the second month (after the first grace-period month) to ensure meeting requirements (auto-debit, 12 debit transactions, billpay, etc.). Then only transfer big-sum money after thorough testing. Good luck on your $25,000, the bank is earning interest freely, so it may delay it as long as possible. Good luck:-)

1
Comment #17 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Some at FWF stated that "some" credit card deposits will be considered cash advance with 3-4% fees.

1
Comment #18 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Just went through the application process. I was rejected because of an "ID verification error". I have never had this happen before. I checked everything twice before I submitted. I may try again just in case I did make an error. I have a very high credit rating. Is it possible that they are using this "screen" as a filter, not just for deadbeats, but for people with good credit too? I called and talked to the csr who gave me the transunion number. Just a generic number where yo will not be able to address the problem. Not too many options here.

1
Comment #19 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I previously posted that I failed the ID verification. Tried it again with a different browser and it worked fine.

"chrome" is not reliable for important things in my opinion.

1
Comment #20 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Not sure about BotS' selection criteria, but they should be independent of any computer-related stuff. They are just very particular about accepting people.

1
Comment #21 by RIck (anonymous) posted on
RIck
I just applied online, very smooth. My old bank just dropped their rate from 4.4% to 3.5% so Bank of Sierra will be a notch higher.

1
Comment #22 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
But half of the limit to earn high interest.

1
Comment #23 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I was accepted when I applied Nov. 4th and deposited 15k into Sierra. I received an email with a phone number asking me to verify my mother's maiden name (it was cc'd to 2 other people at the bank). It took three weeks to receive my card and pin, but when I phoned they are very nice and helpful - they knew who I was, what a pleasant surprise. Told me they have been swamped. Are giving me the 4.51% rate for the month even without my asking. I'm impressed with the customer service.

1
Comment #24 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Thanks for the info. Glad to read of the good customer service.

1
Comment #25 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I think the rate drop (to 4.09% APY) was writing on the wall for a while. Available nationally and no limit to number of accounts are two sure signs of rate change/etc. I think that hte publizing of it at Bank Deals certains accelerate the rate change. BotS people are reading this forum and the FWF effcts are at its best.

The 4.09% APY is still pretty good. I am not moveing to another RCA.

1
Comment #26 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Interesting news re their small rate drop, which I first read in BG's weekly Sunday recap.

Interesting because, I just recently opened this RCA with them, and was talking on the phone a few days ago with one of their CSRs. They didn't mention anything over the phone, and as of today, I've not received any email notification from the bank, even though my account with them is fully up, running and registered.

That said, I'm still glad I opened the account with them. I didn't expect the 4.5% to last... But I'm really glad they stayed above 4%, which is kind of my personal target for RCAs, i.e., the ones I keep and use.

Their customer service thus far has been good, easy to reach and contact via phone, online banking OK. But their account opening process is a bit cumbersome, with having to mail back documents, and multiple things back and forth.

I just hope they don't pull a Charter Bank and whack their rate suddenly down to 1%... 4% I can handle... But 1% would make me MAD!!!!

1
Comment #27 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Opened this account 3 months ago. Smooth sailing from the beginning without a hitch. Sad to see the rate drop. If it drops anymore, I'm moving to another local credit union offering the same rate right now (better since it's not available nationally).

1
Comment #28 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Be careful of their E-statement signup. In addition to check it during application, you need to sign up on the bank's website. The link is at the bottom of front page. Many people have been hit by this shady tactic.

1