Dedicated to Deposits: Deals, Data, and Discussion

Updates to My Nationwide Reward Checking Accounts List

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I've added four new banks to my list of nationwide reward checking accounts. These banks now allow people from any state to apply online through CheckingFinder.com. If you do a search using CheckingFinder with any zip code, these banks should now show up. I posted on these banks last year, and I've just updated those posts. Here are the links to these posts with the rates as of 1/31/2009:

Unfortunately, one bank was removed from the nationwide list. Bank of Blue Valley has changed its policy, and it now requires new customers to come into a branch to open an account (see post). This account had been listed on CheckingFinder for all zip codes, but it now only shows for zip codes near Kansas City where Bank of Blue Valley is located.

CheckingFinder is a great resource for finding and opening reward checking accounts. However, it doesn't list all of the reward checking accounts. For example, it only lists 7 banks and credit unions that offer nationwide reward checking accounts with yields at or above 5%. My nationwide list has 19 with yields at or above 5% as of 1/31/2009.

The change in Bank of Blue Valley is especially disappointing since this bank had the top rate (5.51% APY) for reward checking accounts available nationwide. Bank of Ripley now takes that top spot with its 5.26% APY reward checking account.

Bank of Blue Valley is one of many banks and credit unions that have changed their policies regarding nationwide availability. As I described in my recent post on the math behind reward checking, I think these banks find out that they get a lot more rate chasers when they offer these accounts nationwide.

I've just updated my High Yield Checking website with these changes and several rate updates. Many banks are cutting rates. One big disappointing rate cut was at MidWest America Federal Credit Union which just cut its rate from 6.31% to 5.11% APY for balances up to $25K. The 6.31% APY had been the top rate for any reward checking account in the nation. For much of last year, MidWest America FCU was offering an APY of 7.01%. Now the top rate is 6.01% APY which is offered by about a dozen banks and credit unions around the country.

With the current rate environment, these 6.01% rates may not last long. In the last two months, I've been very busy updating the posts with the latest rates, and I'm still having trouble keeping up-to-date on the 300+ banks and credit unions in my list. Thanks to the readers who have left comments on the rate cuts. I try to update the posts as soon as I see the comments. At least once a week, I gather up all these posts and run a program that parses these posts and updates the tables for the High Yield Checking website.

Unfortunately, many reward checking account rates are falling, but the drops are no worse than online savings account rate cuts. In my opinion, it's more of a sign of the rate environment rather than a problem with reward checking accounts. We shouldn't expect these reward checking account rates to stay above 5%, but I think it's possible that on average they can remain 1% to 2% higher than most online savings accounts. My latest average rate for reward checking accounts is 4.38% APY out of 321 banks and credit unions.

What is a Reward Checking Account?

If this is the first time you've read about high yield reward checking accounts, please refer to my reward checking overview. These accounts are fairly new. Even some financial experts that I hear on the radio don't know much about these accounts.

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Comments
2 comments.
Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Bank of Ripley only allows TN residents. In their application for pre-qualification you cannot enter an address that is outside TN. Has anyone else noted this?

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Comment #2 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Yes, it appears the bank has changed their policy. If you check CheckingFinder.com with non-TN zip codes, Bank of Ripley no longer shows up. I've update my post on this, and it'll be removed from the nationwide table soon.

1