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Update on Clear Sky Account's Competitive Savings and Checking Accounts - Available Nationwide

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Clear Sky Accounts
Clear Sky Accounts became very popular early this year when they launched a savings account promo that guaranteed a 3.75% APY through March 31st. In fact it was so popular that they were overwhelmed by deposits which forced them to stop accepting new applications. In addition, the bank stopped allowing existing depositors (who had opened accounts during the promo) to make additional deposits. Needless to say this angered many customers. The bank started accepting new applications at the end of April. There had been concerns that the rates wouldn't hold up after the promo, but the rates have remained competitive for both the savings account and checking account.

The savings account rate is 1.85% APY as of 8/10/09 for all balances up to $250,000. The checking account has tiered rates, and unlike ING Direct, all the tiers under $250K are very competitive. As of 8/10/09, the rates include:
  • 1.65% APY up to $10K
  • 1.75% APY $10K-$25K
  • 1.85% APY $25K-$250K
  • 0.50% APY over $250K
The savings account rate is competitive, but the checking account is very competitive for non-reward checking accounts. The checking account has the following features:
  • No monthly fees
  • no paper checks
  • Waives up to $20 in ATM fees each month
  • Free online bill pay
  • Deposits can be done by an ACH bank-to-bank transfer or by mailing a check
The bank also has a pretty good ACH bank-to-bank transfer service. Readers have reported that transfers are fast. Here's how one reader described the speed:
One pleasant surprise is when I make an interbank transfer in the morning, it ALWAYS shows up in my account that day...and is still showing up in the other account for at least a day. I love double interest! I also made one small transfer out and it was in the bank the next day. Very speedy.

On the downside, the ACH service has limitations. Here's a summary of the features based on my online chat with the CSR today:
  • Link up to 3 external accounts
  • Daily limit is $50.000 for an outgoing and $100,000 for an incoming transfer
  • Limit of 6 outgoing transfers per month (savings account only per federal regulation)
  • Limit of one transfer per day, whether it's an incoming or outgoing transfer
Some other information I've received from the CSR today includes:
  • Confirmed that there are no paper checks
  • You can add 3 beneficiaries to an account
  • No hard credit inquiry
If you can confirm any of these, please leave a comment. CSRs are often not correct on the hard pull issue.

Clear Sky Accounts are FDIC insured through Chesapeake Bank of Virginia. There's a link to the Clear Sky website on the left side of Chesapeake Bank's front page. Chesapeake Bank has been a FDIC member since 1934 (FDIC Certificate # 6862).

Chesapeake Bank is not a large bank. Based on the FDIC data in 3/31/09 it has about $594 million in assets and $502 million in deposits. In December 31, 2008, total deposits equaled $430 million. I wonder if the Clear Sky Account promo resulted in the added $72 million in deposits in the first quarter.

Chesapeake Bank continues to have decent ratings for safety and soundness. However, the rating went down a bit at BauerFinancial: 4 stars (excellent) based on 9/30/08 data to 3½ stars (good) based on 3/31/09 data. Bankrate.com still gives the bank a 4-star rating (sound) based on 3/31/09 data.

Other Checking Account Options

Refer to my weekly rate summary for the best nationwide checking, savings and money market accounts. Note, money market accounts typically offer limited check writing (up to 3 checks per month).

If you want a higher rate on a checking account, your best bet is a reward checking account. You can find these at my High Yield Checking website.

Edit 6:05pm PDT 8/10/09: Added clarification of the old deposit restriction.
Edit 8/13/09: Received info that the 6 outgoing transfer limit is only for the savings account.

  Tags: Clear Sky Accounts, checking account, savings account

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Comments
6 Comments.
Comment #1 by Cautious (anonymous) posted on
Cautious
Actually, one slight correction: I seem to recall that Clear Sky Accounts was only preventing existing depositors from depositing funds if they had opened their accounts with the high guaranteed promotional rate. Depositors who had opened accounts after the expiration of that short-lived promo rate were free to deposit funds at the then-current normal rate, which was lower, but still relatively competitive. Perhaps my recollection is wrong, but that is what I remember being told by them when I phoned and spoke with a CSR.

BTW, thanks for all the great information you provide, Banking Guy!

1
Comment #2 by Cautious (anonymous) posted on
Cautious
Oops, I meant to type "Depositors who had opened accounts after the expiration of the offer of that short-lived promo rate were free to deposit funds at the then-current normal rate..."

1
Comment #3 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Yes, I think you might be right. I tried to clarify what happened. Thanks.

1
Comment #4 by Paula - Chesapeake Bank employee (anonymous) posted on
Paula - Chesapeake Bank employee
For checking accounts, there is only a limit of one outbound transfer per day for bank to bank transfers. Savings is limited to six per month because of regulations.

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Comment #5 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Thanks. I had thought this sounded like only a savings account limitation. I've updated the post with this correction.

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Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Customer service at Chesapeake is great -- unless there is a problem.  Then it's completely useless.

Their online system is run by a third party, and a glitch in the interface caused a transfer that I setup to occur twice.  They refused to even admit that there might have been a problem.

I ended up having to threaten to file complaints with their regulators to get them to put this situation right, i.e., cover the $20 insufficient funds fee from Ally.  To their credit, Ally offered to refund the fee as a one-time courtesy, no questions asked.

As their rate has faded away, I've moved my money elsewhere.  There's no longer any need to deal with the limitations and problems in their system.

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