Dedicated to Deposits: Deals, Data, and Discussion
DETAILSINSTITUTIONAPYMINMAXPRODUCT
Alliant Credit Union0.65%--High Rate Checking
Clear Sky Accounts0.65%$25k$250kClear Sky Checking
FNBO Direct0.65%-$1mOnline Billpay
Ally Bank0.60%$15k-Interest Checking Account
Incredible Bank0.59%-$250kIncredible Checking
Accounts mentioned in this post. Rates as of July 31, 2014

Five Best Regular Interest Checking Accounts Available Nationwide

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Five Best Regular Interest Checking Accounts Available Nationwide

Yesterday I reviewed the five best reward checking accounts. In this post, I thought it would be useful to review the five best regular checking accounts available nationwide. By regular I mean that they are not a reward checking account. A regular checking account should have no debit card usage requirements and no small cap on the balance that can qualify for the top rate. For those who don't like debit cards and prefer to use cash-back credit cards, you might prefer a regular checking account over a reward checking account.

If high interest is not the main concern for your checking account, Ally Bank's Interest Checking Account is hard to beat. It has the following useful features:

  • No minimum balance and no monthly fees
  • Free paper checks
  • You can use any ATM worldwide and Ally will automatically refund ATM fees charged by other banks
  • Overdraft transfer service with no fees. If you exceed your checking balance, funds will automatically be transfered from your Ally savings account to cover the transaction with no fee.

Ally Bank's interest rate may not put it on the top list, but it is competitive for regular checking accounts with a top rate of 1.05% APY for a $15K minimum balance (0.50% for under) as of 7/22/2010.

Another alternative to a checking account if a high yield is a top priority is to use a money market account. The main downside with money market accounts is that you're limited to 6 checks per month (only 3 if the bank hasn't updated its policy to the new regulation). In addition to the check writing limitation, most money market accounts lack online bill pay. If you don't write many checks and don't need online bill pay, an online money market account like what Ally Bank offers may be good enough. Its money market rate is currently 1.29% APY as of 7/22/2010.

The money market account may sound like a better deal, but there aren't that many internet money market accounts with check writing. There are actually more internet checking accounts, and the rates are higher. Perhaps it's the debit card that is allowing banks to pay more on their checking accounts. There are no requirements on using the debit card, but if a large percentage of the customers do use it, that can help pay for the high interest in a way that's similar to reward checking accounts.

Below is the list of the five best interest checking accounts in terms of interest rates that are available nationwide. Rates are as of 7/22/2010:

  • Incredible Bank - 1.53% APY for up to $250K. I first reviewed Incredible Bank and its checking account on November 2009 when the rate was 2.02% APY. So they have been able to keep the rate competitive for a while. One downside is that they don't allow paper checks.
  • Alliant Credit Union's High Rate Checking - 1.50% APY. Alliant started this checking account in January 2009 and has kept rates very competitive (It was just reported that 1.50% will continue through August). It does require monthly electronic deposits and e-statements.
  • Acacia Federal Savings Bank's Top Choice Checking - 1.50% APY (min $5K). I first reported on this account in March of 2010 so it doesn't have the rate history of the others. Another downside is that it has a monthly fee if your balance falls below $5K.
  • Clear Sky Accounts's Checking - 1.35% APY $25K-$250K (1.15% under $10K, 1.25% $10K-$25K). I first reported on Clear Sky in January 2009. Both the savings accound and the checking account were launched at that time, but the savings account with the high-yield guaranteed for 3 months received the most attention. Rates for both accounts have remained competitive. It's also a paperless checking account that requires the use of online bill pay instead of writing paper checks. If you're concerned with hackers breaking into your online account, Clear Sky has an extra layer of protection through the use of a secure token.
  • FNBO Direct's Online BillPay - 1.10% APY up to $1M. FNBO Direct first launched its internet checking account in November 2007, and it has kept the rate competitive. This is also a paperless checking account in which online bill pay replaces paper check writing.

Other High-Yield Checking Accounts

Please refer to the checking accounts section of DepositAccounts.com for both nationwide and local deals. If you don't mind using your debit card, you might want to consider reward checking accounts. We have many nationwide and local ones in the reward checking section of DepositAccounts.com.


  Tags: checking account, Ally Bank, Incredible Bank, Acacia Federal Savings Bank, Clear Sky Accounts, Alliant Credit Union, FNBO Direct

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Comments
9 Comments.
Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I use Alliant and I like many things about them ... but I’m extremely disappointed in their billpay system.

They use a vendor to pay the bills. Alliant debits your account for the amount of the bill, and transfers it to the vendor who then pays the bill. When Alliant asks for the due date, they don’t mean the date the bill is due -- they mean the date you want the money taken out of your account and sent to the vendor. They suggest you fill in a date 7 to 10 days before the actual due date to make sure it gets there on time.

It’s very confusing ... and you lose up to two weeks of interest on the billpay amount every month compared to banks which don’t debit your account until the payee actually collects the payment. But it gets worse.

With the other three billpay services I’ve used, my monthly statement showed the date a payment was cashed by the payee ... and the statement served as my written documentation that my payment was made on time.

With Alliant, I have no documentation that my payment was ever received by the payee. If there was a glitch ... or if a check was lost in the mail ... I wouldn’t know until the payee contacted me ... perhaps weeks later ... saying my payment was overdue -- and by then my credit rating would be damaged.

So I don’t use Alliant’s billpay service ... and I really miss having one.

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Comment #2 by mrvirgo posted on
mrvirgo
Poster #1, Thank you for your comments. I checked my BofA and Citi statements and you are right,  the payments to various utilities are listed by the date on which they were paid. After reading your comments, I won't ever use Alliant's bill pay.  Alliant is excellent for many reasons like consistently high interest, fast ACH, and excellent service which why I use it as my hub. But unless Alliant's new improved website coming next month, totally scraps the old bill pay system,  I won't ever consider using it.

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Comment #3 by darkdreamer4u posted on
darkdreamer4u
In my review of American Bank, I compared it to Ally's checking and pointed out the drawbacks (for me anyway) of Ally's checking: future billpays are not shown in the acct. register's available balance and there's no way to manually add them to the register (as Am. Bank allows, e.g.). And who keeps $15k in a checking acct. to earn the higher tier rate, which isn't even a great one?

No, as much as I like Ally's approach and all, the checking acct. is not for me, so it's demoted to a pure hub acct. as long as they don't fix the issues I have with it.

I do have the FNBO acct., the savings acct., but haven't had the need to add the billpay feature to it, so I can't rate it. But from what I've read, it could be a candidate to become my main checking acct. in case I get dissatisfied with my current bank.

9
Comment #4 by Robert (anonymous) posted on
Robert
Incredible Bank appears to require a $1000 deposit to open, which is not noted in your chart above.  Thanks for this site and your blog!

6
Comment #5 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Coastal Federal Credit Union has 2.25 APY on checking account - need 12 electronic transactions per month - no limit on amount.

 

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Comment #6 by darkdreamer4u posted on
darkdreamer4u
To #5: the Coastal Federal Credit Union is 1) a Reward Checking acct. and 2) not nationwide available. We're talking regular interest checking and nationwide - duh!

7
Comment #7 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I currently use Bank of America's Bill Pay service and a local bank's telephone bill payment system to pay most of my bills.  The Bank of America site tells me when the payment will be received by the payee.  The phone payment service provides a confirmation number for my bill payment requests.  It has always applied my payment on the exact date that I key in on the audio menu.  Never had any issue with a late posting of payment.  Unfortunately, the bank is shutting down this service next month so I will be forced to move some of my bill payments to another bank.  They do have an online bill payment service too, but not sure about how payments are posted using that service.

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Comment #8 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Acacia Federal Top Choice Checking rate dropped to 1.15%.

6
Comment #9 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I'm still showing Solera National Bank at 1.5% .....

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