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High-Yield Reward Checking Account with Some New Gotchas at Freestar Bank in IL - Local Only

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Freestar Bank

Freestar Bank in Illinois is offering a high-yield reward checking account called Green Account. I would have liked to have found a new reward checking account in a state like New York, Nevada or California which doesn't have many banks offering reward checking. Illinois is a state that already has quite a few reward checking accounts especially for areas outside of Chicago. Nevertheless, it's always nice to report on a new reward checking account, especially one with a top rate.

Freestar's Green Account has the following rates and features if certain monthly requirements are met (as of 7/09/2010):

  • 4.00% APY on balances up to $25,000
  • 0.25% APY on balances over $25,000
  • 0.25% base rate if requirements are not met

Monthly requirements include:

  • 10 debit card purchases
  • One automated direct deposit
  • Pay at least one bill through online bill pay
  • Don't write paper checks
  • Maintain under $25,000

Note, the last two requirements are not typical for reward checking. Here's the last sentence of the small print:

The lower rate will also apply if any checks are posted to your account or your average balance exceeds $25,000 at any time during the statement cycle.

These are two new gotchas that I haven't seen in reward checking accounts at other banks.

Also unlike other reward checking accounts, I don't see any mention of ATM fee reimbursements.

It appears that a branch visit is required to open the account. Branches are located in the Illinois cities of Pontiac, Bloomington, Gridley, Downs, Champaign, Urbana and Mahomet.

The bank's ratings for safety and soundness are strong: 4 stars (excellent) at BauerFinancial, 4 stars (sound) at Bankrate.com and an overall health score of 4 out of 5 at DepositAccounts.com (see our Freestar Bank financial overview). These ratings are based on 3/31/10 data except for Bankrate which is based on 12/31/09 data. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1934 (FDIC Certificate # 14736).

Other High-Yield Reward Checking Accounts

Please refer to the reward checking section of DepositAccounts.com to find reward checking accounts in your state or that are available nationwide.

  Tags: reward checking account, Illinois, Freestar Bank, checking account

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Comments
9 comments.
Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Good review.  There is at least one other oddity regarding this bank's program - nearly all of these Rewards Checking things have a requirement for a monthly automated debit from the account, but 95% of them can be satisfied by going to your "hub" online account and simply ACH-ing ("pulling") funds FROM the Rewards Checking account, TO the "hub" account.  Not this bank, however - they insist that the debit MUST be through their own Billpay to meet the monthly requirements. 

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Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I have a Green Checking account with this bank. Good service. But I did get hit one month as I didn't meet the below requirement.

Maintain under $25,000

My average balance was $25,200 for a month so I got 0.25%.

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Comment #4 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
To #2 above - thanks for you comments.  By the way, did you get your debitcard quickly with this bank?  And, have they been at all "whiney" about the amount of any of your debitcard transactions being "too small" (even through there is technically no limit)?  Hope not.  Thanks.

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Comment #5 by OGRADY (anonymous) posted on
OGRADY
WHERE IS NUMERO 3

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Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I have banked with this bank for the past two years, and they have been wonderful every step of the way. They really give you that small hometown bank feeling. One thing I would like to mention is a debit card they offer. They have debit cards with your own photo and signature on it. I love the extra security. The green account has been great. The ten debit card transactions can be for any amount, and that's really easy to accomplish. The interest is calculated on a monthly basis. I think there has been one month where I got the .25%, which is still more than most banks are paying out.

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Comment #7 by ctgottapee posted on
ctgottapee
notes:

their web bill pay is through checkfree, which is better than many small bank bill pay systems

[you can't add outside accounts as payment resources though]

 

there is no online ACH transfers, but you can possibly skirt around that by adding banks into bill pay. there is a longer delay on funds this way though, basically like mailing a deposit

 

the online banking interface is fairly rudimentary, even for a small bank; don't expect citibank like features

 

pin based transactions still count towards the total for now

 

you can also use your signed debit card transactions to earn reward points at uchoose. not the best reward program, but most banks don't let you been in both rewards and rewards interest programs at the same time using the same transactions

 

as noted in other comments, very friendly bank

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Comment #8 by Ivan posted on
Ivan
Freestar Bank Green checking account interest rate faded to 3.5% January 1, 2011.



 

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Comment #9 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
and the interest rate appears to have fallen from 3.5% to 2.5% sometime during the month of June, 2011.

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