We learned again that reward checking accounts with top rates available nationwide don't last long these days. The latest bank to fall off this list is First Clover Leaf Bank. On September 14th, I reported that this bank's 4.01% reward checking account was available nationwide. I'm afraid that has ended. The bank just made three big changes to the account: 1) It now requires a branch visit to open, 2) the yield fell to 3.85%, and 3) the balance cap fell from $25K to $15K. It's rare for a bank to make this many changes so fast.
Another unfortunate reward checking account change is the rate cut at Danversbank. Readers had reported this several weeks ago, but the bank just sent out emails to customers yesterday. The top yield will fall from 4.01% to 3.01% APY effective October 4, 2010. Danversbank had been offering this 4.01% APY since April 2008. Before that time it had been 6.01% APY.
That will leave South Division Credit Union as the only nationwide reward checking account with a 4.01% APY for balances up to $25K. This Illinois credit union is considered nationally available since its field of membership makes it easy for anyone in the U.S. to join. However, it's a small credit union which primarily serves an area in the Chicago suburbs. I would be interested to know if anyone from outside the Chicago area has been able join and open this account. Since it's a small credit union, I'm skeptical that it's an easy application process.
If you want to reduce the chance of seeing rates fall soon after you open a new account, you may want to settle for a low-to-mid 3 percent yield range. Three banks on my recent list of the 5 best nationwide reward checking accounts continue to pay between 3.26% APY and 3.50% APY for balances up to $25K. Hopefully, these rates will continue into October. All have online applications that can be done in any state (at least as of today). If you're lucky, there will be a bank or credit union in your state or local area that offers higher reward checking rates. You can find these in our reward checking account table.