I thought it would be fun to make my own best-of-2010 list. This was a tough year for savers as we had another year of record low interest rates. Many banks and credit unions had little desire to attract deposits as loan demand remained weak. Nevertheless, there were several banks and credit unions that did want our deposits and offered some good deals.
Looking back at the best bank deals of 2010 can also be useful. Most of these deals have long ended, but banks often repeat similar deals in the future. Also, for those who participated in these deals, we can share what we learned to see if the deals were worthwhile. Sometimes the extra work or hassles they required negated much of the benefits.
One disturbing trend this year was the increasing use of ChexSystems to reject applicants who had opened too many recent accounts. The worst case of this was 1st Mariner Bank. It was reported that they rejected applicants who had only 3 ChexSystem inquiries in the last 2 years. What made matters worse was that they rejected applicants several days after the online applications were accepted and the initial deposits were debited from their accounts.
I'm sure some of you might have different opinions on what you considered as the best deals. I've probably missed some of them. Feel free to comment on your opinions. You can find a full list of my 2010 posts here. Some of my criteria for the best deals included: 1) very high interest rate or large bonus, 2) nationwide availability, 3) easy application process, 4) little or no hoops to jump through. Those with large savings will probably have different opinions than those who haven't saved as much. If you only have $5,000 to put into an account, you'll probably like a $250 bonus more than a 4% yield.
- Justice Federal Credit Union's 7.50% 75-Day $25K-Max CD - This is a recent deal that is still active, but it's likely to end soon. This doesn't score high in the ease of opening since there are some hoops to jump through to qualify for membership.
- ING Direct's Black Friday Promotion - This year's promotion wasn't as good as in 2009 when they had a nice CD promotion, but this year they did have a nice $103 bonus for the Electric Orange checking account. For those who missed it, there is currently a $83 bonus for the Electric Orange account.
- GiftsforBanking.com's CD and iPad Deal - A high CD rate along with an iPad gift package made for a good deal. However, several readers reported some problems in the account opening with 2 weeks for the CDs to be opened. If you've opened this CD, please leave a comment if you have received the gifts.
- PenFed's 5% Watch it Grow CD Promotion - It was nice to see a 5 percent CD again even with a 10-year term. Unfortunately, the promotion was only intended for certain PenFed members with maturing CDs. Due to an IT problem, other members were able to participate. These special CDs should be taking effect in January. If you participated, make sure you have sufficient funds in your PenFed savings account.
- Bank of the West's iPod touch Promotion - Several readers have recently reported receiving their 4th generation iPod touch from this promotion.
- WTDirect $500 Savings Account Promotion - Qualifying for the $500 did require a $50K deposit kept in the account for at least 3 months, but that still made for a nice return. They've also been offering similar promotions after this one for as much as $350.
- 2.65% 17-Month CD Special at North American Savings Bank - Now it's tough to find 2.65% on a 5-year CD. The bank still offers some nice CD specials with an online application, but the current rates are no where close to this April CD.
- 2.00% Money Market Rate Guaranteed for 2010 at Metropolitan National Bank - In previous years it was common for banks to guarantee a high rate in a liquid account for several months. It was rare this year. This was one of the best deals. Unfortunately, it was local to New York City.
- SunTrust's $150 Checking Account Bonus - This was available nationwide and didn't require direct deposit.
- Ally Bank's 60-Day Early Withdrawal Penalty - Ally Bank's 5-year CD rates haven't been the best, but their 60-day early withdrawal penalty has been the best. This has made Ally's 5-year CDs much more appealing. There are concerns that the penalty could be changed on existing CDs. You can make up your own mind on the risk. I've received assurances from Ally that it would not change on existing CDs. There's more discussion of this issue in this post.
Edit: Corrected APY on JFCU's CD.