Fifth Third is one of the large regional banks in the nation, and as you might expect, they're not offering any deposit rates to get excited about. However, like several of the large banks, they are offering a savings account with some perks. The main perk for this Fifth Third account is an interest rate that's comparable to internet banks. However, unlike internet banks, it has some requirements, and you have to be careful to avoid monthly service fees.
The account is called the Relationship Savings Account. To qualify for the top interest rate, a checking account is required. In addition, you must maintain certain account activities. You can pick one of three types of activities. The easiest is setting up one monthly checking-to-savings transfer of $100 or more. The other ones include direct deposit of at least $100 and at least 5 transactions that include debit card purchases, checks written or online bill payments.
If you meet this activity requirement, you receive a double-interest savings bonus. The savings account is a tiered rate account with the top rate of 0.60% APY for balances of at least $10K. Balances from $2.5K to under $10K earn only 0.25%. With the double-interest bonus, the top rate becomes 1.20% APY. These rates are accurate as of 1/16/2011, and they may vary based on your location.
With the Balance Builder Checking Package, you can link to this Relationship Savings. You can also choose to link to the Goal Setting Savings, but I don't see an advantage of this over the Relationship Savings.
To avoid a $7.50 monthly service charge in this checking account, you have to maintain the same type of transactions that are done to qualify for the bonus interest rate. So if you don't maintain those transactions, you would be hit with both the lower interest rate and the monthly service fee. At least the savings account is free of a monthly service fee.
Fifth Third is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio with most of its branches in the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Florida and Michigan. They also have branches in Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
It's a large bank with $110 billion in assets and $83 billion in deposits. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1934 (FDIC Certificate # 6672).
Savings Account Alternatives
If you want to earn a higher interest rate with less work and fees, there are several internet banks offering better savings accounts. Another option is a reward checking account. These may require more work, but you're rewarded with a much better interest rate. Also, if you don't meet the monthly requirements, you won't have to worry about a monthly service fee for the vast majority of the reward checking accounts.