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Ken Tumin founded the Bank Deals Blog in 2005 and has been passionately covering the best deposit deals ever since. He is frequently referenced by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications as a top expert, but he is first and foremost a fellow deal seeker and member of the wonderful community of savers that frequents DepositAccounts.

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DETAILSINSTITUTIONAPYMINMAXPRODUCT
Southern Bank3.01%-$15kKasasa Cash
NEFCU2.53%-$25kGO Green Checking
Golden Plains Credit Union2.26%-$25kGolden Rewards Checking
ViewPoint Bank, National Association1.00%-$25kAbsolute Checking
Accounts mentioned in this post. Rates as of April 24, 2014

Review of Four Top Reward Checking Accounts

POSTED ON BY

If you're lucky, there's a local bank or credit union in your area that offers a top reward checking account. For example, those who live in Erie, PA can qualify for the HD Checking at Erie General Electric FCU that pays 5.12% APY on balances up to $25K as of 1/14/2011. Also, those who live in Alexandria, LA can qualify for the e-Xtra Bonus Checking at Pelican State Credit Union which pays 5.01% APY on balances up to $30K as of 1/14/2011. Unfortunately, most of these top reward checking accounts are in low populated areas. Most people will have to settle for those reward checking accounts that are available nationwide (see review). The best of these are currently paying around 3.00% APY on balances up to $25K.

Today I reviewed our reward checking table for the best rates regardless of the state for balances of at least $25K. I then looked for the banks and credit unions which made their reward checking accounts available to a relatively large group of people. I found four with yields of at least 4.00%.

Please note that banks and credit unions don't only lower the rates and the balance caps, but they also can reduce the availability of these accounts. Many have started out nationwide, but the banks reduced the availability to only within their states or just within their local market areas.

Rates, Balance Caps & Availability Accurate as of 1/14/2011

  • Southern Bank's Kasasa Cash account pays 5.01% APY on balances up to $25K. My first post was in October 2008 when the yield was 6.01%. The rate has held up well. However, they did reduce availability. It used to be available nationwide. It's now available only residents of Missouri and Arkansas only via an online application.
  • Golden Plains Credit Union kept its yield at 6.01% longer than any other institution. It fell to 4.44% APY for balances up to $25K in September 2010. My first post on this account was in April 2008, and at that time the credit union's easy membership made this account widely available. However, the credit union limited the members eligible for this account to only residents of Kansas State. I just noticed the credit union's Q&A appears to have narrowed this further to Central and West Kansas.
  • ViewPoint Bank angered many people who tried to apply for its Absolute Checking Account. As I described in June, ViewPoint doesn't make it easy. The account was more popular when it was available nationwide with a balance cap of $50K. It's now only available to Texas residents, and its balance cap has fallen to $25K. However, it still has a top rate of 4.00% APY.
  • Nassau Educators FCU's Go Green Checking has been paying 4.00% APY on balances up to $25K since my first review in December 2008. Instead of this account becoming harder to qualify for, it became easier last summer when the credit union expanded its field of membership so anyone who resides in the large New York counties of Nassau and Suffolk can qualify.

If you know of any other good reward checking deals that are available to a large group, please leave a comment. This year is going to be a test for reward checking as the ultra low interest rate environment drags on and as new debit card regulations take effect. I'm hoping reward checking can continue to be a good alternative to internet savings accounts and CDs.

Other High-Yield Reward Checking Accounts

To find reward checking accounts in your state or to find those available nationwide, please refer to the reward checking section of DepositAccounts.com.

  Tags: reward checking account, checking account, Golden Plains Credit Union, NEFCU, ViewPoint Bank, National Association, Southern Bank

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Comments
5 comments.
Comment #1 by 51hh posted on
51hh
Good review, Ken.

Another 5% club member (now we can count them with only one hand:D) is UMB (United Mississippi Bank) at (5.13%, $25K), not available for most folks, except residents of small areas of Mississippi. 

4
Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
1st Commonwealth Bank of Virginia (Arlington VA) is still paying 4% and is open to anyone in the Washington DC metro area, though a branch visit is required.

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Comment #3 by Kasasa (anonymous) posted on
Kasasa
Thank you so much for helping us highlight the high APY our Kasasa institutions can offer. And thank you for highlighting some of the qualifications necessary to get these rates. If we could offer rates like these to everyone, everywhere, we would. For now, it’s great to sync up the power of local community banking with the ease of online applications. ?

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Comment #4 by 51hh posted on
51hh
Souhtern Bank is the only bank that offers (5.01%, $25K) level of RCA.  Pelican, and more recently Erie GE FCU, bailed out of the 5% club during this month or so.

Why would Southern Bank want to keep this record?  It knows that it is definitely losing money (big time) at the 5% interest rate.  I expect that it will follow suit to drop rate very shortly. 

2
Comment #5 by 51hh posted on
51hh
As expected from my last post, Southern Bank reduced its limit from $25K to $15K, still at 5.01%.

Not sure how long the top 5.01% rate will hold...

1