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The Best Reward Checking Accounts in the Nation

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In today's awful interest rate environment, the only deposit account where you can find yields of 4.00% is the reward checking account. Even long-term CDs don't have yields this high. However, there are not many 4.00% reward checking accounts. Rates and balance caps have been falling. As I described in my reward checking overview, reward checking accounts only offer high yields for balances up to a certain cap. For those with large savings, this cap is as important as the rate. Many consider a balance cap of $25,000 to be the minimum cap that makes the reward checking account worthwhile.

There are now only seven reward checking accounts in the nation that offer yields of at least 4.00% for balances of at least $25,000. We consider these to be the 4.00% club. Unfortunately, all of these are local or limited deals. Only people in certain areas of the country or work for a certain employer can qualify.

I review the best nationally available reward checking accounts in my weekly summary. There is one that offers 4.00% APY, but it only applies for balances up to $10,000. The reward checking account is from Consumers Credit Union, and the rate is guaranteed to 6/30/2012. The best nationally available yield for a $25,000 balance cap is 2.52% APY at ABCO Federal Credit Union.

I thought listing the remaining 4.00% club members would be interesting. I don't know how long any of these will remain on this list. Some have a long history so they have proven themselves not to be teaser rates. If the rates do fall, I would expect them to remain competitive as compared to other reward checking accounts.

In my list I describe the locations or groups which can qualify for the account. Banks and credit unions have often reduced the availability of these accounts. So make sure you contact the institution for the latest qualifications.

To find reward checking accounts available nationwide or in your state, please refer to our reward checking account table, and please refer to this post for details on how to use the rate table.

Rates, Balance Caps & Availability as of 12/14/2011

  1. Erie General Electric FCU's HD Checking pays 4.07% APY on up to $25K. I first reported on this account in May 2008 when the yield was 5.00%. Membership is limited to those who live, work or worship in Erie or Crawford Counties in PA.
  2. Liberty National Bank's SuperSmart Checking pays 4.01% APY on up to $25K. We first started to track this account in January 2010 when the yield was only 3.01%. The yield actually went up in June 2010, but that may be when the requirements increased. The 4.01% APY now requires 25 debit card purchases per month. In addition, to avoid a $8 monthly fee, 40 debit card purchases are required. Branches are located in central and northwest Ohio.
  3. First Community National Bank's Real Life Checking pays 4.01% APY on up to $25K. This is a new one. We have just been tracking this since June 2011. Its monthly requirements are typical. However, if you don't meet these requirements, you are not only punished with a tiny yield, but also you are hit with a $2 service charge. Branches are located in Missouri southwest of St. Louis.
  4. Coppermark Bank's Free High-Interest Checking pays 4.00% APY on up to $25K. I first reported on this in April 2009. The top rate hasn't changed since then. Its monthly requirement of 16 debit card purchases per month is a little tougher than most other reward checking accounts. Branches are located in the Oklahoma City and Dallas metro areas. According to a CSR, any resident of Texas or Oklahoma can open an account. However, a branch visit is required.
  5. Communications FCU's Performance Checking pays 4.00% APY on up to $30K. I first reported on this in May 2008 when it was paying 5.25% APY on up to $50K. The credit union now makes it easy for anyone in Oklahoma and Kansas to qualify for membership (see post).
  6. Southwest Airlines FCU's LUV Reward Checking pays 4.00% APY on up to $25K. Its yield has always been 4.00% since we began tracking it in January 2010. I was late on my first review of this account in June 2011 since not many people can qualify for membership. As you might expect, it's limited to Southwest Airline employees. There are some other employers in its field of membership, but there doesn't appear to be an easy way for most people to qualify. Unfortunately, being a Southwest Airline customer doesn't qualify.
  7. Home Federal Bank's Smart Rewards Checking pays 4.00% APY on up to $25K. This is another new one. My first review of this account was in April 2011. The top yield has remained at 4.00%. The account must be opened in person. Branches are located in Shreveport, Louisiana.
  Tags: checking account, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Louisiana

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Comments
17 comments.
Comment #1 by pdxmale posted on
pdxmale
LANDMARK BANK, Clintom, LOUISIANA  4.10% / 25K CAP - branch visit required

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Comment #2 by 51hh posted on
51hh
Pdxmale:

You lucky one!

Landmark terminated their reward checking as of last month for new applicants; existing RCAs were grandfathered.

3
Comment #3 by drmikebaer (anonymous) posted on
drmikebaer
I have had an account with Wachovia since moving to Florida in 2004. It was a wonderful bank. It valued its customers and was helpful and friendly. Then it became Well Fargo and all went to Hell. They are not customer friendly and conduct their business as if they are doing you a favor. They are one of the banks that led us into the recession which we are still in and led us into the dishonesty of the mortgage fraud and scams.In the front of my local W-F they have a saying on the wall by the founde Mr. Wells that says one of their best business tools is COURTESY. They have less of that then competence. Find a friendly credit union and get away from them quickly.

4
Comment #4 by pdxmale posted on
pdxmale
51hh

I didn't know obout the termination.

I know I am lucky. I went there on one of my vaction trips and they allowed me to open 4 RCA accounts. Wish I had asked for 6..... lol

The question is ...... how long will it last

1
Comment #5 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
First Community National Bank notified us in their last e-statement that their cap on which they are paying 4.01% will drop from 25K to 10K as of 1 JAN 12.  It has been a nice run for us for the last 7 months!

2
Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Received email from Communications FCU 23 November 2011 stating changes effective 1 January 2012:

Rate drop to 3.00% APY, $100.00 aggregate total purchases using debit card per cycle to qualify for rewards rate (minimum number of purchases to qualify for rewards rate remains unchanged at 12, requirement that the purchases be signature based transactions remains unchanged), cycle dates changing from start and end of month to always end on the 24th of the month and start on the 25th of the month.

Contacted the credit union by phone, they said January 2012 will be a short cycle starting 1 January 2012 and ending 24 January 2012, and that the $100.00 aggregate total debit card purchases requirement to qualify for the reward rate is a minimum, not an exact amount.

2
Comment #7 by 51hh posted on
51hh
Communications FCU is the fussiest CU I ever ran into; with both membership eligibility and RCA requirements.  I am actually glad, in some degree, of their bailing out of the 4% club.  They certainly do not deserve to be in that category with their unpleasant service and hostile attitude toward their members.

There will be at most five 4% club members left by 1 January 2012; and counting down... 

3
Comment #8 by Cindy (anonymous) posted on
Cindy
Love Florida Central Credit Union's Ultimate Checking Account. Pays 3.5% up to $15,000.  Requires direct deposit or direct bill pay per month, plus 12 debit card transactions.  They pay 4% if you take out a minimum $5000 loan.  Excellent service on the phone or in person, plus a great website.  I believe you have to be a Florida resident to open an accountl

1
Comment #9 by Jo (anonymous) posted on
Jo
Ken, for General Electric FCU, to qualify for the rate, as well as doing a certain amount of transactions each month, you have to keep a minimum of $500.00 in the checking account. That isn't bad, considering the rate you get when you qualify. It's worth the trouble for this one.....

1
Comment #10 by pearlbrown posted on
pearlbrown
Regretably, this member of the 4% club is a short-timer.  A CSR at one of the branches told me the cap will change from $25k to $10K effective 1/1/12.  The rate is also expected to change at that time although the new rate is not known yet.  Also, existing accounts will not be grandfathered, so opening the account by year end will not exempt you from the cap drop. 

1
Comment #11 by pearlbrown posted on
pearlbrown
Sorry, just realized I did not include some key information.  The short-timer member in my post above is First Community National Bank. 

1
Comment #12 by 51hh posted on
51hh
Hi PB,

I was going to ask which bank/cc; getting real nervous with the recent rate-change waves.  There is no escape anywhere.

This limit (possibly rate) change on First Community National Bank was mentioned by Anon. #5.:-)

2
Comment #13 by pearlbrown posted on
pearlbrown
Thanks for bringing that to my attention, I must have accidentally overlooked that post. 

1
Comment #15 by RJM posted on
RJM
No more chasing accounts that require work for me.

 

1
Comment #16 by dunker posted on
dunker
ABCO FCU, which Ken says above offers the best nationally available yield for a $25,000 balance cap with a 2.52% APY, is no longer listed as nationally available in the RCA listing.  Furthermore, their site seems to indicate a branch visit is required to open an RCA.

Ken, has something changed since with the bank's nationwide status since you wrote this artice on 12/14, or is there an error in the RCA nationwide listing?

1
Comment #17 by Lisbon2012 (anonymous) posted on
Lisbon2012
ABCO does not require a branch visit. One of the credit unions that still holds good rate (2.52%) without making you jump through hoops. Requirements to qualify for the rate are not bad and customer service is great. One negative about this bank is that if you are not in New Jersey you'll have to send all paperwork by mail and receive it by mail. It took me 2 month cycles to finally receive the rate.

1