It has been almost five years ago since I first reported on Bank of Blue Valley and its reward checking account. I'm happy to see the bank is still offering a competitive reward checking account, but there have been several changes. The new reward checking account is called Ultimate Checking. It has a top rate of 3.00% APY on balances up to $25,000. There's also an online application, and according to the bank CSR, people in any state can apply. This might sound like a hot deal, but there's one big downside. I've listed the details of this account below:
Ultimate Checking rates are listed at Bank of Blue Valley page as of 1/6/2012:
- 3.00% APY up to $25,000 if level-1 requirements are met
- 2.00% APY up to $25,000 if level-2 requirements are met
- 0.55% APY for portion of balance over $25,000
- 0.20% base rate if requirements are not met
The level-1 requirements are probably a deal killer for many people. The main requirement is:
- Spend $1,000 or more in signature-based, point-of-sale (POS) transactions per statement cycle
The main level-2 requirement is:
- Spend $300 to $999.99 in signature-based POS transactions per statement cycle
The other level-1 and level-2 requirements are more typical. For each statement cycle, you must have one direct deposit (or ACH auto debit) and enrollment of eStatements.
Reward Checking Spending Requirements?
It's interesting to see another institution requiring a certain purchase amount. Most reward checking accounts are powered by BancVue, and they ensure their accounts comply with Regulation DD. According to this FDIC bulletin, "Banks may not require that transactions be of a certain dollar value (individually or in aggregate)."
Bank of Blue Valley's old reward checking account used to be powered by BancVue. So I would think the bank's management is familiar with BancVue's interpretation of this part of Regulation DD.
Many people may spend $1,000 per month on their expenses, and they probably use a cash back credit card that pays between 1% to 2%. So if they replace their cash back credit card with this checking account, they'll lose out on between $10 and $20 of cash back rebates per month. That could be worthwhile if they keep a $25K balance. The extra interest they would earn over a 2% reward checking account would be $250. That's equal to over $20 a month of cash back (excluding taxes).
The bank has an online application for the Ultimate Checking account. Click on the "apply now" link on the bank's Ultimate Checking page. This takes you to an Andera.com application which is a common service for online banking applications.
I called the bank, and according to the CSR, they accept applications from any state. In the past they have restricted applications to their local area. Perhaps with the $1K spending requirement, there won't be enough demand for them to restrict it.
Bank of Blue Valley Overview
Bank of Blue Valley branches are located in the Kansas City metro area.
The bank has an overall health score at DepositAccounts.com of 3 stars (out of 5) with a Texas Ratio of 45.86% (below average) based on September 2011 data. Please refer to our financial overview of Bank of Blue Valley for more details. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1989 (FDIC Certificate # 32722).
Other Reward Checking Accounts
If you don't want the spending requirement, you may have to settle on a lower rate. The highest reward checking rate for a $25K balance that's nationally available is 2.52% APY at ABCO Federal Credit Union. You can get 4.00% APY at Consumers Credit Union that's guaranteed until July, but this is only for balances up to $10K.
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 tables.