Columbia Bank has a checking account called Yield Plus Checking which offers a competitive 1.00% APY for balances of $10K to $250K. It's a little like a reward checking account in that this rate is dependent on meeting monthly requirements. A direct deposit OR online bill payment transaction must post each statement cycle. Otherwise the rate falls to only 0.10%. There are no debit card usage requirements. These rates and requirements are listed this checking promotion page as of 3/12/2012.
Also shown in that promotions page is a $100 bonus for opening a new Yield Plus Checking Account and for establishing direct deposit and making an online bill payment. $50 is awarded for direct deposit and $50 is awarded for an online bill payment. These must be done within 60 days after account opening to qualify for the bonuses.
Another perk with the Yield Plus Checking is free ATMs. There's no Columbia ATM fees when you use domestic ATMs. Refund of domestic ATM surcharges charged by other ATM owners are limited to 6 per statement cycle or $20, whichever is less.
New Jersey Only
There's an online application. However, the first page of the application states that "you must live or work in the State of New Jersey".
Columbia Bank branches are located in several New Jersey cities. Some of the cities include Edison, Fair Lawn, Paramus and Wayne.
The bank has an overall health score at DepositAccounts.com of 4 stars (out of 5) with a Texas Ratio of 15.97% (average) based on December 2011 data. Please refer to our financial overview of Columbia Bank for more details. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1937 (FDIC Certificate # 28834).
How This Checking Rate Compares
If you don't mind monthly requirements, you can get a 1.25% APY at Bank of Internet USA in its Rewards Checking Account. This does have debit card usage requirements, but unlike most reward checking accounts, there's no balance cap.
If you don't want monthly requirements, the best checking account rate that's nationally available is 0.95% APY at Alliant Credit Union. Technically, this has monthly requirements, but they're easy to meet (e-statements and at least one electronic deposit).
EverBank is offering a 1.05% rate guaranteed for 6 months for up to $100K on its Yield Pledge Checking Account. The standard rates apply after the first 6 months. Those are tiered rates that go up to 0.76% for balances of at least $100K.
Other Checking Rates and Checking Account Bonuses
For checking accounts with no significant monthly requirements, refer to our checking account table to find the best rates. For checking accounts with monthly debit card usage requirements, refer to our reward checking account table.
We have a bank promotions page with a table of all of the active bank and credit union promotions. You can filter the table based on the type of promotion and based on your state. I have more details about how to use this page in this blog post.