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Harborstone Credit Union2.45%-$20kBreakFree Checking
Harborstone Credit Union0.05%--BreakFree Checking
Accounts mentioned in this post. Rates as of August 21, 2014

Updated Review of Harborstone's Reward Checking Account


Harborstone Credit Union

Update 4/4/2013: Harborstone Credit Union has informed members of changes that will be made to its BreakFree Checking Account effective May 1, 2013. Refer to this reader's comment for details.

As I was looking for good deals on reward checking accounts, I came across one that I first reviewed three years ago. It's the BreakFree Checking account at Harborstone Credit Union. There are two reasons why I thought an updated review would be useful. First, the BreakFree Checking is one of the few reward checking accounts that still have a $50K balance cap. Second, the credit union's field of membership is broad. Not everyone in the nation can qualify, but hopefully, many DA readers can.

The BreakFree Checking yield has fallen over the last three years, but it remains competitive in today's environment. It offers the following rates and features if certain monthly requirements are met (as of 1/25/2013):

  • 2.02% APY on balances up to $50,000
  • 0.05% on portion of balance over $50,000
  • 0.05% base rate if requirements are not met
  • Reimbursement of all ATM fees nationwide

The monthly requirements include:

  • 12 Visa debit card purchases
  • 2 online Bill Pay transactions

Minimum opening deposit is $25. It has no minimum balance requirement or monthly service fee.


According the credit union's eligibility page:

If you live, work, or worship in the state of Washington, you are eligible for membership at Harborstone Credit Union.

If you don't live, work, or worship in the State of Washington, you can also join if you are:

  • A family member of a current Harborstone member
  • Active, Reserve, or Retired Military
  • Active or Retired Civil Service

As you can see, many people outside of Washington State are eligible to join. The credit union also has an online application. However, there are additional steps that are required after submitting the application.

Credit Union Overview

Harborstone Credit Union branches are located in the Washington cities of Tacoma, Bonney Lake, Fife, Gig Harbor, Lacey, Lakewood, Spanaway, Puyallup and in McChord Air Force Base.

Harborstone Credit Union was originally established in 1955 to serve the McChord Air Force Base. Its size and field of membership have expanded quite a bit since then. It now has over $781 million in assets. It has an overall health score at of 5 stars (out of 5) with a Texas ratio of 4.16% (excellent) based on September 2012 data. Please refer to our financial overview of Harborstone Credit Union for more details. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 66399).

How This Reward Checking Compares

You can get reward checking rates over 2%, but it's hard to find balance caps over $25K. It's actually not easy to find rates of at least 2% for balances up to $25K. There's only one that's nationally available. It's from the all-access credit union ABCO FCU which offers 2.12% APY for balances up to $25K as of 1/25/2013.

To find reward checking accounts in other areas of the nation, please refer to the reward checking section of To learn more about reward checking, please refer to this reward checking overview.

  Tags: Harborstone Credit Union, checking account, Washington

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Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
I just opened an account here a few weeks ago. Although you can start the account opening process online, it's not possible to finish it without physically going into a Harborstone branch office.   All the branch offices are in and around Tacoma, WA. 

Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
I opened an account last month, and it was all done by email and mail.  The membership application did need to be notarized.


Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
They are going to merge with Prevail CU soon. Hope the rate remains high.

Comment #4 by Anonymous posted on
Note they will charge you for using other ATMs to activate their debit card. You can call in to get the fee reversed.

Comment #5 by Anonymous posted on
So all this is about $84 a month on a $50k balance ? 

Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Just received a letter detailing the changes being made May 1, 2013 to their Breakfree Rewards Checking Account.  Changes are:

- Now 3% on $20k vs. 2% on $50k

- Interest and ATM reimbursement awarded at end of month vs. following month

- (New) $3 minimum on debit/POS transactions

- (New) Sign into Online Banking once per month

- (New) Direct deposit or automatic withdrawl once per month

I love how their letter starts off with "Harborstone Credit Untion has some exciting news to share with you!  We've improved your Breakfree Checking account."  Where's that?