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Need Help choosing RCA available to TX residents with Good Rates

Friday, March 15, 2013 - 9:35 AMFirst Financial Bank (AR) - Details
I'm looking for an RCA in the 2-3% percent range that will offer rewards up to 15-25k. My wife and I have no debt outside of our mortgage and our credit ratings are in the low 800's, high 700's. We live in Texas but are not currently in a major metropolitan area, so I think that knocks out Neighborhood Credit Union in Arlington, Texas.

We were going to go with Coopermark's 4% account but when calling received the info about the Prosperity merger and didn't apply. We now see that the rate is at 1.25%.  

Last Friday we applied at First Financial Bank and were shocked that our application was denied. (They must either not accept applications from Texas or because we did apply as a joint account, I'm wondering if because my wife is self-employed this didn't trigger something. Mayble I'll apply for the account myself next time.)  

Anyway.... I wanted to see what other recommendations you all had from your vast experience. What three RCA's do you recommend we put at the top of our list? Applying on-line is preferred.  

Thanks in advance for your kind help to this matter. We're looking forward to participating more in this great forum.
PhillipPhillip2 posts since
Mar 11, 2013
Rep Points: 4
1. Friday, March 15, 2013 - 10:13 AM

Welcome to the forum!

As Ken cautioned in his 1/28 post on First Financial Bank, at that time people in any state were eligible to open these accounts, but banks often change the eligibility rules.  I don't know if that has happened, but I'd venture a guess that it is the reason why your application was denied.   The deal was hot, and had a lot of publicity so the bank probably had all the business it could handle soon after the original post from 51hh and Ken's review.    I was fortunate that my application was accepted, but I applied about 10 minutes after seeing the original post. 

Generally it is not credit scores but Chex Systems inquiries that can derail an application to open an account (but congratulations to you and your wife on your high numbers).   If you have applied for many accounts recently that might send up a red flag.  Also some institutions have very low threshholds for what they consider to be an excessive number of inquiries. 

The DA tables have all the information you need, and can be filtered to meet your criteria.  It will be to your advantage to become familiar with the site and all the resources available. 

For your convenience, I have applied the following filters to the Reward Checking account tables based on the parameters you set:  deposit amount $15k, nationwide availability, and Texas availability.   Here are the results.  Click on the + sign next to each institution to see details, especially membership requirements for credit unions.  Use the "search" box at the top of each page to search for the hub page of any institution which might interest you.  The hub page will lead you to all the information available for that institution, including an overview, rate information for all products, details on its health, and reviews from other readers.   

Good luck to you and please keep us updated on how you fared in your search. 
pearlbrownpearlbrown1,491 posts since
Nov 2, 2010
Rep Points: 6,486
2. Friday, March 15, 2013 - 10:47 AM
Your personal situation will determine whether you qualify for membership in the first few credit unions on the list. 

If you qualify for membership in Southwest Airlines Credit Union, it's a VERY lucky day for you and your wife.  There is no online application for membership and the field of membership is limited to selected employee groups and to family members.

Some personal comments about selected institutions included in the list above: 

Lake Michigan Credit Union - the RCA has nationwide availability (see details here).  At 3.0%/$15k it is an immediate fit with your $15-25k, 2-3% criteria and you can apply online.

Texas Bank - one reviewer left a poor review, my experience was totally opposite (see details here).  The account has to be opened with a branch visit.  I took a road trip almost two years ago to open the account and have been very happy with that decision.

Independent Bank of Texas (note there is a similarly named Independent Bank TX, which is also a good option) - I have been very pleased with this institution.  As is to be expected, rates and caps drop on RCAs, but at least this institution has in the past notified accountholders in advance of the change.   Accounts at both institutions must be opened in person. 

Again, good luck.
pearlbrownpearlbrown1,491 posts since
Nov 2, 2010
Rep Points: 6,486
3. Saturday, March 16, 2013 - 1:26 PM
Thank you for the quality responses. You are obviously a huge asset to the community.  

I have spent some time going through the Deposit Accounts tables looking for the best rates. Thank you. First Financial Bank is the first application that we have actually applied for, so we'd like to get in on the second try. :-)  

I may try to open an account at an Independent Bank of Texas next time I'm around the Dallas area but in the meantime we need an RCA that will accept an on-line or phone application. I like that Independent Bank of Texas offers 0.80% above 15k. It's close enough to the Kasaa Saver 1.0% without dealing with a seperate account.

Should we try to apply with something like the Lake Michigan Credit Union or Belvoir Federal Credit Union next? How long should we wait before applying for the RCA after we send in the initial union contribution? I wouldn't mind getting a slightly lower APY if the accepted cap is around 20k+ since the amount earned in interest would be about the same over time.  

Thanks again for the advice.
PhillipPhillip2 posts since
Mar 11, 2013
Rep Points: 4
4. Saturday, March 16, 2013 - 5:24 PM
Phillip, thank you for the kind words, but any and all credit rightfully belongs to Ken.  He has made it possible for this community to take shape and we greatly appreciate his work.  It’s a friendly forum and we do our best to be helpful by sharing information and our own experiences and perspectives. From time to time there is heated discussion on some topics, and that can be very healthy.  Sometimes in looking at an issue through another's eyes, we see aspects which we had not considered before.   In the end, even if we don't always agree with one another's views, we respect each other's privilege to have a dissenting opinion, and we do our best to disagree in a civil manner. 

In reply to the points in your post:

1) On the topic of RCAs, it appears you have a personal preference for the account at First Financial.  What reason did they offer for rejecting your application?  If you don't wish to discuss it publicly, you can message me privately (click on my user name under the yellow rose).

2) As far as an RCA which will accept an online or phone application, with so many RCA choices it’s difficult to remember the specifics of each one.  Sometimes formerly branch-visit-only institutions become open to a broader audience (or vice versa).  Other times, they evolve to allow accounts to be opened online by everyone or online but with a few restrictions.  Security Bank, for example, offers an online application but you may only use it if you are in their market area (which is driven by your zip code).    

My advice would be to work your way down the lists, review the hub pages for each institution to read what others have posted, then call to clarify and confirm.  Please consider coming back to the forum and sharing the results of your investigations. 

As further food for thought, if you change the filter criteria on the RCA tables to an amount of $25k (see here) you may notice other options you might not have considered before, or some may now become more attractive.  The 1 yr estimated earnings column lists the total annual interest earned on a $25k deposit, and takes into account the different rates offered on amounts above the RCA caps, as applicable. 

3) Given a choice between the two credit unions you mentioned, my preference would be LMCU because one can apply online and qualify for membership easily and the requirements are very easy to satisfy.  Others may have a different opinion.  Reviewing the DA hub pages for each institution and reading the posts under “overview” and “reviews” may help you decide which direction you wish to take. 

4) Regardless of which institution (bank or credit union) you eventually decide to use, my advice would be to apply for all the accounts in which you are interested at the time you initiate a banking relationship.  That minimizes the number of ChexSystems inquiries or credit report pulls involved, which is not only to your advantage, but also more convenient.  The situation varies from one institution to another, but some may do an inquiry or pull with each subsequent new account after the first one. 

Good luck to you!

Question to other members of the DA community, what advice would you give this individual?
pearlbrownpearlbrown1,491 posts since
Nov 2, 2010
Rep Points: 6,486
5. Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 2:43 AM
I dont have an RCA account, but I will reinforce some of Pearlbrown's comments regarding online applications. I have had C/R's tell me there is no hard credit pull and then discover they did it anyway; so be careful how many of these online applications you submit. Also, ChexSystems inquiries can cause membership rejections. You may not want to open too many checking accounts.

I have been the victim of identity theft and sometimes I wonder if any of the online applications I have completed was responsible for that situation. I know the all data is encrypted but who knows what may have happened with it.
loulou554 posts since
Aug 3, 2010
Rep Points: 3,437
6. Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 11:59 AM
My guess the reason that you were rejected at First Financial is that they are a small community bank that recently offererd RCAs nationwide for the first time. I don't think they were prepared by the size of the response they so quickly got. While they honored all the initial applications, it seems that they now only accept applications from AR and MS as is indicated in the quick summary box at the top of your initial post.

My next reccomendation would be LMCU. They offer the same 3% that First Financial does. Their only problem in your case is that they apparently give no interest on deposits above $15K. Since you give a loose $15-25K amount that you wish to deposit, you'll have to figure how much you'll be losing on the .25-30% over $15K that will earn no interest. But since you also seem to desire a bank that only requires an online application, I don't see any other reasonable alternative to LMCU. I'd bet that a large number of folks who regularly use this site have an account with LMCU.
dunkerdunker136 posts since
Jun 11, 2010
Rep Points: 414
7. Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 1:48 PM
FFB(AR) has a csr for online banking, so I suggest calling to find out why your app was denied.  If it was indeed a geographic limitation (and not your wife's self-employment status), then that shouldn't preclude your applying for a joint account somewhere else. If it was your wife's situation, then sometimes providing extra info helps satisfy their concerns. Otherwise, as you've considered, you can apply individually next time.

I once had an application denied at another bank, but when I inquired about the reason (especially for my future knowledge), we found there was a limitation in how the online app processed my particulars. They let me fax some supporting documentation, and the account was opened.  I did have to fax additional documentation to FF, but they called me about it rather than denying the app at the outset.  Thus, it's likely a geographic limitation in your case, but you never know.  I suggest giving them a call and seeing if anything can be worked out.  

Sometimes smaller institutions can provide leeway.  I once got into a small credit union, because my questions got me transferred (past the reps whose job was appropriately limited to quoting policy) to the manager, who was kind enough to help me find a creative solution to satisfy their restrictions.  Sometimes luck (and a very pleasant attitude) helps - if we can find someone able and willing to see if there is any discretionary room in their policies.  I suggest asking "is it possible" or "just wondering if" questions, especially when you can suggest ideas, because sometimes it sparks a solution. If not, any info you get will hopefully help somewhere else. Good luck!
ekatekat75 posts since
Jan 22, 2010
Rep Points: 246
8. Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 10:39 PM
To the OP, I applied online and was accepted by FFB a couple of weeks ago, and I have a Texas residence. So at least then, they had no problem with Texas addresses.

But as pointed out above, banks often start out with a national or broad area of acceptance, and then later narrow it down over time. Usually, though, there's some indication of such a change listed on the website or online application process.

A call to FFB would answer whether they've changed their area of eligibility, or whether it was something else in your financial profile that they didn't like.

FWIF, I don't see anything on FFB's website or on the initial pages of their current online application that indicates an area of eligibility change.
moneysavermoneysaver29 posts since
Jan 8, 2011
Rep Points: 258