It used to be easy to find a reward checking account with a yield of at least 3.00% for balances up to $25K. That has changed, and now anything over 2.00% is competitive especially if it's available nationwide. Please keep that in mind for this review of ABCO Federal Credit Union which is offering a high-yield reward checking account called Premiere Checking. It pays 2.52% APY for balances up to $25,000 (as of 7/11/2011) if the following monthly requirements are met:
- 10 debit card purchases
- 1 direct deposit, payroll deduction, or direct debit post
- 1 financial transaction (transfer money from one account to another, pay a bill, request a check, etc.) in online banking or bill payer
- agree to accept account statements electronically
Unlike many reward checking accounts, there doesn't appear to be any ATM fee refunds if you meet the monthly requirements. However, the credit union has partnerships with the CO-OP and Allpoint Networks, so members have access to thousands of surcharge-free ATMs throughout the nation.
The checking account has no minimum balance requirement, and there are no monthly fees for normal use. I called and asked what they meant by "normal use", and the member service rep didn't know. It sounds like it might be an inactivity fee.
If you are not eligible to join the credit union via a select employers group, there's an association that can be joined to meet the credit union's membership requirements. According to the credit union's Who Can Join page:
If you are not eligible to join ABCO through any of the associated groups or affiliations, you can join ABCO FCU through the American Consumer Council (ACC), a nonprofit advocacy group established in 1987 to protect consumers. When opening your ABCO FCU account you will need to choose ACC on your application, this will automatically enroll you as a member of ACC. There are no hidden fees to join ACC through your membership at ABCO FCU.
The credit union has a detailed description of how to apply for membership. In step 2, it states:
If you are applying as a new ACC member, write 'ACC' -- this will automatically enroll you as a member of ACC. There are no hidden fees to join ACC through your membership at ABCO FCU.
In step 5 it says you can mail the application, required identifying documents and check. You can also fax the forms and documents.
Credit union membership requires a minimum balance of $10 in the share savings account.
Update 12/27/2011: There was a recent comment questioning if a branch visit may now be required. So I emailed the credit union at firstname.lastname@example.org asking if one could join ABCO FCU via the American Consumers Council and open the Premiere Checking Account by mail. Here is the email reply that I received:
Yes, you can mail the New Member Application along with a copy of your driver license, a copy of a current utility bill and a check payable to ABCO Federal Credit Union for $20.00. $10.00 is for a one time processing fee and $10.00 opens your S1 (Savings account with the Credit Union), which must be maintained in this account as long as you are a member. This is your one share and entitles you to all the amenities your credit union has to offer you.
ABCO Federal Credit Union branches are located in the New Jersey cities of Atlantic City, Lawrenceville, Rancocas, Egg Harbor Twp, Browns Mills, Glassboro and Willingboro. There's also a branch at Camden, but it's inside Cooper Hospital and access is limited to employees.
Credit Union Overview
The credit union has an overall health score at DepositAccounts.com of 3 stars (out of 5) with a Texas Ratio of 12.22% (above average) based on March 2011 data. Please refer to our financial overview of ABCO Federal Credit Union for more details. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 12679).
How the Reward Checking Compares
If you're new to reward checking, my post on the 10 common traits of high-yield reward checking accounts should be useful.
It used to be easy to find a reward checking account with a yield of at least 3.00%, but that has changed this year. The best rate for a nationally available reward checking account with a balance cap of at least $25K is 2.51% APY at Community Bank of Pleasant Hill and Community Bank of Raymore (as of 7/11/2011). So this reward checking account at ABCO FCU slightly exceeds this rate.
ABCO FCU joins two other credit unions with competitive reward checking accounts and which have easy membership requirements. One is Consumers Credit Union in Illinois which has a reward checking account with a 4.09% APY but this only applies to balances up to $10K. Balances from $10K to $25K earn 1.59% APY. Even with the lower second tier rate, it's high enough to make this checking account a slightly better deal than ABCO FCU for a $25K balance. The other easy-to-join credit union is Lake Michigan Credit Union which offers a reward checking account with a 4.00% APY for balances up to $15K (as of 7/11/2011). No interest is paid for balances over $15K.
Searching for the Best Reward Checking Accounts
There are still many local reward checking accounts with yields over 3% for balances of up $25K. You can find these in our reward checking account table. Use the "Filter Accounts" button on top of the table to select either nationwide accounts and/or your state. Also, you can use this button to select the investment amount. This allows you to compare accounts with different rate tiers.