Many reward checking accounts haven’t held up well over the long term. In many cases rates and balance caps have fallen by so much that they’re no longer worth the effort. That’s not the case with Altra Federal Credit Union. I first reported on its reward checking account (called A+ Checking) in 2007. After all of these years, Altra continues to offer this A+ Checking, and the rate and balance cap are still competitive. In addition, the credit union has made it easier to become a member.
The features of the A+ Checking have remained the same since I reported on this in 2007. Below is a summary of the rates and balance cap along with the monthly requirements to qualify for the top rate:
- 2.25% APY for balances up to $15,000 if monthly requirements are met
- 0.50% APY for portion of balance over $15,000 if monthly requirements are met
- 0.10% APY if all requirements are not met in any given monthly cycle
- Up to $20 in ATM refunds per monthly cycle if requirements are met
The monthly requirements in order of effort include:
- 10 debit card purchases
- Sign in to Free Online Banking at least once per cycle
- Direct Deposit of at least $50 (I was told that an ACH deposit qualifies)
- Receive your monthly A+ Checking Report Card and eStatement at a valid email address
This is a free checking account with no minimum balance requirements and no monthly service fees. The A+ Checking also offers many other perks. Some of these include mobile check deposits and free Altra Secure ID Theft Protection. Checks are only free for members of age 60 and over. Please refer to the credit union’s A+ Checking page for the full details.
The credit union also has an online funds transfer service, but according to the credit union’s Q&As, the external funds transfers have a limit of $2,000 per transaction and $2,000 per day.
Membership and Account Application
In Altra’s membership page, several options are listed to qualify for membership. One of those options is being a member of the Altra Foundation. Anyone can join this foundation by mailing in the application form with a $5 check to the Altra Foundation. An overview of the foundation and instructions for membership are available here.
You can apply for credit union membership and for the A+ Checking account using the credit union’s online application. Just click on the "open new membership" button on Altra’s "open an account" page. The first page of the application lists the options to be eligible to join. The last option is "I am a member or will become a member of the Altra Foundation." The next application page allows you to select the A+ Checking account (called Altra Plus in the application). Note, you are also required to open a savings account with a $5 minimum balance. The application only allows you to select one A+ Checking account.
Credit Union Overview
Altra branches are located in Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. Its headquarters is located in Onalaska, Wisconsin.
The credit union is part of the CO-OP Shared Branch network and CO-OP ATM network. The shared branch network allows credit union members to conduct many banking transactions at participating credit union locations within the network, just as if they were at their home branch. There are over 5,000 branches in the network.
Altra Federal Credit Union began in 1931 as Trane Employees Credit Union with 33 members. It now has over 82,000 members and assets of over $1 billion. The credit union has an overall health grade at DepositAccounts.com of an "A" with a Texas ratio of 8.92% (excellent) based on June 30, 2014 data. Please refer to our financial overview of Altra Federal Credit Union for more details. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 24077).
How This Reward Checking Compares
There are a few reward checking accounts from easy-to-join credit unions with more attractive combinations of rates and balance caps.
To search for nationwide reward checking accounts and reward checking accounts in your state, please refer to the reward checking rates table.