A+ Checking’s Long History as a Top Reward Checking Account


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.

2.25*%-$15kAltra Federal Credit UnionA+ Checking
Accounts mentioned in this post. Rates as of September 29, 2016.

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.

Special 18-Month CD Rate at Altra Federal Credit Union in Parts of WI, MN, TN & TX

Altra Federal Credit Union continues to offer a competitive special 18-month CD. The top rate is 2.00% APY. This requires a checking account with direct deposit. Otherwise, the rate falls to 1.50% APY. Minimum deposit is $1,000. These rates are listed in the credit union's rates page as of 4/27/2011.

Here's how the small print describes the step-up and add-on features of this special CD:

In my opinion, the add-on feature can be more useful than the step-up feature since the step-up feature depends on the institution keeping its rates competitive. The...

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Competitive 18-Month CD Rate at Altra FCU in Parts of WI, MN, TN & TX

Altra Federal Credit Union is offering a special 18-month CD with both a step-up and add-on feature. The top rate is 2.10% APY. This requires a checking account with direct deposit. Without this the rate is 1.70% APY. There's also an 8-month special CD. The rates are 1.50% APY with the checking and 1.10% without the checking. These rates are listed in the credit union's rates page as of the morning of 5/10/2010.

Here's how the small print describes the step-up and add-on features of these special CDs:

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High-Yield Reward Checking Account at a Multi-State CU (Altra)

Update 4/1/11: The top yield has fallen to 2.50% APY. Refer to the bottom of the post for the rate history.

Altra Federal Credit Union has a reward checking account called Altra Plus A+ Checking that pays 2.50% APY on balances up to $25,000 (0.50% for over) and refunds ATM fees (up to $20/cycle) if the following monthly requirements are met: 1) 10 check card purchases, 2) one direct deposit of at least $50, 3) access online banking, and 4) receive eStatements. If these are not met, the rate falls to...

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