This new zero rate environment is starting to impact reward checking accounts. The latest one impacted is the Rewards Checking Account from Consumers Credit Union (CCU). Each of the account’s three tiers had rate cuts of 100 bps. The new APYs for the three tiers are as follows: 4.09% for Tier A, 3.09% for Tier B, and 2.09% for Tier C. These rate cuts were large, but the new rates are still competitive compared to other reward checking accounts. All three tiers continue to have a $10k balance cap in which the top rate is paid only on balances up to $10k.
In addition to these rate cuts, CCU made some minor changes to the requirements to qualify for the high rates. These changes make it a little easier for members to meet the requirements.
First, members are no longer required to make a total of $100 per month in debit card purchases to qualify for Tier C. The required number of monthly debit card purchases is still 12 (see note below).
Second, mobile check deposits now count toward reaching the minimum $500 monthly deposit requirement for Tier C. The other deposit types that also count include direct deposit and ACH credits.
Thanks to DA reader, pinkterror, who first reported on these changes in the DA Forum.
Below is a summary of what’s required for each month to qualify for these three tiers. This summary is based on the credit union’s Free Rewards Checking page as of 5/7/2020:
Tier A: Qualifying for 4.09% APY for up to $10,000 (down from 5.09%):
- Meet the requirements to earn 2.09% APY
- Spend $1,000 or more in CCU Visa Credit Card purchases. No minimum number of purchases.
Tier B: Qualifying for 3.09% APY for up to $10,000 (down from 4.09%):
- Meet the requirements to earn 2.09% APY
- Spend $500 or more in CCU Visa Credit Card purchases. No minimum number of purchases.
Tier C: Qualifying for 2.09% APY for up to $10,000 (down from 3.09%):
- 12 debit card purchases ($100 minimum purchase requirement has been eliminated.)
- Direct deposits, Mobile Check Deposits or ACH Credits totaling $500 or more (The option of Mobile Check Deposits has been added.)
- Receive eDocuments
Due to the COVID-19 situation, CCU is temporarily easing qualifications for April and May, 2020. During these months, the number of debit card transactions required is being reduced from 12 to 6. This requirement is scheduled to return to 12 starting on June 1, 2020.
CCU’s Rewards Checking is a free checking account with no monthly maintenance fees even if you don’t meet any of the above requirements.
For Tiers A, B and C, the portion of the balance between $10k and $25k earns 0.20%, and the portion of the balance over $25k earns 0.10% when at least Tier C requirements are met. If Tier C requirements are not met, the entire balance earns only 0.01%.
Also, for the month whenTier C requirements are met, CCU refunds ATM fees charged by other banks when you use their ATMs. CCU members also have access to surcharge-free ATMs in the CO-OP Network, which has nearly 30,000 ATMs.
Unique Credit Card Purchase Requirements
The credit card requirement is unique for reward checking. Most reward checking accounts just require debit card usage, and that has been a downside for many savers who prefer using credit cards over debit cards. CCU is unique in that a member will have to make purchases with both a debit card and a credit card to receive a higher interest rate (for Tier A and B). Other credit unions that allow credit cards to be used to meet reward checking account requirements don’t also require debit card usage.
In addition to security concerns with debit cards, there’s the issue of losing out on cash back rewards when debit cards are used instead of credit cards. CCU’s elimination of the $100 total purchase requirement for Tier C helps a little on this front. Another thing that helps is CCU’s Visa Signature Rewards Credit Card. This card offers the following cash back rewards:
- Earn 3x Points on grocery/convenience store purchases (up to $6,000 per year)
- Earn 2x Points on Gas
- Earn 1x Points on everything else
The points expire after 5 years. The card has no annual fee. For the full card details, please refer to CCU’s Visa Signature Rewards Card page.
For those who are good at maximizing cash back rewards on credit cards, they will probably miss out on some cash back when they meet Tier A requirements with the Visa Signature Rewards Card. They may miss out less cash back for Tier B requirements since they could just rely on the Card at grocery stores which will earn 3X Points.
Another thing to consider is the maximum interest that can be earned with Tier B and A. The extra 1% rate of Tier B with a $10k balance can result in an extra $100 of interest in a year as compared to Tier C. For Tier A, it’s an extra $200 of interest as compared to Tier C.
CCU Rewards Checking History
CCU’s Rewards Checking Account has a long history. I first reported on this account almost 13 years ago on August 2007. At that time it was paying 6.01% APY for balances up to $25K. In the last 13 years, there have been many changes to the requirements, tiers, rates and balance caps. The last big change was in October 2018 when the rates increased but the balance caps were reduced to $10k. Also, this is when CCU added the $100 total debit card purchase requirement that was eliminated this month.
Headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois, Consumers Credit Union offers membership to virtually any U.S. citizen or resident alien, regardless of residency or employment status.
CCU’s Membership Page states, “Membership follows a simple, two-step process: Pay a one-time, non-refundable $5 fee to our sponsor, the Consumers Cooperative Association, and then deposit and maintain a minimum $5 in your Membership Share/Savings Account.”
Joining CCU and/or opening the Rewards Checking Account can be done online, or at any of the full-service Illinois branches, located in Des Plaines, Gurnee, Mundelein, Northbrook, Palatine, Round Lake Beach, Schaumberg, Volo, and Waukegan (As of 5/7/2020, in-lobby services have been suspended until further notice due to the COVID-19 situation.)
CCU also participates in the CU Service Centers® Network network.
We are part of an international group of credit unions called the CU Service Centers® Network, which provides you with additional service centers where you can take care of your banking needs.
Credit Union Overview
Consumers Credit Union (IL) has an overall health grade of "A" at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas Ratio of 5.33% (excellent) based on December 31, 2019 data. In the past year, CCU has increased its total non-brokered deposits by $57.68 million, an excellent annual growth rate of 5.56%. Please refer to our financial overview of Consumers Credit Union (NCUA Charter # 68588) for more details.
Consumer Credit Union is currently the sixth largest credit union in Illinois, with more than 241,000 member accounts and assets in excess of $1.3 billion. Chartered in May 1930 as Consumers Cooperative Credit Union, the Credit Union had 32 shareholders, $367 in assets, and three outstanding loans ($225 total) at the end of 1930. The “Cooperative” in the original name was a nod to the Cooperative Trading Company of Waukegan, a local dairy cooperative.
Did you know Consumers Cooperative Credit Union was one of the first credit unions to apply for federal share insurance in February 1971?
On October 19, 1970, President Nixon signed Senate Bill S.3822 into law, thus creating a National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund which would cover members savings up to $20k per account.
The 71-page “History Report” on the Credit Union’s website contains more information about CCU than you can imagine. On page 59, it details some of the history of the Rewards Checking Account:
Rewards Checking was CCU’s leading new Member acquisition product during the decade.
How the Rewards Checking Compares
When compared to the nationally available High Yield Rewards Checking Accounts tracked by DepositAccounts.com and have maximum qualifying balances of at least $10k, CCU’s Rewards Checking Tier A rate currently ranks first.* It’s interesting to note that the second, third and fourth place acounts have progressively larger balance caps.
|Interest Rate||Account Name||Credit Union/Bank|
|4.09% APY||Rewards Checking ($10k max)||Consumers Credit Union|
|4.00% APY||Panorama Checking ($15k max)||Western Vista FCU|
|3.30% APY||Vertical Checking ($20k max)||Evansville Teachers FCU|
|3.00% APY||Kasasa Cash ($25k max)||The Bank of Denver|
The above rates are accurate as of 5/7/2020.
To look for the best Reward Checking Account rates, both nationwide and state specific, please refer to our High Yield Reward Checking Account Rates Table page.
*We continue to work to keep our rates up-to-date, but there have been just too many rate cuts for us to process quickly. For the time being, please be aware that the rates listed at DepositAccounts.com may not reflect the latest rates published by the banks and credit unions.