At the end of January, Illinois-based Consumers Credit Union (CCU) lowered the rate on its Free Rewards Checking (Medium) to 3.59% APY. (For those of you not familiar with CCU’s Free Rewards Checking account, ir is considered to be one of the top RCAs, and comes in three “varieties,” each earning a different APY with different requirements.)
While this rate change was noted and discussed, there have been changes made to the qualifying balance cap and qualification requirements that occurred somewhere around the time of the rate change that haven't attracted a lot of attention. Before January 2016, the description read (in part) as follows. (Note: text bolded by me for ease of comparison.)
Prior to January 2016
To earn 4.09% APY on balances up to $20,000 and ATM refunds perform the following each qualifying cycle:
Simply meet the requirements to earn 3.09% APY . . . then add:
Complete 12 CCU VISA Credit Card purchase transactions, NO MINIMUM purchase requirement.
After January 2016
Earn 3.59% APY on balances up to $15,000 and ATM refunds perform the following each qualifying cycle:
Simply meet the requirements to earn 3.09% APY . . . then add: Spend $500 or more in CCU Visa Credit Card purchase transactions; no minimum number of transactions.
I’d like to thank the many DA readers who have commented on this RCA in the Forum.
Headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois, Consumers Credit Union offers membership to virtually anyone in the U.S., 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 a Free Rewards Checking account can be done online, or at any of the nine full-service Illinois branches, located in Gurnee (2), Mundelein, Northbrook, Palatine, Round Lake Beach, Schaumberg, Volo, and Waukegan (2)
Credit Union Overview
Consumers Credit Union (IL) (NCUA Charter # 68588) has an overall health grade of "A" at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas Ratio of 2.56% (excellent) based on March 31, 2016 data. In the past year, CCU has increased its total deposits by $230.05 million, an excellent annual growth rate of 37.45%. Please refer to our financial overview of Consumers Credit Union for more details.
Consumer Credit Union is the 7th largest credit union in Illinois, with more than 83,000 members and assets in excess of $930 million. 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. CCU’s website has a 68-page “History Report” that answers any question about the Credit Union you could possibly imagine.
How Free Rewards Checking With Credit Card Spending Compares
Both the High and Medium levels of CCU’s Free Rewards Checking rank first when compared to other reward checking accounts with the same/similar balance caps.
Is spending $500 or $1,000 a month with a CCU Visa credit card worth the extra checking account interest? Let’s determine how much extra interest is earned for these two levels:
The best alternative to CCU’s High level RCA is Mid-Illini Credit Union’s RCA that earns 2.50% up to $25k. CCU’s high level RCA earns $418 more interest per year for a $20k balance.
The best alternative to CCU’s Medium level RCA is Lake Michigan CU’s RCA that earns 3% up to $15k. CCU’s medium level RCA earns $88.50 more interest per year for a $15k balance.
When deciding if the required spending with a CCU VISA® credit card is worth the extra interest, one thing to consider is that CCU offers the VISA® Signature Cash Rebate Card, which is competitive when compared to other cash back credit cards.
The above rates are accurate as of 9/2/2016.