High-Yield Reward Checking Account at First Arkansas Bank and Trust


Update 12/02/10: The top rate is scheduled to fall to 3.03% APY for balances up to $25K effective 1/4/2011. See the bottom of the post for more information.

First Arkansas Bank & Trust (FABaT) has a reward checking account called Kasasa Cash that pays 3.50% APY on balances up to $50K and refunds ATM fees worldwide if the following monthly requirements are met: 1) 10 point of sale debit card transactions, 2) one monthly direct deposit or ACH auto debit or make one online bill payment, 3) receive e-statements, and 4) sign in to your online banking account. If these are not met, the rate falls to 0.05%. The minimum opening balance is $100. There are no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees.

The bank has set up a special website with more details on this account. Some noteworthy points from their FAQ include:

  • No free checks
  • All account holders receive the reward yield during the first statement cycle
  • They will email you at the end of each statement cycle to notify you if you have qualified for the reward yield
  • All ATM refunds will be automatically credited at the end of the statement cycle if all requirements have been met
  • No limits on ATM refunds
  • ATM fees assessed anywhere in the world are refunded
  • DBAs (sole-proprietorship accounts), non-profit organizations, governmental units and funds held by a fiduciary may use this account

Update 8/11/09: Arkansas residents only Readers have reported being told by the bank's CSR that they are no longer accepting out-of-state applications effective 8/10/09. I've also confirmed this at CheckingFinder.com and Kasasa.com. Only Arkansas zip codes are accepted.

Update 7/04/09: I asked the bank CSR about being rejected for having too many ChexSystem inquiries. When you apply for a bank account, they typically make a ChexSystem inquiry. I was told that they reject new applicants who have more than 4 ChexSystem inquiries in the last 6 months.

Bank Overview

FABaT is larger than many banks offering reward checking so this may help it keep the high rate longer. However, it's still not a large bank. It has 208 employees, $480 million in assets and $356 million in deposits based on 9/30/07 data. It has 25 branches in Arkansas.

The bank is FDIC insured (Certificate # 16849). It was established in 1949. The bank has a 4 out of 5 star rating (sound) at Bankrate and a 5 out of 5 star rating (superior) at BauerFinancial. Both are based on 9/30/07 data.

Other High Yield Reward Checking Accounts

To find reward checking accounts in other areas of the nation or to learn more about these accounts, please refer to my High Yield Checking website.

Edit 4/18/09: Added worldwide ATM fee refunds in description and fixed reward checking link.

Rate History:

  • 01/04/11: 3.03% APY up to $25K; 0.50% over
  • 12/02/09: 3.50% APY up to $35K; 0.50% over; only 1 account per customer allowed (see post for more info)
  • 11/03/09: 3.50% APY up to $50K; 0.50% over
  • 08/10/09: They stopped accepting applications outside of Arkansas.
  • 07/01/09: 4.44% APY up to $50K; 1.01% over; 0.05% base rate
  • 06/23/09: They stopped accepting applications from California.
  • 05/01/09: Changed name from FirstNet Checking to Kasasa Cash
  • 02/07/08: 4.44% APY up to $50K; 1.76% APY over; 0.05% base rate (review of change)
  • 12/31/07: 6.06% APY on all balances; 0.05% base rate
Related Pages: FAB&T, Little Rock, checking account, reward checking account

  |     |   Comment #1
Also, according to CSR, revocable trusts are also eligible. After you apply on-line, someone contacts you and lets you know what documentation will be needed.
  |     |   Comment #2
tempting. real nice website explaing the account and they are upfront with all the requirements.
  |     |   Comment #3
Any notarization needed?What is needed to activate the debit card?
  |     |   Comment #4
ABA#? When do you get account#?
  |     |   Comment #5
Hold time on deposits??
  |     |   Comment #6
They seem to be changing their story, according to an e-mail from a CSR. I received this e-mail at 2pm PST today. Here's the relevant text:

"I have some additional instructions for you after I get the signature cards typed and mailed to you when you mail them back to me signed I will also need a copy of your drivers license notarized returned with the signed signature card along with a notarized copy of a utility bill. According to our signature card we reserve the right to pull a hard credit check."

The first e-mail I received at 1:15pm PST said that I could fax copies of the drivers license and utility bill.

Also, in one of my conversations with a CSR, I was told that eventually they will put a cap on the 6.06% APY.

So a cap eventually, multiple notarizations, and a possible hard pull.

I'm concerned about this information, but will try to reserve judgement until Jan. 2nd, when I plan to find out exactly what's going on with this account.
  |     |   Comment #7
FatWallet Finance discussion thread on this deal:

First Arkansas Bank & Trust - FirstNet Checking
  |     |   Comment #8
How long did it take for them to call? I submitted online Jan. 1st. in the afternoon.
  |     |   Comment #9
They are refusing to open an account on the ground that you have too many inquiries without telling how many is too many.
  |     |   Comment #10
I applied Jan 1st as well and still no reply. ANyone hear back or have problems?
  |     |   Comment #11
No problems at all, I applied on 12/31, faxed info on 1/2, called to confirm I was approved today and was told my packet with signature cards are being sent today. I was offered an additional application for ACH transfers, I said yes, so they will send with the other stuff today. I was also offered checks, $13 for regular, $20 for duplicates. Can't wait, I'm getting my Drivers Licenses and Utility Bill Notarized tomorrow, as they require for all non local applicants. If you are having a delay I was told it takes them 24 hours to get the applications from the http://www.firstnetchecking.com website, but they get them right away from the https://www.firstarkansasbank.com website.
  |     |   Comment #12
One thing to consider: FAB&T offers free *worldwide* ATMs, while SBOT is just *nationwide*. Can anyone verify this?
  |     |   Comment #13
Received my welcome packet on 1/8. Consisted of welcome letter, signature card, check card application, authorization for ach transfer, customer copy of signature card and various terms and disclosures, and a pre-paid return envelope.

The welcome letter says that I need to return the appropriate documents above, along with a notarized copy of each account holder's driver's license, and a notarized copy of a utility bill in one of the account holder's names, at an address that is listed for the account. If a utility bill isn't available, a credit card statement or a cell phone bill from a national cellular phone company may be substituted.

The signature card says that the signature(s) "authorize the financial institution to verify credit and employment history and/or have a credit reporting agency prepare a credit report on the undersigned, as individuals."
Banking Guy
  |     |   Comment #14
Thanks glxpass for providing these details.
  |     |   Comment #15
I called today, 1/10/2008, just to reconfirm everything. The lady, Brinda?, seemed a little in a hurry but was very helpful. She said if I included the driver's license #, the driver's license issue date, and my emergency contact information in the comment box on the form, they can send the welcome packet a day sooner and may not need to call me back to request this information.

As for the rate, she said this is the 3rd month the account has been available and they might have a meeting to discuss the rate very soon. I am hoping the rate will stay, fed does not cut rates at the end of the month, all of this work is not for nothing, and that there is no 6 month or so closing fee.
  |     |   Comment #16
Wow - that's kind of scary. Most of us here and at FatWallet are thinking of this deal as having been available for about 12 days, which it has NATIONALLY, but perhaps the bank is thinking about it in terms of having been available (locally at 1st) 3 months, with all the Fed cuts over that time…. I guess we’ll find out.
  |     |   Comment #17
1/14 - Mailed the required information back to FABaT via priority mail, with our 2 driver's licenses copied on to one sheet of paper that was notarized. I didn't notarize the copy of the utility bill. I sent 4 checks to fund the account, the highest check amount was 22K.
1/17 - Received an e-mail from FABaT, saying that online access was approved. Funds showed as unavailable.
1/18 - Funds now show as available. On-line banking from the funding banks show 1 of the checks on 1/17, 1 of the checks on 1/18, and nothing so far for the other 2 checks.
Banking Guy
  |     |   Comment #18
Thanks glxpass. So there's no hold on the balance that came from the checks?
  |     |   Comment #19
Banking Guy,
Some people have been told their funding checks will be held until as late as 1/31. This didn't happen to me. I funded my account with 4 checks, the highest of which was 22K.

There was some misinformation from one of the FABaT CSRs, saying that interest wouldn't be accrued while funds were on hold, but FABAT's Truth in Savings Disclosure says: "INTEREST BEGINS TO ACCRUE NO LATER THAN THE BUSINESS DAY WE RECEIVE CREDIT FOR THE DEPOSIT OF NON-CASH ITEMS (FOR EXAMPLE CHECKS)."

Worst case, I believe it would take one to two business days to clear a check (i.e. receive credit), but please correct me if I'm wrong.

The hold time could be longer than this, but shouldn't affect interest accrual.
  |     |   Comment #20
I just checked the website and it's down to 4.4% APR...
  |     |   Comment #21
Along with the 4.44% APY goes 1.76% APY for amounts over $50K.
  |     |   Comment #22
Is there a hard credit pull?
  |     |   Comment #23
As a heads up, they start charging a dormant account fee of $5/month after 12 months of inactivity. This fee is not listed in the truth in savings, but customer service said it is listed elsewhere.
  |     |   Comment #24
BTW, this account is no longer called "FirstNet Checking". It's now "Kasasa Cash", whatever that means.
  |     |   Comment #25
Can anyone comment if meeting the 10 transactions with typical $1.xx paymment with Utility/Phone/superstore is a problem with this bank? Has the bank created this as an issue and warned or closed the account?

Would appreciate a response from those who have an account here and have been using this strategy succesfully without any warning from the bank? Thanks.
  |     |   Comment #26
Try it yourself, the worst will be getting a warning sign.
  |     |   Comment #27
It looks like they stopped accepting applications from out-of-state. When I typed in my CA zip code on their kasasa site, it said "This zipcode is either invalid or not serviced by this provider." Just an FYI...
Banking Guy
  |     |   Comment #28
Thanks for the info. It looks like they may have something against CA. I tried zip codes in WA, AZ, TX, NY and FL, and Kasasa accepted all of these. When I tried a CA zip code, I got the same message "This zipcode is either invalid or not serviced by this provider."
Banking Guy
  |     |   Comment #29
About the application rejecting CA zip codes, I sent them email about this yesterday, and I received their reply this morning. They said they still accept all states. The rejection is apparently a glitch in their system due to the distance from Arkansas (but this doesn't explain why WA was accepted). Just put in another zip code, and that will allow you to proceed.
  |     |   Comment #30
Thanks for your help. I've received a reply email as well stating that they are not taking applications from CA. Weird! But I tried using your trick, and it did go through. Let's see what happens. I'll keep you posted!
  |     |   Comment #31
I've just received a rejection notice that says "We regret we cannot open your account at this time due to the following reason:
At this time we are not accepting applications from your area." So I guess it's available to everyone but CA residents. Also, I think they did a hard pull, judging from the set of questions they asked me during the application process. I'll try another bank...
  |     |   Comment #32
Here is another update. I inquired about my ZIP code not being accepted yesterday. The rep says it's a recent policy change, but I'm suspecting that it could be just a system issue like you said. It often happens that different people give different answers. So would you mind telling me who sent you that email? I'm hoping that maybe she can help. Thanks!
Banking Guy
  |     |   Comment #33
The CSR who replied to my email was Justin.
  |     |   Comment #34
Thank you Banking Guy. It looks like it was just miscommunication within the bank about the recent change. So it is NOT available to people in certain geographic areas. They didn't specify which areas, though. I opened a new acct with Countybank instead. Thanks again!
  |     |   Comment #35
The rate for balances over $50k has dropped to 1% (listed as 1.01% on FABT website and 1.00% on Kasasa website). Regarding out-of-state applications, I am in CA and just applied for an account this morning. The application was successful, but I will report back after my account is opened or denied.
  |     |   Comment #36
My application was denied. The e-mail said:

"Thank you for your recent application for our new Kasasa Cash Checking Account. We regret we cannot open your account at this time due to the following reason:

* At this time we are not accepting applications from your area.

Due to the popularity of our Kasasa Checking suite of products, we are not accepting applications nationwide. Based on the information you provided on your application, your home or mailing address is outside of the area from which we accept applications.

However, please know that if we ever extend our market we will do our best to notify you.

Should you have any questions regarding this email, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or 501-982-4511."
  |     |   Comment #37
Please be careful. FABT is not giving interest on intial money (check that I sent for $34.9k) until the intial hold period. Even though money is credited in my account, the balance has been manually adjusted to show
-34,900. With the appplication, I had sent $100 which was credited on 6/30. 34.9k check was also credited on 6/30. I see an interest posting today (posted 7/1) only for $0.02. This means they are not giving interest on $34.9k check that I snet and was also credited on 6/30. The $34.9k has also been withdrwan from my source a/c pretty immediately (on 7/1)

This is very manipulative. Be very careful with this bank.
  |     |   Comment #38
This bank is well-known to gain interest from customers, via checks, ACH, etc. The slightly higher interest rate is just a trap. Also, they use chex to screen applicants so not too many will be approved. Be careful. To me, this account is not worthwhile and the rate/national accessibility will certainly change soon.
  |     |   Comment #39
For the one day interest on 6/30/09: To be fair, a lot of banks will record the reception of the check (say on 6/30/09), but the actual interst accrues the next day. Since your check was withdrawn on 7/1/09, it seems fair to me to start receiving interest on 7/1/09; with no loss of interest at all.
  |     |   Comment #40
Well if FABT was to be fair, then no interest on $100 check should have been applied. It seems they chose to give interest on $100 check but not on $34.9k.

Besides, my point of posting here was that it appears that no interest accrues until check hold is clear.
  |     |   Comment #41
Their web interface allows you to buy I bonds and EE bonds under the "other services" tab. Not something I'd put money into now but interesting none the less.
  |     |   Comment #42
Read through all the messages and no one ever answered if there was a hard pull or not. So is there?
  |     |   Comment #43
Fab&t is tough to open an account. They told me my joint acct with my wife is invalid because my wife has a NY state non driver ID. This is the same as a NYS driver license. I sent them the form from DMV stating what NY requires for a Non Driver ID.Its the same for a NY driver license, and is accepted nationwide when an ID is required for any prupose. A CSR at the bank said "its not accepted here!".I just mailed the Ny Non driver ID and the form stating what is required to obtain it along with a check for 50K. We will see what happens. [email protected]
  |     |   Comment #44
Just talked to a bank rep. She said they are "really backed up" in processing new accounts and that there are only two people working on processing them. I opened my online account almost a month ago and they took out the money out of my funding account the next day. I sent in the required paperwork a week and a half ago. She also said the account counts as "opened" once you get an email from them, so it doesn't make sense to fund the account with more than the minimum $100 because you won't be accruing any interest on it while they are still processing your application (which could take a month or more since the time you fill out your online application!)
  |     |   Comment #45
For routine applications, they do Chex mainly for number of applications one did in the past six months. However, they may do credit inquiry on a case-by-case basis. Hwoever, I will not be surprised that they do pull your credit files; this is similar to many banks such as HSBC and FNBO (with ancient questions in your credit history). I would say officially a soft pull.

As we applied, we found this Q/A (not sure if it is recent addition):

Q: Can my debit card transactions be in any amount to qualify, even a $1.00?

A: While we realize that on occasion, debit card transactions may be small, those occasions should be limited. For FAB&T to continue to offer this account at a very aggressive rate, we expect customers to use this checking account in a way that is conducive to us being able to continue to do so. We do monitor the activity on the account monthly. If we determine that someone is not using the account as intended or in an unprofitable manner, we reserve the right to close the account.

Any experience of meeting this monitoring requirements, folks?
  |     |   Comment #46
In response to Rob on July 7 - Yes, I definitely received a "hard credit pull" from these guys. I know that because I subscribe to a service that lists all hard pulls, and even soft credit pulls, and differentiates the two.
  |     |   Comment #47
For "no interest during hold" on FAB&T ($34.9K): How many days was the hold (your post was on 2 July, thus one-day hold?). I have heard it both ways; would do ACH into FAB&T just in case.
  |     |   Comment #48
The hold on (34.9k) was for 11 business days. So it actually lasted a total of 15 days and came off on 7/15/09.
  |     |   Comment #49
Thanks ($34.9K hold response). Wow, that's bad but familiar for FAB&T. There are several versions of this bank's hold. Some stated interest accure the next business day after reception; while others said that there was no interest paid during hold. I would rather use ACH, and not finding this out the hard way:-)
  |     |   Comment #50
When does the interest post on this account? Today is August 3rd but no interest posted? Ofcourse, 1st and 2nd was weekends. But with my most other accounts, interest posted on the 31st (Friday). This is my first month with this bank, so I was just curious if this normal practice. Will apprecaite comments for those if your intrest this month posted and when....
  |     |   Comment #51
I read all of the comments & it seems most funded their accounts with checks. Does anyone know, after the initial minimum transfer of $100 to opent the account, do they allow bank to bank transfers for deposits & withdrawals online?
  |     |   Comment #52
Yes, the bank has an online transfer system. Inbound ACH is free; however, they charge for outgoing ach. I tried opening an account but was denied for too many efund inquiries within the last 5 months. Rule is if EFunds verification has been accessed more than 5 times in last 6 months, they reject your application. You can re-apply in six months.
  |     |   Comment #53
For existing account holders: Are you making the ten debit transactions at at least $10 each (that was what many CSRs recommended to me)? If not, did the bank issue warnings of account closure if you continue to make "small transactions" below $10each? Thanks.
  |     |   Comment #54
It looks like they are not allowing apps nationwide. The application from Kasasa website doesn't recognize by zip code in Washington state.
  |     |   Comment #55
True, FAB&T is no longer accepting out-of-state applications effective 8/10/09, claimed by CSR.
  |     |   Comment #56
The website no longer works for any zip codes outside Arkansas.

Boom, just like that, another nationwide option is gone.

I think the lesson in all this is as soon as a good nationwide deal is available, take it right away because you don't know how long it will remain available.
  |     |   Comment #57
Just a few days after Yahoo linked to an article on rewards accounts including the kasasa account, the account is no longer available nationwide. Sucks.
  |     |   Comment #58
APY lowered to 3.50 effective in November.

Tiers effective in December.
  |     |   Comment #59
Even with the debit card restrictions ("at least $10 per transaction is highly desirable"), this bank is coming down like a rock. It proves that RCAs may be a losing game for the banks. Just that some banks will realize it later and much later. Soon the RCA interest rate will converge to the nominal online savings rate (now about 1.7%).

Rate hopping/chasing is beginning to look like a losers' game.
  |     |   Comment #60
Rate & Limit to Drop:

Dear Valued Customer,

Please note some important upcoming changes affecting your Kasasa Cash Checking account.

Effective with your new statement cycle beginning 11/3/2009, the following changes will be made:
· On balances from $0.01 to $50,000 the new interest rate will be 3.45% APR / 3.50% APY
· On balances over $50,000, the new interest rate will be 0.50% APR / 0.50% APY

Effective with your new statement cycle beginning 12/2/2009, the following changes will be made:
· Rate tiers
· On balances from$0.01 to $35,000 the interest rate will be 3.45% APR / 3.50% APY (as long as qualifications are met each statement cycle)
· On balances over $35,000 the interest rate will be 0.50% APR / 0.50% APY (as long as qualifications are met each statement cycle)
· Maximum Number of accounts
· You will only be permitted to have one Kasasa Cash Checking account on which you are listed as the primary owner.
· If you currently have more than one Kasasa Cash Checking account on which you are listed as the primary owner, please contact us to designate which account you would like the balances from the other Kasasa Cash Checking accounts consolidated into.
  |     |   Comment #61
Ask oneself this question: Why would I keep an account that has a rate of 3.5%, still demanding $10/debit transaction???? Let the Exodus begin...
  |     |   Comment #62
FAB & T just dropped their rates to 3.5% effective 11/03/09 and will be dropping the max for the rewards rate to $35,000 effective 12/03/09
  |     |   Comment #63
$50K out of FAB&T and will be into two $25K accounts next Tuesday. So long FAB&T!!
  |     |   Comment #64
Bad news today (12/2/10) in an email from FABAT -

"Kasasa Cash - Effective with your new statement cycle beginning 1/4/2011, the following changes will be made: 

- On balances from $0.01 to $25,000, the new interest rate will be 2.99% APR / 3.03% APY (as long as qualifications are met)

- On balances over $25,000, the new rate will be 0.50% APR / 0.50% APY (as long as qualifications are met) "

FAB&T Announces Major Cuts in Its Reward Checking Account - Future of Reward Checking?
The bank with one of the best reward checking accounts just announced rate cuts and other major changes. First Arkansas Bank & Trust notified account holders of the following important changes:
  • Top rate reduces from 4.44% APY to 3.50% APY effective 11/3/2009
  • The balance that qualifies for the top rate reduces from $50,000 to $35,000 effective 12/2/2009
  • Customers will be permitted to have only one reward checking account (Kasasa Cash)
Refer to the bank's change notice for the full details.

FAB&T had been offering 4.44% APY on balances up to $50K since February 2008. It...

Continue Reading
Rate Cuts Hit the Nation's Best Reward Checking Account
I'm afraid reward checking accounts are not immune to this recent rate cutting. I just learned that First Arkansas Bank & Trust will be cutting their 6.06% APY next week on its FirstNet Checking. The new yield will be 4.44% APY (4.35% interest rate) and will take effect next Thursday (2/7/08). Also, they're adding a cap of $50,000 for new applicants. Balances over that will only earn 1.76% APY. Those who have already opened this account will get grandfathered in until June 1st. At that time the new cap will...
Continue Reading

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