First Financial Credit Union Offers Competitive Kasasa Products

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Deal Summary: Kasasa Cash Checking, 3.50% APY on qualifying balances up to $15k. Kasasa Saver, 1.25% APY on qualifying balances up to $25k.

Availability: Residents of Chicagoland. Easy membership requirement.

I’ve never written a blog post about any product offered by Chicago-based Financial First Credit Union (FFCU). When I posted about FFCU’s easy membership FOM in 2017, I mentioned that there weren’t any blog-worthy products at the time. That has changed. The newly added Kasasa Cash Checking account currently earns 3.50% APY on qualifying balances up to $15k. Qualifying balances over $15k earn 0.45% APY, with non-qualifying balances earning 0.05% APY.

APYMINMAXINSTITUTIONPRODUCTDETAILS
3.50*%-$15kFirst Financial CU (IL)Kasasa Cash Checking
OTHER TIERS: 0.25% $15k+
Rates as of July 6, 2020.

The qualification cycle requirements are as follows:

  • At least 12 debit card purchases.
  • Be enrolled in and agree to receive online statements.
  • Be enrolled in and log into online banking.

The Kasasa Cash Checking account has no minimum balance requirement, no monthly service fee, and no minimum opening deposit requirement. Nationwide ATM fees will be reimbursed up to $25 per month, if qualifications are met. There is a limit of one account per Social Security number.

Kasasa Saver Account

FFCU also offers a Kasasa Saver account as a companion account to the Kasasa Cash Checking account. Each month, earned cash checking rewards and ATM withdrawal fee refunds automatically transfer into this account. The Kasasa Saver account earns 1.25% APY on qualifying balances up to $25k; qualifying balances over $25k earn 0.45% APY, with non-qualifying balances earning 0.05% APY.

APYMINMAXINSTITUTIONPRODUCTDETAILS
1.25*%-$25kFirst Financial CU (IL)Kasasa Saver
OTHER TIERS: 0.45% $25k+
Rates as of July 6, 2020.

The Kasasa Brand

For those not familiar with the Kasasa brand, Kasasa Cash is a type of Reward Checking Account (RCA) developed by the Texas company, Kasasa, Ltd. According to the Kasasa website,

On an everyday level, Kasasa is free checking that rewards you each month for doing simple things you might already do. "Simple" as in banking basics that actually save you time. Like choosing e-statements over paper statements, or swiping your debit card at checkout instead of writing a check.

Ever wondered where the word “Kasasa” comes from? Its etymology is not Greek or Latin.

Put simply, we made it up.
In a world where real-life people are too often taken for granted as account
numbers, we didn’t want to be the next [INSERT GENERIC NAME] checking account.

Availability

Headquartered in Chicago, First Financial Credit Union’s field of membership (FOM) has changed and no longer offers membership outside of its geographic footprint. offers a way to join for virtually all U.S. citizens and resident aliens.

Easy Membership: As I noted in 2017, anyone who makes a donation to either SitStayRead or Resources for Community Living qualifies for FFCU membership.

Residency: Individuals who live or work in the area of Chicagoland bordered by Lake Michigan to the east, highway 294 to the west, Dempster Ave to the north, and Roosevelt Road to the south are eligible for membership.

Employment: Employees of FFCU’s Partnered Employers (PE) are eligible to join. While seven PEs are listed on the Eligibility page, apparently there are more.

Don’t see your employer listed? They may be on our extended list.

Joining FFCU and/or opening a Kasasa Cash Checking/Kasasa Saver account can be done online. The Chicago branch on Peterson Avenue has drive-up banking service only, while the Skokie branch lobby is open by appointment only. The Chicago branch on N. Ridge Avenue has limited access, with only S&C Electric employees allowed to enter.

Opening a Regular Share with a $5 minimum deposit makes you a member and part owner of the credit union.

First Financial CU participates in the Xtend Shared Branching network and the STAR ATM network.

I should mention that FFCU a small credit union, with $91+ million in assets and 26 employees. If FFCU is inundated with applications, it’s possible that the credit union may decide to change its FOM or limit the availability of the Kasasa Cash Checking account.

Credit Union Overview

First Financial Credit Union has an overall health grade of "B+" at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas Ratio of 8.69% (excellent) based on December 31, 2019 data. In the past year, FFCU has increased its total non-brokered deposits by $1.59 million, an above average annual growth rate of 2.33%. Please refer to our financial overview of First Financial Credit Union (NCUA Charter # 68450) for more details.

Established in 1936, Financial First Credit Union initially served the employees of the AT&T Teletype Corporation, a manufacturer of electromechanical teleprinters. A community charter was granted in 2000, expanding the FOM to include northern Chicagoland. C&NW Proviso Credit Union (Northlake, Illinois) is positioned to merge into FFCU.

A member vote is expected to be held on June 19. A notice from C&NW Proviso announcing the merger specified that Illinois law only allows in-person voting or votes by proxy, so no e-voting will be done if the coronavirus prevents an in-person meeting. The notice from the credit union also specified that for those who do not attend or vote by proxy, the board will vote in favor of the merger in their stead.

How the Kasasa Cash Checking Compares

When compared to the nationally available High Yield Rewards Checking Accounts tracked by DepositAccounts.com that have maximum qualifying balances of at least $15k, Financial First Credit Union’s Kansas Cash Checking APY currently ranks first.*

Interest RateAccount NameCredit Union/Bank
3.50% APYKansas Cash Checking ($15k max)First Financial Credit Union
3.30% APYVertical Checking ($20k max)Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union
3.25% APYPanorama Checking ($15k max)Western Vista Federal Credit Union

The above rates are accurate as of 6/20/2020.

To search 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 keep our rates up-to-date, but there have been just too many rate cuts for us to process all changes 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.

Related Pages: Chicago checking accounts, reward checking accounts, nationwide deals

Comments
51hh
  |     |   Comment #1
Advantages: (1) Easy membership requirement. (2) Relatively high 3.5% APY.  (3) No ACH requirement. 

I am in RCAs for multiple years, say more than 15 years. I have rarely witnessed the RCA APY rate as a teaser rate that dropped within a short period. Please give real examples if one experienced it otherwise.

Disadvantages: (1) Low limit ($15K), typically $25K. (2) One account per social security number; but use one's family relationship to expand if needed.

Good luck.
niniss
  |     |   Comment #2
Did you apply and if so, was it a hard pull on credit report? Thanks!
51hh
  |     |   Comment #3
No,sorry. I have plenty of (4%, $25K) RCAs available for use.

However, most credit unions require only soft pull with ChexSystems.

BR.
gregk
  |     |   Comment #4
You have "plenty" of 4%, $25K RCA's?

Would you care to list the FI's they derive from?

I have plenty of 3% RCA's (and in some cases a bit more than that) - but not 4%.
51hh
  |     |   Comment #8
Well, all I can say, Greg, is that I have been lucky, and there is only one FI I was referring to.
BTW, 1.25% for $15K - $25K is not a bad rate, either.
niniss
  |     |   Comment #12
From my experience most credit unions actually do hard pull.
gregk
  |     |   Comment #5
Wary as I am to open the door for RCA naysayers here (and their off-the-wall reasoning), what might explain the seemingly steady stream of newly offered 3% RCA's during a time when deposit rates are otherwise reaching their nadir?
Saver5
  |     |   Comment #6
Fee income. Checking accounts bring debit card swipe fees and overdraft fees. These fees must more than pay for the interest paid on the account.
51hh
  |     |   Comment #7
My approach is to enjoy it while I can (for more than ten years with some nice RCAs), I do not care much how banks/credit unions can offer such high APY (none of my business, either):)

Yeah, debit card swipe fees do come to mind.
gregk
  |     |   Comment #9
That's highly unlikely, since for an FI to recoup from swipe fees alone the $60 a month they pay me (on $25K at 3%), and assuming even a 3% return to them from that, I'd have to charge $2,000 a month - and I'm doubtful very many accountholders do, - certainly I myself am never even close.

The fact is, FI's loan or invest the money they receive from me, and earn most of the return they're able to pay me from those sources.

Whatever the case, I wasn't asking how FI's make money from RCA's (which ground we've covered many times here), but why at this time when bank and CU incomes in all likelihood must be very stressed, still what seems to me an unexpected number of them are coming out with 3% offers, in defiance of the drop in rates on all other deposit products (and the loan rates that support them)?
missjenniferd1
  |     |   Comment #10
If anyone applies for this out of their stste please post back. The last time this account was posted here, a commenter said that it was not available out of state, regardless of any donation to join. I also called, and they just referred me to their membership page, which of vourse makes no mention of being able to join (although it does say rmployees of those groups can join). I was tempted to just try to apply regardless but i think this one is a hard pull and i dont want a hard pull just to find out that im mot eligible.
51hh
  |     |   Comment #11
Thanks, MJ1.


It is rare that credit unions do a hard-pull on account-opening (for credit card application - yes), you may want to double-check.

On eligibility, that is where some effort needs to be made. For this credit union, they seem to mean business. When I go through the application today (as a test), they do need (SEG) employee's ID (uploaded). Thus not sure a donation to those two organizations will work. Being a volunteer may work, but most of us are not in that neighborhood.

Ken, did anyone you know have successful experience going through the donation route? Thanks.
missjenniferd1
  |     |   Comment #19
I applied, and as others stated, it doesnt allow out of state donations for membership. They called me and said they only allow membership based on the criteria listed on their webpage. Also, the older post on depositaccounts also stated this in the comments as well. I thought perhaps the criteria had changed because it was reposted, but it has not.
smd
  |     |   Comment #13
today from FFCU:
"Unfortunately, we no longer take donations for membership eligibility"
weiss800
  |     |   Comment #14
Tried to join, spoke to csr, who advised that the membership by joining an organization was no longer valid. They do a hard pull through TransUnion.
#15 - This comment has been removed for violating our comment policy.
Shelby
  |     |   Comment #16
Here we go again. Now, "we no longer take donations for membership eligibility."  We have another Kasasa Cash branded offer with no guarantee on the 3.50%APY that will drop like a brick any day. Ok, let me understand this offer. It has a max of 15k deposit for the 3.50%, no rate guarantee, 12 debit transactions a month, e statements, and it's a Hard Credit pull. Does this Kasasa offer seem worthwhile?....i think NOT. My question to Ken is, did you contact the CU before posting this offer re: easy membership by joining an organization...or did the CU just make that change TODAY?
#18 - This comment has been removed for violating our comment policy.
blazer9
  |     |   Comment #17
Sometimes people expect too much. If it ain't there, ya throw out a bone to gnaw on.
Gotta roll with the punches.

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