First Financial Credit Union Offers Competitive Kasasa Products
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.
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.
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.
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.*
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.
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.
However, most credit unions require only soft pull with ChexSystems.
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%.
BTW, 1.25% for $15K - $25K is not a bad rate, either.
Yeah, debit card swipe fees do come to mind.
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)?
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.
"Unfortunately, we no longer take donations for membership eligibility"
Gotta roll with the punches.