If you have avoided reward checking in the past, you might want to take a look at the Max Checking and Max Savings accounts at Lake Michigan Credit Union (LMCU). The Max Checking is a unique high-yield reward checking account with a long history of a top rate. If you don’t like using debit cards, you can use a cash back credit card to meet the Max Checking requirements. Like all reward checking accounts, Max Checking’s top rate only applies to a small maximum balance ($15k). For those wanting a top rate on a large balance, LMCU offers Max Savings.
LMCU's Max Checking has been earning 3.00% APY on qualifying balances up to $15k for nearly ten years. Qualifying balances over $15k and non-qualifying balances continue to not earn any interest.
A year ago, I wrote about LMCU waiving the monthly qualifying requirements for the Max Checking for two months, in an effort to help LMCU members during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The monthly qualifying requirements were reinstated in May 2020 and include,
- Direct deposit into any LMCU account.
- At least 10 debit/credit card* purchases per month.
- Minimum 4 logins to home banking each month.
- Sign up to receive eStatement and eNotices.
*According to CSR, LMCU’s Max Rewards Visa credit card (which offers some nice cash back rewards) can be used to fulfill the monthly qualifying requirements.
The Max Checking account has no monthly fee or minimum opening deposit requirement. Nationwide ATM fees will be reimbursed up to $10 per month, if qualifying requirements are met. LMCU is a member of the Allpoint ATM network, giving members access to more than 55,000 ATMs worldwide. There is a limit of one Max Checking account per Social Security number.
A LMCU review posted by DA reader, curls, points out a shortcoming:
No external bank ACH ability. You can pull and push by going to your other bank and doing it there. It will go through. From the LMCU side, they don't offer it. (Last I checked.) Without free ACHs, I consider it a place to put money and that's about all. They may have a billpay or other way that works well enough.
CSR confirmed that an ACH cannot be initiated from LMCU. As alternative, CSR suggested using LMCU’s Online Bill Pay, which is free to members who have a monthly direct deposit ($5.95 monthly fee if no direct deposit is in place).
On the plus side, curls also mentioned a nice feature offered on Max Checking account.
Get display online of whether you've met monthly requirements. So you never have to count POS debits or guess or forget something silly (like to sign on 4 times.)
LMCU’s Max Savings offers tiered APYs, with balances of $250k+ currently earning 0.80% APY. Unlike a Kasasa Saver that must be linked to a Kasasa Cash account, there’s no connection between Max Savings and Max Checking. In other words, a Max Savings account can be opened as a stand-alone account for those who want to earn a competitive rate on a large balance.
|0.80*%||$250k||-||Lake Michigan Credit Union||Max Savings|
|OTHER TIERS: 0.25% → $100 - $100k | 0.60% → $100k - $250k|
Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Lake Michigan Credit Union’s field of membership (FOM) provides a way to join for almost any US citizen or resident alien.
Easy Membership: A donation ($5 minimum) to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Foundation qualifies for membership eligibility. (The donation process is part of LMCU’s online application.)
Residency: Individuals who live, work, or worship anywhere in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, or anywhere in Florida, are eligible to join.
Relationship: Immediate family members (defined as spouse, parent, child, sibling, or grandparent) of current LMCU members are eligible for membership regardless of where they live.
Joining Lake Michigan Credit Union and/or opening a Max Checking account can be done online, or at any of 46 Michigan branches located in Allendale, Bryon Center (2), Caledonia, Comstock Park, Farmington Hills, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids (16), Holland (2), Hudsonville, Jenison, Kalamazoo (3), Kentwood, Livonia, Lowell, Muskegon, Portage, Ravenna, Rochester Hills, Rockford, Saginaw, Schoolcraft, Traverse City, Troy, White Lake, and Wyoming (2). LMCU also has nine branches in Florida, located in Bonita Springs, Estero, Fort Myers (2), Naples (3), Port Charlotte, and Sun City Center.
All LMCU branches have reopened, while “requiring social distancing from our members and staff, as well as observing all other current Michigan and Florida health and safety guidelines.” Appointments are available and can be scheduled online.
It’s just $5.00 to open a Member Savings account, and if you maintain a
$300 daily balance there are no monthly fees ($5.00/month if you don’t).
Credit Union Overview
Lake Michigan Credit Union has an overall health grade of "A+" at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas Ratio of 0.60% (excellent) based on December 31, 2020 data. In the past year, LMCU has increased its total non-brokered deposits by $2.24 billion, an excellent annual growth rate of 40.32%. Please refer to our financial overview of Lake Michigan Credit Union (NCUA Charter # 62514) for more details.
Lake Michigan Credit Union was originally founded in 1933 as the Grand Rapids Teachers Credit Union, when 13 teachers pooled their resources for the initial deposit. For more than 25 years, the Credit Union operated out of the home of founding member, Lloyd F. Hutt. The Lake Michigan Credit Union name and logo were adopted in 2002, following 30 years of mergers, consolidations, and expansion. LMCU is currently the largest credit union headquartered in Michigan, with nearly 400,000 members and assets in excess of $9.2 billion.
How the Max Checking Compares
When compared to the High Yield Rewards Checking Accounts tracked by DepositAccounts.com that are available nationwide and have maximum qualifying balances of at least $15k, Lake Michigan Credit Union’s Max Checking APY currently ranks third.
The above information and rates are accurate as of 3/11/2021.
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.