More than four years ago, Nicolet National Bank introduced its Real Rewards Checking account that earned 3.00% APY on qualifying balances up to $25k.
The 3.00% APY is still currently in effect, but in April 2013 the qualifying balance cap was lowered to $15k. Qualifying balances over $15k earn 0.10% APY, with non-qualifying balances earning 0.02% APY.
Real Rewards Checking Qualifying Requirements
- Have at least 10 debit card purchases, PIN or signature
- Have at least one Direct Deposit (payroll, Social Security, or other recurring government benefit)
- Be enrolled in e-Statements and Online Banking
The Real Rewards Checking has no minimum balance requirement, no monthly fees, and no penalty for not meeting account qualifications. ATM fees will be reimbursed up to $10 per month.
Fine Print, Caveat Emptor
The Real Rewards Checking promotion page contains some, shall we say, interesting reading. It may be an overused cliché, but the devil is definitely in these details. (The bold text is the Bank's editing, not mine.)
Purpose and Expected Use of Account
This account is intended to be the accountholder’s primary checking account in which payroll transactions and day-to-day spending activities including but not limited to grocery, gasoline, apparel, shopping, dining, sporting and entertainment transactions are posted and settled.
Commensurate with the spending activities identified above, we expect the account’s debit card to be used frequently throughout each month and for transaction amounts to reflect a wide dollar range. Small debit card transactions conducted on the same day at a single merchant and/or multiple transactions made during a condensed time period particularly near the end of a Monthly Qualification Cycle are not considered normal, day-to-day spending behavior. These types of transactions appear to be conducted with the sole purpose of qualifying for the account’s rewards and thus will be deemed inappropriate transactions and will not count toward earning the account’s rewards.
The main problem I see with this disclaimer is a lack of definition of terms. For example, what Nicolet National Bank considers to be "normal, day-to-day spending behavior," may not be "normal, day-to-day spending behavior" for everyone.
"Frequently throughout each month" – Every other day? Twice a week? Is the stated minimum of 10 debit card purchases spread over the month frequent enough?
"Transaction amounts to reflect a wide dollar range" – Exactly how wide is a wide dollar range?
If you rely mainly on your debit card to take care of daily expenses, you should have no problem, but you may want to contact Nicolet National Bank to get further clarification if you write checks and/or use cash often for "day-to-day spending."
Headquartered in Green Bay, Nicolet National Bank’s market area includes Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, with its services and product line offered to U.S. citizens and permanent U.S. residents.
Opening a Real Rewards Checking account can be done online, or at any of 21 Wisconsin branches located Abbotsford, Appleton (2), Colby, Crivitz, De Pere (3), Eagle River, Fairchild, Green Bay (3), Marinette, and Minocqua, Neillsville, Phillips, Rhinelander, Rib Lake, and Wausau (2), or the sole Michigan branch located in Menominee.
Online applications are not considered to be complete without a copy of your identification uploaded or faxed to Nicolet National Bank.
Nicolet National Bank (FDIC Certificate # 57038) has an overall health grade of "A" at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas ratio of 2.68% (excellent) based on December 31, 2015 data. In the past year, Nicolet National Bank has increased its total deposits by $2.25 million, an above average annual growth rate of 0.21%. Please refer to our financial overview of Nicolet National Bank for more details.
When Nicolet National Bank opened its doors in November 2000, it was Greenbay’s "new kid on the block" financial institution. More than 15 years later, Nicolet National Bank is anticipating becoming Wisconsin’s 5th largest bank, following a highly publicized merger with Baylake Bank.
The merger will occur over the weekend of April 30-May 1, beginning after
the close of business on Friday, April 29. All Baylake Bank branches will
reopen the following Monday, May 2, as Nicolet National Bank branches.
How the Real Rewards Checking Compares
When compared to the High Yield Reward Checking Accounts tracked by DepositAccounts.com that are available to residents of Wisconsin and Michigan, and have maximum qualifying balances of at least $15k, Nicolet National Bank’s Real Rewards Checking APY currently ranks third.
The above rates are accurate as of 4/28/2016.
To look for the best nationwide Reward Checking Account rates and the best Reward Checking Account rates in your state, please refer to our High Yield Reward Checking Account rates table or our new Rates Map page.