High-Yield Reward Checking Account and Savings Account at Sonoran Bank in Arizona - Local Only


Update 10/21/10: The bank is no longer opening new reward checking accounts. Here is what I received from a reader:

Per a CSR, as of 10/6, Sonoran no longer offers their RCA and linked high-interest savings accounts. Current account holders are still getting 3.26% APY on the RCA, but Sonoran can naturally change that at any time.

Sonoran Bank, N.A. is offering a high-yield reward checking account with the following rates and features if certain monthly requirements are met:

  • 3.26% APY on balances up to $30,000
  • 1.25% APY on portion of balance over $30,000
  • 0.01% base rate if requirements are not met
  • Refunds ATM fees nationwide

The monthly requirements include:

  • 12 debit card purchases
  • 1 direct deposit or automatic ACH payment
  • Receive e-statements

Additional features of the account regardless of the monthly requirements include:

  • $100 minimum initial deposit
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • No monthly service charge

The bank also has a companion high-yield savings account that has a 1.75% APY for up to $30K (1.25% over) if the above checking requirements are met. Like the checking account, the savings account has a $100 minimum initial deposit, but no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees.

The bank's micro-website has a link to an online application. However, the application makes it appear that a branch visit is required to complete the application process.

It's a small bank with one office located in Phoenix, Arizona.

The bank's ratings for safety and soundness are fair: 3 stars (adequate) at BauerFinancial (based on 9/30/09 data) and 3 stars (performing) at Bankrate.com (based on 6/30/09 data). The bank has been a FDIC member since 2006 (FDIC Certificate # 58252).

Other Reward Checking Accounts

With this reward checking account, residents of the Phoenix area now have four 5% reward checking accounts to choose from. The other three include Goldwater Bank, Bank 1440 and First National Bank of Scottsdale which I just reported on yesterday. Hopefully this competition will help keep the rates high.

To find reward checking accounts in other areas of the nation, please refer to the reward checking section of DepositAccounts.com. To learn more about reward checking, please refer to this reward checking overview.

Rate History:

  • 08/18/10: Checking - 3.26% APY up to $30K; 1.25% over | Savings - 1.75% up to $30K; 1.25% over; 0.01% base rate for both
  • 04/23/10: Checking - 4.26% APY up to $30K; 1.25% over | Savings - 2.51% on all balances
  • 12/07/09: Checking - 5.03% APY up to $30K; 1.25% over | Savings - 3.01% on all balances
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #1
Off-topic commercial above...

All these 5% non-local banks are amking me both jealous and angry!!
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #2
"Local offers only" shows how desperate the Feds have made us in search of a decent interest rate.

Banks with "local offers only" are afraid they would be inundated with deposits from around the county, receiving more funds than they could possibly put to work all at one time. Good management on their part, however.

The Feds ignore the fact that if we could make more interest income, we would also spend more, there by helping the economy to get back on track. I know I would.
ddffnn (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #3
I asked some questions using their online email form, here is an excerpt from their response:

Will there be a hard-pull credit check during the application process? The only check we do is through ChexSystmems and OFAC.  We do not do a hard-pull credit check.

Can transfers to and from other banks be completed using online banking?  Are there limits for this?  At this time, our online banking only supports transfers to or from accounts within Sonoran Bank.  We, in the Bank, can set up automatic transfers through the ACH system for our customers.
Yvonne (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #4
It is not "local only."  They will open up accounts via email and/or fax.  Passing forms back and forth is a little clunky, and you have to mail in a check(s) for the initial deposit, but the interest rate should certainly be worth putting forth a little effort.  And if you have questions, you can always just call the representative who contacts you via email.
51hh   |     |   Comment #5
"No local": Untrue.  One has to be a AZ Resident to open accounts.  That is what "local only" means. 
Yvonne (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #6
As a follow up to my post above, unfortunately I do have to add the caveat that the entire process of getting a high yield checking and savings account has been quite an ordeal.  Passing back and forth via email is not an issue-- that's very 21st century.  However, there have been numerous mistakes and misstatements about procedures.  I was told I could send one check for both accounts, but they subsequently "lost" the part of that check that was to be applied toward the savings account (telling me the check itself had been lost although they had still managed to open up the savings account and send me a pdf receipt for both accounts).  That was remedied.  There have been timing misstatements about when I would have online access to the accounts, etc.  The latest in this string of errors has to do with the debit cards, which arrived today.  Something's wrong with the telephone numbers or social security numbers that were programmed into their system and therefore I am unable to activate either mine or my husband's.  I am once again awaiting a response from the woman who opened these accounts as to when this will be remedied.  I expect it all to work out-- eventually-- but it's been a pretty unprofessional situation right from the start, and every delay has a potential impact on meeting the cycle's qualification requirements for the high rate of interest.
Yvonne (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #7
My final post regarding this (I hope, depending upon any further issues).  After going back and forth with Rosa, the customer service representative, she told me that she had "forgotten to enter our telephone numbers" into the system.  Hence the cards would not activate via telephone because there were no numbers associated with it.  She said she fixed it, and to try again in 10 minutes.  An hour later, still no luck.  She suggested I send the PIN # to her and she would set it up.  I refused, pointing out that unsecure email is the absolutely worst way regarding safety to send a PIN #.  In an email I suggested she reset it again, this time to the landline at home.  She did, she said, but it STILL would not work.  Ultimately I had to call her and get her to do this over the telephone (which again, I do not believe is a safe way to communicate such a sensitive number). 

I have to say that all of this would have been a lot easier to swallow had this young woman, just once, apologized for what turned into a mess because she improperly set up the account to begin with.  She did not, neither in her emails nor in the telephone conversation.  In fact, the words "Thank you" also never came out of her mouth.  If the bank's managed is going to hire people who muck things up this badly, it would well serve them to send them to customer service skills training.
51hh   |     |   Comment #8
Thanks Yvonne and sorry to hear your ordeal to go through the hoops for Sonoran. 

First, and most importantly, please confirm my findings that this Reward Checking is only for AZ Residents.  Or did you find out otherwise?

Second, I am not surpirsed at the terrible customer service at Sonoran.  It is a very small bank to start with (but not an excues to treat their customers poorly).  When I applied several months ago, they were just closing up on out-of-state applicants.  I received no response at all for my application.  So I called, they told me it was jsut closed for out-of-state applicants.  I told them that they should at least let me know one way or another; a rude clueless "so what."  I wrote to the their president and an executive assitant called me right way.  But he argued with me that an e-mail was sent for notification.  Well, hello, I know if an e-mail was sent to me or not.

Anyhow, I agree with you that this bank is not worth it, even they offer the 5.03% rate (with a silly people as their ad).  I seriously doubt that this rate will last long, either. 
51hh   |     |   Comment #9
(4.26%, $30K) now!!
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #10
So far 1 month, still no "open" account.  Takes forever.
dvd529 (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #11
Rate cut to 3.26% as of 8/19/2010... sigh... those 4.00% banks are getting fewer!