Update: The bonus has been cut back to $50.
Thrivent Financial Bank has increased its bonus to $100 for opening its reward checking account. They call it a reward checking, but there's no high-yield (current rate is only 0.41%). However, it does provide unlimited ATM fee reimbursements (including outside the U.S.). In terms of reward checking type of requirements, there are no debit card usage requirements, but it does require direct deposit. The offer is scheduled to end on 12/31/10.
Here's the small print of the offer:
To receive the cash bonus, you or the person you refer must open a new Thrivent Rewards Checking account and establish free online banking, free bill-pay and a debit card by 12/31/10. You must also set up recurring direct deposit within 60 days of opening your account. Accounts that have been open for at least 60 days and have met all requirements will receive the bonus as a checking account credit within three business days, assuming account is in good standing. Your bonus will be reported as earned interest on IRS form 1099-INT. Although the $100 bonus will be paid only once per household, you may open up to three Thrivent Rewards Checking accounts. Other restrictions may apply.
I asked the CSR about the direct deposit requirement. She said that they expect the direct deposit amount to be at least $100, and they expect it to be from payroll or from Social Security. She didn't say if an ACH bank-to-bank transfer would count.
This is similar to the $50 bonus that the bank was offering last June. One thing that was confusing is that the promo is listed as a $50 bonus on their main banking page. When I asked the CSR about this, she said they just recently made this change and they probably had forgotten to change the $50 reference.
A reader mentioned in my June post that the last time he tried to open a Thrivent account, he was rejected since he was not in their market area (MN and WI). However, I asked the CSR about this, and according to the CSR, the account can be opened by people from any state. Also, this is stated on their main banking page:
It doesn't matter if you live in Alaska, Florida, New York or Minnesota. You don't have to be a member of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. You don't have to be Lutheran at all, for that matter. You can just be exactly who you are - wherever you are!
The CSR did say that their primary focus is MN and WI, and that they want customers who plan to use the account as their primary checking account. So there's a chance that they could get picky if they get too much nationwide demand.
Notable features of the checking account that are listed in the checking account comparison page and from my conversation with the CSR (last December) include:
- Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements
- $50 minimum opening deposit
- No monthly fees (CSR)
- 0.41% APY on all balances as of 9/23/10 (see rate table)
- Requires payroll direct deposit. Without direct deposit, it'll be converted to Simply Free Checking (CSR)
- Online ACH transfer service (CSR said there's a $2K/day limit but no limit by phone. Reader reported that it's slow)
- Free first order of checks
- No hard credit pull in the application. Just ChexSystem (CSR)
This isn't an account for rate chasers, but for someone looking for a regular checking account with unlimited free ATM use, this is comparable to other online checking accounts like those at ING Direct, Charles Schwab and Salem Five Direct.
The bank is headquartered in Wisconsin with branches in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The bank has an overall health score of 3 out of 5 with a Texas Ratio of 9.48% (excellent) based on 6/30/10 data. Please refer to our financial overview of Thrivent Financial Bank for more details. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1998 (FDIC Certificate # 34799).