How much money sits in your checking account?
The article referenced a survey by Forrester Research. The survey included households with more than $10K in liquid assets. 52% of those households held more than half of those assets in a checking account. If that money were in high yield money market accounts, an additional $200/year or more in interest could be made.
In my opinion, the best choice for a high yield money market is at GMAC Bank's Money Market Savings Account, which is currently paying 4.70% APY for balances over $500. Unlike EmigrantDirect or ING Direct, this GMAC MMA offers limited check writing. It also electronically links to your checking accounts, and unlike HSBC, the transfers are fast.
Local checking accounts
It can still be useful to have a local checking account. Online banks do have some disadvantages. A local free checking account may be the best choice. Last month Washington Mutual introduced a new free checking account with many perks (see post). Compass Bank's Free Checking Account is also a decent deal especially with a signup bonus (see post). Another Free checking account bonus from a major bank is at Wells Fargo, but this bonus ends after April.
Although it may not be local, you may want to consider USAA Bank for a checking account. There's no signup bonus, but the checking account has many perks with no monthly fees. The account has many online features like an ACH transfering system that makes it useful for those who don't live near a branch. Refer to this post for more info.
High yield checking accounts
If you find yourself writing a lot of high dollar checks, a money market account which limits check writing to 3 a month may not be a good choice by itself. With a high dollar balance, you would lose out with the typical checking accounts which earn little or no interest. The Bankrate article mentions that internet banks offer checking accounts with average yields of 1.96%. Here's a list of internet interest checking accounts with yields over 3%. I've limited it to those with balance requirements under $10K.
- 4.37% (up to $25K) - Presidential Internet Checking Plus, Min's: $1.5K to open, $1K to avoid monthly fees, Req's: Direct Deposit
- 4.03% (up to $25K) - City National Bank's Reward Checking, Min's: $100 to open, no balance req's, Req's: Direct Deposit, 10 Visa check card POS transactions Perks: free checks, ATM fee rebates
- 3.20% (up to $25K) - Bank of Internet Freedom Checking, Min's: $100 to open, $1K to avoid $4/mo fee, Perks: ATM fee rebates (up to $7/mo)
- 3.10% (up to $10K) - AmericanBank e-Checking, Min's: $100 to open, $1K to avoid $5/mo fee, Perks: ATM fee rebates (up to $6/mo)
- 3.01% - EverBank FreeNet Checking, Min's: $1.5K to open, no balance req's w/o bill pay, $1.5K otherwise, Perks: 5.51% APY 3-mo promo, ATM fee rebates (up to $6/mo)
- 3.00% - ebank ePremium Checking, Min's: $100 to open, $2.5K to avoid $10/mo fee, Perks: ATM fee rebates, free checks