Unlike a reward checking account, there is no debit card usage requirements. If you already have an Alliant's free checking account, Alliant will automatically upgrade you to this high rate account if you are meeting these requirements. The rate is subject to change monthly, but based on the savings account history, I would expect this to stay competitive. Some features of the checking account include:
- no monthly service fees
- no minimum balance requirements
- free online bill pay
- first box of checks are free
- first 8 ATM transactions free at non-Alliant owned ATMs
Other Deposit Products
Alliant Credit Union still has a competitive savings account with a rate that's 3.25% APY for January. Minimum balance to earn this APY is $100. For more details on the savings account and Alliant's ACH transfer service, please refer to my Alliant Credit Union review.
The CD rates for terms of 12 to 60 months also remain competitive. The Jumbo certificates only require a minimum $25,000. As of 1/06/09 the rates include a 3.65% APY 12-month CD, a 4.25% APY 36-month CD and a 4.50% APY 48-month CD. Refer to the credit union's rate table for all of the rates. The savings account and CDs with the rates above are also available in a Traditional, Roth, SEP IRA, and Coverdell ESA.
Another one of Alliant's exceptional products is their The Health Savings Account. The APY is 4.00% as of 1/06/09. The yield had been 5.25% for most of last year. The HSA has no fees for account opening, maintenance or transactions, and it has no minimum balance requirements.
Credit union membership is open to local and national PTA members. There's a $25 membership fee for the National PTA, and it appears to be open to all. Membership in your local PTA may be a lower cost option.. Please see the credit union's members eligibility page for more details.
One downside regarding membership is that several readers have reported a hard credit inquiry by Equifax in the application.
Credit Union Overview
Alliant's customer service has impressed many readers. Reports indicate they answer their phones promptly and provide helpful information. They have 24/7 live phone assistance.
Branches are located in Chicago, Des Plaines, and Elk Grove Township, Illinois. There are also branches in Colorado, California and Virginia.
Alliant Credit Union has some fair to strong ratings for soundness: 5 stars (superior) at BauerFinancial and 3 stars (performing) at Bankrate.com. Both are based on 9/30/08 data. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 67955).
Rates have fallen at Alliant Credit Union just like for all other banks and credit unions. Alliant's CEO had a good explanation of this in the December newsletter:
Market interest rates have dropped significantly over the past 15 months, which means the rates available to the Alliant Credit Union at the corporate level for "conservative" re-investment purposes have also come down. The Fed Funds rate, the short-term benchmark, has declined from 5.25% in August, 2007, to between 0 and .25% recently. Over the same time period, Alliant's savings dividend declined from 4.85% to 3.50%.
Another nice thing about Alliant is that their rates have been steady without bait and switch games that we've seen at many banks. Here's how the CEO described these:
beware of "new money" offers; at maturity, the institution almost certainly will try to rollover the Certificate at a substantially lower rate in order to earn back the premium they initially paid. At Alliant, we consistently pay high rates and don't play bait and switch.
Thanks to the reader who mentioned this new high rate checking account in the finding-the-best-deals post.