The other major change occurred at Malvern Federal Savings Bank. They slashed the top rate from 5.01% to 3.50% APY. The 5.01% was especially nice considering the higher-than-average balance cap of $35K. Malvern also had been offering the account nationwide, but they changed this policy in April. Now it's restricted to residents of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio (see post).
Update 6/13/09: Another bank changed the nationwide availability of its reward checking account. Focus Bank's reward checking is now only available to residents of AR and MO (see post).
Banks continue to cut rates and balance caps and reduce availability of these reward checking accounts. I've also noticed more banks limiting the number accounts allowed per customer. As I described in my post on the math behind reward checking, debit card usage is a critical feature that allows reward checking to pay higher interest rates. Banks need to make sure they have a high percentage of "Average Joes" who spend a lot with their debit cards and keep a balance far below the caps. With more people saving now and keeping their savings at banks, this is making it more difficult for reward checking accounts to maintain the high rates. Nevertheless, reward checking still provide rates on average much higher than online savings accounts. The average rate on my list of 401 reward checking accounts is 3.93% APY (see stats). Note, I'll be updating my reward checking website with these recent changes over the weekend.