A $50 bonus my not be worth opening a checking account that you don't plan on keeping. However, it's a good deal if it's an account that you may keep for the long-term. Alliant Credit Union's High Rate Checking may be that type of account. Alliant is currently offering a $50 bonus through Friday May 28, 2010 for opening the High Rate Checking Account. The promo code is J592, and you can open online. The bonus requires one direct deposit, ACH transfer or other electronic deposit by June 18th, and it requires you to specify paperless statements. The offer doesn't seem to be listed at Alliant's website. A reader mentioned it in the Open Discussion Thread (Thanks!), and I just called for additional details. According to the CSR, it should be available to both new and existing members who don't have the High Rate Checking.
For details about the High Rate Checking account, please refer to my High Rate Checking review. It should be noted that this is not a reward checking account. There is no cap on the balance and there is no debit card usage requirement. However, it does require two things to qualify for this high rate:
- Have at least one recurring monthly electronic deposit to your Alliant checking account, such as direct deposit, payroll deposit, ATM deposit, eDeposit, eDepositPlus or transfer from another financial institution
- Opt out of paper statements and start using eStatements
Alliant Credit Union also offers eDepositPlus which allows you to deposit checks using a scanner.
1.50% Will Continue into June
I also confirmed with the CSR that the 1.50% APY will be holding through June on both the savings account and the High Rate Checking. There was disappointment in April when Alliant cut the rates down to 1.50% APY. The savings account had several months at 2.00% APY. I just noticed this letter to members which explained the rate adjustment and why it was necessary. Here's an excerpt:
Historically low investment interest rates and a declining demand for loans puts pressure on our dividend rate. The federal funds rate, the bench mark short-term rate, has been at 0% to 0.25% for the last 18 months. This low rate minimizes what Alliant can earn on our securities investments. Plus, loan demand across the nation - and at our credit union - has weakened. These two factors reduce the amount we can responsibly pay in savings dividends. To increase short-term income, at the expense of longer-term results, Alliant could make riskier investments and loans. But, that's something we refuse to do.
You can now qualify for credit union membership by becoming a member of Orphan Foundation of America (OFA). Alliant now has a special page that explains this:
Members of the OFA are eligible to join Alliant Credit Union and experience the Alliant Advantage [...] By making a $10 or greater donation to the Orphan Foundation of America, you will become a member of OFA, receive literature and other information from OFA, and qualify to join Alliant.
For the last several years, one could qualify for membership through the PTA (either national or local). The full list of qualifying organizations is available here.
Alliant Credit Union Oveview
Branches are located in Chicago, Des Plaines, and Elk Grove Township, Illinois. There are also branches in Virginia, Colorado and California.
Alliant Credit Union continues to have the highest rating (5 stars) for safety and soundness at BauerFinancial. However, it continues to have only has a 3-star rating (performing) at Bankrate.com. Both are based on 12/31/09 data. It's a large credit union with over $6.3 billion in assets. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 67955).