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How Many Reward Checking Accounts Do You Have?


For those with large amount of savings, it can be difficult to keep all of your liquid money in reward checking accounts. Most reward checking accounts limit the top rate to balances of just $25,000. You'll need to open multiple accounts if you have larger savings, and that requires more debit card purchases per month. If that's too much of a hassle, you can just open CDs at Ally Bank as I described yesterday.

It is becoming more difficult to have multiple reward checking accounts with high yields. As I reported last week, several banks will reject your reward checking application if ChexSystems indicates you have opened too many recent accounts. Banks say they want people to use their reward checking accounts as their "primary checking account". They probably hope that those customers will spend more with their debit cards.

Another problem is that banks and credit unions are reducing the balance cap which qualifies for the top rate. The latest example is Consumers Credit Union. A reader reported yesterday that they will be reducing the cap from $25K to $10K effective November 1, 2010.

It's still possible to receive high yields for large balances if you have many reward checking accounts. But it's getting harder.

Poll Question

That leads me to this week's poll question: How many active reward checking accounts do you have?

I consider active reward checking accounts as accounts in which you are meeting the monthly requirements. Those that you no longer use (perhaps due to a rate or balance cap cut) should not be considered.

Related Posts

Anonymous   |     |   Comment #1
Just one which, incidentally, I learned about through this board.  Initially it was paying around 4 per cent on up to 25,000 and required 12 dc transactions and three online bill pays.   After the first two cycles this interest dropped to 2.78.  No direct deposit is required but if you do have this it pays 5.1%.  This bank's online interface is top notch and even if the rates do fall I maybe will stay them.   They are much more customer oriented than Wells Fargo where I had my primary checking.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #2
I have 10, ranging from 5% to 2.5%.  Transaction amounts depend on interest.  I charge from $$7-8 per transaction for 5% accts to $$1-2 for 2.5% acct.  I work full time, so I don't think I'm interested in opening more.  I'm planning to evenually transfer money from reward accounts that pay less then 3.5% into installment savings accounts. 
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #3
To me, these accounts with relatively low max amounts are a waste of time.  How many debit card purchases can you nke in a month?  is it worth all the tracking for just a few dollars in interest?  I stick with Navy Federal and Pentagon Federal CUs where I can earn miles and cash rewards and basically just use their charge cards and then pay them off at the end of the month.   I just don't see the value in keeping track of multiple reward accounts with small amounts in them.
sligg   |     |   Comment #4
I have three rewards account.  I'm dropping Viewpoint bank which cut its cap from 50000 to 25000. The interest rate stays at 4% and still requires 15 debits.  It does get tiresome with multiple accounts making all those debits.
Ruth J.
Ruth J.   |     |   Comment #5
My husband and I have a total of 7 between us and the interest we earn each month is a great benefit.  All earn 4% or better and retirees like us need all we can get with CD's earning almost nothing and no other safe place to put money.  It does require more diligence to make all the swipes but we use our cards to purchase nearly everything so it isn't too much of a problem.  Hope the reward checking accounts go on for a long time since the Federal Reserve intends to keep punishing savers from now on with ridiculously low interest rates.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #6
I have 3 active ones, all 4% or better, and all with 10 monthly debit requirements, no mimimum purchase amounts required. I had several others that are unused, because their rates previously fell and I transferred the money out of them. The unused ones would be paying 3 to 3.5%... If I ever lose one of my active 4% accounts, I fall back to one of the 3.5% ones, until I can settle a better replacement. By doing my household's grocery shopping, and at times splitting my larger store purchases into two's, it's no problem to meet the requirements. But satisfying 4 active/qualifying RCA's per month would take a bit more work and focus. I could do it if I needed to... But right now, I still have several-year-old CDs that are paying higher rates than the RCAs, so no need to use the latter for other funds.


darkdreamer4u   |     |   Comment #7
I have 3 active ones at the moment, all with a 25k cap, yield 4.01-5.01%, two 12 debits, one 10 debits, one needs 3 billpays, one requires $5 as minimum debit. Got a handful of dormant accts. for just in case with the highest paying 3.51%. Shopping on the double (i.e., splitting grocery check-outs between two cards) helps dealing with the debit card requirements. It also helps that one of the accts. is out of sync with its cycle.
pdxmale   |     |   Comment #8
My wife and I have 13 active accounts - we keep them all at the max. of 25K - and they all pay 5% or more. We also have 16 accounts that we keep in reserve that currently pay between 3.09% and 4.5%.

We spend about $1800 per mounth on them - seldom buying anything that we wouldn,t normally buy. We split the grocery purchases ( she does hers in two and i do the same - so a total of 4 each trip). We split our utility( car insurance, home insurance, cable, cell phone,alarm monoriting, ect.)  payments into whatever we need to to make up any needed debit purchases. Sometimes that means $3.00 x 10 and sometimes it means $15.00 x 2.

We have no problem meeting the requirements. Keeping track is no problem as i am retired and it keeps me out of the bars and **** houses. lol, lol.

For over $1300 per month - i can invest an hour or two per day keeping track. I figure that to be about $30.00 $40.00 per hour of my idle time

Len   |     |   Comment #9
I have 4.  I could use more but doing the charges is a problem.  I use the tricks: go to the pump and buy gas 1 gallon at a time on multiple cards, split grocery purchases at self check out, charity donations, etc but it is tough to imagine doing much more.  I'm in awe of the people who say they have 13 accounts and manage to do it all.  Guess I need to consider more creative ways to make charges. 
51hh   |     |   Comment #10
Looks like an RCA-holic confession board...:D

I have 12 active RCAs, most are $25K except the Danvers two $100K (gandfathered ones).  The rate ranges from 5.01% to 4.01%  I have another ten as backup (rate 4.01% - 4.75%).  Now that Danvers dropped rate, I may need to add another few (backups) just to fill Danvers' spot.

Frankly, I am getting very tired/sick of the RCA daily chores and constant rate chasing (I repent!).  But this is the BUSINESS we've chosen!!! -- from Godfather II.   
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #11
@pdxmale, etc ... ROFLMAO ...   Unbelievable, wow, I thought having 2 was tedious upkeep. Now down to 1 after 1st Security in Iowa rate cut and closing me out after I withdrew most of the funds, then Danvers even before I funded it cutting to 3.01%, just one worthwhile active paying 3.51/35k. Less than 3.5% not worth it as all the interest spent meeting requirements.   
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #12
Where are you finding these high rates?
pdxmale   |     |   Comment #14
#12 -- they are all on the list here.

southern (2 accounts)  5.01%

landmark( 4 accounts) 5.01%

texas citizen (2 accounts) 5.01%

erie ge fcu (2 accounts) 5.12%

pelican cu (2 accounts)  5.01%

Charter (4 accounts) 5.01% untill 10/20

Focus (2 accounts) 4.51%

12 accounts x $25k = $300k.

But, I get almost one half as much as my soc. sec. check each month. 
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #15

wow, how do you qualify so many local only RCA? erie ge, pelican cu etc.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #13
I have three, with caps of 10k, 25k and 50k each. I don't buy gas or lunch and 30 purchases/month can be a stretch for me. With the one capped at 10k you basically have to spend $10 to make $30. I've let that account lapse, but continue using the associated 2% MM account.

I got very tired of the fact that caps and rates inevitably declined as soon as I had opened an account. Maybe things are more stable now rate wise. When I had a few CD's mature I put 12% of my cash into the stock market. So far my investments have yieled 10%.
pdxmale   |     |   Comment #16
Those two require a little creativity, some of the others I visited while on vacations.

Recently visited Washington state - no RCA's  but stopped into a credit union - opened a checking account for me and one for my wife --- got $250.00 for 6 debits and 2 bill pays each (TOTAL of $500.00). They REQUIRED that you have a relitive in WA -- and I do.

One just needs to be a little creative.

Ya gotta LOVE that retirement
51hh   |     |   Comment #17
Many 5% club members turned local later on...

No offense, but saying too much in this open forum would only hurt the rate eventually; if you know what I mean:-)
pdxmale   |     |   Comment #18
exactly why i addressed my methods as "creative"
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #19
ok, fair enough.

maybe you can form a LLC and make those trips business trips and deduct the expense. :)
anter   |     |   Comment #20
where is the none option, i vote 1
Snippy   |     |   Comment #21
I agree with posters #3 and #20. I have never found a compelling enough reason to open an RCA because (a) I don't want to have to go the extra hassle of meeting all monthly requirements, and (b) I don't like the idea of going to that trouble for an account whose terms could be changed at any time.

I think that your poll should include a "None" option.
dunker   |     |   Comment #22
I have three accounts that I am currently using: $25K @ 4.75%, $25K @ 4.25% and $50K at 3.25%.  I'm not into bill or purchase splitting, so I am comfortable averaging about 40 debit card purchases a months using my normal buying habits.  I have between $75 and $100K in deposits.  It's not worth the extra effort for minimal additional gain for me to change my buying habits to replace the $50K/3.25% account with two $25K/4% accounts.

I also have three $25K accounts in reserve that return between 4% and (soon to be) $3%.
mrvirgo   |     |   Comment #23
I have three accounts with the same bank. Each account is capped at 30K. I must admit I am getting fed up with 36 purchases total per cycle. Fortunately, I've made some pretty small purchases (way under a dollar) to meet the monthly quota and gotten no flack from the bank. If their rate falls below 3% (it's just a notch above 3% now), I will probably go for Ally's low early withdrawal CDs or Alliant's Jumbo CDs for four years. For me the liquidity of RCAs is the main drawing point but I can live without 90K liquidity.
adityanm   |     |   Comment #25
I have about 15 with APY 2% to 5% and limit 10k yo 25k. I also put 50k at WTD OFFER. I pay my phone and electric bill in $3  to $5 chunks. I finish 25 debits in one sitting as soon as I get my statement and forget about it till next month.













JT2345   |     |   Comment #26
I have zero of these time wasters - it's enough work to keep track of $50K & $100K cds - let alone 10K here and 25K there and paying phone bills in $3 chunks - jesus. I'd have to have 60 accts at 25K each.
TJmrDj   |     |   Comment #27
Wow, for those of you who are retired, you sure know how to "work". I'm just a young guy and barley have 25k in 1 RCA, reward checking account, and 3k in the companion RSA, reward savigns account, to make money off of. I wish some of you "more seasoned" guys would share your knowledge.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #28
Have 5 active accounts, rates range 4.09% - 5.01% with cap in 25k - 35k.  all require 12 dc and 1 DD/ACH per month.  Another 6 or 7 inactive accounts (rates range 3 - 4%) serve as backup.  Kind of sick of having to do so many debit charges every month, but at least they have different monthly circles.  I don't do the $1 or $2 dollar transactions that some of you do, as I don't want the banks to close the account on me.  lol     
51hh   |     |   Comment #30
This thread is the most constructive and friendly one I have ever experienced on a debatable topic such as RCA.

Many times, such discussions lead to criticism and/or personal attack.  The successful and fruitful information exchange (yet not too revealing) here demonstrates the good rating system Ken is applying (without negative rating) and the civil culture all of you nurtured over time. 

Back on topic, there are pros and cons for multiple RCAs.  One of the obvious advantage is of course the high interest rate as a result of routine "labor."  The other side bonus is the daily exercise of our body and mind (via debit/ACH drills).  The disadvantages are a few: Time spent, risk of debit card, and less obviously, the trigger for many payees (gas station, utility companies, etc.) for numerous/multiple charges and physical/mental exhaustion.  One reaches a balance point pretty quickly.  For me, 12 active RCAs is pretty much the maximum I can take while still gaining interest.  To expand any further will be both non-prudent and inconsiderate (of myself).

Just my two cents as a concluding remark.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #31
None. The actuaries who help the banks plan these things know that people will mess up one month and then that 4% APY rate drops to 1.5%. I also don't have the time need to track multiple accounts and make multiple purchases. The sad thing about reward checking is that it encouraged small banks that otherwise would have offered decent rate no hassle no gimmic accounts to go this route. No to mention that the reward savings rates pollute top saving rate lists.
adityanm   |     |   Comment #32
re#30, I agree with you.

I never carry debit cards physically and find it as entertaining to play with online micro payments as some people find crossword or solitaire.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #33
Have you confirmed if Danvers is really cutting rates to 3.0% for RCA?

Viewpoint has lowerd the limit to 25K and will be in effect starting Nov 1st. At least, they gave some heads up. But I can't find any info on Danvers website.
scottj   |     |   Comment #34
Is confirmed that Danvers cutting, Just got this email. I did ask about it the other day when I was in there and told it was happening, The good news is I'm still grandfathered with $100k max. I can live with it.

Effective Monday, October 4th, the Rewards Rate APY on our Free Rewards Checking account will be 3.01% -- still one of the best returns around!

We know how much you love your Free Rewards Checking, and we have some pretty high expectations about how you'll manage your account (i.e., the four qualifications) -- so it only seems fair that we fill you in on how we're managing it. We've kept the rate constant for two and a half years, during a time when interest rates have been at historic lows. Now the time has come to close that gap a little bit, by lowering the rate to something still pretty phenomenal. We're proud to say that in the nearly four years since Free Rewards Checking was introduced, this is only our second rate decrease.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #35
pdxmale, where do you find accounts for 5% or more?
pdxmale   |     |   Comment #37

That was a year ago ---lots of 5% accounts then ---- now they are all down to the 4% plus area - except Southern Bank

I can refer you to a 4.09% with a $50.00  bonus if you need one. Email me @ if interested.
danverrs bank
danverrs bank   |     |   Comment #36
sounds likre there having a meltdown

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