It's getting harder to find reward checking accounts that offer the top rate for balances over $25K. However, there continues to be a few banks and credit unions that offer top rates on balances up to $50K. Just like rates, these balance caps can fall. If you're lucky, the institution will grandfather you in on the cap. One reader mentioned that Danversbank did this. Customers who opened the account before the cap reduction continue to earn 3.01% APY on balances up to $100K.
I did a quick review of the best rates in our reward checking table. If you want to see all rates, you have to select your state to "any". This can done by first clicking on the "filter accounts" button over the table. In addition to changing the Availability option, you can change the investment amount. This will allow you to filter out the accounts with small balance caps.
When you select a large investment amount, you may notice the APYs are not sorted. The reason is that the APY column lists the APYs based on APY in effect for the specific investment amount. So if you set an investment amount of $50K, you'll see many APYs listed at 1.01% which is the APY for balances over the first tier (which is often $25K).
The column for the 1-year estimated earnings takes into account the rate tiers. So if you have an account that earns 4% APY on the first $10K and 1% APY on the next $40K, the blended APY becomes 1.60%. For a $50K balance, the 1-year estimated earnings is $800.
By default the table is sorted by the 1-year estimated earnings. Click on the APY title if you want to sort by APY.
With a $50K investment amount, here are some of the top ones in the table:
Rates and Balance Caps Accurate as of 2/9/2011
- Market USA Federal Credit Union's VIP Checking: 4.00% APY up to $50K, 0.10% over. This rate and cap have remained the same since my first Market USA review in October 2009. Unfortunately, membership is limited primarily to select employee groups, and they allow only 1 account per member.
- Northstar Bank of Texas's Velocity Checking: 3.51% APY up to $50K, 1.01% over. [Update 2/12/11: Reader has reported rate will change to 4.01% APY up to $30K, 0.50% over effective 3/17/11.] My first review of this account was almost two years ago. The bank requires a branch visit to open an account. Branches are located in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area.
- United Mississippi Bank's NetChek: 5.13% APY up to $25K, 1.01% over. [Dropped on 2/10/11 to 3.51% APY for up to $25K, 0.50% over.] Even with the $25K balance cap, this still ranks high thanks to the very high first-tier rate. It has remained the same since my June 2009 post. Unfortunately, it's only available for those in parts of Mississippi where the small bank has branches.
- Decatur State Bank's In Touch Checking: 3.04% APY up to $50K, 1.00% over. We have been listing this account since December 2009 when the yield was 4.01%. It appears you have to visit one of the bank's branches in the Arkansas cities of Decatur, Gentry or Siloam Springs to open an account.
- Lake City Bank's Rewards Checking: 3.04% APY up to $50K, 0.51% over. My first review of this account was over 3 years ago. Another plus with this account is that they only require 8 debit card purchases per month. Most require at least 10. There's an online application, but the bank requires applicants to reside in their market area (many counties in Indiana)
Another way to maximize the rate you get on large balances is to choose reward checking accounts where you can link to a reward savings account. I reviewed some of these reward checking/savings combos last month. To see if the bank offers a linked savings account, refer to our reward checking table and click on the plus sign on the left of the bank name. Additional information will be displayed including applicable accounts such as linked savings accounts (often called Kasasa Saver).