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About Ken Tumin

Ken Tumin founded the Bank Deals Blog in 2005 and has been passionately covering the best deposit deals ever since. He is frequently referenced by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications as a top expert, but he is first and foremost a fellow deal seeker and member of the wonderful community of savers that frequents DepositAccounts.

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Updated Reviews of Top Reward Checking Accounts


Over the last three years, reward checking account rates have held up better than internet savings account rates. However, rates have continued to fall, and we have seen many recent rate cuts on reward checking accounts. Rate cuts are not the only thing to worry about on reward checking accounts. Banks have also reduced the amount of interest they pay by reducing the balance caps.

Not all reward checking accounts have been hit with rate and balance cap cuts. There are still several reward checking accounts around the nation with rates over 4.00% APY for balances up to $25K, but these are not nationwide deals.

For nationwide reward checking accounts, we're down to just Danversbank as the only bank offering at least 3% APY for balances up to $25K. Coulee Bank was in this group, but it just recently restricted new accounts to residents of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

So if you want a 4.00% reward checking account (for balances up to at least $25K), you'll have to look for local deals. You can find those in your area by using our reward checking table.

Many of the best reward checking accounts are in low populated areas. However, there are a few that are in large metro areas. I reviewed some of these in January. I thought it would be useful to review these again to see how they have held up in the last three months.

Rates, Balance Caps & Availability Accurate as of 4/4/2011

Recent Rate and/or Balance Cap Cuts

  • Southern Bank's Kasasa Cash account pays 5.01% APY on balances up to $15K (down from $25K). My first post was in October 2008 when the yield was 6.01%. It continues to be available to residents of Missouri and Arkansas via an online application.
  • Nassau Educators FCU's Go Green Checking had its first rate cut since my first review in December 2008. The top rate is now 3.50% APY (down from 4.00%) on balances up to $25K. Membership is open to anyone who resides in the large New York counties of Nassau and Suffolk.
  • Bank of Nebraska's Investment Checking also had a large rate cut with a new top rate of 3.04% APY (down from 4.07%) on balances up to $25K. My first post was last November. Branches are located in the Omaha metro area.
  • First Bank's Kasasa Cash account had a large rate cut bringing down the top rate from 3.51% to 2.51% APY for balances up to $25K. My first post on this account was June 2009. The bank has an online application, and it's open to all Florida residents.

Rates and Balance Caps are Holding

  • Golden Plains Credit Union kept its yield at 6.01% longer than any other institution. It fell to 4.44% APY for balances up to $25K in September 2010. My first post on this account was in April 2008. It's available to Central and West Kansas.
  • FAA Credit Union's Optimum Checking continues continues to pay 4.10% APY on balances up to $30K. My first post on this account was in March 2008. The credit union is open everyone in the Oklahoma City metro area.
  • Commercial Bank and Trust's Choice Checking continues to pay 4.09% APY on balances up to $25K. This account doesn't have much history. My first post was last December. The bank has branches in Memphis and a few other Tennessee cities.
  • 1st Commonwealth Bank of Virginia's reward checking account continues to pay 4.01% APY on balances of up to $25K. My first post on this account was in January 2010. The account is available to anyone in the Washington DC metro area. A branch visit to its Arlington office is required to open an account.
  • ViewPoint Bank continues to pay 4.00% APY on balances up to $25K. And it's still available to all Texas residents. In 2010 the cap had been $50K, and it used to be available nationwide. As I described in June, ViewPoint doesn't make it easy to apply, and this has angered many readers.

Future of Reward Checking?

The ultra-low interest rate environment is not the only reason for rate cuts. The potential effects of the Fed's debit card interchange regulation may already be having an influence. A lot of the high interest rates of reward checking accounts depend on debit card interchange fees that retailers pay.

As described in this Forbes blog post, there's a chance that this regulation could be delayed depending on the passage of bills in the Senate and the House. If you want to encourage your Senator or House representative to vote to delay the regulation implementation, there's an online take action form that makes it easy to send a message.

Even if the regulation isn't delayed, reward checking may still survive since the regulation is suppose to only affect institutions with assets over $10 billion. However, as mentioned in the Forbes post, many smaller institutions still think the regulation will reduce their interchange fee revenue. If that happens, reward checking will very likely be affected.

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Anonymous   |     |   Comment #1
Cooperative Central Federal Credit Union (Berkeley, CA) has lowered the rate to 2.01 effective 4/1/11, and the cap to 10K affective 5/1/11.
51hh   |     |   Comment #2
Cooperative Center FCU: From (3.01%, $25K) to 2.01% (4/1/11) and $10K (5/1/11).
767   |     |   Comment #3
Lake Michigan Credit Union is open to natinwide customers as long as you are willing to make a $5 donation to the ALS association with your application. They are still paying 4.00 % APY.
RJM   |     |   Comment #4
I have 2 RCAs. 3% and 2.5% with $30k & $25k limits.

The lower one is local.

Also have $100 k in a four 5 year 3% no penalty CDs which was what a local CU offered me when they discontinued their reward checking about 15 months ago.

24 debit card transactions per month is enough for me.
RJM   |     |   Comment #6
My bad. They were only offered to those that had a reward checking account at a local bank which, at the time, had a $100k max.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #7
Ken,  You need to update the interest rate for Florida Central Credit Union's Ultimate reward checking account.  As of January 31, 2011, the rate is down to 3.51% APY on up to $15K if you meet all the qualifications. The 4.50% APY is only given to those members who maintain at least a $5K loan with FCCU.  I didn't realize that the reduction in interest rate had taken place until this week, after looking at a paper statement my mom received after opening an account in early March.  FCCU staff did not tell my mom about the change in requirement for the 4.50%APY interest when she signed up for the account, and even the FCCU website still advertises the 4.50%APY rate with the explanation of the change hidden several clicks and pages from the main web page.  If I had been more diligent in looking at my electronic statements that are required for this account, then I could have at least had the information about the change in February and could have made a decision about what to do with my money, and my mom's money.  FCCU office response to my complaint was pretty generic..... its a variable rate account and they don't have to notify us of any change to that rate, but they still promote the higher rate with little explanation about what is requred to get that rate.  Anyway, the new rate is 3.51%APY.

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