Yesterday I reviewed the 7 reward checking accounts that remain in the 4% club. These are reward checking accounts with yields of at least 4.00% on balances of at least $25,000. Unfortunately, readers have reported that 2 of these 7 will be cutting rates or balance caps in January. So it's becoming increasingly difficult to find a 4% club member. You may have better luck finding ones in the 3% club. These are reward checking accounts with yields of at least 3.00% on balances of at least $25,000. We still list over a hundred reward checking accounts in the 3% club in our reward checking account table. However, all of these are local deals. If you don't live in the right area, you won't be able to open the account. In addition, many of these 3% club members are in small populated areas. I thought it would be useful to highlight a few of these that are in large populated areas.
For those not familiar with reward checking, please refer to my reward checking overview. The important feature of reward checking is that it has monthly requirements to qualify for the high rate. The main requirement is using the debit card for 10 to 20 purchases a month. Also, most all reward checking accounts only offer high yields for balances up to a certain cap.
I review the best nationally available reward checking accounts in my weekly summary. There is one that offers 4.00% APY, but it only applies for balances up to $10,000. The reward checking account is from Consumers Credit Union, and the rate is guaranteed to 6/30/2012. The best nationally available yield for a $25,000 balance cap is 2.52% APY at ABCO Federal Credit Union.
In my list I describe the locations which can qualify for the account. Banks and credit unions have often reduced the availability of these accounts. So make sure you contact the institution for the latest qualifications.
I don't know how long any of these will maintain their rates. If you have received information from the bank or credit union that rates will be falling, please leave a comment. All of the ones that I list below have been competitive for at least two years. So they have proven themselves not to be teaser rates.
Rates, Balance Caps & Availability as of 12/15/2011
- Kemba Credit Union's Get Green Checking has a 3.50% APY on balances up to $25K. This top yield has remained the same since my first review in December 2009. The only thing that has changed with this account is that Kemba no longer allows members to open multiple accounts. Only one Get Green Checking account is allowed per Tax ID. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in any of several Ohio and Indiana counties in the Greater Cincinnati area.
- Nassau Educators FCU's Go Green Checking has a 3.50% APY on balances up to $25K. My first review was in December 2008 when the top yield was 4.00%. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in the New York counties of Nassau and Suffolk.
- Old Florida National Bank's Optimum Checking has a 3.04% APY on balances up to $25K. This top yield has remained the same since my first review in December 2009. One important issue with this account is that the yield for the entire balance falls to 0.50% if the balance exceeds $25K. Most reward checking accounts apply the smaller rate to only the amount that exceeds $25K. Branches are located in the Orlando Florida metro area.
- ViewPoint Bank's Absolute Checking has a 3.00% APY on balances up to $25K. My first report on this account was in May 2008 when the yield was 4.00% on balances up to $50K. It used to be available nationwide, but now it's limited to Texas residents. It should be noted that ViewPoint Bank doesn't make it easy to apply (see post)