You can still get 4.00% APY on balances up to $25K in a reward checking account, but the number of these 4.00% club members are falling. There were 7 of these in December. After the new year, only 3 remain as of this morning. The rates fell for 2 of them. For the other 2, the yields remained at 4.00%, but the balance caps have gone down. Instead of paying 4.00% APY on balances up to $25K, one now only pays 4.00% on up to $10K and one pays 4.00% on up to $20K. As I described in my reward checking overview, reward checking accounts only offer high yields for balances up to a certain cap. For those with large savings, this cap is as important as the rate. Many consider a balance cap of $25,000 to be the minimum cap that makes the reward checking account worthwhile. That's why the $25K balance cap is required for the 4.00% club.
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. As I mentioned in my last weekly summary, I confirmed ABCO Federal still allows accounts to be opened by mail. Please keep in mind, however, that availability of these accounts can change. So please contact the institution for the latest information.
Below is the new list of three 4.00% club members along with the 4 members that have recently fallen off the list.
To find reward checking accounts available nationwide or in your state, please refer to our reward checking account table, and please refer to this post for details on how to use the rate table.
Remaining 4.00% Club Members as of 1/4/2012
- Liberty National Bank's SuperSmart Checking still has a 4.01% APY on up to $25K. We first started to track this account in January 2010 when the yield was only 3.01%. The yield actually went up in June 2010, but that may be when the requirements increased. The 4.01% APY now requires 25 debit card purchases per month. In addition, to avoid a $8 monthly fee, 40 debit card purchases are required. Branches are located in central and northwest Ohio.
- Coppermark Bank's Free High-Interest Checking still pays 4.00% APY on up to $25K. I first reported on this in April 2009. The top rate hasn't changed since then. Its monthly requirement of 16 debit card purchases per month is a little tougher than most other reward checking accounts. Branches are located in the Oklahoma City and Dallas metro areas. According to a CSR, any resident of Texas or Oklahoma can open an account. However, a branch visit is required.
- Southwest Airlines FCU's LUV Reward Checking still pays 4.00% APY on up to $25K. Its yield has always been 4.00% since we began tracking it in January 2010. I was late on my first review of this account in June 2011 since not many people can qualify for membership. As you might expect, it's limited to Southwest Airline employees. There are some other employers in its field of membership, but there doesn't appear to be an easy way for most people to qualify. Unfortunately, being a Southwest Airline customer doesn't qualify.
Old 4.00% Club Members
- Erie General Electric FCU's HD Checking's yield has just fallen from 4.07% to 3.56% APY for balances up to $25K. The 4.07% APY had held since March 2011. At least the cut was only 50 basis points. I first reported on this account in May 2008 when the yield was 5.00%. Membership is limited to those who live, work or worship in Erie or Crawford Counties in PA.
- First Community National Bank's Real Life Checking's balance cap has fallen from $25K to $10K. The yield is still 4.01% APY. If a customer's balance remains at $25K, the customer's monthly earnings will fall from $84 to $40. So this is similar to a rate cut. We have just been tracking this account since June 2011. Its monthly requirements are typical. However, if you don't meet these requirements, you are not only punished with a tiny yield, but also you are hit with a $2 service charge. Branches are located in Missouri southwest of St. Louis.
- Communications FCU's Performance Checking's yield has fallen from 4.00% to 3.00% APY for balances up to $30K. A reader reported receiving an email from the credit union on November 23rd about this change. In addition, the credit union added a new debit card requirement. An aggregate total debit card purchases of $100 per cycle is required to qualify for rewards rate. The credit union is no longer listing this account on its website. I sent an email to the credit union asking about this. According to a credit union rep, they suspended opening new Performance Checking accounts on January 1st. I first reported on this account in May 2008 when it was paying 5.25% APY on up to $50K.
- Home Federal Bank's Smart Rewards Checking's balance cap has fallen from $25K to $20K. The yield remains 4.00% APY. I almost missed this change since the bank hasn't updated its home page. The $20K cap is listed in the Smart Rewards Checking section of the checking page. My first review of this account was in April 2011. The top yield has remained at 4.00%. The account must be opened in person. Branches are located in Shreveport, Louisiana.