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3.00%-$15kLake Michigan Credit UnionMax Checking
Accounts mentioned in this post. Rates as of May 24, 2016.

Updated Review of Lake Michigan Credit Union's Max Checking


In the last couple of weeks I've been taking new looks at some of the old reward checking accounts that continue to be good deals and nationally available. Today's updated review is on the reward checking account at Lake Michigan Credit Union (LMCU) which it calls Max Checking. I first reviewed this account in August 2007 when it had a 5% APY. The rate has fallen, but it remains competitive for reward checking accounts. Max Checking has the following rates and features if certain monthly requirements are met (as of 5/14/2012):

  • 3.00% APY on balances up to $15,000
  • 0.00% APY on portion of balance over $15,000
  • Refunds up to $15 per month in surcharge ATM withdrawal fees at non-LMCU ATMs

The monthly requirements include:

  • 10 debit card purchases
  • 4 logins to home banking
  • Direct deposit
  • receive eStatements and eNotices

Max Checking has no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements. Many readers have provided their experiences of this account and credit union in this discussion thread. A credit union representative has also answered questions in this thread.

Max Checking has changed little since I reported on it 5 years ago. Only the rate has changed (down from 5%). It still has a balance cap of $15K, and the same debit card usage requirement. It also still has that strange login requirement. The few institutions to require a login to qualify for the higher rate usually only require one login per month. This is the only institution that I can remember that requires 4 monthly logins. It's easy to do, but it's also easy to forget if you're busy.

Application and Eligibility

Another nice aspect of this checking account is that you can apply online, and membership in the credit union is open to all who are donors to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association, West Michigan Chapter. When you click on the "Sign up for Max" button in the credit union's Max Checking page, it'll provide a link for new members. That link takes you to an online application for new accounts. The first page of the new-account application requires you to select how you qualify for membership. If you live in Michigan, you can probably select the option which lists dozens of Michigan counties. If you don't live, work, worship or attend school in one of these counties, you can qualify by donating to the ALS Association of Michigan. This is the second option, It even provides a link to a donation form for this association. Minimum donation is $5.

For full details about qualifying for membership, please refer to the credit union's field of membership page.

Credit Union Overview

LMCU is a large credit union with 34 locations in West Michigan and almost $2.42 billion in assets.

The credit union has an overall health score at DepositAccounts.com of 5 stars (out of 5) with a Texas ratio of 6.74% (excellent) based on December 2011 data. Please refer to our financial overview of LMCU for more details. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 62514).

How This Reward Checking Account Compares

The 3% APY makes this very competitive for reward checking accounts in today's interest rate environment. However, the $15K balance cap is a downside. If you want a $25K balance cap, the best rate at an all-access credit union is 2.52% APY at ABCO Federal Credit Union. This rate and balance cap are accurate as of 5/14/2012.

There are reward checking accounts with higher rates in some parts of the country. To find the highest reward checking rates in your area, please refer to our reward checking rate table. This can also be used to find accounts available nationwide. If you're new to these tables, my rate table guide should be useful.

If you're new to reward checking, my blog post, 10 Common Traits of High-Yield Reward Checking, should be useful.

Related Pages: Lake Michigan Credit Union, Detroit, Traverse City, Grand Rapids, checking account

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Anonymous   |     |   Comment #1
One of the best features with this account is that you can see the status of how you are meeting requirements online.  so you know exactly how many more debit transactions, logins you need to meet the requirement so there are no surprises if you think you made the requirement but did not becuase of the way a transaction was processed.(happened to me with another credit union)
KenBDG   |     |   Comment #2
Thanks for noting that feature. If financial institutions want to ensure their customers meet the monthly requirements, one would think this would be a common feature of all reward checking accounts. Unfortunately, it's not a common feature. In fact, does anyone know of any other institution besides LMCU that does this?
gli (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #9
Great Lakes Credit Union does the same thing - with a daily updated 'checklist' of requirements met/unmet
Dana   |     |   Comment #3
The 4 logins per month IS unique; I agree. But in this current economic climate; I cannot imagine that anyone would NOT be checking their balance at least once a week (if not more). Assuming you have to log in to do that with this institution; then this shouldd be an even easier requiremtn to meet than the 10 purchases.
767   |     |   Comment #4
FAA Credit Union in OK also has a feature that updates your qualification status. However, they recently dropped their rate to 2% and no longer offer a RCA anymore. They grandfathered in those that already have an RCA with them but are not accepting new applicants. They used to be in the 4% club.
Rebecca (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #5
Ken - I haven't had the account for awhile, but I recall Randolph Bank in North Carolina doing something similar.  It showed you what your interest rate was, so when you saw it jump, you knew your requirements were met.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #6
Provident CU has a large table displaying the status of requirements met. Impossible to miss, being the first thing shown on the Account Activity page, plus they put in BRIGHT red "Super Rewards Checking Requirements:  Not Yet Met (See below.)"  It then lists the qualification period dates, all the requirements, and what's been fulfilled so far.  (There's also a reminder/explanation under the table about postings and deadlines.)  They just announced site changes due to customer suggestions, so they do seem to try helping their members.

I've lost dividends occasionally with other rca's due to their unclear, if not confusing, way of posting and displaying. After discussing it with them, it seemed they didn't favor any changes. Certainly to their advantage to keep the dividends rather than pay IT to provide more clarity, especially when they can quote that it's up to the customers to fulfill the requirements.

Then again, these were banks handling customers, not credit unions serving members.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #7
Who cares for useless features, they all are cutting the rates under order from FDIC and most of them will be fazed out within 12 months. Enjoy it for a little longer.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #8
LMCU is now doing unauthorized analysis on my seven accounts and presenting their conclusions to me when I login.  Did I ask for or authirize this?  Who knows where this analysis info (charts, graphs, other) is going?  Sales to Data Mining Companies for sure...  I'm in the process of planning to move six of those accounts to DFCU and Credit Union One (splitting them up intentionally).  LMCU has apparently, in past several days, changed to become NCU (Nanny Credit Union) and I do not approve of their intrusion into my life.  They're going to try and convert this intrusion into profits or they wouldn't be doing it, absolutely, pure and simple, guaranteed.