If you have one of these reward checking accounts, you definitely have something to be thankful for. These are the top 5 reward checking accounts in the nation. They have the highest rates for balances of at least $25,000. These are the rare checking accounts that have not recently been hit by rate cuts and balance cap reductions.
Unfortunately, we have seen many rate cuts this year on reward checking accounts at other banks and credit unions. New reward checking accounts are still popping up as I described in October, but most of these have low balance caps of $10K or $5K. The balance cap is the maximum balance that qualifies for the high rate. So when the balance caps are small, this can make the reward checking account less useful for savers with large balances. In my October post I reviewed the effects of lower balance caps on the amount of interest that you earn. You can see if these reward checking accounts can still be worthwhile as an alternative to internet savings accounts.
It should be noted that these 5 top reward checking accounts are not widely available. You have to live in a certain area or for the cases of the credit unions, be employed by a certain company.
Rates and Balance Caps as of 11/28/2012:
- Coppermark Bank's Free High-Interest Checking: 4.00% APY on up to $25K. I first reported on Coppermark Bank 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. A branch visit is required to open an account.
- Southwest Airlines FCU's LUV Reward Checking: 4.00% APY on up to $25K. This rate and balance cap has remained the same since we first began tracking it in January 2010. Like Coppermark, the debit card usage requirement is a little higher than average at 15. However, as I described last week, members can meet this requirement with a credit card instead of a debit card. Unfortunately, not many people are eligible to join this credit union. You have to work for either Southwest Airlines or one of the other companies in the credit union's Select Employee Groups. The credit union's Field of Membership doesn't appear to include any association that can be joined.
- Erie Federal Credit Union's Dividend +Plus Checking: 3.56% APY on up to $25K. I first reviewed this reward checking account in 2008 when the yield was 5.11%. Like the others, its debit card usage requirements are high (15 per month). It doesn't require direct deposit, but it does require that you pay at least one bill per month using its EZ Bill Pay service. Another thing unique about this account is that it has monthly fees if you fail to meet these requirements. Membership is open to those who live, work, worship or attend school in Erie or Crawford County, Pennsylvania.
- Halliburton Employees Credit Union's $mart Checking: 3.55% APY on up to $25K. This rate has held constant since we began tracking this account in March 2011. Like the others, its debit card usage requirements are high (15 per month). It's powered by BancVue, so it has no monthly service fees regardless of meeting the monthly requirements. As the credit union name suggests, membership is primarily limited to Halliburton Company employees. Membership is also open to employees at a few other businesses and to residents of Carter County, OK. Please refer to the credit union's Who Can Join page for the full details.
- Navy Army Community Credit Union's Liberty Checking: 3.51% APY on up to $25K. I first reviewed this acccount in 2009 when the rate was 4.51% so the rate hasn't fallen much. Unlike the other top reward checking accounts, the debit card purchase requirements are lower (10 per month). If you're elgible for this credit union, you're very fortunate. The credit union also has excellent deals on CDs. Membership is open to those who live, work, worship and/or go to school in the following Texas counties: Aransas, Bee, Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Nueces and San Patricio. Please refer to the credit union's membership page for more details.
If you're not lucky enough to qualify for these top reward checking accounts, you will have to settle for lower rates. You can find reward checking accounts available in your state by using our reward checking table. You can also use the table to find reward checking accounts available nationwide. Refer to this post to learn how to use the table.
The highest rate for balances up to $25K for a reward checking account available nationwide is 2.12% APY at ABCO Federal Credit Union and 2.01% APY at Provident Credit Union. These rate are accurate as of 11/28/2012.
To learn more about reward checking accounts, please refer to my post 10 Common Traits of High-Yield Reward Checking Accounts.