It has been a long time since my first review of Tradition Bank and its reward checking account. At that time in early 2008 the reward checking account had a 5.76% APY. The rate has fallen, but it has held up well compared to other banks. It remains a good deal for those in the Houston area. The account is now called e-Star Checking, and there have been some additional changes since my 2008 review besides a lower rate. Below is a summary of the rates as listed at the bank’s rates page as of of 6/20/2013:
Rates if monthly requirements are met:
- 2.50% APY for balances up to $25,000
- 0.50% for portion of balance over $25,000
- 0.10% base rate if requirements are not met
Monthly requirements to qualify for the above rates include:
- 10 debit card purchases per month
- ACH or direct deposit
Notable account features include:
- $9.95 monthly maintenance (can be waived with a $2,500 minimum daily balance)
- Receive up to $25 in ATM fee refunds
- Free bill pay IF minimum of 5 bills paid per month; otherwise $5.95 per month after the first 90 days.
This isn’t the typical reward checking account as you can see in the list of notable features. Most reward checking accounts are free regardless of balance. However, most reward checking accounts have lower rates and balance caps. So that’s the tradeoff to consider.
I emailed the bank about who is eligible to open the checking account. According to the bank representative, they require customers to open the account in person at a branch. They said it’s preferable for the custom to live in Houston. If you don’t live in the Houston metro area and you are interested in this account, it would be a good idea to contact a branch manager to ensure he or she will let you open the account before you plan for a long drive to a branch.
Tradition Bank branches are located in Houston, Katy and The Woodlands.
The bank has an overall health score at DepositAccounts.com of 4 stars (out of 5) with a Texas ratio of 8.16% (above average) based on March 2013 data. Please refer to our financial overview of Tradition Bank for more details. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1980 (FDIC Certificate # 23032).
How This Reward Checking Compares
There are a few banks and credit unions in Texas which have better reward checking deals. The best deal in Texas and the nation is at Southwest Airlines Federal Credit Union. Its reward checking account has a 4.00% APY for balances up to $25K. It has branches in Dallas and near Houston, but membership is primarily limited to Southwest Airline employees and a few other select employer groups.
The second best deal in Texas is at Navy Army Community Credit Union which has a reward checking account that pays 3.51% APY for balances up to $25K. Membership is primarily limited to those who live or work in the Corpus Christi metro area.
Another good deal is in Northeast Texas at Texas Bank which has a reward checking account with a 3.04% APY for balances up to $25K.
The best reward checking account with a $25K balance cap that’s nationally available is at ABCO Federal Credit Union. Its reward checking account has a 2.02% APY.
The above rates are accurate as of 6/20/2013.
To find reward checking accounts in other areas of the nation, please refer to the reward checking section of DepositAccounts.com. To learn more about reward checking, please refer to this reward checking overview.