[Update 2013: Find the top rewards checking account offers this year here.]
We feel like we haven’t given enough credit to rewards checking accounts lately, especially in a landscape where rates on traditional savings accounts (ie. bank CD’s, money market accounts, etc) have fallen short. Therefor, we rounded up the top 5 APY’s from around the country and posted them below.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with these, rewards checking accounts are similar to money market accounts but provide much more lucrative interest rates in exchange for a few monthly obligations by the consumer. Generally there are 3 requirements you, the consumer, must meet to earn the advertised interest rate. They are 1) enroll to receive e-statements 2) make between 10-15 purchases per month with your debit card 3) set up an automatic deposit.
If you can meet these obligations, you can usually garner an interest rate that blows the national average(s) away. Today, for example, the top APY for one of these accounts is a whopping 5.01%.
Top 5 Rewards Checking Accounts (2011):
*Interest rates accurate as of November 2011.
1) Southern Bank (Missouri and Arkansas) is offering the top annual percentage yield on a rewards checking account – featuring a 5.01% APY on up to $15,000. You must make 12 check or debit card transactions, 1 direct deposit or auto ACH, and receive e-statements to receive the advertised rate. Available in Missouri and Arkansas only.
2) Union Square Federal Credit Union (Texas) is offering 4.51% APY with their rewards checking account on balances up to $25,000. The requirements are the same as with Southern Bank (above).
3) Florida Central Credit Union (Florida) is offering 4.50% APY with their rewards checking account on balances up to $15,000. As with the two accounts featured above you’ll need 12 debit card transactions, 1 direct deposit, e-statements, AND a loan account with an outstanding balance of $5,000 or more. If you don’t have the loan account, but meet all the other requirements you’ll get an APY of 3.51%.
4) Consumers Credit Union (Illinois) is offering 4.09% APY with their rewards checking account on balances up to just $10,000. You’ll need to first become a member, then make 12 debit card transactions monthly, as well as set up a direct deposit and enroll in e-statements.
5) Pelican State Credit Union (Louisiana) is offering 4.01% APY with their rewards checking account on balances up to $20,000. You’ll need to make 15 debit card transactions monthly with a cumulative value of at least $300. You’ll also need to set up a direct deposit and receive e-statements. As with all credit unions you’ll need to first be a member, and with PSCU this means you’ll need to open a “e-Xtra Bonus Checking” account along with your rewards checking account.
If you’ve been thinking of swapping out your big bank for a new, smaller, locally-owned credit union, you might want to keep these accounts in mind.