Steadfast FinancesStop Chasing High Interest Savings Rates with a Rewards Checking Account

Stop Chasing High Interest Savings Rates with a Rewards Checking Account

Filed in Banking , Online Savings Accounts , Personal Finance 21 comments

If you’re the type to chase high interest savings rates, the first quarter of 2009 has kept you busy.

Nearly all of the major internet banks have slashed their savings account interest rates on a near biweekly basis.

Being somewhat of a rate chaser myself, I noticed all three of my older savings accounts have been substantially reduced.

Case in point, my savings account at Dollar Savings Direct.  Just 3 months ago, their savings account was ranked as one of the nation’s highest yielding savings accounts at 3.5% APY.

Now, it’s a paltry 2.25% APY.

Yawn.

Enter the High Yield Reward Checking Account

Last summer, I was introduced to a website called CheckingFinder.com.  This website allows you to find the highest paying checking accounts in the U.S.

Some of these banks pay as much as double the amount of interest than most major online banks.

Don’t believe me?  See for yourself.

CheckingFinder.com search results as of March 14, 2009
Rewards Checking - Stop Chasing Rates

What’s The Catch?

Honestly, there isn’t a catch as long as you use actually use your bank account and debit card.

Here are the three requirements you must follow each month:

  1. Setup direct deposit or one online bill pay transaction each month.
  2. Make a specified number of debit card transactions each month (generally 8 to 12).
  3. Signup for electronic statements instead of paper statements.

That’s basically it.  As long as you swipe your debit card 12 times (or less) each month and you setup an automatic payment for one of your regular bills each month, you’re golden.

Considering that most people use a debit card or credit card for most of their daily transactions, it’s a very easy way to earn a very generous interest rate.

The only real drawback is that these accounts have capped interest rate payouts at $25,000.  You can have more than $25k in your account, but you only receive the high interest rate payouts up to the $25,000 cap.

Then again, if you have more than $25,000 in cash and want to earn as much interest as possible, just open an additional account with another bank on the list.  Using a debit card for 20+ transactions per month might be a challenge, but I’m pretty sure a motivated saver can come up with some way of making one or more debit card transactions per day.  Like filling up your gas tank three times a week or stopping at the grocery store multiple times a week.

If you can find a higher interest rate that’s FDIC insured and provides the liquidity of a regular checking account, I would love to hear about it because I don’t think you’re going to find such attractive rates anywhere else.

Photo by Neil T

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Posted by CJ   @   14 March 2009 21 comments
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21 Comments

Comments
Mar 15, 2009
10:25 pm

Looks like you’ve joined my high interest checking account club!

Mar 15, 2009
11:33 pm
#2 Matt :

@ TML

Yeah I’ve been in one of these for a while. Too bad Bank of Pleasant Hill went from 6% to 5%, but it beats the 2.25% APY from the others.

If they keep going lower, I might have to buy some bank stocks because BofA and Citigroup have a great profit margin. Loan at 5% and payout 1% interest rates.

Mar 16, 2009
10:16 am
#3 Stephen :

Great post! CheckingFinder.com has been a Very useful tool. I’m receiving 5.1% instead of my last bank’s 1.06% (dropped from 3.1%). At the moment, nothing beats it!

Mar 16, 2009
1:10 pm
#4 Kelly :

I found a good account from Coulee Bank with 5.01% APY. The best part is that it’s available nationwide and it’s free. http://www.CouleeBank.net

Mar 16, 2009
3:11 pm
#5 Matt :

@ Stephen

Thanks. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more main stream coverage of CheckingFinder.com. I guess those big banks pay better advertising revenues!

Mar 16, 2009
3:16 pm
#6 Matt :

@ Kelly,

Haven’t heard of that bank before, but thank you for adding it to the list.

Mar 17, 2009
8:40 am
#7 Ranika :

This seems almost too good to be true! Is there anywhere that I can get more feedback on these banks?

Mar 17, 2009
9:30 am
#8 Matt :

@ Ranika

It’s true because I use one. The reason why these small banks or credit unions can give you such a high interest rate is the bank gets a certain percentage of each transaction you make with your debit card.

It’s one of the better “share the wealth” programs out there.

Mar 23, 2009
5:54 pm
#9 Erik :

I saw our mention above and wanted to share the latest top bank rates from CheckingFinder.com. These are NOT teaser rates.

Rates with a * signifies this bank rate is available nationwide.

First Robinson Savings Bank – Robinson, IL 6.01
Southern Missouri Bank & Trust 6.01
Bank of Ripley – Ripley, TN 5.26
LA DOTD Federal Credit Union – Denham Spring, LA 5.25
Keystone Bank – Auburn, AL *5.15
Connexus Credit Union – Wausau, WI *5.15
Community State Bank – Poteau, OK 5.05
First State Bank – Kansas City, KS 5.03
State Employees Credit Union – Santa Fe, NM 5.02
Grand Bank of Texas – Grand Prairie, TX 5.02
Malvern Federal Savings Bank – Paoli, PA *5.01
Union State Bank – Everest, KS 5.01
United National Bank – Cairo, GA 5.01
First Banking Center – Lake Geneva, WI 5.01
Noble Bank & Trust – Anniston, AL 5.01
The Community Bank – Brockton, MA 5.01
Community Bank of Pleasant Hill – Pleasant Hill, MO *5.01
Olmsted National Bank – Rochester, MN *5.01

Hope this helps!

Erik (CheckingFinder)

Mar 23, 2009
6:51 pm
#10 Matt :

Thanks Eric! I used CheckingFinder.com last fall and been raking in a nice 5-6% APY since. Lovin’ it!!!

Apr 8, 2009
2:41 pm
#11 Kelly :

@Ranika

Check out http://bauerfinancial.com/home.html. You can look up ratings (out of 5 star)for any bank or credit union. Coulee Bank received 5 stars, and many other small banks receive 5 stars as well. Coulee Bank is a trustworthy Bank.

Nov 12, 2009
10:33 am
#12 Nicholas :

I currently have the bulk of my cash assets at CountyBank (ecountybank.com) in a Kasasa Cash account at 4.65%. I don’t live in NC, but that doesn’t matter. I keep a local account for depositing checks, ATM withdrawals, etc.

Nov 12, 2009
10:46 am
#13 Matt SF :

@ Nicholas,

Good stuff! I do the same thing where most of my cash is in a Missouri bank. They don’t really care where you live, just want your business!

As for using a local banks, I use the closest non-bailed out bank (refuse to use a bank that took bailout money) just to deposit checks or do any face to face when the rare need arises. Most of my cash needs are provided through the self checkout isle at the grocery store these days… been doing that for years without an ATM fee attached.

Dec 2, 2009
9:14 am
#14 barb :

First Banking Center of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin has just dropped their interest rate to 3%! Will be checking around for better rates!

Dec 2, 2009
9:49 am
#15 Matt SF :

@ Barb

You might want to check what CheckingFinder.com still has to offer.

Checking and savings account rates have slowly gotten lower since I wrote this post in March 2009, but I wrote another banking post in November where the interest rates were still very attractive.

The highest one being the Bank of Sierra in California offering 4.51%. Since these banks can be used as internet banks where you can hoard your cash reserves or emergency fund, it really doesn’t matter where they’re located (at least to me).

Dec 2, 2009
2:00 pm
#16 Nicholas :

My bank is still in the lead (ecountybank.com, 4.75%) and only requires 10 debit card purchases. :D

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