I haven’t been much of a interest rate-chaser recently, and it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve opened up a new bank account. For one, I already have a lot of my cash tied up in CDs and I-Bonds. Also, most of my recent cashflow has been going into 401k and IRA contributions.
Now that I have a bit more free time, I decided to open up a new “Rewards Checking” account at Evantage Bank. It offers 5.25% APY on the first $10,000 in balances, and 2.25% APY for anything over that if you meet their requirements of electronic statements and 10 debit card purchases per month. I liked it because it was available nationwide, there were no minimum balance requirements, and didn’t have a direct deposit requirement.
In addition, they have a “Mega Money Market” savings account that is currently paying 3.10% APY on balances to $35,000. (No debit requirements.) So you could keep a total of $45,000 parked at Evantage at a combined interest rate of 3.58%. Not too shabby in this current environment. Alternatively, you could open a second Rewards Checking account and get another $10k at 5.25% (but also with another 10-purchase commitment).
So far, the account application was run by CashEdge, with the usual informational requests and ID verification using questions based on your credit report. The process was completely online, with both online signature cards and an ACH transfer option for initial deposit. I’ll provide a better update once I get started.
I’ve written about rewards checking accounts in the past. They are a gamble and you can earn very little interest if you don’t pay attention to the requirements. In addition, the rates can drop quickly. Look at your own habits, and hopefully these rates will stay competitive for a while.
Evantage is one of identical triplet banks, along with Redneck Bank and AmericaNetBank, which are all owned by the Huckabay family of Oklahoma. The three banks reportedly have different gimmicks to attract publicity – supposedly the redneck, patriot, and high-tech crowd? Apparently it worked, because Redneck Bank isn’t even taking new applications as of yesterday.
By Jonathan Ping | Banking | 4/8/09, 6:07am