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Holding The Line On High-Yield Checking

We’ve been impressed with three banks that have not succumbed to the temptation to lower the rates or limit the reach of their high-yield checking accounts since last fall or winter.

They’re still paying more than 4% and offering their high-yield, or reward checking accounts as they’re sometimes called, nationwide.

High-Yield Checking AccountsBank of the Sierra, with 22 branches in central California, has been paying 4.51% on balances up to $25,000 since October.

Patriot Bank, with five locations north of St. Petersburg, Fla., has been paying 4.01% on balances up to $50,000 since February.

Ouachita Independent Bank, with 11 offices in northern Louisiana, has been paying 4.01% on balances up to $25,000 since December.

High-yield checking accounts have been the biggest banking oddity of the recession and financial crisis.

As the returns on everything from certificates of deposit to savings accounts fell to record lows over the past two years, these checking accounts created by hundreds of community banks, became the most lucrative way to save.

The only drawback is that you’ve got to follow some very specific rules, such as making a minimum number of debit card purchases each month. (If you’re unfamiliar with how these work, take a look at our ABCs of high-yield checking accounts).

Although many of those banks initially accepted applications from anyone, anywhere, they were quickly overwhelmed and started turning away out-of-state depositors.

Others tried to stem the flood of money into their vaults by lowering their interest rates because, as with all checking and savings accounts, these are variable interest accounts.

But Sierra, Patriot and Ouachita have done neither. They’ve been the most dependable purveyors of widely-available, high-yield checking accounts so far this year.

Comments (2)
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2 Existing Comments
  1. Tiffani said:
    on August 26th at 04:17 pm

    I’m getting really competitive rates with a product called easyGROW Checking at First Bank & Trust. You can go to for the info (including the current interest rate); but to summarize, it is a free high-yield account that also offers ATM fee refunds when I meet the three qualifications: using my debit card at least ten times, receiving e-Statements, and having a least one direct deposit or automatic payment each cycle. I do all of those things anyway, so it’s been really easy for me to qualify…and they send me an email each month to let me know if I met the qualifications. I have to admit, I love not having to worry about whether or not an ATM is on my network, and the interest is already starting to add up. It only takes $100 deposit to open the account, and there is no minimum balance.

  2. John Nelson said:
    on March 29th at 03:27 pm

    Be very wary of giving your money to the Bank of the Sierra. They will ding your credit, collect private information above and beyond what is usually required, and DENY your application. Customer service is nonexistent and scoffs at any request for help. It appears to me to be a scam. There are banks with better service to deal with and that will not ruin your credit to boot. I agree with the last poster, BEWARE!