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.
Bank 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.