bank rates

The Rewards Checking Honor Roll

Small banks and some not-so-small banks have jumped on the rewards checking bandwagon over the last several months.

They offer high rates on checking accounts – many over 5% APY – and all you have to do is follow a few simple rules to cash in on the deal.

honor roll

But suddenly that high rate goes down along with your earnings – and maybe it dives again.

If you’re unfamiliar with these types of accounts, take a look at the ABCs of high-yield checking accounts.

Some banks weren’t prepared to handle the flood of business that resulted from the promotion of their offers, so they’d either cut their rates, rein in their geographical area for applicants, or both.

The Honor Roll applauds those banks that remained true to their promise and continue to offer some of the highest checking account rates nationwide.

Union State Bank of Atchison (Kansas) still offers 5.01% APY on balances of up to $25,000.

Focus Bank, with 12 branches in Arkansas and Missouri, pays 4.51% on balances up to $25,000.

Provident Community Bank, Union, S.C., offers 4.51% on balances up to $50,000.

Patriot Bank, on Florida’s west coast, pays 4.01% on balances up to $50,000.

CBDirect, the online division of Centennial Bank in Orem, Utah, pays 3% on any balance. There’s no cap.

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

Bank of the Sierra in central California offers 4.51% on balances up to $25,000.

Honorable mention goes to two banks that still pay top dollar on their checking accounts but had to shrink the size of their markets.

First State Bank of Kansas, which limited its applications to residents of the Kansas City metropolitan area, continues to pay a hefty 5.03% on balances of up to $25,000.

Bank2 initially offered multiple accounts nationwide that paid 5.01% with a $25,000 maximum balance. That offer is now limited to Oklahoma residents and accounts cannot exceed two per person.

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Comments (15)
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15 Existing Comments
  1. John said:
    on July 15th at 12:34 pm

    Not happy that Malvern Federal Savings Bank went from 5% to 3.5%

  2. John said:
    on July 15th at 12:50 pm

    anyone have any reviews about FAB&T? thinking of switching to them. they have 4.44% up to 50K. pretty good.

  3. Bob said:
    on July 15th at 01:00 pm

    I use Patriot Bank, which I believe should get particular kudos because of what it does and does not do:

    1. You can have as many accounts as you want under exactly the same name, so there really is no limit on how much you can deposit;

    2. Each account requires only 10 debit transactions per month to meet requirements, as opposed to some which require 15 or more transactions

    3. Each account requires only 1 ACH transaction per month, as opposed to some which require automatic bill payment(s), direct deposit(s), etc.

    4. The requirements are waived for the first two (not just one) billing cycles to give plenty of time to get debit cards and PINs.

    5. Setting up the account was easy. I liked and was amused by the great big stickers on the paperwork they send you that point out unequivocally where you need to sign and where to initial. Kudos to whomever thought that up.

    6. I found the people very friendly and pleasant to work with

    By the way, doing x debits per month is trivial. Just go anywhere there is a self-serve checkout (gas station, grocery market, etc), and buy each of x items separately. It is pretty painless and quick, although you might get stares from a nearby cashier, perhaps wondering whether you are a slow learner. Pick a time when the store is not busy, obviously. You don’t want a line of cars waiting behind you as you buy 1 gallon at a time (groceries are easier and quicker than gas).

  4. Bob said:
    on July 15th at 11:17 pm

    Hi John, I called up FAB&T and they seem to have the same deal as Patriot, but with higher interest. They only allow one account per person, unlike FAB&T. Thanks for the suggestion. I am going to try it.

  5. Gary said:
    on July 16th at 10:52 am

    Union State Bank of Atchison (Kansas) now requires you be a resident of Kansas or Missouri to open a new Rewards Checking.

  6. tom said:
    on July 16th at 01:16 pm

    Southpoint Bank in alabama still offers 4% on balances up to $100,000.

  7. Bob said:
    on July 21st at 11:19 am

    I just had an interesting experience with FAB&T, which denied my application for a high interest checking account (CASH KASASA account). The account was denied because they checked a data base that showed I had “Excessive Number of Recent Inquiries”. The data base is run by EFunds, Inc. Anyone know anything more about this? I can be emailed at phillips at kcnet.com. Has anyone else run into this?

  8. ED said:
    on July 26th at 07:43 am

    Could anybody tell me what and where is FAB&T How do i sign up?

  9. Bob said:
    on July 29th at 01:21 pm

    Hi Ed. FAB&T stands First Arkansas Bank and Trust at http://www.firstarkansasbank.com
    Sign up for the Free Kasasa checking account. I was prevented from signing up (see earlier comment) because they said ChexSystems (Efunds) reported I had too many “Inquiries”, which turn out to be attempts to open accounts at banks. In my case, two of the “Inquiries” were duplicates of others because of system errors. Still, FAB&T refused to open the account until I persuade ChexSystems to delete the two extra Inquiries. A bit frustrating. You have to wonder why FAB&T or any other bank cares how many other accounts you have.

  10. Henry said:
    on August 28th at 12:53 pm

    The reason why FAB&T (and many others) are so selective is to do a screening for “profitable” customers. Banks really do not need those customers that are spreading thin and doing rate chasing. In addtion, FAB&T favors those who spend $5 or above per debit transactions rather than small $1 transactions, thus they can keep rpofitability at the current high rate of 4.44% APY.

  11. Henry said:
    on October 29th at 08:23 pm

    FAB&T drops its rate from 4.44% to 3.5% in November, limit from $50K to $35K in December; and one account only.

  12. Deborah (from Philadelphia) said:
    on December 7th at 11:56 am

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the helpful comments. New to high yield checking world and thinking about Bank of the Sierra, Patriot or Royal Banks of Missouri.

    Any recommendations or warnings please?

    Thanks very much and have a good day.

  13. DealMaven said:
    on December 8th at 09:04 am

    Thanks for commenting Deborah,

    While we don’t do recommendations, per se, we can tell you that we have never had complaints about any of the three banks you mentioned. And believe me, if a bank is not providing good service we hear about it.

    Right now, Royal Banks of Missouri is offering 4.30%, which puts it at the top of the list of best-paying rewards checking accounts that are nationally available. This past weekend, Bank of the Sierra lowered its rate to 4.09% from 4.51%, and a couple of months ago, Patriot Bank dropped its rate to 3.01% from 4.01%.

    The choice is yours.

  14. Deborah (from Philadelphia) said:
    on December 8th at 01:47 pm

    Thank you DealMaven. Appreciate these updates.

    Thanks again and have a good day.

  15. mike ally said:
    on August 20th at 08:39 pm

    Bank of the Sierra is the worst bank ever ! Don’t believe the ratings ! They are Crooks!