Fixed Income: Take advantage of high-yield checking

March 21, 2008

If you use your debit card a lot and you often bank online, take a closer look at a new product called "reward checking accounts."

If you use your debit card a lot and you often bank online, take a closer look at a new product called "reward checking accounts," which your community bank or credit union may be offering now, or soon. Some of these accounts offer annual yields as high as 6 percent, which easily bests the rates for high-yield money markets (around 4 percent) and certificates of deposit (roughly 3 percent). Terms and conditions vary by lender, but, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, you'll probably have to open the account with as much as $25,000, agree to have your statements delivered electronically, have one or more direct deposits or automatic debits a month, and use your debit card linked to the account at least 10 times a month. If you fail to meet these requirements, your interest rate may sink to as low as 1 percent on the entire balance for each month that you come up short. In addition, the highest rate may apply only to the amount of your initial required deposit.