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TheStreet Open House

The Best E-Rewards Checking Accounts

In today's rate environment, finding anything approaching a 5% interest rate on a deposit account is unthinkable. Even 60-month CDs are averaging around 1.6%, offering little reward for savers willing to tie up their money for the next five years.

Still, there are plenty of diamonds in the rough, if you know where to look. Using data gathered by our partners at RateWatch, we've identified five banks offering accounts with interest rates north of 5%. And most surprising of all, they're all checking accounts.

These days you may very well be paying your bank a fee just for the privilege of maintaining a checking account, and even if you meet the requirements for free checking, their rock-bottom interest rates mean that you're essentially losing money due to inflation. In recent years, however, a number of banks have begun offering online checking accounts that are not only free, but offer fantastic interest rates.

Of course, nothing is free, and many of these accounts require that you maintain a minimum balance, make a certain number of debit card transactions per month, and use direct deposit. Still, you may already be jumping through just as many hoops to get free checking from your current bank. Why not switch to a bank that actually rewards you?

Here are the top five interest rates offered by online checking accounts, according to RateWatch.

Gateway Metro Federal Credit Union (St. Louis)
Account: E*Hanced Checking
Rate: 6.02% APY on amounts up to $1,500
Conditions: According to the bank's website, membership is limited to those who live or conduct business in the St. Louis area. If you qualify for membership, you'll also have to sign up for their "e-package," which includes direct deposit, "cyber statements" and signing in at least once a month to their virtual branch. You'll also need to make 15 non-PIN transactions with your GMCU Visa debit card per month.

Alliance Credit Union (St. Louis)
Account: Premier Checking
Rate: 6% APY on balances up to $500
Condition: According to the Alliance website, membership in the credit union is limited to those living in certain counties in Missouri and Illinois, listed here (as with most credit unions, having family members in these areas also qualifies you for membership). As for the account itself, the only requirements are a $500 minimum balance and using direct deposit. All balances more than $500 earn .5% APY.

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