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It’s back to meat-and-potatoes this week, with some surprisingly good rates out there in a tough consumer banking environment.

The deals this week? Let’s focus on old perennials like certificates of deposit, money markets and bank savings accounts.


There is much to be said for those smaller, regional banks that provide great rates and open the door nationwide for customers to sign up online. That’s a big draw these days. Most of the great offers out there these days are from smaller banks that only cater to customers in the bank’s (often small) community.

Take Pacific Mercantile Bank, which operates in and around Los Angeles with branches in Beverly Hills and Long Beach, among other locales.

The bank is offering a two-year CD through the bank’s Individual Retirement Account program with an interest rate of 2.5%. Compare that deal to the 1.57% rate estimated this week by the National CD Rate Tracker – that’s almost a full percentage point difference for bank customers.

Pac Mercantile also has the same rate deal for an 18-month CD and a five-year CD.

Are there strings attached? Possibly, but only if you’re low on cash. The bank requires a $7,500 minimum deposit on the IRA account you open, and there is a $30 annual account “maintenance” fee. The rates were good as of Aug. 4.

The bank makes it pretty clear that anyone can open an account online. Just log on and fill out the form. With IRA’s, you might need some documents from the bank – but the Web site let’s you know how to get that done.

Money Market Accounts

No doubt, most big banks have not stepped up to the plate with aggressive bank interest rate deals, leaving the terrain, as we’ve pointed out, to regional banks like Pac Mercantile, and to online financial institutions, as well.

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Then again, why should they? Money is cheaper than ever, and the government is practically giving it away.

So why would a bank raise interest rates on CDs and savings accounts? If they need some cash, Uncle Sam is only a phone call away.
Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC) has been one of the worst offenders, with a “Regular Savings” rate of 0.1%, as of Aug. 11.

But the bank is making up for some of its weaker rate offerings with a new money market offer for a unique audience – the teachers, current and former, who belong to the high-profile National Education Association.

Here’s the deal: an NEA-sponsored money market account with a 2% interest rate – a rate offer locked in to Dec. 31. You’ll need a $5,000 minimum deposit and you’ll have to open your account by Aug. 15. It’s definitely worth a call to Bank of America to see if you can get that date extended – some banks are amenable to doing that.

Also, you can only open the account via phone, and only through the NEA – don’t bother walking into a Bank of America branch and asking for this deal. To open the account, call 1-800-215-2727 and mention Group ID #62982.

Savings Accounts

Some banks are increasingly open to hooking new savings account customers with a short-term “teaser” rate that will entice customers and get their feet in the bank’s door, so to speak.

That’s the strategy behind 1st Constitution Direct’s Super Savings Internet Special – an online bank savings account that pays a whopping 2.5% interest rate for the first three months.

After that, the rate falls to 2.25% – still way better than the 0.23% recorded this week by the BankingMyWay National Savings Account Rates Tracker.

You’ll have to pay a hefty entrance fee for this deal – a $10,000 minimum deposit. If you can’t manage that, you still can earn a savings rate of 1.6% on the Super Saver Account. Even better, the offer is open to anyone in the country – you just have to sign up online.

Find out more details here.

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