It’s getting toward the end of August, and banks are betting that rate-focused consumers – busy with vacations and the back-to-school season – aren’t playing close attention to the lack of bank deals right now.

Expect that to change after Labor Day, when family finances once again come front and center. Then banks – if they want to compete – should step up with some interest deals in volume, and not just once in a while, like we’re seeing now.

So for the last few weeks of August let’s keep the spotlight on good bank deals, while we wait for even better pickings when America gets back from summer vacation.

Combined CD/Credit Card Deal

We’ve been tough on some of the bigger financial institutions, who have been stingy in doling out good interest rate deals to customers. As we’ve said all along, banks don’t have to get off the dime when they can get cheap money from the federal government. Thus, the impetus for offering good rates deals has grown weaker – and consumers pay the price with some depressingly low yields on things like certificates of deposit and checking accounts.

But Citibank (Stock Quote: C), through its Citi Secured MasterCard, is offering new credit card customers (who often used secured credit cards to gain some much-needed credit) a chance at a big payoff on one of its CDs.

Here’s the deal. Citi is offering anyone who qualifies for the Secured MasterCard access to an 18-month CD paying 4% interest – that’s 175 basis points above the 2.25% rate that CD is touting for its regular 18-month offering.

To get the rate, you need to put up collateral against the card – a common occurrence for secured credit cardholders – of up to $25,000. That’s a lot of dough, but you don’t need to hit the maximum to qualify for the deal. In fact, $500 or so should get you in the door.

What’s on the other end of the deal? It’s not like Citi makes the money back on a wallet-gouging interest rate. At 13%, the rate is comparable to many credit card deals out there right now. Just don’t close the credit card before the 18-month CD period expires. You’ll be whacked with an early withdrawal penalty and will lose the credit card.

Look for more details here.

Bank Checking Accounts

KeyBank has had a checking account deal where consumers can get a free Garmin (Stock Quote: GRMN) GPS unit for months – but now they’re following the Garmin product pipeline with the newest versions of the GPS.

To get your hands on a new Garmin nuvi 12000 GPS or a Garmin nuvi 1350 GPS, all you have to do is open a Key Express Free Checking account by Sept. 11 and make one KeyBank Rewards debit card transaction plus a combination of two direct deposits and/or automated payments each of $100 or more by November 13, 2009.

The debit card is a new wrinkle – you’ll need it to qualify, and you’ll need to enroll in Key’s reward points program, too.

Still, the GPS 1350 costs $279.99 retail (the 1200 GPS goes for $179.99), so if you like the Garmin GPS and need a new checking account, you don’t need a road map to figure this one out.

Note: you’ll have to wait 90 days to actually receive your GPS.

Get more details here.

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