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.
Bank Mutual (Wisconsin)
Account: Premium Interest Checking
Rate: 6% on balances up to $1,000
Conditions: As this is a bank, and not a credit union, residency is not a requirement for joining - though you'll have to go to a branch to open an account. You have to use your MasterCard debit card 15 times a month to avoid monthly fees, and the rate drops to .02% for balances beyond $1,000. ATM fees apply if you make five or more ATM transactions in a given month.
Liberty Bank (Florida, Illinois and Iowa)
Rate: 5% APY on balances up to $500
Conditions: This account is available to everyone, and you can apply online or in a branch. To get this rate, you must complete 15 MasterCard debit card transactions per payment cycle and also receive e-statements. Amounts between $2,500 and $10,000 earn 3% APY. Meanwhile, amounts between $10,000 and $25,000 earn 2%, and anything beyond $25,000 earns 0.2%.
NavyArmy Federal Credit Union (Texas)
Account: Liberty Checking
Rate: 4.51% APY on balances up to $25,000
Conditions: To join this credit union you must reside in one of the Texas counties listed here. The rate drops to 1.01% APY for balances above $25,000. To maintain the interest rate, customers must make 10 check card transactions a month, receive monthly e-statements and set up one monthly direct deposit or automatic payment from the account.