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Category: Bank Deals, Checking Accounts- fhuff- 2:49 pm/ March 26, 2010

Open a Key Express Free Checking Account by April 30, 2010, and you could earn a $150 bonus. To be eligible for the gift you must make one transaction with a KeyBank rewards debit card, plus a combination of two direct deposits and/or automated payments of at least $100 by July 2, 2010.

Other details of the checking account offer include:

  • No minimum balance requirement
  • No monthly maintenance service charge
  • No per-check fees or limits
  • No fees for using KeyBank debit card for purchases made with your signature or using a PIN
  • Free, unlimited use of the bank’s nationwide ATM network

The checking account also offers free online bill pay and 24-hour access to accounts. Transfers between KeyBank and accounts at other institutions are also free.

There is a limit of one $150 bonus per qualifying account, as well as one per individual. The money is deposited into your checking account within 90 days of meeting all the requirements. You can only qualify for the gift is you do not currently have a KeyBank checking account.

Bill Pay, debit card automated payments, PayPal, and account-to-account balance transfers are excluded from automated payments that qualify for the $150 bonus.

You also must enroll in the KeyBank Rewards program, which has a $20 annual fee that is waived for the first year the checking account is open.

KeyBank is based in Cleveland.

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Ally Bank

Category: Bank Deals, CD Rates- fhuff- 2:24 pm/

Current certificate of deposit (CD) rates at Ally Bank are competitive with other banks. You can open a CD with no minimum deposit and no monthly fees. Current CD rates are:

  • 0.89% annual percentage yield (APY) for three months
  • 1.25% APY for six months
  • 0.98% APY for nine months
  • 1.55% APY for 12 months
  • 1.68% APY for 18 months
  • 2.39% APY for three years
  • 2.64% APY for four years
  • 3.09% APY for five years

Those rates are as of March 25, 2010, so check with the bank for the most recent figures. Ally Bank offers a 10 day best rate guarantee. When you fund a CD within 10 days of opening it, you are guaranteed the best rate the bank offers during that 10-day period.

Interest on an Ally Bank CD compounds daily, instead of monthly or quarterly. That can help your money grow faster. Interest is compounded on principal and accumulated interest.

The CD is automatically renewed upon maturity. You can withdraw interest as income if you notify the bank before the maturity date or within 10 days after that.

Money that is taken out before maturity is subject to an early withdrawal fee of 60 days’ interest. That fees does not apply to No Penalty CDs.

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Banks vs. Credit Unions

Category: News and Notes- fhuff- 1:29 pm/

More financial experts are urging consumers to drop their banks and join credit unions. While most people are familiar with banks, many aren’t as familiar with what is involved with joining a credit union. Here are some of the differences between the two types of institutions.

  • Credit unions are owned and controlled by members. Those members may belong to the same church, neighborhood, or community group, or work at the same company. Banks are run by investors  and decisions are made by a board of directors.
  • Any profits made at a credit union are distributed to members.
  • Savings and checking accounts, and other investments made through banks are usually insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). Credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration.
  • Credit unions usually don’t have as many ATM machines in their network. However, if you have account at a credit union, the fees may be reimbursed for out-of-network ATM use.
  • You may have an easier time getting a loan from a credit union. In some cases if you are turned down you may be able to appeal the decision and be reconsidered for a loan.

Just as there are good and bad banks, not all credit unions are created equal. If you are eligible for membership in more than one credit union, take the time to carefully compare their products and policies.

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H&R Block

Category: CD Rates, Savings Account Rates- fhuff- 4:42 pm/ March 19, 2010

H&R Block is known for helping millions of Americans file their income tax returns. But did you know H&R Block also offers banking products?

H&R Block Bank has a 12-month certificate of deposit (CD) rate of 1.5% annual percentage yield (APY). The CD requires a minimum of $250 to get started. You get free online access to your account, which is insured up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). CD rates as of March 1, 2010 include:

  • 0.5% APY for 30 days
  • 0.75% APY for 90 days
  • 1% APY for 180 days
  • 1.5% APY for 18 months
  • 1.75% APY for 24 months
  • 2% APY for 36, 48, and 60 months

H&R Block also offers savings accounts, which include:

  • Free ATM card
  • Online access
  • $25 minimum to open
  • Interest earned on entire balance
  • Unlimited deposits

The savings account also has no monthly service fee with minimum daily balance of $100. Savings accounts allow six free withdrawals each quarter and a refund of up to $4 for ATM fees at non-H&R Block machines.

The savings rate is 1% APY as of March 1, 2010. Interest on savings accounts accrues daily and is credited monthly. Savings rates are subject to change at anytime, so check with the bank for the most current rates.

H&R Block, based in Kansas City, MO also offers checking accounts and IRAs.

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Many banks are offering customers the option of receiving monthly statements online. Should you sign up for electronic access to your savings and checking accounts?

The main reason to receive electronic statements for savings and checking accounts is to cut down on using paper. Whether you are concerned about the environment and want to save trees, or simply want to reduce clutter, going paperless can help.

When you sign up for accounts at online banks, they usually require you to receive statements electronically. But more brick and mortar banks are also urging customers to go paperless. That’s because it’s cheaper for them to email your statement than to mail it.

You can also choose to receive privacy notices and other important documents from your bank online. There is usually no fee to enroll in a bank’s program to receive electronic statements. Usually you have access to statements for many months after they’ve been issued.

Going paperless can also help you cut down on the potential for fraud. It’s not uncommon for identity thieves to go through mailboxes or trash to find savings and checking account statements or credit card mailings. If you print out copies of bank  statements, be sure to shred before throwing them out.

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