Banking Deals of the Week: Jan. 13

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Nobody wants to start a "Deals of the Week" column with bad news.

But for a frame of reference on how bad the economy is right now, we’re really in trouble when deep-discount big box retailer Sam’s Club is closing stores and laying off employees.

Sam’s Club, which is owned by Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT), is shuttering 10 stores and slashing its work staff by 1,500 employees. Most of the stores closed are in California, which has been particularly hard hit by the Great Recession.

It’s one thing when companies like AOL (Stock Quote: AOL) (2,500 employees), UPS (Stock Quote: UPS) (1,800 employees) and Lockheed-Martin (Stock Quote: LMT) (1,200 employees) lay off staffers. But when a deep-discount retailer (owned by Wal-Mart, no less) is cutting back, maybe consumers know what our economic policy experts don’t — that we’re in worse trouble than we thought.

On that charming note, on to the best bank deals this week.

Home Mortgages

AIG Bank (Stock Quote: AIG) is extending its $500 credit toward homebuyers’ closing costs through the end of March. The same deal holds true for AIG’s $500 closing discount credit for its home equity lines of credit, which has also been extended until March 31.

The particulars look like this right now:

  • If you want in on the AIG Bank mortgage loan deal, it has to be the first mortgage you’ve ever applied for at AIG Bank. In addition, you need to apply for the loan by March 31, and close by June 30.
  • For the home equity deal, borrowers can earn a $2,000 credit at closing through AIG Bank. The money can go toward typical closing cost items like appraisal fees, the bank says.

It’s a good deal with not too many strings attached. To learn more, visit the AIG site.

Money Market Accounts

With the average U.S. money market account at 0.36%, as measured by the BankingMyWay Weekly Money Market Rate Tracker, how does a money market deal at 2.25% with a three-month bonus rate of 1.51% sound?

That’s the deal EverBank is offering customers right now. Along with the deal, you get up to six withdrawals a month, earn no-fee online banking, and have the comfort of FDIC insurance on your deposits.

To get the way-above-average interest rates, you need to meet a $1,500 initial-payment requirement.

EverBank is growing fast, at a 26% clip in terms of net income through the third quarter of 2009, to $15.7 billion. That’s up from $6 billion during the same period in 2008.

Want to know more? Check out the EverBank site.

Bank Checking

Bank 1440 has a name right out of the Matrix — you can imagine Neo making a slow-motion deposit in mid-air while battling Agent Jones and his minions.

But even Neo might have gone “whoa!” when seeing the Phoenix-based Bank 1440’s 5.01% APY on its Optimum Checking Account — with no minimum balance.

The deal does have a ceiling — you only get the 5.01% rate with deposits up to $25,000. Anything higher than that and the APY falls to 2.01%.

You will need $100 to open the account — the bank calls it an administration fee — and you’ll have to agree to accept the bank’s Visa (Stock Quote: V) debit card.

To get the deal, you also need to take the following steps:

  • Enroll and receive electronic checking account statements.
  • Set up one direct deposit or automatic payment from your checking account.
  • Make 10 or more debit card transactions with your Free Visa Debit Card (not ATM).

To learn more, click here.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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