Banking Deals of the Week: June 9

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If you read yesterday’s CD Rates This Week, you might have noticed the downward trend for bank savings rates over the past year.

In a nutshell, the interest rate picture isn’t a pretty one. According to numbers compiled by Financial Systems, Inc., from May 21, 2009 to April 21, 2010, the following bank deposit rates have trended in a southerly direction:

Category                                              Trend via %

Interest Checking                                  -13.64%

Savings                                                  -24.39%

Money Markets                                      -34.57%

One-Year CDs                                       -40.24%

Even so, the rates and fees that banks charge to handle your money are on the rise. For example, Financial Systems estimates that the monthly flat fee banks charge for checking services has increased by 0.8% in the past year.

Hey, nobody ever said life was fair. But when bank rates dive, and bank fees rise — all while big financial institutions gorge themselves on taxpayer bailout money — you can’t blame consumers for being royally ticked off at banks.

Credit Cards

Let’s start this edition of Deals of the Week with an update on the Chase Freedom MasterCard and its seasonal “cash back” deal.

We’ve written about this deal before: Chase (Stock Quote: JPM) offers 5% cash back on specific purchase types at particular times. For example, you can earn 5% cash back if you visit Home Depot (Stock Quote: HD) this spring and use your Chase Freedom MasterCard to buy a few lawn chairs.

You can get the card and start participating in the program by taking the following steps:

  • Sign up for the Chase Freedom MasterCard.
  • Enroll your card in the current cash back categories at YourChaseFreedom.com.
  • During each three-month period, use your Chase Freedom MasterCard to make purchases that fall under that quarter’s qualifying product categories.

For the next few quarters, here’s what Chase is offering:

April through June

  1. Home Improvement
  2. Home Furnishings
  3. Lawn and Garden
  4. Drugstores

July through September

  1. Gas
  2. Auto Rentals
  3. Hotels
  4. Airlines

October through December

  1. Grocery Stores
  2. Movies
  3. Department Stores

Chase notes that you will be eligible for quarterly bonus rewards as long as your account is in good standing under the terms of your card agreement. Also note that Chase requires quarterly enrollments to get the 5% deal.

High Yield Checking

You might not have heard of Texas-based Amegy Bank, but it’s the “little bank that could” when it comes to decent checking account rates.

Currently, BankingMyWay’s Weekly Checking Account Rate Tracker pegs the average U.S. checking account rate at 0.123%.

But Amegy obliterates that figure with a 2.22% yield on its Smart Yield Checking account. There are some hurdles to clear, of course. To get the high rate, you need to:

  • Set up a direct deposit service
  • Sign up for e-statements
  • Access Amegy’s online banking system once a month
  • Make 10 signature-based transactions with your debit card

You can open up an account at the Houston-based bank with a minimum $50.00 deposit, or open an account online with a $1,000 minimum investment.

Find out more at Amegy Bank.

Certificates of Deposit

The good folks at DeositAccounts.com have done the legwork on this deal: a 1.65% APY on Dollar Savings Direct’s 16-month online CD.

Right now, the average one-year CD rate, as measured by the BankingMyWay Weekly CD Rate tracker, is just 0.743%. Even the two-year CD rate doesn’t approach 1.65% — it’s at 1.19%, according to BankingMyWay.

You won’t find the rate on the company Web site, but the extra interest may be worth the extra effort. Try calling the bank directly (at 1-866-395-8693) to sign up.

You’ll have to open a new savings account at Dollar Savings Direct to get the deal; it’s worth noting that the bank has had some financial problems over the past few years. But the bank did earn $11 million over the last quarter, and has received $20 million in additional funding.

Start the process here.

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

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