Banking Deals of the Week: May 19

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We seem to be at a fork in the road economically, as the so-called surge in employment has stalled, and more and more Wall Street gurus are advising people to start selling out of the stock market.

A few big reasons, as we pointed out yesterday in BankingMyWay’s CD Trends are the “Three Gs” — Goldman Sachs (Stock Quote: GS), Greece and the Gulf of Mexico. All three issues have dominated the news cycle in recent weeks, and may point to an overall slowdown in economic activity, each for their own reasons:

Goldman Sachs: Congressional hearings on Goldman Sachs' questionable trading and investment practices poured more fuel on the Wall Street fire. Reformers point to Goldman Sachs as what’s wrong with the financial markets — but Congress could over-extend its reach and crimp Wall Street’s capitalist nature.

Greece: Drowning in debt, economists are watching Greece like a miner watches a canary. If Greece collapses, other nations may be next.

The Gulf: British Petroleum (Stock Quote: BP) seems to have gained some ground on that massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But the public relations disaster hasn’t gone away and investors have to wonder what the spill’s impact will have on U.S. energy policy.

Call it bad luck or lousy timing, but the Three Gs popped up at the worst possible period for the U.S. economy. Taken together, they threaten to negatively influence consumers and investors, and bring the fragile economic recovery to a screeching halt.

If so, that would serve to keep bank interest rates down, as more people flee the stock market for the safe haven of bank deposit rates.

On that sobering note, let’s move forward with a look at some of the best deals of the week — deals that could take some of the sting out of the troubling economic news emanating from the Three Gs story.

Checking Accounts

First National Community Bank is out with a new checking rewards program that pays a highly competitive rate of 3.04% APY.

It’s called the Maximum Earnings Account, and it comes across with the great rate on accounts up to $25,000. It also comes with a solid ATM rebate program and it has a $700 bounced-check protection limit.

To get the deal, you need to clear the following hurdles:

  • 10 debit card purchases
  • One direct deposit or automatic payment
  • You need to receive electronic statements

You need a minimum initial payment of $100 and accounts can be opened by anyone in the U.S.

Benefits include:

  • An interest rate of 3.04% APY on balances up to and including $25,000 and .75% APY on balances above $25,000.
  • ATM Fees will be refunded up to $999.99 per statement cycle.
  • Unlimited check writing and no monthly service fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Bounce Protection Limit — $700
  • Free FNCB online and FNCB online bill payment
  • Free checks
  • Free overdraft protection
  • No fee travelers checks
  • Free official bank checks

Get more information at FNCB.com.

Credit Cards

American Express (Stock Quote: AXP) allows you to “make a wish upon a card” with a new program that offers Amex cardholders a three-times-weekly deep discount on products and services.

The program is called the “Daily Wish” and it’s in operation every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On each of those days Amex unveils a new bargain on its Web site. Cardholders can then click the “I Want It” button and buy the product or service.

For example, on May 19, Amex offered a pair of high-end Canon (Stock Quote: CAJ) digital cameras at a 40% discount. On May 20, Amex customers can go up the scale to a pair of Ford (Stock Quote: F) Fusion hybrid cars at a 50% discount (for $14,337 apiece).

In budget conscious times, consumers may come to depend on the kinds of deals they can get with the Daily Wish deal. Get more information at the Amex Web Site.

Business Checking

Small business owners looking for a break on bank transactions would do well to give BankAtlantic (Stock Quote: BBX) a look.

The Florida-based bank is giving business owners who open a BankAtlantic Business Checking Account 1,000 free transactions per month. That’s not the only perk — business customers also receive:

  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No monthly fees
  • Free coin and currency deposits (up to $5,000)
  • Free bill pay

Apply for the checking account at BankAtlantic.com.

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

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