Banking Deals of the Week: Nov. 17

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Did you know there is a consumer "distress" index?

TheStreet has the details, but basically, a nonprofit credit counseling firm called CredAbility owns a Consumer Distress Index – and it shows that Americans are getting more anxious about the economy.

The Index is at 64.4 right now, down from 65.2 from the second quarter of 2010. CredAbility says any number below 70 indicates “financial distress.”

Any way you spin it, Americans just aren’t buying talk from Wall Street or Washington about an economic recovery. The fact that we even have such an index tells you how tough things are for many families right now.

Bank savers understand that, too. Interest rates are at historic lows, and the Federal Reserve seems determined to keep bank rates down, given its low-interest rate policy.

This is all the more reason to check out Deals Of the Week, your best bet for finding the best banking deals on the market – and for keeping your own “distress index” in check. Here are this week's finds:

Credit Cards

Discover (Stock Quote: DFS) is starting the holiday shopping season with a bang – a $100 bonus if you spend $500 during the next three months using a Discover More credit card.

The deal is only good for new cardholders, but even existing customers can get 5% cash back using the More card.

Here’s how to get in on the action. Go to the Discover More card page, fill out the application, choose a card design, and transfer the balance from your existing card if you like. And that’s about it. Discover says you’ll get your $100 within eight weeks of being approved for the More credit card.

With the Discover More card, you’ll also get:

  • 5% cash back bonus in categories like travel, home improvement stores, department stores, gas, groceries, restaurants, and many more.
  • Up to 1% unlimited Cash back Bonus on all other purchases automatically.
  • Unlimited cash rewards that never expire.
  • The ability to increase, or even double, your rewards every time you redeem for gift cards or instant eCertificates from over 100.

There’s also no expiration date on the deal, as far as we can see.

Find out more here.

Checking Account

Here’s another interesting holiday banking deal – a free Flip UltraHD video camera to take great pictures around the Christmas tree or the office holiday party this year.

The camera offer comes from FirstBank, and it’s valued at $145. To get the deal, just sign up for a FirstBank checking account online or over the phone (or at a branch in Colorado, Arizona or California). There is a catch, though. You must reside in one of the states listed above to qualify for the offer.

You’ll also need at least $50 to open an account. When you do, FirstBank will provide you with a redemption code to claim the HD camera. And if you try the old “grab and dash” ploy, FirstBank is ready for you. If you close your account down within six months of opening it, the bank will deduct $145 from your balance.

Here, from the FirstBank website, are some features on the checking account:

  • Open an account for only $50.
  • No monthly service charges.
  • No minimum balance requirements.
  • Monthly statements are sent to your home.
  • You have access to your funds at any time.
  • Funds are FDIC insured.
  • Check images are returned with your statements.
  • Unlimited transfers to other accounts.

Bank “Cash Back” Deals

M&T bank is out with a new cash back program that offers up to $200 back if you open a new checking account.

You’ll need to choose from one of three M&T personal checking accounts, get overdraft protection, and sign up for online bill pay.

If you do all three then you’ll earn the $200 cash back.

One note: It seems to be a tiered deal. You only get the $200 if you open an M&T “power” checking account. If you open an M&T “select” checking account, you’ll earn $150 cash bank. If you open an M&T “MyChoice” checking account, you’ll earn a $100 cash bonus.

The deal is good nationwide. Find out more here.

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

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