Banking Deals of the Week: Oct. 28

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Yikes. The government and the business media keep telling Americans that the U.S. economy is rising like a phoenix out of the recessionary ashes.

But regular Americans keep pouring cold water on Uncle Sam’s bonfire.

The latest example of this comes from The Conference Board, and its monthly consumer confidence number. In October, The Consumer Confidence Index fell to 47.7, despite estimates from Wall Street analysts that the number would pop in at 53.1. Anything above 90 means the economy is OK – anything above 100 and we’re in rampant growth territory.

So you don’t have to be Copernicus to figure out what a reading of 47.7 means.

But there’s a silver lining. With so little confidence in the economy, consumers tend to develop a “sixth sense” about value, and how to get a good deal.

Hence, our banking deals of the week. Despite the dismal economic climate, there are some honest-to-goodness low-risk value plays out there in the bank deposit climate.

Checking Account

Let’s start with a 4.51% APY on a rewards checking account from the Bank of Sierra. Anyone can open an account online, and you only need $50 to open account.

About the account: It’s a free checking deal that enables you to earn 4.51% on account balances up to $25,000. Anything above that number, you’ll earn just 1.01%.

You’ll also need to meet the minimum account requirements, which include . . .

  • A minimum 12 Sierra Check Card purchases per statement cycle;
  • A minimum one direct deposit or automatic payment from your account per statement cycle;
  • At least one online bill payment per statement cycle;
  • Use of electronic statements;
  • The account must be opened online.

Find out more at the bank’s Web site.

Bank CDs

Bank certificates of deposit are at historic lows — there’s no secret about that.

But with one-year CDs at 1.03%, according to the BankingMyWay Weekly CD Rate Tracker, a 1.95% rate on a 14-month CD sounds pretty good right now.

That’s the offer on the table from Stonebridge Bank, along with a 1.8% APY on its 18-month CDs, and a 2% APY on the bank’s two-year CD.

But you’d better act quickly. Smaller banks have a tendency to bounce CD rates around on a day-to-day basis, so don’t be surprised if the rates move downward as the days roll by.

The minimum deposit is $500, and you can open the account online. Find out more here.

Credit Cards

American Express (Stock Quote: AXP) has been particularly aggressive this year about offering great deals to credit card customers.

Amex is now offering 10,000 Membership Rewards bonus points if you can spend $500 in a three-month period. The deal also allows you to qualify for a $100 gift card.

As an Amex Membership Rewards program member, the card also qualifies you for “exclusive” access to live events, like rock concerts and ballgames.

The card does come with an annual $125 fee.

See for yourself here.

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

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