Banking Deals of the Week: Sept. 23

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You know times are tough when Uncle Sam, just like the rest of us, has to go to a bank - red, white and blue top hat in hand - and ask for a loan.

That’s exactly what "The New York Times" reproted Tuesday, as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. may have to borrow money from banks to fatten up its depleted cash resources.

Traders are already joking that banks shouldn’t get back into the business of lending money to unqualified buyers, but the bigger takeaway is that banks are actually healthy enough to bail out the U.S. government.

That should mean banks are also big enough to offer bank deposit customers some good deals.

Actually, we are seeing more deals, especially from bigger banks, that could put more cash into bank investors' pockets. Here are the best of the lot from this week:

Checking Acounts

Citbank (Stock Quote: C) is out with another of its periodic “$100 bonus” programs if you open a new checking account. But you have act fast.

Here’s the deal: Open a Citibank regular checking account by the end of this month (Sept. 30) and pop $1,000 into the account.

To earn the free $100, make one direct deposit within 30 days; or make two bill payments through your online Citibank account, and you’ll qualify for the bonus. You can also earn the money by making five non-PIN debit card transactions within a month – then do the same thing again for three straight months to earn the $100 bonus.

Note you can’t open an account at Citibank branches. Also, the offer is not available for existing Citi customers.

It’s a good deal, but make sure to read the fine print.

CDs

Another big bank – Discover (Stock Quote: DFS) – has a nice deal out this week, on five-year certificates of deposit.

Discover Bank is offering a highly competitive 3.35% rate or return on its five-year CD and a 1.95% yield on its one-year CD. A bonus: the latter deal comes with a penalty-free provision. So if you need some money from the one-year CD (if you lose your job, for example) you can get your hands on some quick cash with this option.

You’ll need to reach the minimum balance of $2,500, and the “no penalty” provision doesn’t kick in for the five-year CD.

The deal is good for CDs opened between July 1 and Dec. 31.
Note that if you take advantage of the early withdrawal penalty you’ll need to demonstrate proof of unemployment to Discover Bank.
Check out the bank’s Web site for more information:


Credit Cards

Discover is back with another good deal – this one on its Discover More credit card.

It’s a zero-interest card transfer deal that charges no interest on balance transfers for six months (including purchases). The deal goes down for all billing cycles through March 2010.

Some more good news: Discover doesn’t charge an annual fee and the balance transfer fee of 3% of the outstanding debt is about two percentage points lower than most credit card balance transfer deals.

Some potentially bad news: Discover isn’t offering the deal to everybody. You’ll need good credit and you have to be a new card member.
Check out the complete deal here.

—For a comprehensive credit report, visit the BankingMyWay.com Credit Center.

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