Banking Deals of the Week: Sept. 9

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Before we go into the Deals of the Week, I’d like to give a quick word on the economy as it relates to bank rates.

The latest news comes from the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, which says that while the U.S. economy is indeed growing, it’s at a much slower pace than other post-recession periods.

Prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Sept. 8 release of the beige book is a veritable “good news-bad news” offering. On the upside, consumer spending is up, even as consumers remain cautious and focus on “non-expensive items.” Manufacturing is also up, albeit slightly, although the pace of growth varied in different parts of the country, with the Boston and Cleveland areas showing the highest growth, and Atlanta and Chicago among the regions reporting the lowest growth.

But home sales and demand for commercial real estate remain down, the Beige Book reports, impacted by the end of the new homebuyer tax credit on the housing front, and continuing tough conditions for businesses on the commercial real estate side.

A tepid recovery will likely keep bank rates low, especially if the economy absorbs any further bad news. Stock market investors are skittish enough these days, and any piece of negative news could result in a stampede into the bond markets. That heightened demand for safety would likely tamp bank rates down, as the Fed would surely keep interest rates low and banks wouldn’t have to hike their deposit rates with so much business walking through their front doors.

So for now, it’s more of the same – low bank rates until good news appears.

Small Business Checking

Now, onto the Deals of the Week, with the first bargain out of the gate coming from Comerica Bank (Stock Quote: CMA).

The bank has a nice deal on the table for small business customers – and their employees. It’s a $200 offer to open a small business checking account with some nice perks attached.

Here’s how it works. Simply open a small business checking account at Comerica and make a $5,000 initial deposit. That will get you the $200 right off the bat. But if you convince any of your employees to open a retail checking account at Comerica, they’ll earn $100 for opening a new account, and you’ll get an additional $50 for each employee referral.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • $200 for new customers opening a business checking account and making a $5,000 deposit.
  • 50 per employee who opens an account and registers.
  • $100 for opening a personal checking account and completing other requirements.

The offer is only good for business owners who don’t currently have a Comerica business checking account. Make sure to use the promotion code supplied to you by the bank when you sign up online.

Here’s the Comerica site where you can sign up – it will walk you through a three-step process.

Credit Cards

This deal was originally reported by MyBankTracker.com, and it’s a potential bonanza for American Express (Stock Quote: AXP) Premiere Rewards Gold Card members.

Right now, Amex is offering a free Amazon (Stock Quote: AMZN) Kindle, plus a $100 Amazon gift card for new cardholders. But there is a big caveat: To get the deal you must already be an American Express cardholder, and on Amex’s direct mailing list. In other words, you won’t find the deal online  - you’ll find it in your mailbox.

When you do get the mailer, just sign up for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card and spend $200 using the card prior to Oct. 31.

Here is the breakdown of what you’ll earn by opening an account with Amex and spending that $200 by the end of October:

  • An Amazon Kindle 2
  • A $100 Amazon gift card
  • One point per dollar spent
  • No annual fee the first year
  • 15,000 extra points if you spend $30,000 in the first year
  • Triple points on airfare
  • Double points on gas and groceries

If you’re interested in signing up for the Amex Gold Rewards Card anyway, visit the American Express website.

Certificates of Deposit

Navy Federal Credit Union has sliced its CD rates, and that seems an unlikely start to a Deals of the Week segment.

But hear us out: Even with the reduction in CD rates, Navy Federal still offers some of the best CD rates in the marketplace.

For example, the credit union’s 18-month CD, which saw a rate cut from 1.55% to 1.45%, is still light years better than the average two-year CD, as measured by the BankingMyWay Weekly CD Rate Tracker. The tracker has that rate at 0.992%, so Navy Federals’ 18-month CD is still more than 50 basis points higher than the national average.

Here’s a rundown of the credit union’s other CD rates (most of them at the long end of the CD scale):

  • 3.55% APY 7-year CD $20K minimum
  • 3% APY 5-year CD $100K minimum
  • 2.9% APY 5-year CD $20K minimum
  • 1.45% APY 18-month CD $10K minimum

View all of Navy Federal’s rates at NavyFederal.org.

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

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