The average yield for interest-bearing rewards checking programs of credit unions and banks is now at 3.3%, but the average default APY when minimums are missed was 0.16%, "a significant drop," according to a new study issued by Bankrate Inc. the Florida-online research firm.
The survey, a first of its kind for the N. Palm Beach firm, was undertaken to project trends in the high-yield product considering "it has become a more popular option in the coming years" for financial institutions.
The study, said Bankrate, was aimed at discussing benefits of the accounts and pointing out for consumers "some of the traps to avoid to make the accounts worthwhile."
Among key findings:
The balance cap for earning the high APY was, most commonly, $25,000.
Of the accounts surveyed, 95% have a requirement for a certain number of debit card transactions to be made each month in order to receive the highest APY. The average amount of debit card transactions required was 11, but the most common requirement was 10 per month.
Ninety-one percent of the rewards checking accounts surveyed have requirements for direct deposit and/or bill pay, but 48% only require one or the other. One direct deposit per month is the standard requirement.
Also the survey said a mandatory bill-pay requirement is demanded by 35%, ranging from logging in to as many as four bill payments per month. One bill payment per month is the most common requirement, said Bankrate.