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Consumers are always interested in alternative ways to put a little money in their pockets, and some financial institutions offer checking accounts that can help with that. Nearly 300 community banks and credit unions offer Kasasa brand free checking with above-market interest rates and rewards.
Free checking with interest, you say? Indeed, among several free checking accounts, Kasasa offers its flagship Kasasa Cash, paying interest as high as 3% or more, and Kasasa Cash Back, which returns a percentage of each debit card purchase to customers. Both can also be linked with a high-interest savings account into which rewards are automatically deposited — a feature that might attract those who need encouragement to save.
Kasasa also attempts to appeal to younger consumers with nontraditional perks. Its Tunes account rewards users with free digital downloads of music, movies and apps. Yet another product comes with the ability to designate monetary donations to a favorite charitable cause. Kasasa accounts are available at about 1,200 bank and credit union branch offices around the country, require no minimum balance and include a set amount of refunds for fees incurred by using out-of-network ATMs nationwide.
So is there a catch? Not surprisingly, to qualify for the high rates and rewards, account holders do have to jump through certain hoops each month.
Depending on your usual spending behavior, requirements to make multiple debit card purchases, use bill payment services or do transactions online might be a breeze to meet, or a major annoyance. Each partner has its own set of specifications for the accounts. For example, Coulee Dam Federal Credit Union offers a Kasasa Cash account that allows customers to earn 2% on balances of up to $10,000 as long as they make at least 12 debit card transactions per month, enroll in online statements and banking, and sign up for either direct deposit or bill payments. For those who fail to meet the requirements for a particular month, the interest rate falls to 0.01%. Still no service fees, though, and up to $20 per month in ATM fees are covered.
Another partner, Money One Federal Credit Union, offers a Kasasa Cash checking account paying 3.01% on balances up to $10,000, with ATM fee refunds of up to $30 a month. To qualify, customers must make 10 debit card purchases and have one direct deposit or bill payment a month, as well as using online statements and banking. Customers just need $50 to open the account and there are no minimum requirements thereafter, but they must have at least one direct deposit or online bill payment made per month to qualify for the rate.
Founded in 2003, the Kasasa brand and products were designed to help community banks and credit unions offer consumers an attractive alternative to services from megabanks. With free checking and novel rewards, the company helps local financial institutions attract customers and build loyalty. The company premise is that consumers can enjoy personalized service and better support the local economy by keeping their money at a small lender nearby, where it can be loaned to area small businesses that create jobs and pay taxes. The company cites the Independent Community Bankers of America in saying that community banks with less than $10 billion in assets make almost 60% of all U.S. small-business loans.
With Kasasa’s high-interest checking accounts, consumers may have an opportunity to better their own personal finances while supporting local economic growth.