Lets cut right to the facts shall we? Today my precious savers, I have a golden nugget of information that will serve you well as you decide upon a savings plan. Could the answer be some new municipal bond? How about a checking account instead? Today I humbly introduce you to the CU Xcel Checking Account offered by the Belvoir Federal Credit Union. The good news is that this account, seriously offers a high interest rate for balances up to $25,000 as well as ATM refunds, for any cash withdrawals. This sounds easy enough, so the skeptical side of every saver should be buzzing regarding the quintessential catch.
The first catch, involves the saver’s status. After talking with the clerk at the Belvoir credit union, she mentioned that one had to be in good standing and either a veteran or a worker who conducted business regularly at Fort Belvoir. This is a grand obstacle indeed. If you are a military service veteran, you meet this requirement aptly and soundly. However, if you are a civilian worker, you need to show proof you conduct business at Fort Belvoir (via contracts, employment stubs or badges). Moreover, the whole “good standing” is subject to discretionary decision-making by the bank manager.
I kid you not, I asked the manager what “good standing” meant and she replied, “I need to find out if there is anything bad about your character.” I smirked softly, imagining her doing her own Google background check. Interesting, but I’m assured the good reader is likely, not a baddie, to disqualify their application.
The second catch involves the 15 required check card transactions per month. Not a problem. We all get gas weekly, groceries; some of us even charge our credit cards for common bills like gas and electric. So I would grade this hurdle as an inconvenient one, but easily met by a conscientious saver.
The direct deposit catch is also an easy obstacle to jump, as military veterans can use their current pay (disability, veteran’s benefit and so forth) to meet this requirement. For civilian workers, I suggest you keep an eye on that salary deposit, as you could easily go over the 25k maximum in an attempt to maximize the 4% benefit. If you have $25,001 in your account at the end of the cycle, you automatically revert to the dismally low rate of .10%!!! This is what I would call the clandestine catch.
Finally the online banking access can be done early in the month, and the receipt of E-statements is nothing more than a click with the right mouse button.
In summary, the interest rate is great, as long as you maintain 15 check card transactions, one direct deposit or electronic withdrawal, receive an e-Statement and access BOB (Belvoir Online Banking). The clandestine catch in the fine print is that if you go over 25,000, you lose both free ATM refunds, as well as the 4.01% interest rate. If you take this advice, you would be wise to keep your balance to 20k (depending on your salary) and earn an easy $80.00 every month. Is it worth the pain? The answer lies in your savings bubble. After my calculations, I estimate that if you have approximately 40-45k in savings you would be better off with an online savings account such as those offered at bankrate.com. Receiving 2% on this amount puts you in the same monthly earning amount as this credit union. The only variable in this equation would be if Belvoir Credit Union ever increased the maximum holdings. In such a situation, I would personally reconsider this savings tool. Good luck, and save smartly!