Posted by Chuck on August 28, 2016
Checking Accounts

Published on August 28th, 2016 | by Chuck


Alden Credit Union 5% Rewards Checking Account, up to $5,000 [MA only]

Offer at a glance

  • Interest Rate: 5.125% APY (5% actual rate)
  • Minimum Balance: None, $10 minimum to open
  • Maximum Balance: $5,000
  • Availability: Nationwide, anyone can join by becoming a member of ACC for $5 Must live within 100 miles of branch, all branches in MA. [Branch Locator]
  • Direct deposit required: Yes
  • Additional requirements: Yes, see below 
  • Hard/soft pull: Soft
  • Credit card funding: Unknown
  • Monthly fees:  None 
  • Early Account Termination Fee: Yes, $25 within 3 months
  • Insured: NCUA

The Offer

Direct Link

  • Alden Credit Union offers 5.125% APY on their ‘Nuff Said checking account on balances up to $5,000

Any portion of the balance above $5,000 will earn the standard .1%.

To get the 5% rate, the following qualifications must be met:

  • Must make 20 point-of-sale (POS) or signature based transactions per billing cycle with your debit card
  • Must enroll in eStatements, Online Banking, and Mobile Banking
  • Must set up Direct Deposit

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 12.54.48 PM

Becoming a Member

There are three ways to be eligible to become a member of Alden Credit Union:

  • Those who live in the counties of Hampden or Hampshire in Massachusetts are automatically eligible
  • Family members of members are automatically eligible
  • Most of us will become eligible by joining American Consumer Council (ACC) for $5

The Alden application form indicates that they’ll automatically pay the fee for ACC membership if you choose the ACC  option. It seems that even if you are an existing member of ACC, you’ll end up paying the fee again.

The form does not specify how much ACC membership is, but the fee is $5 so that should be the amount they take from your account to cover the fee.

When joining the credit union, you’ll also have to buy a $25 share to join. That money is frozen as a share of the credit union; you can get it back should you decide to terminate your membership.

Avoiding Fees

There aren’t any monthly fees or any other fee we know about.

We also haven’t found any mention of an early termination fee, but there isn’t any monthly fee so it doesn’t matter much.

Our Verdict

Interesting to see another 5% checking account option, one that just recently came into play in July, apparently.

We don’t know if they do a hard pull or not, so that’s obviously a big question mark here. Hard pull aside, it’s a good deal overall since we can automate most of it and benefit the 5% rate pretty easily.

  • Enroll in eStatement, online banking, and download the app to enroll in mobile banking
  • Set up a monthly automated direct deposit to the account; hopefully, a small monthly ACH transfer will do the trick
  • Make 20 small purchases per month on the card, e.g. a $.50 Amazon reload or other options

For the hassle of making twenty small debit transactions per month, you’ll get interest of around $21 per month, or $250 per year.

One hesitation I have here is that recently both Netspend and Mango throttled their high-interest savings rate, and it’s always possible that Alden will do the same in six months or a year from now. In any case, assuming no hard pull it might be worth the hassle.

We’ll add this Alden checking account to our full list of high-interest accounts.

Hat tip to depositaccounts

34 Responses to Alden Credit Union 5% Rewards Checking Account, up to $5,000 [MA only]

  1. Nick says:

    ….and must stand on one leg and juggle three bananas while reciting the alphabet backwards. Too many hoops to jump through.

    • yussuf says:

      agree. im completely losing track of where my money is nowadays, but im still debating if the hassle is worth the extra mulla

    • Chuck says:

      This one actually doesn’t look bad to me if it lasts for a while. Of course, it’s still a hassle and not worth it for many.

      • anthonyjh21 says:

        I think you nailed it. For me it’s a question of how long they’ll stick with this offer. Is it worth it if I get at least a year of interest? Yeah I’d do it. But if they pull the plug or close my account after say 5 months? Then no thanks.

  2. FB says:

    Changing my direct deposit AND twenty transactions…pass

  3. Simple says:

    How “safe” are those micro-transactions at Amazon? Is there a risk of Amazon or the bank shutting down my account?

  4. Jeff H says:

    McDonald’s 89 cent soda can be habit forming. Some convenience stores are cheaper.
    IF you still have the NorthPointe Bank deal, I would stay there and not switch. Bird in hand theory.

  5. bob says:

    got halfway thru the application process: funding via “existing alden account, or mail a check or money order”

    so, no CC funding. also, no ACH transfer (for funding, i don’t know about DD)

    i like accounts like these ($250/yr) – like Santander’s Easy20 – b/c they fund a couple cards’ annual fees. but 20 transactions/mo? even w/ circle pay, that’s a lot to remember

  6. anthonyjh21 says:

    BTW if anyone knows, please update this post and let us know if Alden has free, automated ACH.

    While triggering as DD is unknown (DoC DD page is blank for Alden) it would be great to start to fill in the blanks. I use 1% savings accounts to trigger a few automated ACH (Mango for example) and would happily switch over if possible. As much as I love LMCU, the one thing that could be better is having the ability to schedule transfers with external accounts. Then again it might be why they still offer 3% on $15k and have for a while now.

  7. tbradnc says:

    Amazon minimum is now $1.00… no more $0.50.

  8. banananon says:

    Took the plunge and applied. During their identity verification, they asked me four questions. Two of them were the ‘fake’ questions asking about mortgages/loans you never had, and the last one asked which year I opened an ‘Amex’ account. Since I have multiple Amex cards, there were multiple correct answers.

    I apparently guessed wrong, failed the ID check, and now my app is being held for review. Still waiting for them to contact me.

    Interestingly enough it seems like they treat the $25 share deposit as a separate savings account. It even earns .1% APY. They required initial deposit to be mailed as a check or money order.

  9. Revil says:

    Bad experience signing up.

    I expected something like a welcome packet, or at the bare minimum instructions to print out a deposit slip. Instead nothing. When I tried calling them about it, the girl that first picks up the phone transfers me to someone else, then she says I need to speak to Kerrie, transfers me to her, then she’s never available. I’ve left voicemails, and she never got back to me. After a month, they finally got back to me (with a super sketchy link to a secure message site), with the following.

    Good Morning,

    Thank you for your interest, unfortunately your residence is out of our 100 mile radius, therefore we are unable to open accounts for you at this time.

    Thank you

    Seems they really don’t want my business.

    • banananon says:

      I had a similar experience with Kerri. Seems like she doesn’t answer phone messages and is out of the office Monday and Tuesday. Today though, after over a month since I applied for the account, I was able to finalize the account opening.

      That sucks that they told you you aren’t close enough. I’m all the way over in CA and I had no problems.

  10. Erik says:

    At the end of September, I was informed that I could apply with the ACC option, even when living out of state.

    I applied on 10/1/16 and was immediately denied because I do not live within 100 miles radius (I had checked the ACC option).

    I also have another residence within 100 miles but I do not have a MA ID anymore (e.g. drivers license) so they rejected me because of that as well.

    I think that they changed the criteria at the end of September, the same day that I called ;-(.

  11. Jay says:

    “Availability: Nationwide, anyone can join by becoming a member of ACC for $5”
    “Most of us will become eligible by joining American Consumer Council (ACC) for $5”

    Nope. Just tried it, got denied for using a physical address that was more than 100 miles from their main branch.

  12. Jack says:

    Just started using this a few months back. It is a nice $20/month and requires one Saturday afternoon of doing micro transactions of gas. Their services are a bit outdated, but it is perfect for my emergency fund.

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