Deals of the Week: April 14
By: Brian O'Connell

Bank deposit rates seem poised to rise based on several economic trends, including a stronger stock market, the end of the Federal Reserve’s mortgage security buyback program, and higher Treasury bond rates (to attract more buyers).

But one factor that isn’t getting a lot of attention is the price of oil. Historically, the higher the price of oil, the higher interest rates go.

Oil has traded as high as $87 in recent weeks, and Goldman Sachs predicts that the price of a barrel of oil will rise above $100 by 2011. But the International Energy Agency estimates that oil could hit $100 as soon as this year.

So, one good rule of thumb in tracking bank rates is to follow the price of a barrel of oil. These days those prices are trending upward.

Now, on to this week’s deals.

Credit Cards

As rates start to rise, we’re seeing more decent bank deals. Let’s start this week with a good credit card deal from American Express (Stock Quote: AXP), which is offering free access to your Experian (Stock Quote: EXPN) credit score (but only if you’re an American Express cardholder).

To get the deal, log in to your American Express account on the link below. You can also find the deal at on your Amex account Web page, under “Card Options.”

The promotion is tied to Amex’s CreditSecure program, and it doesn’t require you to sign up for the program — even for a trial period — which is nice.

Find out more.

Bank Checking

JPMorgan Chase (Stock Quote: JPM) is back with its “now you see it, now you don’t” $100 cash bonus deal for signing up to its Chase CheckingSM Account.

The deal pops up every now and then and tends to disappear quickly, so you’ll need to get off the dime quickly on this one.

To qualify for the deal, you’ll need to open a new ChaseSM checking account with a $100 minimum deposit. You’ll also need to sign up for direct deposit — and have an actual direct deposit transaction within 60 days of signing up for the account.

Once you’ve accomplished those tasks, the $100 will be wired into your account within 10 days.

Once you’re on board, you qualify for the following account features, according to Chase:

  • Free access to 15,000 Chase ATMs nationwide
  • Free online banking & online bill pay
  • 24/7 access with Chase MobileSM on your phone
  • No monthly service fee with direct deposit or five debit card purchases

The promotion is due to end May 28 and is only available to new customers. Find out more at the Chase Web site.

Certificates of Deposit

With four-year certificate of deposit rates currently averaging 1.81%, according to the sbup Weekly CD Rate Tracker, grabbing a similar CD at 3% is a good deal.

That’s the deal on the table at INOVA Credit Union, which is offering a four-year CD with a 3% APY.

Credit union deals can be a bit dicey, as you have to be a member to reap the benefits. But joining INOVA doesn’t appear to have any roadblocks. Go to the credit union's become-a-member page and choose to join any one of several non-profit groups. From there, it’s easy access to the 3%, four-year CD deal.

Get the scoop here.

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