Deals of the Week: March 24
By: Brian O'Connell

Today’s the day that Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC) unveils its new “scrolling survey” billboard in Times Square. You might call it the biggest mobile application ever — it generates poll questions about retirement and passers-by can text responses that Bank of America posts on the billboard throughout the day.

Bank of America hopes to take the survey data and plug it into its retirement services program and tout new service features that customers walking through Times Square say they want.

No, it’s not the first time a bank has advertised on a giant Times Square billboard. But it is the first time a bank has engaged with Times Square’s audience interactively, using cell phone texting technology to directly tap into consumer attitudes about banking services.

It’s a step in the right direction by Bank of America, and a good pubic relations move, as well. But customers would likely prefer better rate deals than neon-lit billboards.

On to this week’s deals...

Money Market Account

EverBank takes pride in the “yield pledge” it displays on its Web site.

The pledge goes like this: “We promise that your yield will always be in the top 5% of competitive accounts of leading banks. So you never have to worry if you’re getting the best returns on your money.”

But let's give credit where credit is due. Everbank is offering a 2.25% APY for new money-market account customers. According to the sbup Weekly Money-Market Rate Tracker, the average money-market interest rate this week is 0.339%.

Thus the Everbank money-market rate deal is light years ahead of the national average.

Aside from the great rate, Everbank is offering:

  • A low $1,500 initial-deposit requirement.
  • No-fee online and mobile banking.
  • Up to six withdrawals per month.
  • FDIC-insured account.

Find out more here.

Credit Cards

Chase (Stock Quote: JPM) has developed quite a following for its Chase Freedom credit card. The card is known as one of the most generous cards in terms of offering cash-back deals to customers.

Now, Chase is upping the ante by bumping up its cash-back deal from 3% to 5%, effective March 15. The deal is part of Chase’s “quarterly” cash-back program, which targets different periods of the year for cash-back rewards. For example, in this quarter, Chase card users can earn cash back after purchases of spring-oriented consumer goods like home improvement tools and supplies, lawn and garden materials and home furnishings.

This summer (July 1) the rewards program shifts to travel themes, where card carriers can get 5% back on hotels, airfare and car rentals, among other vacation-oriented purchases.

Any purchase in those consumer areas triggers the 5% cash-back reward from Chase. The bank hopes that the “seasonal” approach will resonate with card customers, and is willing to hike the reward rate to 5% to improve the chance of that happening. “Consumers tell us they want more control, simplicity and predictability,” said William S. Wallace, president, Chase Card Services. “That’s why we’ve designed Chase Freedom to be simple and straightforward, making it easier for our customers to earn and redeem rewards while better managing their finances.”

The standard rewards rate for all other “non-seasonal” purchases remains at 1%.

Find out more here.

Rewards Checking

Some of the best deals lately can be found in the nation’s heartland.

Take the 4.01% APY on Dubuque Bank & Trust’s Cash Rewards checking account. The Iowa-based bank is offering a rate that easily surpasses the national average on bank checking accounts (at 0.131% according to the sbup Weekly Interest Checking Rate tracker).

You get the high rate on balances up to $20,000.

Here are some other features linked to the deal:

  • Free Checking
  • Free Debit Card
  • Free Online Banking
  • Free Bill Pay
  • No Minimum Balance Requirement
  • No Monthly Fees
  • ATM Fees are automatically refunded
  • Always earn interest, regardless of your balance

Get the whole deal here.

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