Interest rates on most savings and checking accounts remain anemic. But for those who are comfortable with electronic banking and who are active debit-card users, high-yield checking accounts offered by smaller, regional banks and credit unions can be a more lucrative option.
The financial site Bankrate.com examined 56 "high yield" checking accounts across the country, and found an average yield of 1.64 percent. That's considerably lower than rates the site found last year. But it looks quite good in comparison to most interest-bearing checking accounts, which had a national average yield of just 0.05 percent.
The catch is that to benefit from the accounts, which are federally insured, users have to meet some requirements each month.
For instance, all of the accounts reviewed by Bankrate require at least 10 debit-card transactions a month, and all require that users receive their monthly statements electronically. Most also require direct deposit or automated bill payments.
The penalty for not meeting the requirements is severe — the average interest rate drops to just 0.07 percent.