Posted by William Charles on July 30, 2014
Rewards Checking

Published on July 30th, 2014 | by William Charles


Lake Michigan Credit Union: 3% Reward Checking Account On Up To $15,000

Offer at a glance

  • Interest Rate: 3%
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Maximum Balance: $15,000
  • Availability: Open to everybody, but must make a minimum donation of $5 to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association of Michigan
  • Direct deposit required: Yes, no minimum specified
  • Additional requirements: Yes, see below 
  • Hard/soft pull: Hard (TransUnion)
  • ChexSystems: Mixed reports
  • Credit card funding: $50 (Previously it was $15,000)
  • Monthly fees: None
  • Insured: NCUA (62514)

The Offer

Direct link to offer

  • Receive a 3% interest on balances up to $15,000 when you complete the following requirements:
    • Direct deposit into your Max Checking account
    • Minimum 10 debit card purchases per month
    • Minimum 4 logins to home banking per month
    • Be eligible for and sign up to receive eStatements/eNotices
  • They’ll also refund up to $15/month in surcharge fees for non-LMCU ATMs

The Fine Print

  • Remember that you need to pay taxes on any interest earned

Avoiding Fees

This account does not come with any monthly fees.

Our Verdict

The main downside to this deal is the fact they do a hard credit pull. There are several things that I like about this deal though, the fact that you can do credit card funding up to $5,000 is great for those struggling to meet minimum spend requirements on a new credit card (just make sure you set your cash advance limit to $0 before trying). I also like the fact that there are no monthly fees, this means if your money is busy elsewhere (e.g using it for a bank account bonus) you can just leave the account empty and not worry about earning the 3%.

Whenever I open a bank account I try to get at least $100 in value, this is because you can’t open an unlimited amount of checking accounts due to ChexSystems. If you funded this account with a 2% cash back card [best credit cards for non-category spending] you’d earn $100 on just the initial opening deposit and then any money you earned with the 3% interest rate would be a bonus. Because this is a hard credit pull you’d need to get additional value out of this account. I use 1% as my baseline on what you could expect to reasonably earn with a non rewards checking account, this means this account earns at an additional 2% with a maximum of $15,000. This would net an extra $300 before expenses in meeting this bonus rate.

Here is how I’d complete the requirements if I was going to take part:

  • Enroll for eStatements
  • If you add your LMCU account to Mint, everytime Mint updates it will count as a login
  • Purchase 10 * $0.5 amazon gift cards each month
  • Setup a recurring direct deposit from my normal checking account (this should trigger the direct deposit requirement)

My total expenses would be $5 per month or $60 per year. This means I’d net a total of $340 and $60 in Amazon gift cards. It’s up to you if this is worth a hard credit pull or not, keep in mind you need to pay taxes on this. I’m personally going to sit this one out, I might do it if I need a quick $5,000 in credit card spend for some reason or another.

They allow mobile check deposit, which might be useful for those doing manufactured spending with money orders. They don’t look to be inquiry sensitive either, it’s also an advantage that they pull TransUnion which most card issuers do not do (apart from Barclays). This deal has been going on since at least July, 2013 so hopefully it continues to last for at least one more year (previously this deal was 4% and 5% respectively for a total of 5 years at least).

We’re going to be posting more rewards checking bonuses in the future, so keep an eye out for them. If you’re unfamiliar with them, we’d recommend reading our introduction which can be found here.

Direct link to offer | Screenshot of offer

87 Responses to Lake Michigan Credit Union: 3% Reward Checking Account On Up To $15,000

  1. AE says:

    LMCU (lake michigan credit union is a great account that I have had for a year – a few points:

    1 the DD requirement is actually a ACH deposit requirement – as long as you transfer in say $100 from another bank – the DD requirement is met for that month. (I say that from a year’s worth of personal experience, that is not a educated ACH guess) Just setup a monthly auto transfer from your main bank to LMCU of $100 and you are all set.

    2. LMCU has a great daily updating CHECKLIST of all requirements for the account (logins, debit card purchases, and direct deposit. They do not try to trick you or leave you in the dark if a debit transaction of ach transfer counted towards your monthly interest requirements – it is right there – upfront and honest.

    3. Please do not – make tiny debit card purchases below $1 – ten times… we have lost many of these great rewards checking accounts because folks abuse them by doing that. It’s called ruining a good thing.

    Here is what I do:

    5x debit card payments of $5+ at my cable/internet company’s online pay bill website
    3x debit card payments of $10 at my cellphone company’s online pay bill website
    2x debit card payments of $50 to my energy company using EVOLVE Money’s free billpay service (I could also use this for my cable and mortgage company using Evolve).

    That way I am using this debit card at LMCU for my normal daily expenses without any fees etc… yet I do not absolutely screw over LMCU with transaction fees on tiny purchases…. You have to treat your partner nicely if you want to get another date =)

    Great lakes credit union is another interesting option if one wants to legitimately use the debit card (min $100 spending each month, 10x debit card transactions, ach transfer of $500+ required) (easy enough to do with evolve money, cable,internet,phone, mortgage bill payments if one actually wants to use the debit card and earn $24 each month in interest.

    • Tom says:

      AE, thanks for a brilliant post & analysis.

      by chance, are you on FT? If so could you please PM me there? I am AveApostle and have an idea for you! thanks.

  2. Josh Tasman says:

    I use LMCU as my regular account and I love it. My money orders clear ASAP and the mobile deposit feature can detect Western Union, USPS, and MoneyGram money orders. The one thing I don’t like about them, is their mobile app. It is the worst banking app I’ve ever used mainly because it looks like it was designed in the 90s so the user interface is clunky.

    Also as a data point, I signed up for a mortgage and a checking account at the same time and I only received one hard pull.

  3. Jay says:

    Just signed up and, as another data point, did an initial deposit of close to $5k (chose an arbitrary round-ish number slightly below) with a Barclay Arrival card and it’s showing up as a purchase. So that’s essentially a $111 sign-up bonus without having to do anything.

  4. Miz says:

    Do they accept Amex credit card for initial deposit?

  5. LWT says:

    Has anyone tried funding with a Citi card? I’ve read that the general rule with Citi is that any transaction with a bank is treated like a cash advance. Or what about the Fidelity Amex card?

  6. Dan says:

    Just opened an account. Funded with a Chase United Explorer for $12k. They wrote me to say my account is setup and in process. Charge is pending (CA limit set to $100 so not CA)

  7. Ethan says:

    Data point: I opened an account and funded $2,500 with Citi Thank You Premier. The transaction went through as a purchase.

  8. Jared says:

    Also recently did a 3K sign up with Citi AAdvantage Plat – purchase.

  9. mk712 says:

    I opened a Max Checking account a few days ago, funded with a Capital One Venture card. I received email confirmation today that my application was complete.

    I first tried $20k but I got an error message saying I couldn’t fund my account with more than $15k. I tried $15k and it went through. Note that the $5 contribution is added later, so the actual charge on my card was $15005.

    Easy tax-free $300. And since it instantly completes my minimum spend, that’s another tax-free $400 for the signup bonus. Cha-ching.

  10. Brian says:

    Tried to use bluebird as LMCU debit load…no luck today, have been using for several months. Message to call number on back of LMCU card. Anyone else experiencing this? Thanks

  11. Renee says:

    Can you l fund with cc then pay the cc right back?

  12. Peter says:

    Does checking account opening have geographic restriction,only in Michigan?

  13. Chris says:

    I am wanting to apply for the Citi Executive card which gives me 75,000 AAdvantage miles with $7500 in purchases over three months.

    Thinking of opening an account here, funding it with the new card and then paying the bill off when it comes in.

    Are there any issues with opening the account, funding it, and then basically withdrawing the entire amount and closing it within the course of a month or six weeks? Or should I keep it open with like $5 or something since there are no fees?

    New to this whole thing. Thanks!

  14. mike says:

    I applied and funded with credit card and they said a rep would get back to me in 2 days. Is this routine?

    • Chris says:

      I applied Saturday night and got the following email Monday afternoon that my account was set up. My card was charged Monday afternoon, as well:

      Thank you for your interest in Lake Michigan Credit Union!

      We are happy to say that we’ve completed opening your new account. You will receive a welcome packet with your new account documents and information in the mail soon. Your welcome packet contains account number information, instructions for setting up online banking, and direct deposit information.

  15. PaulS says:

    I suppose the debit card supports to reload serve or red/Bluebird card. Do u think/know if the reload will be taken as valid purchase?

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  18. e says:

    Does anyone remember if funding with American Express was an option? Wondering if it makes sense to get the recent Amex $5000 spending card and use this to meet the purchase requirement easily. Thanks in advance.

  19. Eric says:

    Are there any credit cards with nice signup bonuses that have a very high spend requirement that this $15K opening deposit would be useful? Is there a page that lists which banks pull from which credit bureaus?

  20. EG says:

    Just opened an account there today and can only fund $2000 for opening deposit. $15000 charge to credit card looks dead.

  21. Bowen Deng says:

    Just open an account, can only deposit $2000=$5 savings+$1995 max checking. The 15k is dead for sure.

    Not approved instantly, a representative will contact me with two business days

  22. autum says:

    Only opened it with a minimum in savings and making the donation, but at the end of application said it’s complete and I will be contacted. Not sure what that means, hoping it’s not going to be a reject.

  23. autum says:

    Finally heard from them after a few days. The package is in the mail. I’m hoping there interest doesn’t decrease like ING savings, that was paying 4% now not even 1%.

  24. John says:

    Just a separate data point, for any LMCU members who also have AMEX Bluebird, all transfers (including as little as $1) count as a “debit card purchase” 10 transfers from Max Checking to AMEX Bluebird of $1 each, will fulfill the “debit card purchases” requirement.

  25. autum says:

    Tried activating LMCU debit card but said number is invalid twice.

  26. heidi says:

    I can only see an initial deposit of $50 total including the $5 donation. 🙁

  27. CT says:

    Just opened account. Initial deposit limited to $50 total including the $5 donation.

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  29. Jeff says:

    Stupid question but just wondering: Since website says “Interest not paid on balances over $15,000” and “Max Checking Account – 15,000+ 0.000%,” what if your balance goes slightly over $15,000 due to an ACH deposit or the interest getting credited to your account each month (ex: $15,025)? Do you get no interest because you went over, or do you just get the max interest possible on the $15,000 part? The website seems to imply you won’t get interest for that month…

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  31. tbradnc says:

    Does anyone know if a transfer from Ally will count as a direct deposit?

  32. anthonyjh21 says:

    Does anyone know if there’s any limit to the number of automated transfers you can have set up? I have Ally as my primary bank and I have a lot of automatic transfers but I’d like to move to a higher interest checking account. I just can’t have transfer system and any possible limits being a bottleneck.

  33. Harry says:

    Can we use Square Cash to meet the 10 debit card transactions? It would be nice to do that with my friend.

  34. Rebecca says:

    When opening a rewards checking account with Lake Michigan Credit Union, they are also requiring the opening of a member savings account. This account needs to be opened with a minimum of $5, and requires a $300 balance in order to avoid fees.

    • Rebecca says:

      Anyone know whether the savings account that is required when opening the max checking can be closed without closing the max checking account?

      • Rebecca says:

        I contacted them to ask about whether I could close the member savings account and keep the max checking account. They said that I could not. I figured I’d post the answer to my question in case anyone was wondering the same thing.

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  36. David M says:

    My account was closed suddenly on September 9. I wasn’t aware that it had been closed until I called the bank on September 12. I only believed I was locked out of my online access.

    A CSR stated that I’d receive a letter that day explaining why the account had been closed. He refused to provide any information to me regarding the closure. The letter I received later that day only stated that “due to your unusual transaction history, Consumers Credit Union has chosen to… close your account.” When I called the bank again to determine what the “unusual transaction history” was, I was told that no other information would be provided to me. When I asked to speak to a manager, the representative suddenly disconnected the call.

    I tried calling back about an hour later, and I was given the same answer, “I’m not obligated to talk to you.” I asked to speak to a supervisor and after a long hold, I was told that a supervisor would call me within two days. I still haven’t received the call.

    I tried calling back from my cell phone today, and the call just rings. No answer. I try calling back from my house and work number, and I get connected immediately. Did the bank block my number???

    The bank did provide me with a cashier’s check when they mailed me the letter on the 12th, but it did not contain my full balance. It’s missing the interest I had accrued this month, and my automatic ACH. I had $15,000 in the account.

    This whole thing just blows me away. I’m shocked. I’ve just finished up my CFBP complaint, and I’m hoping that’ll lead somewhere.

    Anyway, I hope y’all find this useful. I’m furious.

    • Craig says:

      What was the “unusual transaction history?”

      • David M says:

        That’s what I’m trying to find out! I had an incoming international wire for $5,000 that posted on Sept. 5. But I had been working with the bank’s international funding department even before it posted. Other that that, I had my 12 payments post on the 8. Usually I split this between two days, but I made all the Amazon payments on one day… Finally, I tried creating an ACH link with an external account on Sept 6.

        Maybe it was one, or all three reasons…?? Who knows.

    • Craig says:

      Also, Consumers CU or Lake Michigan CU?

      • David M says:

        Shoot… It was CCU! Clearly, I’m already looking to open another account ASAP. I’ll repost in the tab. Thanks for the heads up.

    • anthonyjh21 says:

      Looks like you posted it in the right place, but for anyone that cares, this was for Consumers Credit Union and not LMCU. Almost gave me a mini heart attack if this was LMCU. I have all credit card payments funded through LMCU so it would definitely hurt if they shut me down. I do try to add smaller debit card transactions and not just Amazon .50 reloads and I keep a bit over $15k in there too to help if eyes were to ever review my account activity.

  37. Jab says:

    Regarding required balance of $300 in members savings account I’ve got answer from support

    Since you have a Checking account along with the Member Savings account, a minimum balance does not need to be placed into either accounts.

  38. Baj says:

    How many reward checking accounts can one individual have?

    How many reward checking accounts can one household have?

  39. Stack101 says:

    Submitted my app just today, I got hit in Experian, not TransUnion, received an alert few minutes after my app, I live in NY. I really didn’t expect that!

  40. Rob says:

    Applied sometime last week, didn’t see a HP on my TU or EQ (according to CK). CC funding limited to 50 (including the 5 dollar donation and the 5 dollar minimum for savings account, they do not take AMEX. Posted onto my CFU without CA fees. Can confirm Bill Pay from BoA (main bank) fulfilled the DD requirement for the month. Great customer service too, I’ve reached out to them a few times and they’ve always responded quickly and effectively.

    Only downsides besides the HP is that money takes a while to post but that’s fairly normal. I’m using this account for extra savings as their rates are a lot better than what my main bank offers and the requirements are fairly easy to fulfill.

  41. TG says:

    Does anyone know if they pull Chex or is Chex sensitive? My Chex is a bit overused now.

  42. Prometheus says:

    The great thing about funding this CU is that it can be funded through the BILL PAY system at other banks. So yeah, no fuss about limits on transfer and you can even ask friends to pay you if they are will to pay.

    It comes up in Citibank, mybankingdirect, and M&T for sure. Great way to dump funds out of M&T once you are done racking up the bonuses there.

  43. Kevin says:

    I got a hard pull from opening this account on Experian, not Transunion.

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