Posted by William Charles on July 30, 2014
Rewards Checking

Published on July 30th, 2014 | by William Charles

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

Update 1/8/19: Reader Looney Tunes kindly points out that a $5 donation to ALS works for anybody to join now. This is confirmed on the membership page.

Lake Michigan Credit Union is no longer available to everybody with a $5 donation to ALS Association of Michigan. It’s now restricted to the following:

  • Anyone who lives, works, attends school, or worships in the entire lower peninsula of Michigan or the counties of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, Polk, Hardee, Desoto, Highlands, Glades, Hendry, Monroe, and Palm Beach in Florida.
  • · Membership is also open to the immediate family of existing members (immediate family is defined as father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandmother, grandfather and spouse)

Offer at a glance

  • Interest Rate: 3%
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Maximum Balance: $15,000
  • Availability: See above
  • 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

Update: Deal is a lot worse now there is no credit card funding.

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



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AE
AE

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
Tom

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.

Josh Tasman

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.

Craig
Craig

What kind of volume are you putting through the app?

Jay
Jay

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.

Miz
Miz

Do they accept Amex credit card for initial deposit?

LWT
LWT

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?

Anonymous
Anonymous

Late reply, but I used a Citi AAdvantage Platinum card to fund my LMCU account ($505) and it didn’t register as a cash advance. In my Citi statement, it was listed as “BUSINESS SERVICES,NOT ELSEWHERE CLASSED”. This was in May 2015.

Dan
Dan

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)

Ethan
Ethan

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

Jared
Jared

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

mk712
mk712

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.

Shaun
Shaun

Thanks for the data point. Probably going to use my Venture in few days for this.

anthonyjh21
anthonyjh21

Did they tell you which cards are accepted (visa, mc, discover, amex)?

mike
mike

Did you get a final screen on your app that a rep will get back to you within 2 business days?

Craig
Craig

Did this end up posting as a cash advance or purchase on your Venture?

Craig
Craig

Data point: 15k initial fundind with Cap 1 Venture posted as a purchase.

Adam
Adam

Another data point.

I loaded $15,005 with C1 Venture. 14995 to max checking, 5 to savings and 5 to ALS foundation. Received ‘Rep will contact you in two days’ message from LMCU. No contact, charge posted as ‘Other Services’ within two days.

Brian
Brian

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

Renee
Renee

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

Peter
Peter

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

Chris
Chris

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!

mike
mike

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

Chris
Chris

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.

mike
mike

Thanks, Chris!

PaulS
PaulS

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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