Altabank Review: Competitive Rates on Checking Accounts

See what this Utah bank has to offer.

Altabank is the umbrella organization for a variety of local banks operating in Utah, and the organization has been expanding to include other Utah-based banking operations since it went public as People’s Utah Bancorp (PUB) in 2015. The original two banks are the Lewiston State Bank — founded in Lewiston, Utah in 1905 — and the Bank of American Fork that had been doing business in its namesake Utah town since 1913. The two banks would merge in 2013, and the company would then go on to acquire Banner Bank and Town and Country Bank of St. George in 2017. Then, in 2019, the company rebranded as Altabank and announced that all of its various branches would begin operating under that single name.

That consolidation and organization of Utah banks gives locals an option for a banking institution that’s homegrown and most likely familiar with the issues facing Utah businesses and residents. But does that mean it’s the best bank for you to use? Here’s a deeper dive into this Utah institution and what it has to offer.

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Who Is Altabank Best For?

There are some clear potential benefits to becoming an Altabank customer, but they’re not universal. Here’s a closer look at who will likely get the most out of their options there and who might be better served elsewhere.

Who Might Want To Choose Altabank?

Like many local/regional banks, the consumers who get the most out of banking with Altbank are likely Utah residents with branches and ATMs conveniently located to their home or work. While the local touch won’t always provide additional tangible benefits, it can come through in a variety of ways. Especially for customers who like being able to do their banking in person, that could make Altabank a solid option.

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However, even for someone living outside of Utah, the stellar 1.00% APY offered on qualifying checking accounts could be especially enticing. If you do check all the necessary boxes, that can mean earning a better interest rate than most online savings accounts but for cash that’s in a standard checking account.

Benefits of Altabank:

  • Excellent rates for some interest checking accounts
  • Local to Utah
  • Full slate of personal banking products

Read: Best Checking Accounts of 2020

Who Might Want To Skip Altabank?

If you’re not located in the state of Utah — or at least spending a lot of time there — it might create difficulties in being an Altabank customer, as most of its 26 branches are located in the Beehive State. Likewise, if you don’t use your checking account in such a way that you’ll qualify for their excellent interest rates, you’re missing out on one of their major perks. While the savings interest rates compare favorably to some major national chains, they’re still considerably lower than what you can usually find with an online bank.

Potential drawbacks to Altabank:

  • Lower interest rates on savings accounts than online options
  • Must meet specific criteria to access 1.00% APY on checking
  • Footprint limited to Utah and Southern Idaho

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Types of Accounts Available

You can find most of the standard options for personal banking at Altabank, from your run-of-the-mill checking account to long-term CDs to grow your money over time.

Altabank Product Line
ProductAPYFeesFeatures 
Checkingup to 1.00%$10/month fee for CheckSmart Senior if balance falls below $1,500Hardly any service charges and impressive interest-earning checking
Savingsup to 0.05%Fee for daily balances below $100; no fees for KidSmart SavingsSmall minimum required and tiered interest rates that are better than most national banks
Money Marketup to 0.10%$8/month for daily balances that fall below $1,000Functions like a basic checking account but with tiered interest rates
CDsup to 0.70%Penalty for early withdrawalLots of term options with competitive interest rates
IRAsup to 0.70%Penalty for early withdrawalTraditional and Roth IRAs that are held in CDs; consumers can choose variable rate or fixed rate
LoansN/ANo transaction feesLoans include residential, construction, home equity lines of credit, close-ended home equity, auto and signature.

Checking

There are four options for checking accounts with Altabank:

  • CheckSmart
  • CheckSmart Senior
  • CheckSmart Senior Plus
  • MyRate Checking

Each of these accounts has the following features:

  • Unlimited check writing
  • Free Visa debit card
  • Free mobile and online banking
  • Free online bill pay
  • Free automatic saving
  • Options for overdraft protection

CheckSmart

CheckSmart is the most basic option for a checking account at Altabank.

  • $100 minimum to open account
  • No monthly service charge if you enroll in eStatements
  • No minimum daily balance

As long as you have at least $100, you can get started with a CheckSmart account. And, if you’re older than 55, you can opt for CheckSmart Senior that also comes with up to two boxes of free checks each year. There is also the interest-earning CheckSmart Senior Plus, but that account charges a $10 monthly fee if your minimum daily balance falls below $1,500.

Read: Best National Banks

MyRate Checking

The most notable account offered by Altabank is clearly its MyRate Checking that can earn up to a 1.00% APY on the first $25,000 in the account.

  • 0.10% APY for non-qualifying accounts
  • up to 1.00% APY for accounts with more than $25,000
  • $100 minimum to open
  • Up to $15 in ATM fee refunds a year

Before you start knocking over people on your way to sign up for a checking account earning more interest than a CD, you should first take a look at how you can qualify for that rate and whether or not it’s consistent with your typical banking behavior. In order to earn the 1.00% APY, you must:

  1. Sign up for eStatements and log in to your bank account or mobile banking app every year and a half
  2. Use your debit card for purchases of at least $3 at least 12 times a month
    • Transactions must clear by the last business day of the month to count
  3. Have at least one direct deposit or ACH transfer a month

Clearly, if you use direct deposit and a debit card for most purchases, it’s likely not going to be hard to meet all three of these criteria — Altabank notes that their average customer has 29 debit card transactions a month. However, even if you don’t, there’s still a 0.10% APY interest rate for all other accounts — which is actually double the basic rate for their savings account and much higher than savings rates at many national chains.

Savings

Altabank’s main savings account goes by the name Statement Savings. Here’s a closer look at some of the features:

  • $100 minimum daily balance
  • $3 monthly fee for those who fail to meet this threshold
  • $100 minimum to open

While the savings rates aren’t great given the opportunity to earn 1.00% a year on your checking account, they’re still competitive; you can earn  up to 0.05% APY based on your balance amount.

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Check Out: Best Savings Accounts of 2020

Money Market Account (MMA)

If you want to earn additional interest in an account you can also write checks from, you typically need an MMA. And while that is, again, less relevant at Altabank when the checking account is offering even better rates, you still have MMA options:

  • Better interest rates than savings account
  • Can write a limited number of checks/make a limited number of debit card transactions
  • Minimum balance of $1,000
  • $8 monthly fee for not meeting the minimum daily balance

The interest rates at the most basic level are triple those of the savings account.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Another method for earning more interest while still keeping your money protected by the FDIC is to purchase a CD.

  • Range of maturation dates from three months to six years
  • Up to 0.70% APY

Check out some of the rates for a deposit less than $20,000:

Certificate of Deposit Rates
LengthAPY
3-monthup to 0.10%
6-monthup to 0.20%
12-monthup to 0.25%
18-monthup to 0.30%
24-month CD/IRAup to 0.45%
36-monthup to 0.55%
48-monthup to 0.60%
60-month CD/IRAup to 0.65%
72-month CD/IRAup to 0.70%

Loans

You can access a variety of different loan products through Altabank:

  • Mortgages
  • Consumer loans
  • Construction loans
  • Home equity line of credit

Youth Savings

Altabank offers its KidSmart Savings account to help instill good financial habits in the younger generation. You sign up along with a parent and there are no minimum daily balance requirements.

IRAs

If you want an IRA to get tax benefits on your savings committed to CDs, you can sign up for one with Altabank. You can use the funds in the account to invest in CDs through Altabank while also reducing your taxable income.

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How To Bank With Altabank

Signing up with Altabank is easy. You can visit any of their 26 branches to open your account with a representative, or you can visit Altabank.com and follow the instructions there. Simply go to the “Personal Banking” section, select the type of account you’re looking to open, click on the button labeled “open an account” and follow the instructions from there.

Once you’re signed up, you’ll have free access to the bank’s mobile app so you can manage your money on the go. The app should be available in the Apple Store or Google Play, but you can also just download it directly from the Altabank website.

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Fees

There are some fees associated with Altabank accounts you should be aware of. Some accounts will charge a monthly maintenance fee, though you can usually avoid this by maintaining a large enough balance. There is also a $5 monthly “inactive account” fee for accounts with under $300 in them and no activity for over a year.

There is also a $3 monthly fee for paper statements for most accounts, a $3 per day overdraft fee for accounts without overdraft protection in addition to the $25 charge per incident and a number of one-time fees for things like wire transfers or cashier’s checks.

Learn: How To Avoid Wells Fargo’s Monthly Maintenance Fees

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Availability of Funds

Funds you deposit to your Altabank accounts should be available to you in a similar time frame to most other banks. However, the cutoff time for mobile deposits is 6 p.m. MT, with anything received after that time processed on the following day. Funds don’t become available until verified by Altabank.

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Altabank’s MyRate Checking a Major Plus

While there’s clearly plenty to like about Altabank for Utah residents — who can take advantage of that local touch and the physical branches — the MyRate Checking account might make it attractive as your regular banking institution even if you live hundreds of miles away. The ability to earn 1.00% APY on up to $25,000 that’s also in your checking account is more than notable and doesn’t have many parallels in the financial industry. With a pretty reasonable set of hurdles to clear to qualify — especially for someone using the account for their regular banking — most of the bank’s regular customers should have access to this solid option.

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Rates are updated periodically and subject to change. All other information on accounts is accurate as of March 5, 2020. 

This content is not provided by Altabank. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Altabank.

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About the Author

Joel Anderson is a business and finance writer with over a decade of experience writing about the wide world of finance. Based in Los Angeles, he specializes in writing about the financial markets, stocks, macroeconomic concepts and focuses on helping make complex financial concepts digestible for the retail investor.