One man's Golden State CD collection

White piggy bank on beach

I’ve admitted on this blog to being a collector of banks.

Among them are three brick-and-mortar institutions headquartered in California -- Union Bank, Rabobank and First Republic Bank -- that I call my Golden State Collection.

(I have other California-based banks but assign them to different "collections.")

The good news is that all three provide me exceptional customer service.

I’ve had my primary checking account at Union Bank (or a predecessor) since 1990. I’m a "priority banking" customer and am treated in a manner consistent with this designation.

I’m newer to Rabobank and First Republic, where I’ve established checking accounts to obtain "relationship" CD rates. I have no special customer status at either, but branch personnel treat me as if I did.

Now, the just so-so news.

The everyday deposit rates of these banks are no reason to pack up the family and migrate West.

Union Bank does offer a very respectable 2.50% APY 5-year certificate. First Republic offers a less generous 2% APY (in Southern California). Rabobank offers a meager 1.11% APY on 3- to 5-year jumbo CDs.

Occasionally, however, these banks serve up compelling promotional deals -- if you’re amenable to opening a checking account and visiting a branch.

In 2010, for example, Union Bank offered checking account customers a 36-month certificate with a 2.50% APY, which at the time was at or near the top of 36-month rates nationwide.

That year, Rabobank promoted a very competitive 24-month, 2% APY step-up CD (a rate now bumped-up to 2.25% APY). It’s currently offering a good 2% APY 36-month CD deal, with a six-month step-up feature.

Sadly, as far as I know, First Republic hasn’t had a promotion since it separated from Bank of America last year. But in late 2009, it offered a great 2.80% APY 24-month deal to existing customers and their "friends and family."

Union Bank (four stars in Bankrate's Safe & Sound rating system) has branches in four states. Online applications are limited to checking and savings accounts.

Rabobank (three stars) has branches only in California, and you must be a California resident to apply online (the current promotion requires a branch visit).

First Republic (not rated) has branches in five states and no online application process.

All in all, I consider my Golden State Collection one of the two attractions of living in California.

The other, of course, is the splendid weather.

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