Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. We may receive a small commission from our partners, like American Express, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
The best rewards checking accounts of August 2020
|Bank||Standout feature||Opening deposit||APY|
|Best for cash back rewards||$100||0.10% – 0.15% APY|
|Best interest rate for banks||$50||Up to 1.25% APY|
|Best interest rate for credit unions||$5||Up to 4.09% APY|
|Best for a sign-up bonus||$100||None|
In many cases, checking accounts are just places to hold your cash until you spend it. But a rewards checking account can work just as hard for you as a savings account can.
A good rewards checking account should offer a promotion that’s enticing enough to make you choose that account over any other. The reward should also be relatively easy to obtain, whether it’s cash back, interest, or a sign-up bonus.
You also don’t want to sign up for a checking account that offers a great reward, only to be bogged down by high fees or poor customer support once you’ve opened the account. It’s important that a rewards checking account be a good fit overall.
Below we’ve listed our picks for the best rewards checking account right now. We know “best” means something different for everyone, so we’ve listed each bank account’s strengths, as well as its limitations.
How our list compares to other publications
Research is an important part of choosing a rewards checking account, and Business Insider isn’t the only website looking for the best rewards. To help you make a decision, we’ve compared our top picks with lists from other publications.
Keep in mind that each publication has different methodologies for identifying the “best” rewards checking accounts. We included a checkmark under each publication name if it also recommended an account we chose in its roundup.
We looked at the rewards when choosing our top picks — but we also looked at factors like how easy it is to get the reward, fees associated with accounts, and other perks or limitations.
Best for cash back rewards
- Earn 1% cash back on all purchases, and 1.5% cash back on certain purchases in the health, food, entertainment, and social good categories
- Select “credit” when you swipe your debit card to earn cash back
- Earn 0.10% APY on balances of $2,500 to $99,999, and 0.15% APY on balances of $100,000 and up
- Earn 1% – 1.5% cash back
- Earn cash back on an unlimited amount of purchases
- Earn interest on your checking balance
- No monthly service fee
- Receive your paycheck 2 days early
- Reimburses out-of-network ATM fees
- Overdraft protection available if you have another Radius account
- $100 opening deposit
- Minimum balance of $2,500 to earn APY
- $25 overdraft fee
- $5 daily overdraft fee after the 5th consecutive day of a negative balance
Why it stands out: Most cash back checking accounts limit how much you can earn in cash back per month, but you can earn unlimited cash back with a Radius Bank Rewards Checking account. You’ll earn 1% cash back on most purchases and 1.5% cash back on select purchases.
Along with paying cash back, you may qualify to earn interest on your checking account balance.
How to get the reward: To earn cash back on purchases, you must select “credit” when you swipe your debit card. You’ll earn 1% cash back on all purchases, and you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on the following purchases when you select “credit”:
- Health: Drug stores, health practitioners, medical services, and pharmacies
- Food/Restaurants/Groceries: Convenience stores, fast food restaurants, and food delivery
- Entertainment: Bookstores, cable, computer software stores, and streaming services
- Social good: Charitable and social service organizations
Monthly fee: $0
What to look out for: Minimum account balance to earn APY. You won’t earn any interest if your balance is under $2,500, and your APY will increase once your balance hits $100,000.
Best interest rate for banks
- Earn up to 1.25% APY — 0.4166% with $1,000 in direct deposits in a month; 0.4166% with 10 debit card transactions per month; 0.4166% with 5 additional debit card transactions, or 15 total, per month
- Compounded interest to maximize your earnings
- FDIC insured
- High APY
- Unlimited out-of-network ATM reimbursements
- No monthly maintenance fees
- No overdraft fees
- No non-sufficient funds fees
- $50 opening deposit
- No APY if you can’t meet qualifications
Why it stands out: You can earn up to 1.25% on your money, regardless of your balance. Axos also offers unlimited reimbursements for out-of-network ATM fees charged by operators.
How to get the reward: With the Axos Bank Rewards Checking account, you earn interest in stages — with each goal you accomplish, you earn a little more interest. Here are the three goals:
- Earn 0.4166% when you receive at least $1,000 in direct deposits in a month
- Earn 0.4166% when you make 10 debit card transactions in a month (minimum $3 per transaction)
- Earn 0.4166% when you make an additional five debit card transactions, or 15 total, in a month (minimum $3 per transaction)
If you accomplish all three goals in a month, you earn a total of 1.25% APY.
Monthly fee: $0
What to look out for: Opening deposit. You need at least $50 to open an Axos Bank Rewards Checking account.
Best interest rate for credit unions
- Earn 2.09% APY on balances up to $10k when you enroll in eDocuments, make 12 debit card transactions per month, and receive $500 per month in deposits
- Earn 3.09% on balances up to $10k when you meet qualifications for 2.09% and spend $500/month with your CCU credit card
- Earn 4.09% on balances up to $10k when you meet qualifications for 2.09% and spend $1,000/month with your CCU credit card
- Earn 0.20% APY on balances between $10k and $25k
- Earn 0.10% APY on balances over $25k
- High APY
- Relatively easy to become a member of Consumers Credit Union
- Only $5 to open an account
- No monthly service fee
- Unlimited reimbursements for out-of-network ATM fees
- $10 overdraft transfer charge
- Mobile app has received poor reviews
- Limited customer support hours
Why it stands out: You have the ability to earn up to 4.09% on your checking account balance. Consumers Cred Union (Federally insured by NCUA) also pays unlimited refunds on fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers.
One of the main differences between banks and credit unions is that you must meet certain qualifications to join a credit union, such as living in specific US states, working for a given company, or having a family member who is already a member. It’s easier to join Consumers Credit Union than many credit unions — you just have to pay a one-time fee of $5 to the Consumers Cooperative Association.
How to get the reward: Here are the APY tiers:
- Earn 2.09% on balances up to $10,000 when you sign up to receive eDocuments, make 12 debit card purchases per month, and receive $500 per month in direct deposits, mobile check deposits, or transfers from other banks.
- Earn 3.09% on balances up to $10,000 when you meet the qualifications to earn 2.09% and spend $500 per month with your Consumers Credit Union credit card.
- Earn 4.09% on balances up to $10,000 when you meet the qualifications to earn 3.09% and spend $1,000 per month with your Consumers Credit Union credit card.
- Earn 0.20% on balances between $10,000.01 and $25,000 when you receive eDocuments, make 12 debit card purchases per month, and receive $500 per month in direct deposits, mobile check deposits, or transfers from other banks.
- Earn 0.10% on balances of $25,000.01 and more when you receive eDocuments, make 12 debit card purchases per month, and receive $500 per month in direct deposits, mobile check deposits, or transfers from other banks.
Monthly fee: $0
What to look out for: Balance tiers. You need a Consumers Credit Union credit card to earn the maximum APY, and if you don’t meet any of the qualifications listed, you won’t earn interest at all.
Best for a sign-up bonus
$200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit
- Enjoy a $200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit
- Access to 16,000 Chase ATMs and nearly 4,900 branches
- Chase Mobile® app: Manage your accounts, deposit checks, transfer money and more — all from your device
- Open your account online now
- Available online nationwide except in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. For branch locations, visit locator.chase.com.
- No required opening deposit
- Almost 4,900 branches
- $12 monthly fee unless you meet direct deposit or minimum balance requirements
- $2.50 fee for out-of-network ATMs
- No out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements
- 3% foreign transaction fee
- $34 overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees
Why it stands out: The Chase Total Checking® account pays a solid sign-up bonus of $200. You can find higher cash bonuses, but usually at banks that either have fewer locations than Chase or charge higher monthly fees. Chase also makes it easy to qualify for the $200 reward.
How to get the reward: Open an account by October 14, 2020. Make a direct deposit within 90 days of opening the account, and keep the account open for six months, or the $300 will be deducted from your account at closing.
Monthly fee: $12
What to look out for: Monthly service fee. The $12 fee is a little steep, but Chase gives you several ways to waive it.
Other rewards checking accounts we considered, and why they didn’t make the cut:
- Axos Bank™ CashBack Checking (Member FDIC): You’ll earn 1% cash back with a $1,500 minimum balance, but this rewards checking account doesn’t pay interest like Radius does.
- Discover Cashback Debit (Member FDIC): You don’t have to maintain a minimum balance to earn 1% cash back with this account, but you’re limited to earning cash back on $3,000 of eligible purchases per month.
- Redneck Bank Rewards Checkin’ Account (Member FDIC): You’ll earn a high APY on balances up to $10,000, and a decent APY on any amount over $10,000 — but you need an opening deposit of at least $500.
- Kasasa checking accounts: Kasasa is a company with partner banks all around the United States. You’ll likely find a good rewards checking account if there is a partner bank near you, but rewards vary from bank to bank.
- Lake Michigan Credit Union Max Checking (Federally insured by NCUA): You’ll earn a high APY on balances under $15,000, but only residents of certain parts of the US can join this credit union.
- HSBC Premier Checking (Member FDIC): You can earn a $450 bonus when you set up this account, or earn a 3% cash bonus up to $600, but you’ll pay a $50 monthly fee unless you meet some lofty qualifications.
- Associated Bank: You’ll earn a $200, $300, or $500 sign-up bonus, but there are only branch locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois.
- SunTrust Advantage Checking (Member FDIC): You’ll earn $400 when you sign up for this account, but there is a $20 monthly fee.
- TD Bank Beyond Checking (Member FDIC): There’s no expiration date for this sign-up bonus, and you’ll pocket $300 — but there’s a $25 monthly service fee.
- Citizens Bank: You’ll earn $300 when you open a checking account and up to $600 if you also open a savings account, but you must be a resident of one of 11 US states.
- Chase Premier Plus Checking℠ (Member FDIC): You can get a $300 bonus by setting up this account, but you’ll pay a $25 monthly fee.
- PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Select (Member FDIC): PNC pays a $300 bonus, but there’s a $25 monthly fee.
- HSBC Advance Checking (Member FDIC): You can receive $200 sign-up bonus or earn a 3% cash bonus (up to $240), but there’s a $25 monthly service fee.
- PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend (Member FDIC): You’ll get a $200 welcome bonus, but there’s a $25 monthly fee.
- SunTrust Essential Checking (Member FDIC): This account’s monthly fee is lower than what you’ll pay with the Advantage Account, but the bonus is much lower.
- Citibank Basic Banking Package (Member FDIC): You’ll get a $200 bonus, but it’s harder to qualify for the bonus than with Chase.
- Huntington 5 Checking (Member FDIC): There’s no minimum deposit, and the $5 monthly fee is relatively easy to waive — but it’s a little harder to qualify for the bonus than with Chase.
- TD Bank Convenience Checking (Member FDIC): You’ll receive a $150 bonus, but there’s a $15 monthly fee.
- Huntington Asterisk-Free Checking (Member FDIC): There’s no opening deposit or monthly fee with this checking account, but the $150 bonus is less than what you’ll get with Chase.
- City National Bank (Member FDIC): You’ll receive a $100 bonus when you open one of several checking accounts, which is less than what you’ll earn with Chase.
- Bank of America (Member FDIC): This $100 bonus is significantly lower than Chase’s $200 bonus.
- PNC Virtual Wallet (Member FDIC): The monthly fee is only $7, but the sign-up bonus is relatively low.
Frequently asked questions
Why trust our recommendations?
Personal Finance Insider’s mission is to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We understand that “best” is often subjective, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a financial product or account — a high APY or sign-up bonus, for example — we outline the limitations, too. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of various products so you don’t have to.
How did we choose the best rewards checking accounts?
We reviewed over two dozen rewards checking accounts to identify the strongest options. We also cross-referenced our list against popular comparison sites like SmartAsset and NerdWallet to make sure we didn’t miss a thing.
We looked at the reward offered by a checking account — such as a high APY or sign-up bonus — but we also considered how easy or difficult it is to receive a reward. And we considered other factors that make a checking account strong or weak, including opening deposits, monthly fees, and ATM accessibility.
What is a rewards checking account?
A rewards checking account is one that offers more than just a place to store your money before you spend it. It offers rewards such as cash back, a high APY, or a sign-up bonus.
Typically, you have to meet certain qualifications to receive a reward, like maintain a minimum account balance or use your debit card a certain number of times per month. Or there are limitations — for example, you can earn cash back up to a certain dollar amount per month, or you earn a high rate on balances up to $10,000.
What bank has the best rewards program?
Right now, the banks that offer the best rewards programs are Radius Bank (Member FDIC), Axos Bank (Member FDIC), Consumers Credit Union, and Chase. However, you can check our “Other rewards checking accounts we considered” section to see if another bank has a rewards program that suits your needs.
What is a cash back checking account?
You’ve probably heard about cash back credit cards, but there are a few cash back checking accounts, too. When you swipe your debit card, you earn a percentage of the money you spend back into your checking account — it’s sort of like getting a discount on every purchase you make with your debit card.
Do debit cards earn rewards?
Typically, debit cards do not earn you rewards — but debit cards attached to rewards checking accounts are the exceptions.
Many rewards checking accounts link your reward to your debit card in some way. You may earn cash back when you swipe your debit card or qualify for a higher APY if you swipe your debit card a certain number of times per month. However, not all checking account rewards are tied to debit cards.
Are interest checking accounts worth it?
It depends. Most banks place more emphasis on earning interest with a savings account than with a checking account. Because you probably spend from your checking account and deposit money into your savings account, your checking account balance gets smaller and smaller (at least until payday), and your savings account ideally gets bigger and bigger.
If you tend to keep a lot of money in your checking account, then an interest-bearing checking account could be worth it. If your balance typically stays low, you may want to look for a reward other than a high APY, like cash back or a sign-up bonus.
This post was most recently updated on August 3, 2020.
Get the latest Bank of America stock price here.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.