If you think earning interest is only for savings accounts, you haven’t been paying attention. High-yield checking accounts function similarly to a standard checking account, with the difference being that you can earn interest on deposits.
Traditionally, the term high yield is used when referring to savings accounts.
However, high-yield checking accounts also pay a higher-than-average annual percentage yield (APY) while allowing easy access to your cash.
10 Best High-Yield Checking Accounts of October 2021
Here are the best high-yield checking accounts available right now:
- Axos Bank: Rewards Checking
- Consumers Credit Union: Rewards Checking
- T-Mobile Money: Checking Account
- CIT Bank: eChecking
- Discover Bank: Cashback Debit
- Ally Bank: Interest Checking
- Citibank: Citi Elevate Account Package
- Alliant Credit Union: High-Rate Checking
- NBKC Bank: Everything Account
- Aspiration: Aspiration Plus
Axos Bank: Rewards Checking
Axos is an online-only bank that offers personal and business banking solutions.
Formerly known as Bank of Internet USA, Axos has been providing digital banking products since the late 90s, making it one of the longest-running online-only banks around.
Axos has five different checking accounts to choose from, but its Rewards Checking option is the one that qualifies as high-yield.
As an account holder, you’ll get a debit card and access to Axos’ online banking and mobile app.
Best of all, the maximum APY is 1.00%, which is more than double the rate of Axos’ high yield savings account, which sits at (a still impressive) 0.61%.
Top features that stand out:
- No monthly fees
- No overdraft fees
- No minimum balance requirements
- Unlimited reimbursements for domestic ATM fees
- There is a $50 minimum opening deposit required to open an account.
How to achieve the max APY:
- Use your Axos debit card for 10 transactions per month (minimum $3 per transaction) or sign up for Personal Finance Manager (PFM) “Account Aggregation” – earn a 0.30% boost
- Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in an Axos Invest Managed Portfolios Account – earn a 0.10% boost
- Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in an Axos Invest Self Directed Trading Account – earn a 0.10% boost
- Use your Rewards Checking account to make your full monthly Axos Bank Mortgage, personal or auto loan payment – earn a 0.10% boost
Each qualifying action varies from 0.10% – 0.30% toward your interest rate, so if you hit all four, you’ll get the full rate of 1.00%.
Fortunately, they aren’t asking for too much here.
Consumers Credit Union: Rewards Checking
Consumers Credit Union (CCU) is an Illinois-based credit union that offers online banking services to members throughout the US.
It’s unique in the sense that it’s open to anyone, anywhere, while most credit unions have membership requirements based on being part of a specific community.
Credit unions have a reputation for beating banks when it comes to high APYs, and CCU is no exception.
CCU offers three different types of checking accounts, with Rewards Checking being the most exciting. If you meet the qualifying actions, you can earn an exceptionally high 4.09% APY (on balances up to $10,000).
Rewards Checking is a free account and comes with unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, unlimited check writing, and online and mobile banking. The NCUA backs CCU, so all of your deposits are protected.
Here is a breakdown of the tiered APY earnings rates and required qualifying actions:
- Enroll in eStatements
- Make at least 12 debit card purchases per month
- Have direct deposits, mobile check deposits, or ACH credits totaling $500 or more per month
- Meet all requirements for the 2.09% APY, plus:
- Spend $500 or more with your CCU Visa credit card per month
- Meet all requirements for the 2.09% APY, plus:
- Spend $1,000 or more in CCU Visa credit card purchases per month
For each tier, your balance between $10,000.01 and $25,000 will earn at 0.20%, and anything higher than $25,000 earns at 0.10%.
T-Mobile Money: Checking Account
T-Mobile is the third-largest wireless carrier in the US. In 2019, the company launched T-Mobile Money, which is one of the latest examples of a neobank.
T-Mobile Money has just one account available — a high yield checking option that stacks up against the highest-earning bank accounts out there.
This is a free checking account, with no monthly service fees and more than 55,000 free-to-use network ATMs.
Account-holders can also get paid up to two days sooner with early direct deposit and earn one of the highest APYs available at 4.00%.
T-Mobile Money’s premium APY rate is only applicable on balances up to $3,000, but even the standard rate of 1.00% for all other balances is significantly higher than the average savings rate.
For happy T-Mobile wireless customers, this account is worth consideration.
How to qualify for 4.00%:
- Enroll in a qualifying T-Mobile postpaid wireless plan
- Register for perks with your T-Mobile ID
- Make at least ten qualifying purchases with your T-Mobile Money card.
CIT Bank: eChecking
CIT Bank is one of the best-known online-only banks and is among the 50 largest banks in the US.
With CIT, you can do all of your banking online and access financial products and services for personal, business, and commercial use.
CIT offers just one checking account, eChecking. The account is mostly fee-free and only comes with extra charges for services like wire transfers and return deposit items.
ATM transactions are covered with fee rebates up to $30 per statement cycle.
You’ll have full access to your account through the CIT mobile banking app, which you can use to deposit checks, send money with Zelle, or make purchases with Samsung Pay and Apple Pay.
eChecking requires a $100 minimum deposit to open, and you’ll earn interest with an APY of up to 0.25%, depending on your total balance.
To qualify for the best rate, you need a balance of at least $25,000 and all other balances earn at a rate of 0.10%.
As you can see, CIT’s eChecking APY is significantly lower than other options.
However, it’s still much higher than the next-to-nothing amount that traditional banks pay.
Discover Bank: Cashback Debit
With nearly 50 million cardholders, Discover is the third-largest credit card brand in the US.
Discover Bank is the firm’s consumer-facing banking division, where you can find deposit accounts, loans, and retirement accounts.
There is just one physical branch, so the banking experience will be online-only through the Discover mobile app for the vast majority of people.
Cashback Debit is Discover’s closest thing to a high yield checking account. The account offers cashback rewards and serves as a low-risk alternative for those who don’t want to rack up credit card bills.
Technically speaking, Cashback Debit isn’t a high-yield account in the traditional sense because there’s no APY.
But, you can earn 1% cashback on debit card purchases of up to $3,000 per month, so it has the earning potential of a high-interest checking account.
For the sake of comparison, let’s crunch the numbers. At 1% cashback, you can earn $30 per month, or $360 per year, if you max out the benefit. To earn the same amount in a single year on interest, you’d need an APY of 1.00% and an average balance of $36,000.
Plus, with Discover, you can still take advantage of a competitive rate through a linked savings account — Discover’s Online Savings account currently has an APY of 0.40%.
Ally Bank: Interest Checking
Ally is the largest online-only bank in the US, offering bank accounts, investing options, and loans. Ally is a member-FDIC bank as well as an Equal Housing Lender.
Ally’s Interest Checking account is one of the best checking accounts online. It comes with no monthly checking account fees, no minimum opening deposit requirements, and surcharge-free access to Allpoint ATMs (plus $10 per month in reimbursements for out-of-network ATM use).
You’ll have full account access through the Ally mobile app and a debit card to use for everyday spending.
Ally Interest Checking comes with an APY of up to 0.25%, which you can get if you have a balance of at least $15,000. Lower balances get a rate of 0.10%.
There is no cap on interest earnings, so you’ll earn the same rate no matter how high your balance gets.
Citibank: Citi Elevate Account Package
New York-based Citibank is one of the “big four” US banks, offering a full suite of banking products, lending options, and wealth management services.
In general, big traditional banks aren’t known for high-yield accounts. In fact, they’re known for just the opposite, with APYs that almost always provide the bare minimum in earning potential.
Citibank, however, is something of an exception. The bank offers a high yield savings option that can compete with the best online banks, and the Citi Elevate Account Package comes with a formidable high-yield checking account.
With Citi Elevate, you get unlimited reimbursed ATM fees, electronic bank statements, and digital services like bill pay, transfers, and mobile check deposit. There’s a $15 monthly fee, but you can get around it if you maintain a balance of at least $5,000.
Most importantly, Citi Elevate offers a max APY of 0.25%. Your total balance determines the rate you get. Here’s what each tier looks like:
- Balance below $9,999.99: 0.05% APY
- $10,000 to $24,999.99 balance: 0.10% APY
- $25,000+ balance: 0.25% APY
For existing Citibank customers that can afford to maintain a high balance, this account probably makes sense.
Alliant Credit Union: High-Rate Checking
Alliant is rates as one of the best credit unions and provides financial services to its members online and in the surrounding area.
As with most credit unions, Alliant has restrictions on who can join. You’ll need to live or work near its headquarters, be related to a current member, or be involved with a partner organization.
Alliant’s High-Rate Checking account has no monthly service fee or daily balance requirements and comes with $20 per month in ATM reimbursements. There’s a $25 non-sufficient fund (NSF) fee, but otherwise, the account is free.
To earn interest with High-Rate Checking, all you have to do is opt into eStatements and make at least one electronic deposit per month.
The deposit can be a direct, ATM, or mobile deposit, or you can transfer money from an external bank account. Once you qualify, you’ll earn interest at a rate of 0.25% for all account balances.
NBKC Bank: Everything Account
NBKC is an online bank based out of Kansas City. It has four brick-and-mortar branches in Missouri and Kansas and offers digital accounts nationwide.
With bank accounts, credit cards, and loans, NBKC is a full-service online bank that provides low-fee banking products and a high level of customer support.
The NBKC Everything Account is an all-in-one account that serves the role of both online checking and online savings accounts.
The account comes with no fees, mobile banking access, a Mastercard debit card, and free ATM use within the MoneyPass network.
You can also set up automatic bill payments and savings goals and monitor your spending with intuitive financial tools.
The Everything Account comes with an APY of 0.15% for all balances. There are no qualifying actions needed here, and with no minimum deposit requirements, you’ll start earning interest right away, no matter what your initial balance looks like.
Aspiration: Aspiration Plus
Aspiration is an online bank built on integrity and the idea that a financial institution can make money while positively impacting the world.
The bank actively avoids investments that harm the climate and rewards customers for socially conscious shopping. In fact, each time you swipe your Aspiration card, the bank pays to have a tree planted.
Aspiration Plus is the bank’s premium all-in-one checking and savings solution, which offers free access to 55,000 ATMs, 10% cashback on Conscience Coalition purchases, and an APY of up to 1.00% on deposits.
The top APY rate is good for balances up to $10,000, and you’ll need to spend $1,000 or more per month with your Aspiration debit card to qualify.
If you don’t hit the $1,000 spending mark in a given month, you can still get an APY of 0.25% on the first $10,000 of your balance. Anything on top of that always earns at 0.10%.
Watch out for fees, though. Aspiration Plus costs $7.99 per month (or $5.99 per month if you pay annually). There is also a minimal $10 minimum opening deposit requirement.
How to Choose The Best High-Yield Checking Account for You
Your checking account is the primary bank account you use every day to pay bills and receive direct deposits, among other things.
Thanks to recently available high-yield options, your checking account can also be a place where you can earn interest.
When looking into the best high yield checking account for you, here are the main factors that you should be considering:
Annual Percentage Yield (APY)
Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is the percent of your balance that earns interest. This amount is calculated annually and typically paid out monthly.
With most high-yield savings accounts, you’ll earn the same interest rate no matter what your balance is. This isn’t always when the case when it comes to high yield checking.
For example, some high-yield checking accounts come with qualifying requirements that you’ll have to meet to snag the top-tier rate
These could be anything from minimum balance requirements to an expanded relationship with the bank. Before you sign up for a new bank account online, it’s important to understand the full scope of what’s required so that you know you qualify for a premium rate.
Nothing cuts into an APY quicker than account fees. Between monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees, and more, even an industry-leading APY can be made irrelevant with a fee-heavy account.
Fortunately, most bank fees are avoidable, and some banks have done away with them altogether.
Choosing the right account with a fee schedule that’s at worst manageable (and at best non-existent) will help keep the money in your account trending in the right direction.
High-Yield Checking Account FAQs
How do high-yield checking accounts work?
High yield checking accounts work the same way as savings accounts. Each account has an interest rate, or APY, associated with it. This is the percentage of your balance that the bank pays you for keeping money in the account.
Interest is most often compounded daily and paid monthly, so as your balance grows, so does the amount that you earn in interest.
Are high-yield checking accounts worth it?
Usually, yes, but it depends on the account. In general, any time you’re earning extra money, it’s a positive thing.
That said, there are always things to consider. If an account comes with unmanageable fees, the amount you earn in interest might easily cancel out. Similarly, suppose the threshold for the highest APY tier isn’t viable within your own personal financial situation. In that case, it might not be worth it, and another account could be a better fit.
Can you lose money in a high-yield checking account?
No. Interest-bearing accounts don’t work like the stock market, where your shares’ value can rise and fall based on market conditions.
Interest rates certainly have the potential to drop over time, so your return might slow down with a lower rate, but your balance won’t start to go into the red because of interest.
Which bank has the highest interest rate for a checking account?
This is sort of a tough one for a couple of reasons. First, APYs are always moving, so while one bank might hold the crown for the highest rate right now, it can change pretty rapidly.
The other reason has to do with balance restrictions. For example, T-Mobile Money has one of the highest checking interest rates out there at 4.00%, but it’s only applicable to the first $3,000 within any given balance. In contrast, a lower rate applicable to any balance might end up paying a higher overall yield.
A good practice when comparing APYs is to come up with an expected average balance in the coming year and do the math for what you would earn based on each rate and its restrictions and requirements.
hat way, rather than just comparing the advertised rate, you can determine which account will actually earn you the most money.
Are High-Yield Checking Accounts Best for You?
As you can see, there are many high-yield checking accounts to choose from that can serve your banking needs while helping you grow your deposits.
In most cases, these accounts can bolster your balance as much as a savings or money market account, and all you have to do is meet specific requirements (e.g., use your debit card for purchases or maintain a certain account balance).
The next step is determining which account is best for you based on the APY, the services you need, and your ability to qualify. If you go with any of the providers listed above, you’ll be heading in the right direction.