A rewards checking account can be a great way to earn extra money just for having a bank account.
Checking account rewards come in all shapes and sizes, and each bank will have different terms and conditions. Doing a little bit of homework upfront will help you find a rewards checking account with the best perks and features for you.
Best Rewards Checking Accounts
Here are the top rewards checking accounts available right now:
- Discover Bank Cash Back Debit
- Axos Bank Rewards Checking
- Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking
- Upgrade Rewards Checking
- Varo Bank Account
- M1 Plus
- Level Bank
- Chase Total Checking®
- Citibank Account Package
- TD Bank Beyond Checking
1. Discover Bank: Cash Back Debit
The Discover Cashback Debit account is an online checking account with a debit card. Using the accompanying debit card, you can earn as much as 1% back on eligible purchases up to $3,000 every month.
This means that you can earn as much as $30 per month in cash back for up to a total of $360 each year, provided you make eligible purchases to the full amount (see website for details).
You’ll get to keep most of the money you earn since the bank does not charge account holders for most things. The account does not have a monthly fee, and there are no balance requirements or activity requirements either. Most other things are also free, including NSFs (non-sufficient funds), debit card replacements, and many others.
The bank offers 24/7 customer service and many online resources to help you make the most out of your account.
2. Axos Bank: Rewards Checking
The Axos Rewards Checking account offers an APY of up to 3.30%. The account works on a combined rate rewards system. This means that you need to fulfill several criteria to get the top rate. To start with, connect your direct deposit of $1,500 or more to earn a base rate of 0.40% APY.
Meeting any of the criteria will earn you an additional APY boost; completing all four will see you net the full APY.
- Make 10 transactions of at least $3 with your debit card per month or sign up for Personal Finance Manager (PFM) “Account Aggregation” in Online Banking – earn a 0.30% boost
- Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in an Axos Invest Managed Portfolios Account – earn a 1.00% boost
- Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in an Axos Invest Self Directed Trading Account – earn a 1.00% boost
- Use your Rewards Checking account to make your full monthly Axos Bank Mortgage, personal or auto loan payment – earn a 0.60% boost
The APY is applicable on balances up to $50,000. Anything over and above this amount does not earn any interest.
The account has no maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements, but there is an opening deposit minimum of $50.00. With this account, you can also enjoy unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, no overdraft fees, and no NSF fees, among the many other perks and benefits.
3. Consumers Credit Union: Rewards Checking
With Consumers Credit Union’s Rewards Checking account, you can earn an APY that’s as high as 5.00%. The APY starts at 3.00%.
To get this rate, you’ll need to enroll in eDocuments, make a minimum of 12 monthly debit card purchases, and receive a minimum of $500 in direct deposits, ACH credits, or mobile check deposits every month.
To earn a higher APY of 4.00%, you’ll need to meet all of the previous requirements plus spend a minimum of $500 in CCU Visa credit card purchases during each statement cycle. To get the full APY, you’ll need to up the purchases to $1,000 a month.
The APY is only applicable on balances of $10,000 or less. Anything between $10,000 and $25,000 earns an APY of 0.20%, while anything above $25,000 earns an APY of 0.10%
Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus lets you earn up to 2% cashback on your everyday debit purchases.
These categories include expenses at convenience stores, drugstores, restaurants and bars – including deliveries – and gas stations. You’ll also earn on recurring utilities payments and monthly subscriptions, including: phone, cable, TV and other streaming services. Everything else earns you 1% cash back if you maintain an “active account”, otherwise it’s 1% cashback on everyday purchases and unlimited 0.5% cashback on everything else.
It’s important to note that the 2% cash back is limited to $500 in rewards per calendar year. Once you reach this cap, you’ll accrue 1% cash back on all eligible debit card charges for the remainder of the year.
Note: Active Accounts with a monthly direct deposit of $1,000 or more are eligible for additional benefits on Rewards Checking Plus such as additional cash back rewards, ATM fee reimbursement, and more.
5. Varo: Bank Account
Varo offers a no-fee checking account and the opportunity to open a high-yield savings account. While Varo is an online bank, it offers many of the features usually reserved to traditional banks, including cash deposits at Green Dot Reload retail locations like Walmart, Safeway, Kroger, Walgreens, and many more.
The standard APY on the savings account is 3.00%, with no minimum balance. If you end the month with a positive balance in your Varo Bank Account and Savings Account, and receive qualifying direct deposits of $1,000 or more each month, you’ll see the APY go up to the full rate of 5.00% for balances up to $5,000.
Other features of the bank account include no transfer fees and no foreign transaction fees. You can withdraw fee-free from Allpoint ATMs with more than 55,000 locations available.
6. M1 Plus
M1 Plus is the premium account version of M1. Usually, this costs $125 per year; however, they currently have a running promotion offer for a 3 month free trial. This means that you can get all of the M1 Plus premium features for free.
M1 Plus offers an APY of 1% with no minimum balance account to get this rate. You can also earn a 1% cash back on qualifying purchases done using the accompanying debit card. Furthermore, the account also offers a reduction of 1.5% on the base rate of M1 Borrow – the M1 borrowing service.
The account is FDIC insured through Lincoln Savings Bank. There is no minimum deposit amount required to open and keep the account.
With no branches to visit, everything can be managed through the M1 app, which offers several financial tools to help you stay on top of things.
7. Level Bank
Level Bank only offers one account offering 1.5% cashback on everyday purchases with no limit in place. Level also offers Perks – with rewards over and above the regular cashback when buying from select merchants. Active Perks can be viewed directly through their mobile app available for both Apple and Android devices.
The account has several other useful features, including the ability to receive your paycheck up to two days earlier. Level also offers a free cash advance of up to $500 without charging you any interest on the borrowed amount.
To make use of this feature, you need a be a Plus or Premium member. A Plus account will set you back $5.00 per month while Premium costs $15 per month.
Level does not charge any overdraft fees and refunds ATM operator fees up to $4.00 per transaction. The number of refunds is limited according to the type of account you get – 3 for Level Plus and 5 for Level Premium.
8. Chase: Total Checking®
Chase is currently offering a $200 welcome bonus for opening a new Chase Total Checking® account. To qualify, you need to open a new account and then set up a qualifying direct deposit to your new account. It’s that simple.
The account has an APY of 0.01%, which is on the low side compared to what some of the competition is offering. The account also has a monthly service fee of $12. This can be waived by meeting any of the following requirements:
- Receive qualifying deposits totaling $500 or more.
- Maintain a minimum balance of $1,500 at the beginning of each day.
- Maintain a minimum balance of $5,000 across eligible and linked accounts at the beginning of each day.
If you’re already a customer, you can also get a bonus of up to $500 by referring a friend. Here, you’ll earn a $50 bonus for each successful referral you make, up to a maximum of $500 a year.
9. Citibank: Account Package
The Citibank Account Package allows account holders to apply for the ‘Thank you from Citi’ program. Once enrolled, you’ll need to complete several qualifying criteria to earn points (like qualifying bill payments and a direct deposit).
Points can be redeemed in many ways, including gift cards, travel rewards, cash, charity, shopping, and others. The account has a monthly service fee of $25. This can be waived by maintaining a combined average balance of $10,000 per month across linked eligible accounts.
The account has an APY of 0.01%. If you meet the minimum balance requirement, the bank will not charge you any fees when using an out-of-network ATM but keep in mind that operator charges may still apply.
10. TD Bank: Beyond Checking
TD Bank’s Beyond Checking account includes Payback Plus offering an APY of 0.01% on balances of $0.01 or more. Other rewards offered by this program include ATM fee refunds and overdraft payback.
To have non-TD Bank ATM fees reimbursed, you’ll need to maintain a daily balance of at least $2,500 while the overdraft payback refunds the first two overdraft fees per calendar year up to a maximum of $70.00.
Maintaining a daily balance of at least $2,500 can also help you avoid the $25 monthly service fee. Other ways to avoid this fee include receiving direct deposits of at least $5,000 per month or having a combined balance of $25,000 through eligible accounts.
How To Choose the Best Rewards Checking Account
When you’re trying to decide which rewards checking account to apply for, the most important thing is to actually look for offers and perks aligned with what you want.
Whether it’s high-interest rates you’re after or surcharge-free ATMs all over the country, or great bank account promotions, there should be many financial institutions that would easily meet your needs.
But make sure you know exactly what you’re getting before applying. Rewards are an excellent way to push your money further, but if you’re getting charged for basic things like a bill pay service or non-sufficient funds, then you could be doing yourself more harm than good.
I’d always look for an account without free eStatements and, of course, no service charge.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a reward checking account?
A reward checking account is a checking account that offers account holders rewards. Rewards come in all shapes and sizes and include cashback, interest, discounts, etc. Different banks and credit unions offer different types of discounts to differentiate themselves on the market.
What bank has the best rewards program?
Because checking accounts are typically used in different ways by different people, the best rewards program is going to be the one that best fits your financial goals and lifestyle.
If you intend to keep some money in your checking account, then a high APY rate reward might be more beneficial. On the other hand, if you’re mostly using your checking account to spend money, cashback rewards might be more rewarding in the long term.
What is a good APY for a checking account?
Traditionally, checking accounts did not have an APY interest rate since they are not meant to hold large sums of money. Instead, APY rates were reserved for the savings account. As competition increased, many banks started to offer interest in the form of APY on their checking accounts – sometimes, these interest rates eclipsing those offered in savings accounts.
While some might be inclined to think that a higher APY rate is always better, the truth is that it depends. This is because a high APY rate will typically have a limit. For example, a bank might offer a high APY rate on the first $10,000 in the bank account only, then drop off on anything over and above this mark.
The trick is to understand how much money you will realistically hold in your checking account, then use an APY calculator to see which rate and conditions will make you the most money.
What is Cash Back Checking?
A Cash Back Checking account is a checking account that offers cashback on purchases made through that account. Typically, there’ll be some limitations, like cashback on eligible purchases only and a monthly cap on how much money you can make.
Even so, it can be a great way to make some extra money – just don’t expect to quit your job just yet.