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 different banks offer different rewards with different terms and conditions.
Doing a little bit of homework upfront will help you find a rewards checking account that offers you the best perks and features.
Best Rewards Checking Accounts
Here are the top rewards checking accounts in 2021:
- Axos Bank: Cash Back Checking
- Axos Bank: Rewards Checking
- Chase: Total Checking®
- Citibank: Account Package
- Consumers Credit Union: Rewards Checking
- Discover Bank: Cash Back Debit
- HSBC: Choice Checking
- Level Bank
- M1 Plus
- Radius Bank: Rewards Checking
- Stash Beginner
- TD Bank: Convenience Checking
- TD Bank: Beyond Checking
- Varo: Bank Account
1. Axos Bank: Cash Back Checking
Axos Bank has two entries in this list. The Axos cash back checking account offers account holders some interesting rewards. As the name suggests, you can earn cash back when using the account with the bank offering up to 1.00% on eligible purchases.
The account has no monthly maintenance fee, so you’ll get to keep all of the money you make. If you’re always accumulating ATM fees, you’ll be glad to know that this account comes with unlimited ATM fee reimbursement (domestic withdrawals) as well as unlimited check writing.
Cashback rewards are limited to signature-based purchases (when you select “credit” at the point of sale), up to $2,000 per month. To get the 1% in cashback, make sure you keep an average daily collected account balance of at least $1,500. If it drops below this number, the cashback falls to 0.50%.
2. Axos Bank: Rewards Checking
The Axos Rewards Checking account offers an APY of up to 1.00%. The account works on a combined rate rewards system. This means that you need to fulfill several criteria to get the top rate. 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 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
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. Chase: Total Checking®
Chase is currently offering a $225 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.
4. 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.
5. Consumers Credit Union: Rewards Checking
With Consumers Credit Union’s Rewards Checking account, you can earn an APY that’s as high as 4.09%. The APY starts at 2.09%.
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 3.09%, 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 of 4.09%, 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%
6. Discover Bank: Cash Back Debit
Discover Bank’s Cash Back 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 a total of $360 each year, provided you make eligible purchases to the full amount.
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.
7. HSBC: Choice Checking
HSBC’s Choice Checking account can see you get up to $2,000 per year for referring successful applications. The Share, the Experience rewards programs, pays $100 for each successful referral. The bank is also known to offer other rewards to students with past rewards, including welcome bonuses and maintenance fee waivers.
Otherwise, the maintenance fee is set at $15 per month, but this can be avoided by either keeping a combined balance of $1,500 across qualifying accounts or setting up recurring monthly direct deposits. The account also includes an HSBC MasterCard Debit Card with no monthly fee.
You also get free ATM withdrawals through all of HSBC’s ATMs worldwide, making it ideal for frequent travelers. There’s also an optional overdraft protection feature that acts as a personal line of credit with a low APR rate.
8. 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.
9. 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 a one-year 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.
10. Radius Bank: Rewards Checking
Radius Bank’s Rewards Checking account offers a 1% unlimited cash back on qualifying purchases made through a Radius debit card. You will need to meet the qualification criteria set by the bank.
These include several options, such as keep an average monthly balance of $2,500, receiving deposits totaling at least $2,500, or others.
You’ll need to deposit a minimum of $100 to open this cashback checking account, but there are no monthly fees. To earn an APY, you’ll need to keep a balance of $2,500 or more. Here, the bank offers two tiers with balances between $2,500 and $99,999.00, earning 0.10%, while balances over $10,000 earn a slightly higher rate of 0.15%.
Radius offers rebates on ATM fees worldwide and comes with online banking and a mobile app, making mobile banking possible from anywhere. Security is high up the priority list, with 256-bit encryption ensuring a high level of data security.
11. Stash Beginner
Stash Beginner is the entry-level Stash account with a monthly fee of just $1.00 per month. There aren’t any requirements to waive this fee, but you do get some perks when using this account. This means there are no minimum balances to maintain, and Stash promises no hidden fees.
Eligible purchases earn Stock-Back. Rather than offering a cash percentage back on purchases, Stash offers stock of well-known brands. This means you can potentially earn a much higher amount, but the value can also go down.
Stash offers many different ways to help you save money, such as round-ups and auto-invest. You can set up different goals and divide your money accordingly. If you set up a direct deposit for your pay, you can receive it up to 2 days earlier, and the accounts also include a $1,000 life insurance policy, which Avira offered.
12. TD Bank: Convenience Checking
TD Bank’s Convenience Checking account rewards students aged between 17 and 23 with no monthly maintenance fee. If you don’t make this requirement, you can have the $15 monthly fee waived by maintaining a daily balance of just $100.
The account also offers a discount of 0.25% on home equity and personal loans from TD Bank. There is no minimum opening deposit to open the account. This checking account does not earn any interest.
Students get more perks and rewards with this account, including having savings overdraft protection transfer fees waived and a free TD Simple Savings account.
13. 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.
14. Varo: Bank Account
Varo’s bank account 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 savings account has an APY that goes as high as 2.80%. The lowest APY is 0.81%, with no minimum balance. If you make five qualifying purchases and receive qualifying direct deposits of $1,000 or more each month, you’ll see the APY go up to the full rate of 2.80%
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.
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.
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.