Best High-Interest Checking Account Rates

Earn Interest on Your Checking Balance With the Best Rates

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If you keep a large balance in your checking account, a high-interest checking account may be right for you. Traditional checking accounts don’t pay interest, but the accounts below pay impressive annual percentage yields (APYs) while keeping your money liquid. 

The accounts that made the list not only have the highest APYs, but also provide essential checking account features like the ability to write checks, pay bills online, spend with a debit card, deposit checks remotely, and more. All have federally-backed deposit insurance to keep your money safe, too (your funds are insured up to maximum limits). 

Most of the accounts only pay the highest rate on balances up to a certain limit, and only if you meet certain other requirements. For balances over the limit, the rate may drop steeply.

Learn more about the best high-interest checking accounts, along with highlights of each account, below the chart.

Best High-Interest Checking Accounts

Bank or Credit Union APY Minimum Balance Required to Open High-Interest Balance Limit Monthly Fee
La Capitol Federal Credit Union Up to 4.25% None $3,000 $8 (waivers available)
Consumers Credit Union Up to 4.09% $5 $10,000 None
Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union Up to 3.30% $25 $20,000 None
Western Vista Federal Credit Union Up to 3.25% None $15,000 None
Market USA Federal Credit Union Up to 3.01% None $15,000 None
Lake Michigan Credit Union Up to 3.00% None $15,000 None
Paramount Bank 0.85% $100 None $3 (waiver available)

We partnered with the following banks to bring you the checking account offers in the table below. Under that, you'll find additional details on our editors' picks for the best high-interest checking accounts and rates as of July 28, 2020. All of the banks and credit unions listed are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

La Capitol Federal Credit Union

La Capitol Federal Credit Union

La Capitol FCU (or “La Cap”) offers a Choice checking account that pays high dividends and is relatively easy to qualify for. This account might be right for those who keep a relatively small balance, as the highest rate is only available on your first $3,000, and the rate blends down after that.

To earn the highest rate, account holders will need to have at least 15 qualifying debit card purchases per month. The credit union is based in Louisiana, but you can become a member regardless of where you live. After joining the Louisiana Association for Personal Financial Achievement (ACHIEVE) with an initial $20 membership ($5 per year after that), you’re eligible to join La Cap. You’ll also need to keep at least $5 in a savings account.


APY
4.25% on the first $3,000
2.00% on $3,000.01 to $10,000
0.10% on $10,000.01 and greater
Monthly Fee $8, waived with $1,000 daily balance or 15 qualifying debit card purchases per month
ATM Fee Rebates Up to $25 per month
Minimum to Open None
Banking Access Nearly 30,000 free ATMs and over 6,000 branches through the CO-OP shared branching network

Consumers Credit Union

Consumers Credit Union

Consumers Credit Union (CCU) offers several rate levels in the Rewards Checking account. The more hurdles you clear, the higher your rate. However, CCU caps the high-interest balance limit at a relatively low $10,000. 

To earn the highest rate, account holders are required to make 12 or more debit card purchases totaling $1,000 or more each month, sign up for electronic statements and communications, and deposit at least $500 per month. While CCU is a relatively small institution, you have fee-free access to ATMs and branches around the U.S. through the CO-OP shared branching network. Anyone nationwide can join CCU by joining the Consumers Cooperative Association with a one-time $5 membership fee. You’ll also need to keep at least $5 in a savings account.


APY
4.09% on the first $10,000
0.20% on $10,000.01 to $25,000.00
0.10% on $25,000.01 and greater
Monthly Fee $8, waived with $1,000 daily balance or 15 qualifying debit card purchases per month
ATM Fee Rebates Unlimited
Minimum to Open $5
Banking Access Nearly 30,000 ATMs and over 6,000 branches through the CO-OP shared branching network

Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union

Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union

Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union (ETFCU) pays a high rate on a relatively high balance. As a result, you can potentially earn more in this account than other accounts showing higher rates. 

ETFCU offers its highest rate on balances up to $20,000 in your Vertical Checking account. To earn that rate, you’ll need to make at least 15 qualifying debit card purchases monthly, make at least one direct deposit per month, log in to mobile or online banking each month, and sign up for electronic statements.

To join ETFCU, you do not need to be a teacher. You can simply make a $5 donation during the application process to Mater Dei Friends & Alumni Association. You’ll also need to keep at least $5 in a savings account.


APY

3.30% on first $20,000
0.00% on $21,000.01 and greater

Monthly Fee None
ATM Fee Rebates Up to $15 per month
Minimum to Open $25
Banking Access Nearly 5,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide

Western Vista Federal Credit Union

Western Vista Credit Union

Western Vista FCU’s Panorama Checking account is a fairly straightforward high-yield checking account. You can earn the highest rate by making just 10 transactions of $5 or more per month, along with at least one direct deposit per month and signing up for electronic statements. The credit union also refunds up to $25 per month in other banks’ ATM fees. 

To become eligible for membership, anyone nationwide can make a $5 donation to the Western Vista Community Foundation. You’ll also need to keep at least $25 in a savings account. There’s no online application, though, so you’ll have to fill out the form and mail it in if you’re not located near one of the credit union’s branches.


APY

3.25% on first $15,000
0.02% on $15,000.01 and greater

Monthly Fee None
ATM Fee Rebates Up to $25 per month
Minimum to Open None
Banking Access Nearly 30,000 free ATMs and over 6,000 branches through the CO-OP shared branching network

Market USA Federal Credit Union

Market USA Federal Credit Union

The VIP Checking account at Market USA FCU incorporates online bill payments into the requirements to earn an attractive rate. Plus, the credit union has an extensive ATM network, which may appeal to those who get cash frequently. That said, you might have an easier time qualifying each month and earn more overall at other financial institutions. 

To earn the highest rate at Market USA, you’ll need to sign up for electronic statements, have at least one direct deposit of at least $250 or more per month, make 12 or more qualifying debit card purchases per month, and set up at least three qualifying online bill payments per month.

There are numerous ways to become eligible for membership, including a $5 donation to the Market USA Cares Foundation. You’ll also have to keep at least $5 in a savings account.


APY

3.01% on first $15,000
0.01% on $15,000.01 and greater

Monthly Fee None
ATM Fee Rebates Fee-free ATM access available with direct deposit of at least $500 per month
Minimum to Open None
Banking Access Nearly 30,000 free ATMs and over 6,000 branches through the CO-OP shared branching network

Sometimes the highest rate isn’t your best option. Evaluate the big picture, including whether or not you’ll qualify to earn high rates every month. Likewise, you might prefer to use a credit card for everyday spending (because of better consumer protection, for example), making standard high-yield checking accounts unappealing.

Lake Michigan Credit Union

Lake Michigan Credit Union

Lake Michigan Credit Union’s (LMCU) Max Checking is unique, offering a different ATM network and the option to use a credit card to meet one of the requirements to earn the highest rate. Specifically, you’ll need to make at least 10 qualifying card purchases per month (linked credit card purchases may count). If you’re a fan of maximizing rewards, you can even use LMCU’s Max Rewards credit card and potentially earn cash back. 

However, you also need to log in to your account at least four times each month to earn the highest rate, which could get cumbersome. In addition, you’ll need to sign up for electronic statements and have at least one direct deposit per month. 

Eligibility at LMCU is available to anybody who doesn’t live, work, or worship in Michigan or Florida through a $5 donation to the ALS Foundation. You’ll also need to keep at least $5 in an account.


APY

3.00% on first $15,000
0.00% on $15,000.01 and greater

Monthly Fee None
ATM Fee Rebates Up to $10 per month
Minimum to Open None
Banking Access Up to 55,000 fee-free ATMs

Paramount Bank

Paramount Bank

Other high-interest checking accounts, with their monthly requirements, may demand more than you’re willing to deal with. If that’s the case, Paramount Bank’s High-Interest Checking account may offer the simplicity you crave. The account does not require you to use your debit card numerous times, and you earn the same rate on accounts of all sizes. It’s not as high as other APYs on this list, but it’s still not bad for today’s market and has far fewer requirements to meet that rate. Additionally, anyone can join the bank by signing up online.

APY

0.85% on all balances

Monthly Fee $3 (waived with at least $1 in your account)
ATM Fee Rebates Available, contact Paramount Bank for details
Minimum to Open $100
Banking Access Branches available in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, California, Kansas, and Arizona

Why Do Some Banks and Credit Unions Offer Interest on Checking?

High-interest checking isn’t available everywhere. Clearly, it’s an attractive feature, and financial institutions offer this product when they want to compete for more business. But how do they make it work, and is it easier for some banks than others?

You’ll notice that banks and credit unions with the highest rates require you to use your debit card frequently. That’s because banks earn revenue every time you swipe your card—merchants pay payment processing fees whenever you make a purchase with plastic. 

Reforms under the Dodd-Frank Act give small financial institutions an advantage and allow them to earn more when you use your debit card. Specifically, the Durbin Amendment caps debit card “swipe fees” at $0.21 for banks with more than $10 billion in assets. But smaller banks can charge more, which enables them to offer incentives to customers.

While small financial institutions have an edge, they’re still only collecting $0.54 for an average signature-based transaction. For example, if your bank requires 15 purchases per month, that results in revenue of $8.10, although the actual amount depends on the size of each transaction. That’s not enough to entice banks to offer high rates on unlimited balances, so they typically only pay the highest rate on the first $15,000 or so. 

Banks also earn revenue from lending your money to borrowers, service fees, and other sources.

How Is a High-Interest Checking Account Different From a Money Market?

A money market account also pays interest on your balance, often while allowing you to make payments from your account. You might be able to write checks, make purchases in person or online with a debit card, and schedule bill payments online. However, high-interest checking accounts are unique in several ways.

Withdrawal Limits

Money market accounts typically limit the number of withdrawals you can make each month. They frequently set the maximum at about six per month, but some have more restrictive limits on the number of payments you make by check (with a maximum of three per month, for example). ATM withdrawals, checks payable to you, and other transactions might not count against your limit, but payments to third parties are restricted.

High-interest checking accounts do not have a monthly withdrawal limit. Instead, they might encourage you to spend from your account frequently.

Transaction Hurdles

Banks typically quote the APY in your money market account, and you earn that rate no matter how many payments you make. 

Some high-interest checking accounts, also known as rewards checking accounts (not to be confused with checking accounts that pay you cash-back rewards on debit card purchases), require you to meet specific criteria to earn the highest rates. For example, you might need to:

  • Use your debit card for 15 signature-based purchases each month
  • Opt in to electronic statements
  • Set up direct deposit into your account
  • Log in to your account at least once a month

If you don’t meet all of the requirements in a given month, you don’t earn the highest interest rate. As a result, it’s critical to track your progress and ensure that you meet the criteria (which may be a challenge for some).

Interest Rates

High-interest checking accounts can pay remarkably high rates. A money market account might offer an APY that’s competitive with online savings accounts, but high-yield checking accounts can pay substantially more.

Balance Caps

While high-yield checking accounts have impressive interest rates, they have balance limits. The highest rates are often only available on balances up to $15,000 or so.

Besides the APY, What Should I Look for in a High-Interest Checking Account?

Requirements for High Rates

Some banks pay interest in your checking account without requiring you to meet certain hurdles. Others require you to use your debit card frequently and meet other requirements. If you’re unable to satisfy those requirements every month, it might be smart to choose a bank with a lower rate (and easier requirements).

Review how often you use your debit card, how much you keep in your account, and other factors. With that information, you can pick the best account, even if it doesn’t have the highest APY.

Deposit Insurance

It’s easy to get drawn in by sky-high rates, but make sure your money will be safe before you open an account. Verify that any bank you’re considering is FDIC insured. For credit unions, look for federally-backed deposit insurance through the NCUA.

Monthly Fees

Paying steep monthly fees can reduce the benefits you get from a high-interest checking account. Learn about maintenance charges before signing up. If there are any, investigate how to get those fees waived.

ATM Access

If you’ll be withdrawing cash from your account, evaluate the ATM network your bank uses. If your financial institution has in-network ATMs that are convenient for you, you can potentially use those machines for free. If not, consider opening an account at a bank or credit union that offers ATM fee reimbursement.

How We Chose the Best High-Interest Checking Accounts

We started with a universe of over 50 banks and credit unions that pay attractive rates on checking account balances. Then, we highlighted institutions with the highest rates, low fees, relatively easy-to-reach requirements, generous access to ATMs, and other features that will help make your life easy. 

To earn the highest rates in a checking account, you typically need to meet certain hurdles—like using your debit card numerous times each month. This list is dominated by those accounts and is designed for a rate-conscious checking account customer.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
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  2. Consumers Credit Union. "Rewards Checking." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  3. Consumers Credit Union. "Membership." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  4. Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union. "Vertical Checking." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  5. Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union. "How to Join." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  6. Western Vista Credit Union. "Panorama Checking." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  7. Western Vista Credit Union. "Membership." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  8. Market USA Federal Credit Union. "VIP Checking." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  9. Market USA Cares Foundation. "About Market USA Cares Foundation." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  10. Market USA Federal Credit Union. "Membership." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  11. Lake Michigan Credit Union. "Max Checking." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  12. Lake Michigan Credit Union. "It's Easy to Join!" Accessed July 28, 2020.

  13. Federal Reserve. "Finance and Economics Discussion Series Divisions of Research & Statistics and Monetary Affairs Federal Reserve Board, Washington, D.C." Accessed July 28, 2020.

  14. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "Regulation II (Debit Card Interchange Fees and Routing)." Accessed July 28, 2020.