High-Yield Reward Checking Account Rates

Serious doctor working at laptop in clinic office

Hero Images/Getty Images

Rewards checking accounts pay surprisingly high-interest rates. You typically earn more than you can get from savings accounts or CDs, and you can spend from your account easily. But it can be tricky to maximize the benefits of these accounts, and it’s critical to understand how they work.

Classic Rewards Checking Accounts

Some of the best deals are available locally. Small banks and credit unions use rewards checking to bring in new customers, and they aren’t necessarily trying to attract rate-chasers from around the country. Check with financial institutions in your area and compare their offers to the banks listed below.

Consumers Credit Union

If you want a high interest rate on your account balance, Consumers Credit Union pays an impressive rate—up to 5.09 percent APY—in the Free Rewards Checking account. The credit union is easy to join online, so you can use the account nationwide, and there’s no branch visit required.

  • Earn between 3.09 percent and 5.09 percent: Rates depend on your account activity. To earn the base rate, complete at least 12 debit card purchases, set up direct deposit into your account, and sign up for electronic statements. Visit Consumers.org for complete details.
  • Maximize your rate: To earn the highest rate, make at least $1,000 worth of purchases each month on a Consumers Credit Union credit card.
  • Fees: The Free Rewards Checking account has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Also, if you qualify for the base rate, you qualify for reimbursements on foreign ATM fees. Other fees may apply, depending on your account activity.
  • Maximums: You can earn these rates on up to $10,000 in your checking account. On amounts above that, the rate is significantly lower.

Heritage Bank

eCentive is a basic rewards checking account that makes it relatively easy to earn a high rate on a larger balance.

  • Earn 3.33 percent: To earn the rewards rate, complete at least ten debit card purchases, set up direct deposit, and opt into electronic statements. Visit Heritage Bank’s website for complete details.
  • Fees: The eCentive account has no monthly fees and requires $100 to open (but there’s no minimum after that). Heritage will refund $25 per month of foreign ATM fees, including certain charges for overseas transactions.
  • Maximums: The rewards rate is available for up to $25,000 in your checking account. At current rates, you could earn up to $832.50, compared to a maximum of $509 at Consumers Credit Union, so it could make sense if you keep a large balance. On amounts over $25,000, you earn significantly less.

Other Checking Account Bonuses

Discover Cashback Debit

Debit card rewards are rare, but Discover Bank’s Cashback Debit account pays 1 percent cash back when you use your debit card.

  • Earn $30 per month: You can earn up to $30 per month in rewards, amounting to a significant annual bonus when you have at least $3,000 of qualifying spending per month.
  • Competitive accounts: Discover Bank also offers online savings accounts and money market accounts, making it a decent option for one-stop-shopping in an online bank. Savings account rates and CD rates are competitive with the best online-only options, and you may be able to find additional cash bonuses if you deposit at least $15,000 into a Discover savings account.
  • Fees: The Cashback Debit account is a free checking account with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. You also get free checks, and you can use the robust mobile app to deposit checks and manage your account.

Chase Total Checking

Chase offers a cash bonus available to customers nationwide. The program is only available to new customers, but it’s handy if you’re in the market for a new account.

  • Earn $200 to $350: The Total Checking account offers a rewardof $200 when you open an account and set up direct deposit. To earn even more, open a savings account and deposit at least $10,000.
  • Fees: Unlike online banks, the Total Checking account and Chase Savings account may charge a monthly fee. However, you can qualify for a fee waiver in each account. See Chase Bank disclosures for complete details.
  • Savings account rates: Chase Bank’s savings account pays less than most online banks. It may make sense for your brick-and-mortar savings, but if you’re trying to maximize your interest over the long term, it may pay to look elsewhere.

Qualifying for Rewards

Although advertised rates and bonuses may catch your attention, study each offer carefully. It may be hard to meet the criteria to earn a reward rate or cash bonus, leaving you with an account that pays little or nothing. Especially when it comes to rewards checking accounts, you need to be dedicated.

If you can’t qualify for high rates or free money, try online savings accounts, which consistently pay competitive rates—with no minimums, fees, or maximum balance limits, or activity requirements.