Should You Get Premium Checking?
Banks across the country are working to hook you with new premium checking products. These high-end accounts come with sometimes steep monthly fees compared to typical checking accounts, but you get a lot of benefits in return. These include better interest rates, free ATMs and ATM reimbursements, and benefits that spill over into other linked accounts at the same bank.
With all of the benefits, you may be wondering if you should get a premium checking account. But do the plusses outweigh the fees? Let’s dive in and help you decide if you should get premium checking.
What Is Premium Checking?
Premium checking accounts are bank accounts that offer features like interest and ATM rebates for the best banking customers. While the benefits tend to beat traditional checking accounts from the same banks, there are some extra costs or hurdles as well. Those come in the form of higher monthly fees (around $25 to $30 per month) or a high bar to waive those fees each month.
One example of premium checking is Chase’s Sapphire Banking, which extends the popular Chase Sapphire credit card brand into the banking side of the business. Other major banks like Bank of America, Citibank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo all offer competing premium checking accounts.
Before you head to the bank (or bank’s website) to sign up, however, it is important to compare the fees and benefits to other checking accounts to make sure you get the best deal and best account for your unique banking needs.
The Most Popular Premium Checking Accounts
The best examples of premium checking accounts today come from the biggest banks in the country. Here is a quick sampling of what they offer:
Chase — Chase Sapphire Banking
This checking account charges a $25 monthly fee that is waived for account holders with $75,000 or more in linked Chase accounts, including savings and investments. The account comes with free ATMs including an automatic reimbursement of ATM fees charged by other banks. Linked accounts may qualify for better interest rates.
Bank of America — Preferred Rewards
To entice users to expand their banking relationship with BofA, this program offers interest and rewards boosts, free ATMs, and loan discounts. The Preferred Rewards program has three tiers based on customers' combined balances in Bank of America accounts and Merrill investments:
- Gold ($20,000 or more)
- Platinum ($50,000 or more)
- Platinum Honors ($100,000 or more)
If you maintain a balance of $10,000, you can utilize another BofA product: Advantage Relationship Banking. This product waives the monthly maintenance fee of $25 when customers keep an average daily balance of $10,000.
Citibank — Citigold
Citigold is aimed at customers with a wide relationship with Citibank. Benefits include ATM fee refunds, waived fees for some banking activity, free checkbooks, and discounted investment trades at Citi Personal Wealth Management. Eligibility starts with a big hurdle: $200,000 in combined balances.
U.S. Bank — Platinum Checking
Platinum Checking at U.S. Bank is $24.95 per month with electronic statements. You can waive that with $25,000 in combined balances. This interest-bearing account also includes free MoneyPass and U.S. Bank ATMs (no rebates), no-fee overdraft protection transfers, check discounts, safe deposit box discounts, and an ability to share some benefits with family members.
Wells Fargo — Portfolio
Wells Fargo offers its Portfolio checking for $30 per month. The fee is waived with $25,000 in linked bank deposits or $50,000 in total deposits at linked accounts including brokerage and credit accounts. This account gives customers an interest rate bonus and fee waivers. There are no fees for any ATM, but they don’t offer reimbursements unless you maintain combined balances of $250,000 or more.
How Do They Compare to Other Checking Accounts?
While these accounts all have good features, it is important to look at other “non-premium” checking accounts to compare. Many of these features are already available at no-fee accounts with popular online banks like Capital One, Ally, and Charles Schwab.
For the most part, if you don’t qualify for the fee waivers, you are better off with a free checking account from an online bank than any of these. The biggest benefits come to customers who want to keep all of their banking under one roof. Combined benefits for checking, savings, investments, and loan accounts, when added together, may be lucrative and entice you away from the online, no-fee banking space.
The Bottom Line
For most people, these accounts offer great benefits but they are probably not worth the cost unless you qualify for no monthly fee.
If you do meet the combined deposit requirements to use these accounts with no fees, they offer some good features and benefits you don’t typically get from checking accounts at big banks. But you can already get a lot of these features from banks with no fees.
These accounts are best for people who want to do all their banking in one place. If you want your checking, savings, credit cards, and other loans under one brand and hit the minimum balance to get premium checking for no fee, it is certainly worth the upgrade.