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Best Free Rewards Checking Accounts at Community Banks

by on November 2, 2012

Your local, community bank is the best place for a small business loan and, increasingly, a fabulous place to get a free rewards checking account. Like free checking accounts, rewards checking accounts have no monthly balance requirements or monthly fees, plus they actually do you one better. They pay a high interest rate on your balance and, in many cases, offer nationwide ATM refunds. This makes it easy to use your account to the fullest, even when you’re on vacation. Sound good? Keep reading!

Rewards checking: the full scoop

In order to qualify for rewards, you’ll need to meet some minimum monthly requirements. These vary depending on the type of account you sign up for, but they usually include making a minimum number of signature-based debit card transactions (10-15), signing up for e-statements and making at least one direct deposit. Most people can meet the requirements easily. Even if you don’t meet them one month, your account is still free, and you always have the option to try again next month. Rewards checking: it’s free checking with benefits.

Getting started

Not all community banks offer free rewards checking, but it’s more common that you think. NerdWallet looked at hundreds of community bank accounts and picked 10 of our favorites, listed by state. We also listed the information you need to help you earn your rewards. If you don’t see a bank near you, be sure to stop by your local community bank and ask about rewards checking.

Arizona – Cash Rewards Checking at Arizona Bank & Trust

Arizona Bank & Trust’s Cash Rewards Checking account pays 2.01% APY on your balance up to $20,000. It’ll also refund any ATM fees up to $20 per statement cycle. To qualify, you’ll need to meet the following monthly requirements: sign up for direct deposit, make at least 15 signature-based debit card purchases, and sign up for e-statements using a valid email address. You’ll still earn a small amount of interest if you don’t qualify, plus you’ll still get free online banking and bill pay. Arizona Bank & Trust has branches in Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, Scottsdale and Gilbert.

Arkansas – Premium Rewards Checking at National Bank of Arkansas

National Bank of Arkansas’ Premium Rewards Checking account pays 3.05% APY on your balance up to $15,000 and refunds nationwide ATM fees up to $25 per month. To qualify, you’ll need to do the following each month: make at least 12 debit card purchases, receive e-statements and have at least 1 direct deposit or automatic payment post and clear. Either way, you get access to online and mobile banking, and earn a small amount of interest on your balance. National Bank of Arkansas has branches in North Little Rock.

Georgia – Reward Checking at American Pride Bank

American Pride Bank’s Reward Checking account pays 3.00% APY on your balance up to $10,000 and refunds up to $25 in ATM fees each month when you meet the minimum monthly requirements. You’ll need to make at least12 debit card purchases, log into online banking at least once, receive e-statements and have at least one direct deposit or ACH debit post and clear. You’ll still earn a small amount of interest if the requirements aren’t met. American Pride Bank has branches in Macon and Warner Robins.

Maine – KFS Rewards Checking – Kennebec Federal Savings

Kennebec Federal Savings offers the KFS Rewards Checking account, which earns 2.00% APY on your balance up to $35,000. To qualify, you’ll need to make at least 15 debit card purchases each month, sign up for e-statements and have at least 1 direct deposit or automatic payment post and clear each month. You can also pair this account with a KFS Rewards Saver Account, which pays an even 0.75% APY on your balance up to $100,000. Kennebec Federal Savings has 2 branches in Waterville.

Maryland – Rewards Checking at Baltimore County Savings Bank

Baltimore County Savings Bank’s Rewards Checking account pays 1.49% APY on your balance up to $25,000. It also refunds your ATM fees up to $15 per statement cycle. To qualify, you’ll need to meet the following minimum monthly requirements: make at least 12 debit card purchases, have at least 1 direct deposit or ACH debit, sign up for e-statements and log into online banking at least once. This account gives you a higher-than-average base rate even if you don’t meet the requirements one month (0.10% APY). Don’t let the name fool you: Baltimore County Savings Bank doesn’t just have branches in Baltimore County. You can also find them in Hartford County, Howard County and Baltimore City.

Michigan – WOW Checking at Mercantile Bank of Michigan

Mercantile Bank of Michigan’s WOW Checking account lives up to its name by paying 3.00% APY on your balance up to $15,000. It also refunds nationwide ATM fees. You’ll need to meet the following minimum monthly requirements to qualify for rewards: sign up for e-statements and conduct 15 or more eligible banking transactions per month. These include deposits, withdrawals, Internet banking, debit card purchases, automatic loan payments and more. Be sure to visit their website for complete details. Mercantile Bank of Michigan has branches in Grand Rapids, Holland and Lansing.

Minnesota – Center Rewards Checking at Center National Bank

Center National Bank’s Center Rewards Checking account pays 2.02% APY on your balance up to $10,000 and refunds ATM fees nationwide when you meet the minimum monthly requirements. You’ll need to make at least 10 debit card purchases and have 1 direct deposit post and clear, or make 1 automatic payment. Easy! Center National Bank has branches in Litchfield and Plymouth.

North Carolina – EasyGreen Checking at Select Bank & Trust

Select Bank & Trust’s EasyGreen Checking account gives you free nationwide ATM refunds and a high yield with minimum effort. In order to qualify for 3.05% APY on your balance up to $25,000, you’ll need to make at least 10 debit card purchases, sign up for online banking and e-statements, and make at least one regular direct deposit or automatic external debit. You’ll earn 0.10% APY on your balance if these requirements aren’t met. That’s actually higher than the national average for most savings accounts. Plus, your account makes you eligible for free notary service! Select Bank & Trust has branches in Greenville, Elizabeth, City, Washington, Gibsonville and Burlington.

Texas – Reward Checking at Classic Bank

Classic Bank’s Reward Checking account pays 2.50% APY on your balance up to (and including) $15,000.99 and refunds ATM fees nationwide when you meet the minimum monthly requirements. You’ll need to make at least 10 debit purchases post and clear, sign up for e-statements, provide a valid email address and have at least 1 direct deposit or automatic payment post and clear. If you don’t meet the requirements one month, your account still earns a small amount of interest. Classic Bank has branches in Cameron, Rockdale, Rosebud, Giddings, Bastrop and Liberty Hill.

Virginia – $uccess Checking at Benchmark Community Bank

Benchmark Community Bank’s $uccess Checking account pays 2.50% APY on your balance up to $15,000 and refunds all ATM nationwide. To qualify for rewards, you’ll need to do the following each month: make at least 10 debit card purchases, have one direct deposit or automatic payment post and clear, sign-up for e-statements and use online banking. This account also gives you a base rate when you don’t meet the requirements (0.10% APY). Benchmark Community Bank has branches in Farmville, Crewe, Blackstone, Lawrenceville, South Hill, Kenbridge, Victoria, Chase City, Clarksville, South Boston and Halifax.

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