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NerdWallet’s Top Picks for Senior Checking

by on April 26, 2012

Not all checking accounts are created equal. Chances are, your local community bank or credit union offers an account tailored to your age group’s exact spending needs. You’ll find checking accounts for teens, college students and seniors, too. “Senior” checking accounts are specially tailored for the 50+ age group’s average banking habits. Seniors tend to use ATMs and debit cards less frequently, but write more checks. Accordingly, senior checking accounts usually reflect this difference by offering free or discounted checks, and incentives for a higher average daily balance, like an increased interest rate. Most accounts are free, but the ones that aren’t have easy-to-waive monthly fees.

Do I need a senior checking account?

If you write a lot of checks, and you’re looking to save money on monthly fees, a senior checking account can offer you tremendous benefits over a regular checking account. Regardless of which account you pick, it’s important to look carefully at all your options. Be sure to review each account’s unique perks and pick one that offers you the most rewards and lowest fees for your money management habits. To help you get started, here are NerdWallet’s top picks for senior checking at community banks and credit unions across America.

Philadelphia Federal Credit Union (Philadelphia, PA) – Senior Checking

Philadelphia Federal Credit Union has 9 locations in Philadelphia, but they serve members throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Their Senior Checking account is open to members 50 or better. You’ll earn 0.15% APY and waive your $5 monthly fee when your daily balance is $500 or more. Better yet, that dividend rate increases to 0.20% APY with an average daily balance of $5,000, or 0.25% with an average daily balance of $10,000. This account also comes with free retirement and long-range planning consultations, and free travelers checks. Credit union membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or studies in Philadelphia. Affiliates of select employee groups, and relatives and roommates of eligible members may also join.

Monadnock Community Bank (Peterborough, NH) – Senior Checking

Originally a credit union for an auto wholesalers association, Monadnock is now a community bank serving the people of Cheshire and Hillsborough counties. Their Senior Checking account is completely free, and comes with online banking and bill pay. If you use your checking account regularly every month, we recommend signing up for the REALTunes Checking account. Make 12 debit card purchases every month and sign up for e-statements, and you’ll get $4.95 in free iTunes downloads each month and nationwide ATM fee refunds. Can’t meet the minimum requirements each month? Your account’s still free, and you can always try again next month.

CFG Community Bank (Towson, MD) – Senior Checking

CFG Community Bank has 4 locations in Baltimore, Townson and Annapolis. Although their primary focus is small businesses, they also offer a wide variety of great deposit products for personal banking too. Open to members 50 or better, the Senior Checking account has no minimum balance requirement or monthly fee, and earns a small amount of interest. You’ll also get a discount on a safe deposit box.

Bank of American Fork (American Fork, UT) – CheckSmart Senior

If you live in Utah, you’ve probably seen Bank of American Fork’s hot air balloons at a local parade, sporting event or school faire. Bank of American Fork has 12 locations in Utah, Salt Lake and Davis counties. Open to anyone 55 or better, the CheckSmart Senior account has no minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fee. Every time you order checks, you’ll receive a discount. This account also comes with a $25 credit toward check orders, money orders and cashier’s checks, and free access to AccountSmart Tools for Seniors, a set of optional account services to prevent financial abuse. You can authorize a third party to help you monitor your accounts, set up power of attorney, or take advantage of automatic bill pay to ensure you remember to pay bills on time.

Start Community Bank (New Haven, CT) – Senior Checking Account

Start Community Bank, a relatively new community bank with a local focus, has 2 locations in New Haven. The Senior Checking account is open to all members 55 or better, and requires a $500 minimum balance or a regular direct deposit to avoid the $5 monthly fee, but it’s well worth the effort. This account has a tiered interest rate, so the more money you keep in your account, the more you’ll earn. $500 is the minimum amount you need to start earning interest. eStatements are free if you want them, but if you prefer to bank old school, paper statements are just fine too.

Peoples Bank (Newton, NC) – Senior Checking

Peoples Bank has 18 branches in Catawba, Lincoln, Alexander, Mecklenburg, and Iredell counties. The Senior Checking Account earns interest, and your first order of checks is free. You must be 55 or better and set up direct deposit to avoid the $6 monthly maintenance fee, but there’s no minimum balance requirement, and you’ll get 2 free non-Peoples’ ATM reimbursements per month. Can’t set up direct deposit? You can also sign up for their free checking account. If you’d like to earn more interest, the Rewards Checking account offers 1% APY and as many ATM rebates as you need. You’ll need to make at least 10 debit card purchases each month and set up direct deposit or an electronic draft to qualify for the interest rate and avoid an $8 monthly maintenance fee.

Northwest Community Credit Union (Springfield, OR) – VIP Checking

As their name suggests, Northwest Community Credit Union has 12 locations in Northwestern Oregon. The VIP Checking account is perfect for seniors 62 or better who keep a low average monthly balance and can set up a regular direct deposit. This account provides free checks and 0.25% APY on any balance. If you can’t set up direct deposit, or it’s not quite your style, the Freedom Checking might be a better fit for you. This account is completely free, with no minimum balance requirement or monthly fees. What’s the catch? The interest rate is a little lower, and it doesn’t come with free checks, but it’s still a pretty great deal. Most Oregon residents can quality for credit union membership. See their membership page for complete details.

Carroll Community Bank (Sykesville, MD) – Senior Checking

A community bank in every sense of the term, Carroll Community Bank has been making loans to local businesses in Carroll County for over a century. The Senior Checking account has no monthly service fee, and balances of $100 or more earn interest that’s three times higher than the basic checking interest rate. For an added bonus, they’re waive one non-standard fee every 12 months, give you as many free checks as you want, and offer you a discount if you take out a loan. You’ll also get a $15 discount on a safe deposit box when they’re available.

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