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Best Rewards Checking Accounts of 2018

Nov. 27, 2018
Banking, Checking Accounts
Best Rewards Checking Accounts
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.
Best cash-back rewards
Discover

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

Discover Cashback Debit

4.5 NerdWallet rating

Axos Bank’s CashBack Checking

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Best sign-up bonus
Chase

at Chase,

Member, FDIC

Chase Total Checking®

3.5 NerdWallet rating
Best interest rate for a bank checking account
Redneck Bank

at Redneck Bank,

Member, FDIC

Redneck Bank’s Rewards Checkin’

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Axos Bank™

at Axos Bank™,

Member, FDIC

Axos Bank’s Rewards Checking

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Best interest rate for a credit union checking account
Consumers Credit Union

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Consumers Credit Union’s Free Rewards Checking

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Best miles rewards

UFB Direct’s Airline Rewards Checking

3.5 NerdWallet rating

Rewards usually get associated with credit cards, but some checking accounts have them, too. Perks include high interest rates, cash back and one-time sign-up bonuses.

Here’s a list of our favorite rewards checking accounts.

» Want to explore one-time bonuses? Browse our monthly roundup of best bank account bonuses

Best cash-back rewards

Discover cashback debit

4.5 NerdWallet rating

 

Discover

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

You can get 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in qualifying debit card purchases each month on Discover’s one and only checking account.

Discover gives access to over 60,000 free ATMs and doesn’t charge a monthly fee or have balance requirements. (Check out its high-yield savings account in our review.)

The company says: “Limited Time Offer: Apply for your first Cashback Debit account with Offer Code NCB1218 by 12/31/18 and Discover will match all the Cashback you’ve earned through 6/28/19, automatically.”



Axos Bank CashBack Checking

4.0 NerdWallet rating

 

CashBack Checking from Axos Bank, formerly Bank of Internet, offers up to 1% cash back to earn a possible $2,000 monthly. To get the full 1%, you must maintain a daily balance of at least $1,500, or the rate drops to 0.50%. The checking account also has unlimited domestic ATM reimbursements and no monthly fees.

This account restricts eligible debit transactions to purchases that require a signature. Transactions also can’t be purchases at supermarkets, wholesale stores, discount stores or money transfer or financial institutions, plus a couple of others.

» Looking for a rewarding savings account? Browse NerdWallet’s roundup of best high yield online savings accounts

Best sign-up bonus

Chase Total Checking®

3.5 NerdWallet rating
Chase

at Chase,

Member, FDIC


New Chase checking customers who open a Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit can earn a sign-up bonus of $200 (expires 1/14/2019). The $12 monthly maintenance fee can be avoided by keeping a minimum balance of $1,500, signing up for monthly direct deposits of at least $500, or having an average beginning day balance of at least $5,000 across linked qualifying accounts and investments.

Chase has about 5,100 branches and more than 16,000 ATMs, as well as a range of checking and savings accounts. That makes it ideal for people looking to join a national bank. (See our Chase review for more details.)

Best interest checking rate for banks

Redneck Bank’s Rewards Checkin’

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Redneck Bank

at Redneck Bank,

Member, FDIC


Despite its offbeat marketing, Redneck Bank’s high rates are legit. The online division of Oklahoma-based All America Bank offers a 2.75% APY on up to $10,000, which means you could rake in $275 in interest in one year. Amounts above $10,000 earn 0.50% APY. You must make 10 debit card purchases per month to earn the rates. Otherwise, the APY drops to 0.50%. The account has a minimum opening deposit requirement of $500, and no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.

Axos Bank rewards checking

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Axos Bank™

at Axos Bank™,

Member, FDIC

Axos Bank’s Rewards Checking account has no monthly fee or minimum balance requirements. It reimburses an unlimited number of domestic ATM fees and offers cash-back purchase rewards at certain stores.

But the account’s biggest perk is its annual percentage yield, or APY, of up to 1.25%. To get the full rate, you need to have monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more and make at least 15 debit card purchases monthly. Falling short of those requirements can reduce the APY. You can earn interest on balances of up to $150,000, which is an unusually high limit for a rewards checking rate. (Read more about Axos Bank in our review.)

Best interest checking rate for credit unions

Consumers Credit Union free rewards checking

4.0 NerdWallet rating

 

Consumers Credit Union

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Consumers Credit Union’s Free Rewards Checking offers easy-to-join nationwide membership, a big ATM network and no monthly fees or minimum balances, but the most impressive feature is the APY: up to 5.09%.

The rate breaks down into three separate tiers — 3.09%, 4.09% and 5.09% — with more monthly requirements for the higher two. To achieve the first tier on balances of up to $10,000, you need to do three things: Complete at least 12 monthly debit card purchases totaling at least $100, have direct deposits or ACH transfers worth at least $500 each month, and enroll in electronic documents.

The second tier, 4.09%, applies to balances of up to $10,000 and requires the activities above as well as making at least $500 in purchases with a Consumers Credit Union credit card. The highest tier, 5.09%, is for balances of up to $10,000 and requires the activities from the first tier along with $1,000 in credit card purchases. Not meeting the requirements drops your rate down to a much lower APY. (Check out more accounts on our Consumers Credit Union review.)

Best miles rewards

UFB Direct’s Airline Rewards Checking

3.5 NerdWallet rating

 

UFB Direct, a division of Axos Bank, offers an Airline Rewards Checking that gives you a mile or a point for every $3 you spend from debit card purchases. The maximum is 120,000 miles or points a year. The account also has unlimited domestic ATM reimbursements and offers purchase rewards. There aren’t any monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, but you’ll need $100 as your opening balance.

Note that the bank’s partner airline for the program is American Airlines, so that’s the carrier this checking account is good for. Eligible transactions can’t be purchases from grocery stores, wholesale stores, discount stores or money transfer businesses or financial institutions, as well as a couple of others. (See our UFB Direct review for more details.)

Chasing the best rewards and sign-up bonuses in the world can’t make up for having a checking account that lacks features you need or that charges you high fees to access your money. But it’s worth looking for a financial institution that offers you a little extra incentive to bank with it.

Best rewards checking account

BankRewards
Discover Cashback Debit1% cash back on up to $3,000 a month.
Axos Bank Cashback CheckingEarn up to $2,000 in cash back a month.
Chase Total Checking®Sign-up bonus of $200 (expires 1/14/2019).
Redneck Bank Rewards Checkin'2.75% APY for up to $10,000, larger balances earn 0.50% APY.
Axos Bank Rewards Checking1.25% APY for up to $150,000.
Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards CheckingMaximum APY of 5.09% for up to $10,000.
UFB Direct Airline Rewards CheckingOne mile or point earned for every $3 spent.

Methodology

We took a close look at over 70 financial institutions, including the largest U.S. banks based on assets, debit card volume, Internet search traffic and other factors; the nation’s largest credit unions, based on deposits as well as broad-based membership requirements; and other notable and/or emerging players in the industry. We rated them on criteria including annual percentage yields, minimum balances, fees, digital experience and more.

Financial institutions surveyed include: Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express, Aspiration, Associated Bank, Axos Bank, Bank5 Connect, Bank7, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Barclays, BB&T, BBVA Compass, Boeing Employees Credit Union, BMO Harris, Capital One 360, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Chime, CIT, Citibank, Citizens Access, Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Commerce Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Discover Bank, E-Trade, Fidelity, Fifth Third Bank, First National Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, GoBank, Golden 1 Credit Union, GS Bank, HSBC Bank USA, Huntington Bank, KeyBank, MetaBank, M&T Bank, Moven, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, Popular Direct, PurePoint Financial, Radius Bank, Redneck Bank, Regions Bank, Sallie Mae Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Service Credit Union, Simple, State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina, State Farm Bank, Suncoast Credit Union, SunTrust Bank, Synchrony Bank, TCF Bank, TD Bank, TIAA Bank, Union Bank, UFB Direct, USAA, U.S. Bank, Varo, Wells Fargo and Zions Bank.

How we rate banks and credit unions

 

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