Advertiser Disclosure

NerdWallet’s Best Rewards Checking Accounts 2017

Banking, Checking Accounts
You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here's how we make money.
Best Rewards Checking Accounts
Best interest checking rate for banks
Bank+of+Internet
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Bank of Internet USA’s Rewards Checking

Best interest checking rate for credit unions
Consumers+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Consumers Credit Union’s Free Rewards Checking

Best cash-back rewards
Discover
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Discover’s Cashback Checking

Bank+of+Internet
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Bank of Internet USA’s Cashback Checking

Best miles rewards
UFB Direct’s Airline Rewards Checking

Best sign-up bonus
Chase
Learn more
at Chase Bank
Chase Total Checking

Unlike credit cards, checking accounts rarely boast rewards. So when they do, they’re worth a look.

Some checking accounts let you earn high interest rates, airline miles or cash back in exchange for fulfilling certain requirements, such as having direct deposits or making debit card purchases.

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

Best interest checking rate for banks

Bank of Internet USA

4.0 stars out of 5

0.4166%-1.25% APY

Bank+of+Internet
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Bank of Internet, a division of BofI Federal Bank, has a Rewards Checking account with no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. It reimburses an unlimited number of domestic ATM fees and offers cash-back purchase rewards at select stores when available.

But the account’s biggest perk is its annual percentage yield, or APY, of up to 1.25%, which is more than 30 times the current national average rate for interest checking. To get the full rate, you need to have direct deposits of $1,000 or more monthly and make at least 15 debit card purchases monthly. Otherwise, you can get two-thirds of that rate, 0.8332%, for having $1,000 in direct deposits and making 10 debit card purchases in a month. With just the direct deposits and no debit card purchases, the rate is one-third of the top one, or 0.4166%.
[Back to top]

Best interest checking rate for credit unions

Consumers Credit Union

3.09%-4.59% APY

Consumers+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
In addition to easy-to-join nationwide membership and no monthly fees or minimum balances, Consumers Credit Union’s Free Rewards Checking has an impressive APY of up to 4.59%. That’s more than 45 times the average rate for interest checking at banks and credit unions nationwide.

Similar to Bank of Internet’s checking, the rate breaks down into three separate tiers — 3.09%, 3.59% and 4.59% — with more monthly requirements for the higher two. To achieve the first tier on balances of up to $10,000, you need to do four things: Complete at least 12 debit card purchases that require your signature, make or receive at least one electronic transaction such as a direct deposit or bill payment monthly, access online or mobile banking at least once monthly and enroll in electronic documents.

The second tier, 3.59%, applies to balances of up to $15,000 and requires the activities above as well as making at least $500 in purchases with a Consumers Credit Union credit card. The highest tier, 4.59%, is for balances of up to $20,000 and requires the four activities from the first tier along with $1,000 in credit card purchases. Not meeting the initial four requirements drops your rate down to 0.01%.
[Back to top]

Best cash-back rewards

Discover

4.5 stars out of 5

10 cents back per transaction

Discover
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Discover’s one and only checking account, Cashback Checking, comes with a strong perk: You get 10 cents back for every debit card purchase, check and online bill payment you make. The monthly limit for this reward is 100 transactions overall, meaning you can get up to $10 in cash back per month, or $120 annually. Discover doesn’t charge a monthly fee or require any minimum balance or activity requirements to be eligible for cash back, so it’s perfect for people who want an easy way to earn debit rewards.
[Back to top]

Bank of Internet USA

4.0 stars out of 5

0.5%-1% per signature-based transaction

Bank of Internet’s CashBack Checking has a much better rate than Discover’s account, with 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.

In contrast to Discover, this account restricts eligible debit transactions to purchases that require a signature, as opposed to a PIN. Transactions also can’t be money transfers, or purchases at supermarkets, wholesale stores, discount stores or financial institutions.
[Back to top]

Best miles rewards

UFB Direct’s Airline Rewards Checking

120,000 potential miles/points per year

UFB Direct, a division of BofI Federal Bank like Bank of Internet, 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, starting from the day you open the account to the same day next year. The account also has unlimited ATM reimbursements and purchase rewards from select retailers when available. There aren’t any monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, but you’ll need $100 as your opening balance.

There are limitations to the airline rewards, though. The bank’s partner airline for the program is American Airlines, so that’s the airline that this checking account is good for. As with Bank of Internet, transactions can’t be purchases from grocery stores, wholesale stores, discount stores, or money transfer businesses or financial institutions.
[Back to top]

Best sign-up bonus

Chase Total Checking

3.5 stars out of 5

$200

Chase
Learn more
at Chase Bank
New Chase customers who open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit can earn a sign-up bonus of $200 (expires 4/16/2017). The $12 monthly maintenance fee can be avoided by keeping a minimum balance of $1,500 or signing up for direct deposit.

The welcome bonus is a nice touch, but that’s not all Chase has to offer. It has 5,200 branches and more than 16,000 ATMs, as well as a range of checking and savings accounts. That makes Chase ideal for people looking to join a national bank.
[Back to top]

The best rewards and sign-up bonuses in the world can’t make up for having a checking account that doesn’t have all the features you need or 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.

Spencer Tierney is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: spencer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd. NerdWallet writer Virginia C. McGuire contributed to this article.

Verified Feb. 3, 2017.


Methodology

To determine the best accounts, we took a close look at over 60 financial institutions: 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.

Financial institutions surveyed include: Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, Andrews Federal Credit Union, Aspiration, Associated Bank, Bank5 Connect, BankDirect, Bank of America, Bank of Internet, Bank of the West, Barclays, BB&T, BBVA Compass, Boeing Employees Credit Union, BMO Harris, Capital One 360, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Commerce Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Discover Bank, EverBank, Fidelity, Fifth Third Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, Golden 1 Credit Union, GS Bank, HSBC Bank USA, Huntington Bank, KeyBank, MemoryBank, MetaBank, M&T Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, People’s United Bank, PNC, Radius Bank, Regions Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Simple, Star One Credit Union, State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina, State Farm Bank, Suncoast Credit Union, SunTrust Bank, Synchrony Bank, TCF Bank, TD Bank, Union Bank, UFB Direct, USAA, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Woodforest National Bank, Zero Financial and Zions Bank.

How we rate banks and credit unions