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NerdWallet’s Best Rewards Checking Accounts 2017

Banking, Checking Accounts
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Best Rewards Checking Accounts
Best interest rate for a bank checking account
Bank+of+Internet
Learn more
at Bank of Internet USA
Bank of Internet USA’s Rewards Checking

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

Best cash-back rewards
Discover
Learn more
at Discover
Discover’s Cashback Checking

Bank+of+Internet
Learn more
at Bank of Internet USA
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.  Also, check out our monthly roundup of best bank account bonuses and offers.

Best interest checking rate for banks

Bank of Internet USA rewards checking

Bank+of+Internet
Learn more
at Bank of Internet USA
Bank of Internet USA, 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 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. Otherwise, you can get two-thirds of that rate 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: 0.4166%. The same goes for folks who make 10 debit card purchases but don’t receive direct deposits.
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Best interest checking rate for credit unions

Consumers Credit Union free rewards checking

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%.

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, 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%.
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Best cash-back rewards

Discover cashback checking

Discover
Learn more
at Discover
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. One caveat: You’ll have to have an existing Discover product, like a credit card or a savings account, to qualify for its checking account.
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Bank of Internet USA cashback checking

Bank of Internet USA’s CashBack Checking option provides 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, among a couple others.
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Best miles rewards

UFB Direct’s Airline Rewards Checking

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. 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 airline that this checking account is good for. Transactions can’t be purchases from grocery stores, wholesale stores, discount stores or money transfer businesses or financial institutions, as well as a couple others.
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Best sign-up bonus

Chase Total Checking®

Chase
Learn more
at Chase Bank
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 10/16/2017). The $12 monthly maintenance fee can be avoided by keeping a minimum balance of $1,500, signing up for direct deposit, 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.
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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 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.

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.

Updated May 19, 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