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Best Rewards Checking Accounts of 2018

Updated May 18, 2018
Banking, Checking Accounts
Best Rewards Checking Accounts
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Best cash-back rewards
Discover

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

Discover’s Cashback Checking

Overall bank rating:
Bank of Internet USA

at Bank of Internet USA,

Member, FDIC

Bank of Internet USA’s CashBack Checking

Overall bank 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

Overall credit union rating:
Best miles rewards
UFB Direct

at UFB Direct,

Member, FDIC

UFB Direct’s Airline Rewards Checking

Overall bank rating:
Best sign-up bonus
Chase

at Chase,

Member, FDIC

Chase Total Checking®

Overall bank rating:
Best interest rate for a bank checking account
Bank of Internet USA

at Bank of Internet USA,

Member, FDIC

Bank of Internet USA’s Rewards Checking

Overall bank rating:

Some checking accounts come with high interest rates in exchange for fulfilling certain requirements like having direct deposits. Others come with debit cards that reward you with cash back or airline miles every time you swipe.

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 checking

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Discover

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

Discover’s one and only checking account, Cashback Checking

1

, comes with a rewards program: 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in qualifying debit card purchases monthly. The maximum you can get is $30 monthly, or $360 per year. 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.)

Bank of Internet USA CashBack Checking

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Bank of Internet USA

at Bank of Internet USA,

Member, FDIC

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, plus a couple others.

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

Best interest checking rate for credit unions

Consumers Credit Union free rewards checking

NerdWallet has rated this credit union:
Consumers Credit Union

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

In addition to easy-to-join nationwide membership, a big ATM network 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 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%. (Check out more accounts on our Consumers Credit Union review.)

Best miles rewards

UFB Direct’s Airline Rewards Checking

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
UFB Direct

at UFB Direct,

Member, FDIC

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 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 others.

Best sign-up bonus

Chase Total Checking®

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
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 04/16/2018). 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

Bank of Internet USA rewards checking

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Bank of Internet USA

at Bank of Internet USA,

Member, FDIC


Bank of Internet USA, a division of BofI Federal Bank, has a Rewards Checking account with 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 result in an APY of one-third (about 0.42%) or two-thirds (0.83%) of that rate. 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 Bank of Internet in our review.)

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.

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.


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. We rated them on criteria including annual percentage rates, 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, 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, Chime, CIT, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Commerce Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Discover Bank, EverBank, Fidelity, Fifth Third Bank, First Citizens Bank, First National Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, GoBank, Golden 1 Credit Union, GS Bank, HSBC Bank USA, Huntington Bank, KeyBank, M&T Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, PurePoint Financial, Qapital, 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, Varo, Wells Fargo, Woodforest National Bank, and Zions Bank.

How we rate banks and credit unions