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Premium Checking: What’s in It for You?

Premium checking accounts at major banks can come with perks including ATM reimbursements, discounted rates and a little bit of interest.
Banking, Checking Accounts
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A basic checking account can be an essential part of your financial life. But if you have the assets to qualify for the Cadillac version of checking, it might make sense to upgrade.

It usually takes a combined balance of at least $10,000 to qualify for a premier checking account, and if you do qualify, you can expect a range of perks that can include free financial advice, waived fees and discounts on other financial products.

(These accounts may also offer a little bit of interest, but if you’re looking to max out your APY — sometimes with no minimum balance — a smarter choice may be an online bank. See our best online checking roundup.)

Based on an evaluation of the premier checking accounts offered at the nation’s five largest banks, here’s what you can expect if you qualify for one of these accounts.

Bank
(Click on bank name to read NerdWallet review)
Checking accountMonthly feeRequirements to waive fee or be eligible for account
ChasePremier Plus Checking℠ $25
  • $15,000 in linked Chase accounts

  • Linked first mortgage enrolled in auto pay
ChaseChase Premier Platinum Checking℠$25
  • $75,000 in linked Chase accounts
  • Bank of America Interest Checking$25
  • $10,000 in linked Bank of America or Merrill Lynch accounts
  • Bank of AmericaPreferred RewardsNo fee listed
  • $20,000 in Bank of America or Merrill lynch accounts
  • CitibankCitigoldNo fee listed
  • $200,000 in linked Citi deposit, retirement and investment accounts
  • Wells FargoPortfolio$30
  • $25,000 in combined bank deposits

  • $50,000 or more in linked bank, brokerage and loan accounts (up to 10% of mortgage balance can be counted)
  • U.S. BankPlatinum Checking $19.95; $17.95 with e-statements
  • $25,000 in deposits, investments, and credit balances
  • Highlights

    Minimum balance: Bank of America Interest Checking requires a balance of $10,000 to avoid a monthly fee, the lowest among the banks we compared.

    ATM reimbursements: Citibank’s Citigold Account offers unlimited reimbursements on non-Citibank ATM fees, plus other freebies.

    Interest rate: With Wells Fargo’s Portfolio account, you can get an annual percentage yield of 0.05% with a balance of $5,000. It’s a decent return for a big bank checking account.

    Note, however, that you can beat the minimum balance requirements and APYs handily with an online account (compare rates). Or stash some of your cash in a high-yield savings account with a much more competitive interest rate (see our best high yield online savings accounts).

    Overview of premium checking

    Premier checking accounts reward what’s called relationship banking, in which a single financial services provider meets a range of customer needs — checking and savings; credit cards; investments; and home, auto and personal loans.

    You might be rewarded with lower fees and the convenience of managing most of your financial needs in one spot.

    These relationships benefit providers because they can hold a greater portion of their customers’ wealth — that’s why they waive fees and offer other incentives if your combined balance reaches a certain level. If one of these five biggest banks can meet all of your needs, you might be rewarded with lower fees and the convenience of managing most of your financial needs in one spot.

    Perks to look for when shopping for one of these accounts include discounted mortgage rates and reduced closing costs — but make sure to find out what the rate will be. You might be able to find a lower rate from another lender. Perks also include special customer services and low fees for international travelers, including free or low-cost wire transfers and no currency exchange charges.

    Are premier checking accounts worth it?

    Normally, we don’t recommend keeping a lot of money in a checking account when it could be earning higher interest elsewhere. But on the plus side, these accounts don’t require you to keep a high balance in your checking account at all — it can be kept in a retirement account, a savings account or a mortgage.

    For some people, premier checking accounts can be a smart choice.

    Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: virginia@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @vcmcguire.

    Updated Oct. 17, 2017.