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Credit Union Rewards Checking Accounts: Earn While You Bank

Jan. 21, 2013
Personal Finance
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A free checking account is great for a number of reasons: no minimum balance requirements, no monthly maintenance charges and unlimited transactions. But let’s say you are someone who regularly makes deposits on payday, you prefer electronic statements and you also use your checking account regularly. Well, many credit unions offer rewards checking accounts that not only offer the same benefits as free checking accounts, but they also earn interest—sometimes really good interest! They also might give you little perks like ATM fee refunds to show you that they appreciate your membership.

Earning Rewards: It’s Really Easy

These rewards checking accounts usually want you to meet a few simple qualifications, and chances are you already do these things with your regular checking account, but you don’t get rewarded for them. If you make a certain number of debit transactions, make one direct deposit or automatic bill pay, access online banking and receive electronic statements each month, you will probably qualify for a rewards checking account. Fortunately, rewards checking accounts still work as free accounts if you don’t meet the qualifications. You won’t have to pay any fees, and if you don’t meet the minimum requirements for rewards, you can always try again next month. Credit unions just want to reward you for being a member and shareholder. Go on, get earning!

Smart Rate Checking – TIC Federal Credit Union (Columbus, GA)

TIC Federal Credit Union offers not one, but two interest-bearing checking accounts that also happen to be free checking accounts as well. Smart Rate Checking gives you a free VISA debit card, ScoreCard Rewards (debit card reward points) and 2.00% APY on your balance. You also get 2 free non-TIC transactions per month and a $300 discount on closing costs on a new TIC mortgage. To qualify for Smart Rate Checking, just receive your statements by email and make one direct deposit of at least $100 each month. If you can’t make the monthly direct deposit, your account reverts to Rewards Checking, which offers many of the same rewards and competitive interest. No penalties, no tricks. TIC Federal Credit Union serves anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Harris, or Marion counties in Georgia or Lee, Russell or Macon counties in Alabama.

e.Rewards Checking – ELGA Credit Union (Burton, MI)

ELGA Credit Union members are rewarded for their membership. By accomplishing a few basic tasks each month, e.Rewards Checking accountholders get an excellent 1.76% APY on balances up to $25,000 and $25 worth of ATM fee refunds each month, so you don’t have to worry about a few out-of-network ATM transactions. To qualify for rewards, all you have to do is make 10 check card purchases, make one direct deposit (minimum), sign up for e-statements and sign on to Internet banking once a month. Not too bad. And if for some reason you don’t qualify one month, you still get free online banking and bill pay, a free debit card and 0.10% APY, so you earn no matter what. Individuals who live, work, worship, volunteer or attend school within Genesee, Saginaw, Lapeer, Shiawassee, Oakland or Livingston counties are eligible to join.

The S3 Account – McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union (New York, NY)

McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union is trying to change the way you bank with the S3 Account. “Save. Spend. Simplify,” is the account’s motto, and it is reflected in the monthly ATM fee refunds and 1.00% APY. All you have to do is make one direct deposit a month of an amount of your choosing. That’s right, you could deposit a penny and still qualify for the account! If you hurry, you can take advantage of their current $50 direct deposit incentive offer. The S3 Account also has apps for iPhone, iPad and Android so you can bank on the go. Contact one of their many branches for membership eligibility. Originally created to serve employees of the McGraw-Hill companies in New York, credit union membership is now open to 100 other businesses and organizations. Please see their membership application page for more details.

First Choice Checking – Deseret First Credit Union (Salt Lake City, UT)

For one payroll or direct deposit, e-statements sent to your email and 10 debit or credit card purchases each month, First Choice Checking at Deseret First Credit Union gives you a whole bunch of rewards. You’ll get 10 cents back on every debit card purchase over $5 (up to 40 transactions), 1.00% APY and $25 in ATM fee refunds each month. All you need is one cent in your account to earn interest. Deseret First Credit Union is open to members and employees of the Church of Latter-Day Saints and employees of Select Employee Groups. Check here for complete eligibility requirements.

Rewards Checking – NARFE Premier Federal Credit Union (Alexandria, VA)

Anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in King George, Virginia is eligible to take part in the fantastic Rewards Checking offer from NARFE Premier Federal Credit Union. A completely free account, the Rewards Checking account’s qualifications are easily met: set up a monthly direct deposit into your account, make 12 VISA check card purchases a month and sign up for e-statements. When you complete these steps, $10 of ATM fee refunds, free 24-hour online banking and 2.02% APY on balances of one cent or more are all yours. If you don’t qualify, you still get 0.15% APY on your balance.

Journe Rewards – Navigant Credit Union (Smithfield, RI)

Navigant Credit Union knows that life is a journey, but it’s a journey that requires a lot of money to get you through it. To that end, they offer Journe Rewards checking, a special rewards checking account that helps you earn money while you bank so you’ll be better able to face financial obstacles in life. There are 3 simple steps you must take to earn 1.50% APY on balances up to $25,000 and $25 in ATM fee refunds a month: receive electronic statements, make 12 debit card purchases and make one direct deposit or automatic payment each month. You only need $10 to earn that great interest rate, and if you don’t meet the criteria, you still earn 0.05% APY. Call or visit any of Rhode Island locations to see if you qualify for membership.

Ultimate Rewards Checking – Texoma Community Credit Union (Wichita Falls, TX)

Whoa. There’s such a thing as Rewards Checking, and then there’s Ultimate Rewards Checking at Texoma Community Credit Union. Offering an astounding 3.51% APY on balances up to $10,000 and 0.50% APY on the portion of your balance over $10,000 (not to mention $25 in ATM fee refunds each month), Ultimate Rewards Checking truly is the ultimate choice in rewards checking accounts. Just meet these three requirements each month and you get to be a part of a fantastic rewards checking experience: make 10 debit card purchases, receive e-statements and have at least one direct deposit or online bill pay. 24-hour access to online and mobile banking makes Ultimate Rewards checking the obvious choice. Membership is available to the Texoma, Texas community, which includes Wichita County and its surrounding counties: Archer, Baylor, Clay, Ford, Hardeman, Jack, Montague, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger and Young.

Smart Checking – OMNI Community Credit Union (Battle Creek, MI)

Smart Checking at OMNI Community Credit Union is truly smart checking with tiered interest rates starting from balances of $100. You could also get up to a 0.30% Cashback Rebate. Add in a free MasterCard debit card, free Internet banking and bill pay, and you’ve got quite a deal. The account is free to open, and if you don’t meet the interest rate requirements, the account is still free, too. OMNI also offers Rewards Checking, a free checking account that offers Smart Rewards. These give you 1 point for every $2 spent with your MasterCard debit card. This account doesn’t earn interest, but you get the same perks, like free Internet banking and bill pay. All OMNI checking accounts are eligible for Concierge Banking. This is a free service where OMNI does all the work to switch your account. They also make a $5 donation to the local children’s hospital for every new checking account opened with a debit card. If you live in one of these 10 Southwest Michigan counties, you could be eligible for membership.

Rewards Checking – Central Willamette Community Credit Union (Albany, OR)

At Central Willamette Community Credit Union, rewards are no joke. Rewards Checking is an account with no monthly service charge or minimum balance requirements and $20 in ATM fee refunds each cycle. You just need to do four easy things to qualify: make 10 debit card transactions and have one direct deposit or ACH debit each month, receive statements electronically and use online banking once per month. You get 1.15% APY on balances up to $15,000 and 0.25% APY paid on all amounts above $15,000 each cycle the minimum requirements are met. Even if your account goes negative, you still get rewards if you meet the requirements! If for some reason you don’t meet the requirements, you still earn 0.05% APY. To become a member, you just need to live or work in Linn,Benton, Marion or Polk County or have an immediate family member who is a member.  Click here for the full disclosure and start earning rewards today!

Rewards Checking – Sooper Credit Union (Denver, CO)

Sooper Credit Union asks, “What will you do with your Rewards?” With the rewards earned from 2.25% APY and $25 in ATM fee refunds, you have the opportunity to really splurge and treat yourself to something special. It’s easy to start earning: just make 15 debit card transactions, set up one direct deposit into your account and receive electronic statements each month. You get that great 2.25% APY on balances up to $15,000 and 0.50% APY on the portion above $15,000. Even if you don’t qualify, you still get 0.05% APY on your free account. Anyone can join by becoming a member of the Consumers United Association. Click here for other ways to qualify for membership.

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