I started using rewards checking accounts years ago when I realized that I was getting close to nothing in interest in my checking and saving accounts. I’m pretty risk adverse, so I didn’t want to put all my money in the stock market, and I wanted my cash easily available. Currently Citibank, Bank of America, SunTrust and Regions are all offering .01% interest for their savings accounts. No, thank you!
Rewards checking accounts are pretty simple. Depending on the bank/credit union, you have take some actions every month. Usually it’s some combination of — 1) making 10-12 purchases using your debit card as a credit card (don’t enter your pin number); 2) logging onto your account; 3) receiving bank statements electronically; 4) receiving a direct deposit; and 5) paying a bill using their site/app. In exchange for doing this, banks/credit unions (think smaller community banks and credit unions) will pay you interest ranging from 2-4%! Most banks/credit unions have limits to the amount that they will pay a respectable interest rate on – typically $10,000 – $15,000 – but you can multiple accounts with different banks/credit unions (like me!) Most banks/credit unions that offer rewards checking accounts will refund you ATM fees (up to different limits), don’t have a minimum deposit, and don’t charge a fee to open or have an account!
Currently, there are multiple banks/credit unions that are offering interest rates at or above 3% and I will link a few below. An easy way to check what banks/credit unions are offering is to go to https://www.depositaccounts.com/checking/reward-checking-accounts.html and put in your state. It will show you all of the offerings in your state as well as banks/credit unions that are accepting applications nationwide; the interest rate; the minimum amount you need to open an account; and, the maximum amount the bank/credit union will pay the elevated interest rate on. Now, I know your thinking, I’ve never heard of these banks/credit unions before! What if they close or fail, this seems risky! Never fear, all of the banks are Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insured (aka insured by the Federal Government) so even if they were to close, the Federal Government will pay back up to $250,000 per depositor. You can always check to make sure a bank is FDIC insured by going to the following link — https://research.fdic.gov/bankfind/
Credit Unions are covered under the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) and are also insured for up to $250,000 per depositor. You can check a Credit Union’s status by going to the following link – http://mapping.ncua.gov/ResearchCreditUnion.aspx
So there you go! Stop letting your money just sit in a big bank earning nothing and put it in a rewards checking account and earn some interest! $15,000 in a rewards checking account earning 3% interest is an extra $450 a year/$37.50 a month. Signature FCU, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Main Street Bank, and Market USA FCU are all offering 3% rewards checking accounts up to $15,000!