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September 2020's Best Rewards Checking Accounts

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We maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments. This post contains links from our advertisers, and we may receive compensation when you click these links. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone. | Advertiser Disclosure
We maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments. This post contains links from our advertisers, and we may receive compensation when you click these links. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone. | Advertiser Disclosure

Finding the Best Rewards Checking Accounts

Earning rewards with your credit card has become standard, but doing so with your bank account is much less common. If you’re interested in this perk, check out these account options. And keep in mind that, unlike a savings account, checking accounts don't have strict limits on withdrawals. That means you can earn returns without having to sacrifice accessibility.

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Discover Bank Discover Bank logo Read More 0% $0
  • Best Overall Cash Back Checking Account
  • Desirable cash back rate
Radius Bank Radius Bank logo Read More 0.10% $100
  • Runner-up for Best Overall Cash Back Checking Account
  • Unlimited cash back
One American Bank One American Bank logo Read More 2.00% $50
  • Best High Yield Rewards Checking Account
  • High APY
Axos Bank Axos Bank logo Read More 1.25% $50
  • Runner-up for Best High-Yield Rewards Checking Account
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements
HSBC HSBC logo Read More 0.00% $0
  • Best Rewards Checking Account for Students
  • $100 signup bonus
Chase Bank Chase Bank logo Read More 0.00% $25
  • Best Rewards Checking Account Signup Bonus
  • Huge ATM network

How We Determine the Best Rewards Checking Accounts

SmartAsset compared more than 15 of the most popular rewards checking accounts for this study. The elements we used to score them include annual percentage yield (APY), monthly rewards bonuses, overall rewards potential, monthly fees, customer service quality and minimum account size.

Best Overall Cash Back Checking Account: Discover Cashback Checking

Discover Bank

The Discover Cashback checking account received a nearly perfect grade in our study of the best rewards checking accounts. With Discover, you’ll earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases a month. That means you can earn a max of $30 cash back each and every month, for a grand total of $360 a year. You can utilize these rewards at any time, either through your online or mobile account.

There are no monthly fees to remain an account holder. Discover also offers a large fee-free ATM network that features more than 60,000 ATMs throughout the U.S., as well as a free debit card to use at those locations.

This Discover account finishes near the top of our study not only in rewards potential, but also in customer experience/service. Although this is a branchless offering, you’ll have a 24/7 customer hotline, a high quality website and a highly-rated iOS and Android mobile app you can use to manage your funds. Cash-back credit cards are another major focus for Discover, so supplementing your Cashback account should be fairly easy.

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Runner-up for Best Overall Cash Back Checking Account: Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Similar to Discover, Radius offers a 1% cash back rate, though this only applies to online purchases and signature-based “credit” transactions where the debit card is used as a credit card. However, while Discover offers 1% cash back on debit card purchases up to $3,000, Radius’ account provides unlimited cash back with a 0.10% - 0.15% APY. You’ll need to maintain an average balance of $2,500 or greater, or set up a monthly direct deposit of at least $2,500, in order to qualify for the 1% cashback. Account owners need a minimum deposit of $100 for the Rewards Checking account, but the bank doesn’t charge any monthly fees. 

If you’re looking for widespread branch access, Radius may not be the best choice. Its only office locations are in Boston. But its ATM offerings may suit your preferences. The bank offers access to more than 325,000 surcharge-free ATMs as part of its partnerships with three ATM networks, and it provides unlimited monthly reimbursements for out-of-network ATM fees.

Best High Yield Rewards Checking Account: One American Bank Kasasa Cash Checking

One American Bank

The One American Bank Kasasa Cash checking account offers a 2.00% APY. That's a very high rate for the current interest rate environment - higher, even, than you'll see on high-yield savings accounts. It doesn’t come without its caveats, though, as that rate will only apply to up to $10,000 of your overall account balance. Any amount past that threshold will receive a 0.25% APY that, while low, is still better than most of its counterparts.

One American Bank is a regional bank based in South Dakota, but that doesn’t have to stop you from opening an account if you don’t live in that area. As a matter of fact, the bank provides fee-free ATM usage at MoneyPass ATMs, a large ATM chain. But if you need to use an ATM that’s out-of-network, the bank offers up to $25 a month in fee reimbursements. All cardholders will receive a free Visa® debit card to use for these transactions.

There are a few other requirements you’ll have to fulfill with this bank to make sure you receive all the benefits it has to offer:

  • At least 12 debit card purchases of $5 and up that post to your account within the month
  • Enroll in and log on to your online banking account
  • Enroll to receive e-statements

If qualifications are not met daily balances of any amount will receive an APY of 0.01%. 

Runner-up: Independent Bank Free Rewards Checking

Runner-up for Best High-Yield Rewards Checking Account: Axos Bank

Axos Rewards Checking Account

The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account comes with a competitive 1.25% APY and, unlike One American Bank’s Kasasa Cash Checking account, Axos’ account doesn’t require customers to meet a $10,000 minimum account balance to receive the full APY. What it does require is that you (1) receive monthly direct deposits totaling at least $1,000, (2) use your Axos Visa® Debit Card for 10 transactions per month (minimum of $3 per transaction) and (3) use your Axos Visa® Debit Card at least five more times to reach a total of 15 transactions per month. 

Another thing to note about this account is that it doesn’t require monthly fees, and it includes unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements. You’ll need a $50 minimum balance to open the account, but you can skip out on overdraft and non-sufficient fund fees once you’ve set it up. 

Axos Bank provides online chat features, 24-hour customer service and fairly rated Apple and Android mobile apps. But the bank doesn’t have any branches. If you’re looking for physical locations, this bank may not be the best fit. But if you don’t mind internet-only access, this could be a suitable high-yield checking option.

Best Rewards Checking Account for Students: HSBC Choice Checking Account

Choice Checking

The HSBC Choice Checking account includes a student offer that benefits both U.S. students and international students studying in the U.S.. As long as the students are at least 18 years of age, HSBC provides six years without any monthly fees along with a welcome deposit of $100. Students can also set up the Choice Checking account without meeting any minimum balance requirements. The catch is that account holders will have to pay the $15 monthly fee after the six-year period ends. But students can avoid this if they meet either of the following requirements: (1) maintain a minimum account balance of $1,500 in combined U.S. dollar investment balances and deposit accounts, or (2) receive a recurring, qualifying direct deposit from a third party. 

Though HSBC has branches in fewer than 10 states, it offers worldwide ATM access. If you’re looking for convenient access to your money, this may be a suitable option. However, the bank’s checking account doesn’t earn interest, and its mobile offerings have limited ratings. In addition, the bank offers at least 12 hours of customer service availability per day, but you won’t have access to 24-hour assistance. Although HSBC’s Choice Checking account provides competitive, low-cost options for students, it’s wise to consider the bank’s products from a holistic perspective before you make your final decision.

Best Rewards Checking Account Signup Bonus: Chase Total Checking®

Chase Bank

The Chase Total Checking® account is not a traditional rewards account in that it gives consistent cash or points-based rewards. Instead, new account holders are offered a substantial $200 cash-back sign-up bonus when they open a new account and immediately set up direct deposit thereafter. This is more than half of what you could earn with a Discover Cashback checking account over a full year, and that’s only if you manage to spend the maximum $3,000 a month with your debit card.

Chase Bank is also the only financial institution on this list that has a multitude of branches and in-house ATMs across the U.S. In fact, Chase boasts 4,900 branches and about 16,000 ATMs nationwide that you can use fee-free as often as you’d like. Though the bank does offer mobile check deposit through its app, it does also have Chase DepositFriendly ATMs. Depositing at these ATMs can speed up a check’s processing time so you get your money even more quickly.

The Chase Total Checking® account does take at least $25 to open, and there’s a $12 monthly service fee if you don’t meet at least one of the following account requirements:

  • Having $500 or more in direct deposits sent to your account during the month
  • Having an opening daily balance of at least $1,500
  • Having an opening average daily balance of at least $5,000 across any combination of this account and linked deposits or investments
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