The best rewards checking accounts give you fun perks like cash back, miles or points when you use your debit card for everyday purchases. We researched over 165 checking accounts, then picked our top five based on factors like monthly fees, availability, account features and minimum opening deposit requirements.
What’s changed in 2021?
We reviewed our best list and added OnJuno for its high APY and cashback rewards on debit card purchases.
Reward: Earn 5% cashback and up to 2.15% APY depending on your membership tier and account balance.
This digital checking account earns up to 2.15% APY. Plus, you can earn 5% cashback from five merchants of your choice, up to $500 a year for Basic plan members or $3,000 a year for Metal plan members.
Earn interest and rewards. Earn 2.15% APY on the first $5,000 or $30,000 in your account depending on your membership tier. Plus, 5% cash back on debit card purchases from five brands of your choice.
Metal plan free with direct deposit. Get the Metal membership tier for free when you set up direct deposits.
Banking with a purpose. OnJuno donates 2.15% of its company profits to charities in India.
Reward limits. You’ll earn 2.15% APY on balances up to $30,000 and cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases depending on your tier. After that, the APY drops to 0.25% and you won’t earn any more cash back for the year.
No joint accounts. OnJuno doesn’t support joint accounts, but it may add this feature in the future.
No other accounts. This is the only account offered by OnJuno, so don’t expect to find any complementary banking products here.
Earn unlimited cash back and do good at the same time.
Monthly fee: From $0
Minimum opening deposit: $10
Reward: Unlimited cash back on debit card purchases; Up to 1% APY on balances over $0
Aspiration donates 10% of its profit to charity every year. If you want to earn cash back and support socially conscious businesses, then this Spend & Save account is for you. You’ll earn rewards on debit card purchases, up to 1% APY on your account balance and play a large role in charity donations.
Unlimited cash back. You’ll earn cash back on purchases and extra cash back when you shop at “businesses with a conscience.”
Earns interest. Earn up to 1% APY on the money in your Save account.
Digital debit card. Use your digital debit card while you wait for your physical one to arrive in the mail.
Interest requirements. You’ll need to maintain a minimum $0 balance or make a $1,000 monthly deposit into an Aspiration investment account to earn 1% APY.
Limited ATM withdrawals. Aspiration used to offer unlimited ATM reimbursements, but now you only get five refunds a month.
Cashback percentages aren’t disclosed. Aspiration doesn’t list its cashback percentages on its website, so you’ll have to call the bank for today’s rates.
Earn 1% cash back and up to 0.15% APY on your account balance.
Monthly fee: $0
Minimum opening deposit: $100
Reward: 1% cash back on debit card purchases; Up to 0.15% APY
The Radius Bank Rewards Checking account earns double the rewards with 1% cash back on debit card purchases and up to 0.15% APY on your account balance. But you’ll only get these benefits if you keep a $2,500 minimum daily balance or make at least $2,500 in monthly direct deposits.
Cashback debit card. You’ll get 1% cash back for every online or signature-based debit card purchase you make.
Earn up to 0.15% APY. Earn 0.1% APY on balances of $2,500 to $99,999.99 and 0.15% on balances over $100,000.
Free ATMs. Radius Bank reimburses all ATM fees worldwide at the end of each month.
Cashback requirements. Maintain a $2,500 daily balance or make at least $2,500 in monthly direct deposits to earn cash back and the advertised APY.
$100 opening deposit. You’ll need at least $100 to get started.
One branch. Radius is a digital bank with one branch location in Boston, Massachusetts, so you’re limited to phone, live chat and email support if you live outside this area.
The Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking account doesn’t come with a cashback debit card, but it rewards you with one of the highest APYs we’ve seen advertised at any bank. But you’ll only earn the highest tier if you meet certain requirements.
Tiered APYs. Depending on which criteria you meet, you’ll earn 3.09%, 4.09% or 4.09% APY on balances up to $10,000.
No monthly fees. You won’t have to worry about monthly fees with this account.
Large ATM network. Use your debit card for free at over 30,000 ATMs nationwide.
Open to members only. Establish membership by joining the Consumers Cooperative Association and opening a Share Savings account with at least $5.
Low APY for balances over $10,000. If your balance is more than $10,000 your APY drops to a meager 0.2%.
APY requirements. You’ll need to meet these criteria to earn a high APY:
3.09%: Enroll in eDocuments, complete at least 12 debit card purchases totaling at least $100 and post a minimum of $500 direct deposit or ACH credits a month.
4.09%: Meet the 3.09% APY conditions and spend at least $500 in CCU Visa credit card purchases a month.
4.09%: Meet the 3.09% APY conditions and spend at least $1,000 in CCU Visa credit card purchases a month.
Earn 0.5% to 1% cash back when you use your debit card.
Monthly fee: $0
Minimum opening deposit: $50
Reward: 0.5% to 1% cash back on debit card purchases
This cash back checking account rewards you for everyday purchases. The higher your account balance, the higher your cashback reward. But you’ll only earn cash back on signature-based purchases, which usually don’t require a PIN.
Up to 1% cash back. You’ll earn 0.5% if your account balance is less than $1,500 and 1% cash back if your balance is $1,500 or more.
Domestic ATM reimbursements. Axos will reimburse your non-network fees if you use your debit card at a domestic ATM.
No monthly fee. It doesn’t cost you anything to open or maintain this account.
Cash back restrictions. You’ll need to run your card as credit to make a signature-based purchase. If you enter your PIN, you won’t earn cash back.
No physical locations. Axos is an online bank, so you’re limited to phone and live chat assistance if you need help.
No cash deposits. Axos discourages customers from mailing in cash because it’s not responsible for lost or stolen money.
This cashback checking account has no minimum fees and free access to over 60,000 ATMs. Plus, you can earn up to 1% cash back on everyday purchases.
Earn rewards. Get 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in eligible debit card purchases each month.
First-fee forgiveness. Each year, Discover reimburses one non-sufficient fund or stop payment fee.
Minimal fees. This account lacks most of the fees charged by other banks such as monthly maintenance, incoming wire transfers or debit card replacement fees.
Cash back limitations. There’s a $3,000 monthly cap on eligible purchases, and you can’t earn rewards for ATM transactions, money orders, peer-to-peer payments or when you get cash back at retailers.
Daily withdrawal limit. You can’t use your debit card to withdraw more than $510 a day from ATMs.
No cash deposits. As with most online banks, you can’t easily deposit cash or traveler’s checks.
How to choose the best rewards checking account for me?
If you’re considering opening a rewards checking account, factor in:
Type of rewards. Would you prefer frequent flyer points or cash back? If the account offers points that can be redeemed another way, are the rewards useful?
Terms and conditions. Do you have to meet any requirements to get rewards, such as maintaining a minimum account balance or having a certain amount direct deposited each month? There may also be conditions on which purchases are eligible for points or cash back.
Earning potential. Calculate how much you could potentially earn in a year and see if it outweighs any fees you’d pay.
Account fees. Check to see if there are any monthly fees and, if so, if there’s a way to have them waived. You’ll also want to check ATM fees and international transaction fees.
Accessibility. This includes ATM availability, branch access and online/app access.
What are the downsides of a rewards checking account?
Negative aspects of rewards checking accounts can include:
Fees. Rewards checking accounts often come with monthly fees, though you may be able to have them waived by meeting certain requirements.
Overspending. Avoid making purchases in order to gain points. With the right rewards account, you should be able to build your point balance with your normal banking activities.
How does a rewards checking account work?
Depending on which one you choose, there are a number of ways to earn rewards with your checking account. For example, you can be rewarded for maintaining your daily balance, for the purchases you make using the issued debit card, or both.
Depending on your banking habits, you could end up with a substantial number of points. These points can then be used toward airfare or selected purchases and vouchers. Some allow you to redeem your points in the form of cash that gets put back into your account. Think about how you use your checking account and the types of rewards you’d use to compare accounts.
How do cashback offers work?
A cashback offer is a type of rewards program where you earn a percentage of your total purchases back. This can be paid toward the balance on your card or as a discount at checkout with certain partners or on a store-sponsored card.
If you’re thinking checking accounts with rewards programs aren’t for you, here are some alternatives to consider:
High interest checking accounts. Instead of being rewarded with cash back, points or airline miles, you’re rewarded with an APY that puts cold hard cash into your account each month.
Digital bank accounts. A digital bank account is like a checking and savings account combo offering automated savings tools, a competitive APY, early direct deposits and sometimes even travel perks.
Compare rewards checking accounts
Use this interactive table to sort and compare rewards checking accounts by APY, rewards and fees.
Rewards checking accounts can help you save money and earn rewards with your everyday purchases. But don’t let the promise of extra miles or cash back convince you to sign up for an account that isn’t the right fit. Compare other checking accounts to make sure you’re getting the one that’s right for you.
Frequently asked questions
The most common rewards are cash back and miles that can go toward plane tickets. Some accounts will also let you accumulate points that you can use to buy gift cards or get discounts at partner retailers.
Most checking accounts will allow you to have a checkbook, but you may have to order it from the bank when you sign up. Depending on your bank, your checks may be free or you may have to pay for a new checkbook.
Yes. You will have all of the banking features of a typical checking account, including direct deposit of your paycheck and automatic debit to pay recurring bills.
Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and investments. She has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. Cassidy enjoys educating people about financial services, exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.
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