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TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking review

New customers earn 0.40% APY their first year — but you’ll need $100 to open an account.

finder.com’s rating: 4.3 / 5.0

★★★★★

TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking account is an interest-bearing account free of monthly fees. But if you like to do your banking in person you might need to look elsewhere — there are no locations outside of Jacksonville, Florida.

$0 per month

Fee

Up to 0.25%

APY

$100

Minimum deposit to open

Details

APY0.25% on balances of $50,000 to $10,000,000 0.40% 1-year intro APY
0.20% on balances of $25,000 to $49,999.99
0.15% on balances of $0 to $24,999.99
Fee$0 per month
Minimum deposit to open$100
Intro or bonus offer0.40% APY for the first year
ATMsFree at 80,000 AllPoint and MoneyPass ATMs nationwide
ATM transaction fee$0
Overdraft fee$0
Nonsufficient funds fee$30
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Review by


Katia Iervasi is a staff writer who hails from Australia and now calls New York home. Her writing and analysis has been featured on sites like Forbes, Best Company and Financial Advisor around the world. Armed with a BA in Communication and a journalistic eye for detail, she navigates insurance and finance topics for Finder, so you can splash your cash smartly (and be a pro when the subject pops up at dinner parties).

Expert review

This checking account has two major selling points: its introductory APY for new customers, and its Yield Pledge promise, which guarantees the rates stay competitive. If you can cough up$100 for the minimum opening deposit, it might be worth stashing some cash in this account.

How do I open a TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking account?

If you want to open an account the old-fashioned way, you can call 866-755-9143 from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET).

Otherwise, it takes 10 minutes to complete the online application. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the provider’s site and follow the steps to apply.
  2. On the top right corner of TIAA Bank’s homepage, press Open an Account.
  3. Hover over Banking. Under High Yield Accounts, select Yield Pledge Checking. Click Continue.
  4. You’ll be asked if you have a bank account or home loan with TIAA. We’ll assume you don’t. Press No, then Continue.
  5. Enter your Opening Deposit Amount. Click Continue.
  6. Choose between a Joint or Individual account. Enter your Social Security number and personal, contact, citizenship and employment details.
  7. Create a Security Code. Click Continue.
  8. Fund the account via a mobile deposit or online transfer, or by mailing a check.

Eligibility

To qualify for a TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking account, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Be a US Citizen or Resident Alien with a physical address, a Social Security number or Individual Tax ID number, and a driver’s license or state-issued ID
  • Pay $100 to opening the account

Required information

To speed up the application, have this info handy:

  • A valid driver’s license or state ID
  • Your Social Security number or Individual Tax ID number
  • The details for the bank account you’re using to fund your initial deposit.
  • If you’re sending a check, mail it to:TIAA Bank
    11 Oval Drive, Suite 107
    Islandia, NY 11749

What are the benefits of a checking account with TIAA Bank?

This FDIC-insured account features a debit card with 20 free checks, purchasing benefits, 24/7 customer service and the following other benefits:

  • Minimal fees. There are no monthly, maintenance, or overdraft transfer fees. In-network ATMs are free to use, and the bank will reimburse you for ATM fees other banks charge you.
  • Nationwide ATM network. Withdraw cash and check your balance at 80,000 AllPoint and MoneyPass ATMs across the country.
  • Introductory rate. TIAA offers a 0.40% APY for new customers. The promotional rate lasts for one year and applies to balances up to $250,000.
  • Yield Pledge promise. This pledge guarantees that its yields are always in the top 5% of competitive accounts nationwide. TIAA Bank analyses BankRate’s National Average survey data each month, and adjusts its rates if needed.
  • Price protection. If you purchase something on the High Yield debit card that goes down in price within 60 days, TIAA will pay the difference, up to $250.
  • Return protection. TIAA will refund you up to $250 for a purchase made on its High Yield debit card when the merchant won’t accept the return, within 90 days of the original purchase date.

TIAA Bank’s ATM network and fees

Once you receive your Visa debit card, you can dip it into 80,000 AllPoint and MoneyPass ATMs nationwide. These ATMs are free, and you’ll find them at select Target, Walgreens, CVS and convenience stores across the country.

When you withdraw cash or check your balance at out-of-network ATMs, you may be charged a fee. If you have $5,000 in your account, TIAA Bank will reimburse you monthly for all ATM fees. If your balance is under $5,000, you’ll get up to $15 back each month.

What should I look out for?

The checking account is competitive in many ways, but it has its drawbacks, including:

  • Top rates have an expiry date. If you’re a first-time account holder, you’ll score the introductory APY for 12 months. After the year’s up, you’ll earn interest based on your balance tier.
  • High opening deposit. You’ll need $100 to open the account.
  • Expensive outbound wires. It’ll cost you $25 to send domestic wires, $35 to transfer US dollars to an international bank, and $30 to $65 to wire foreign currency.
  • Miscellaneous fees. While there are no maintenance fees, you’ll pay $10 for excess transactions, $10 for cashier’s checks, $10 for returned deposit items, and between $4.95 and $14.95 to expedite BillPay payments.
  • No live chat function. TIAA Bank doesn’t offer real-time help online.
  • Limited branch access. As a predominantly online bank, TIAA Bank only has a handful of branches in Jacksonville, Florida. This makes cash deposits challenging for most customers.

Don’t have the cash to open this account or want to compare more options? Take a look at our guide to checking accounts.

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What other checking options does TIAA Bank offer?

The Yield Pledge Money Market account comes with the same guarantee: yields will be in the top 5% of competitive accounts. It costs $100 to open the account, and TIAA offers a one-year introductory APY of 2.15% on all balances.

After that, the ongoing APY drops according to your balance tier — much like its checking account. There are no monthly maintenance fees, and you can use the account for your IRA.

Does this bank offer business services?

Yes. TIAA Bank has three specific checking accounts for businesses:

  • Small Business Checking. Designed for sole proprietors and single-owner LLCs, this checking account earns 0.12% APY. There’s a minimum opening deposit of $1,500, and the bank charges no monthly maintenance or ATM fees.
  • Business Checking. With this account, the bank will process up to 200 transactions and 10 online bill payments for free each month. There’s a monthly maintenance fee, but can be waived if you have $5,000 or more sitting in the account. It costs $1,500 to open the account.
  • Nonprofit Checking. This account helps NFPs and faith-based organizations to manage their money. Like the Small Business Checking, the interest rates start at 0.20% for balances under $10,000, and go up to 0.61% for balances of $100,000 or more. You’ll need $5,000 to open the account. Maintain that, and the bank will waive the monthly maintenance fee.

Frequently asked questions

Checking account ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

We analyze top checking accounts and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include: monthly fees, the ease at which monthly fees can be waived, the breadth of ATM access, ATM and overdraft fees, and customer service.

Read the full methodology of how we rate checking accounts.

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