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The best high-yield checking accounts of March 2021

A high-yield checking account is a good option if you keep a lot of money in checking. (If you don’t keep much in checking but regularly contribute to a savings account, you may be more interested in high-yield savings.)

The best high-yield

checking accounts
pay competitive rates on a large portion of your balance, make it easy to qualify to earn interest, and compound interest frequently.

Our expert panel for this guide

We consulted banking and financial planning experts to inform these picks and provide their advice on finding the best high-yield checking accounts for your needs. You can read their insights at the bottom of this post.

PFI Banking Expert Panel



Insider


We’re focusing on what will make a high-yield checking account the most useful, including rates, fees, and accessibility.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • High APY
    • Unlimited out-of-network ATM reimbursements
    • No monthly maintenance fees
    • No overdraft fees
    • No non-sufficient funds fees
    Cons
    • $50 opening deposit
    • No APY if you can’t meet qualifications
    • Few mobile app reviews
    • Earn up to 1.25% APY — 0.4166% with $1,000 in direct deposits in a month; 0.4166% with 10 debit card transactions per month; 0.4166% with 5 additional debit card transactions, or 15 total, per month
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured


    Read Our Review
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    Why it stands out: Many high-yield checking accounts only let you earn a high APY on balances up to a certain amount. But with Axos Bank Rewards Checking, you can earn Up to 1.25% APY on your entire balance. Axos offers unlimited reimbursements for out-of-network ATM fees charged by operators. It also ranks as one of our top rewards checking accounts overall.

    How interest works: You earn interest in stages — with each goal you accomplish, you earn a little more interest. Here are the three goals:

    • Earn 0.4166% when you receive at least $1,000 in direct deposits in a month
    • Earn 0.4166% when you make 10 debit card transactions in a month (minimum $3 per transaction)
    • Earn 0.4166% when you make an additional five debit card transactions, or 15 total, in a month (minimum $3 per transaction)

    If you accomplish all three goals in a month, you earn a total of 1.25% APY.

    What to look out for: Opening deposit. You need at least $50 to open an account.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Ability to earn a high APY
    • No minimum opening deposit
    • No monthly service fee
    • No out-of-network ATM fee
    • Refunds up to $25/month in out-of-network ATM fees charged by providers
    • Multiple overdraft protection options
    Cons
    • Interest compounds monthly, not daily
    • $29.95 overdraft fee
    • Become a Connexus member by donating $5 to the Connexus Association
    • 54,000+ free ATMs
    • Subscribe to e-statements to earn APY. You also must either make 15 debit card transactions per month OR spend $400 per month with your debit card
    • Earn 1.75% APY on balances up to $25,000; earn 0.25% APY on balances over $25,000
    • Federally insured by the NCUA

    Why it stands out: Connexus pays high rates on balances up to $25,000. It also refunds up to $25 per month in fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers. We’ve chosen Connexus as one of our favorite credit unions.

    How interest works: You’ll only earn interest each month that you do the following:

    • Enroll in e-statements (You should only have to enroll once)
    • Make 15 debit card purchases OR spend $400 with your debit card

    If you meet these requirements, you’ll earn 1.75% on balances up to $25,000. Then you’ll earn 0.25% APY any money above $25,000.

    What to look out for: Interest earned. Some of our top picks pay a lower interest rate if you don’t meet qualifications for the highest APY. But with Connexus, you’ll either earn the highest APY on balances up to $25,000, or none at all.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • High APY
    • Relatively easy to become a member of Consumers Credit Union
    • Only $5 to open an account
    • No monthly service fee
    • Unlimited reimbursements for out-of-network ATM fees
    Cons
    • $10 overdraft transfer charge
    • Mobile app has received poor reviews in Google Play store
    • Limited customer support hours
    • Interest compounds monthly, not daily
    • Earn 2.09% APY on balances up to $10k when you enroll in eDocuments, make 12 debit card transactions per month, and receive $500 per month in deposits
    • Earn 3.09% on balances up to $10k when you meet qualifications for 2.09% and spend $500/month with your CCU credit card
    • Earn 4.09% on balances up to $10k when you meet qualifications for 2.09% and spend $1,000/month with your CCU credit card
    • Earn 0.20% APY on balances between $10k and $25k
    • Earn 0.10% APY on balances over $25k

    Why it stands out: Consumers Credit Union ranks as one of our top credit unions, and Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking is on our favorite rewards checking accounts list. You have the potential to earn one of the highest interest rates out there right now. Consumers also refunds any fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers.

    How interest works: Here are the APY tiers:

    • Earn 2.09% on balances up to $10,000 when you sign up to receive eDocuments, make 12 debit card purchases per month, and receive $500 per month in direct deposits, mobile check deposits, or transfers from other banks.
    • Earn 3.09% on balances up to $10,000 when you meet the qualifications to earn 2.09% and spend $500 per month with your Consumers Credit Union credit card.
    • Earn 4.09% on balances up to $10,000 when you meet the qualifications to earn 3.09% and spend $1,000 per month with your Consumers Credit Union credit card.
    • Earn 0.20% on balances between $10,000.01 and $25,000 when you receive eDocuments, make 12 debit card purchases per month, and receive $500 per month in direct deposits, mobile check deposits, or transfers from other banks.
    • Earn 0.10% on balances of $25,000.01 and more when you receive eDocuments, make 12 debit card purchases per month, and receive $500 per month in direct deposits, mobile check deposits, or transfers from other banks.

    What to look out for: Balance tiers. You need a Consumers Credit Union credit card to earn the maximum APY, and if you don’t meet any of the qualifications listed, you won’t earn interest at all.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • High APY
    • No minimum opening deposit
    • No monthly service fees
    • No out-of-network ATM fee
    • Get pre-approved for a credit card
    • Only 1 overdraft fee per day
    Cons
    • No physical branch locations
    • No interest earned if you save under 5% of your deposits
    • No interest earned on balances over $100,000
    • Doesn’t reimburse you if an out-of-network ATM provider charges a fee
    • $35 overdraft fee
    • Hybrid checking and savings account
    • 55,000 free ATMs in the STAR network
    • Savings tiers: Earn 3% APY when you save at least 20% of your deposits; 2% APY for 15% to 19.99% of your deposits; 1% APY for 10% to 14.99% of your deposits: 0.50% for 5% to 9.99% of your deposits
    • You won’t earn interest when you save less than 5% of your deposits, or on balances over $100,000
    • Receive monthly, preapproved HMBradley credit card offers
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured through Hatch Bank


    Read Our Review
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    Why it stands out: This is a hybrid checking/savings account that pays you a higher rate the more you save. There aren’t any savings pockets — HMBradley just evaluates how much you deposit each month vs. how much you spend. It displays how much you’ve saved and which tier you’re on track for on your digital dashboard.

    How interest works: You’ll earn interest on up to $100,000 in your account. Here are the savings tiers:

    • Tier 1: Earn 3.00% APY when you save at least 20% of your deposits
    • Tier 2: Earn 2.00% APY when you save 15% to 19.99% of your deposits
    • Tier 3: Earn 1.00% APY when you save 10% to 14.99% of your deposits
    • Tier 4: Earn 0.50% APY when you save 5% to 9.99% of your deposits

    What to look out for: Savings. Because this account rewards you for savings, you might not like HMBradley if you prefer to keep your savings in a separate account from checking. You also won’t earn any interest if you save less than 5% of your deposits.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • No minimum opening deposit
    • Free for 6 months
    • High APY on balances up to $30,000
    • Earn cash back
    • Virtual debit card, physical debit card, and access to Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay
    • No out-of-network ATM fees
    • Refunds 3 fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers per month
    • No overdraft fees
    Cons
    • $9.99 monthly fee after the first 6 months
    • APY drops on balances over $30,000
    • No APY on balances over $100,000
    • No option to overdraw
    • Interest compounds monthly, not daily
    • No joint accounts
    • 85,000 free ATMs nationwide
    • Free for 6 months; then it will automatically transition into a free Basic Account, unless you opt to pay $9.99 moving forward to maintain a Metal Account
    • Earn 2.15% APY on balances up to $30,000; 0.25% APY on balances of $30,001 to $100,000; no APY on balances over $100,000
    • Choose 5 companies to earn 5% cash back with, on spending up to $3,000 per year
    • Interest compounded monthly, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured through partner bank, Evolve Bank & Trust


    Read Our Review
    Read Our ReviewA looong arrow, pointing right

    Why it stands out: OnJuno gives you both a high APY and cash back rewards. Select five retailers from its list and earn 5% cash back when you shop at those stores. You may like OnJuno if you’re an immigrant, because you only need a Social Security number and passport to qualify.

    How interest works: You don’t need to do anything to earn interest, but rates do vary depending on your balance. Rate tiers are as follows:

    • You’ll earn 2.15% APY on balances up to $30,000
    • You’ll earn 0.25% APY on balances between $30,000.01 and $100,000
    • You won’t earn interest on more than $100,000

    What to look out for: Monthly fee. OnJuno Metal costs $9.99 per month. It’s actually free for the first six months, then you’ll downgrade to the free OnJuno Basic Checking Account unless you opt to pay the monthly fee and keep Metal status. The Basic account only pays high interest on balances up to $5,000.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • High APY
    • No monthly service fees
    • No out-of-network ATM fees
    Cons
    • $100 minimum opening deposit
    • $35 overdraft fee
    • Doesn’t reimburse any fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers
    • Branches in NY and FL, but you can open an account online from around the US
    • Over 90,000 free ATMs
    • Earn the highest rate by making 15 debit card purchases each month and maintaining a balance of $1 million or less; otherwise, earn 0.01% APY
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured

    Why it stands out: Quontic pays you the same interest rate on your entire balance, as long as you meet the qualifications. There are over 90,000 free ATMs around the US, and Quontic won’t charge you for using an out-of-network machine. (The ATM provider might charge you, though.)

    How interest works: You’ll earn the highest rate on your entire balance each month you make 15 debit card purchases and keep $1 million or less in your account.

    What to look out for: Minimum opening deposit. You’ll need at least $100 to open a Quontic Bank High Interest Checking Account.

    Min Deposit

    None in person; $10 online

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • High APY on balances up to $25,000
    • No minimum opening deposit in person
    • No monthly service fees
    • Free overdraft protection
    • Overdraft line of credit available
    • 10 free out-of-network ATM withdrawals per month
    Cons
    • Low APY on balances above $25,000
    • $10 minimum opening deposit online
    • $30 overdraft fee
    • Doesn’t reimburse any fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers
    • After the first 10 out-of-network ATM withdrawals each month, $2.50 fee per withdrawal
    • Join Wings Financial by becoming a member of the Wings Financial Foundation for $5
    • Branches in FL, GA, MI, MN, and WA, or open an account online
    • 70,000 free ATMs
    • No minimum opening deposit when you open an account in person; $10 deposit when you open an account online
    • Earn the highest rate on balances up to $25,000 when you enroll in e-documents, receive over $300 in direct deposits per statement period, and make 15 debit card purchases of $5 or more per statement period; otherwise, earn lower rate
    • “Gig economy” or self-employment income does not count toward the $300 in direct deposits
    • Interest compounded and paid monthly
    • Federally insured by the NCUA

    Why it stands out: Along with its high interest rate, Wings Financial gives you 10 free withdrawals each month from an out-of-network ATM. The credit union also lets you choose to either link to your savings account for free overdraft protection or tap into an overdraft line of credit. We’ve chosen Wings Financial as one of our favorite credit unions.

    How interest works: You’ll earn a high interest rate on balances up to $25,000 each month you do the following:

    • Enroll in e-documents (You should only have to enroll once)
    • Receive over $300 in direct deposits
    • Make 15 debit card purchases of $5 or more

    What to look out for: Minimum opening deposit. You may see it advertised that there’s no minimum deposit to open this account. That’s true if you open an account in person, but be prepared to have $10 ready to open the account online.

    We looked at nearly two dozen high-yield checking accounts before picking our favorites. Here are the other ones we considered, and reasons they didn’t make the cut:

    • Alliant High-Interest Checking: Alliant is a good credit union, and you’ll earn a respectable rate on your entire balance. The rate isn’t as high as what you’ll get with our top choices, though.
    • Ally Interest Checking Account: Ally pays higher rates than many banks, but its highest-tier APY isn’t competitive with those on our list.
    • Bethpage Free Checking: The interest rate isn’t quite as good as rates with our top picks, and there’s no free overdraft protection.
    • Blue Extreme Checking: You can earn a high rate depending on your membership level. There’s an intricate point system determining which level you’re at.
    • Broadway Federal Bank High Yield Interest Checking: This bank pays a higher rate than most brick-and-mortar institutions, but rates are much lower than with those on our list.
    • Cheese Account: You may like this account if you’re an immigrant or Asian American, or want to support Asian American communities. It pays a decent rate, but it’s stronger as a cash-back checking account.
    • CIT Bank eChecking: CIT’s rates aren’t quite as good as what you can get with our top choices.
    • NBKC Everything Account: Although NBKC’s rate could be higher, it’s a decent option if you want a hybrid checking/savings account. You don’t need to meet any qualifications to earn interest.
    • One account: One only pays its highest rate on your Auto Save bucket, and you’re only allowed to put up to 10% of your paychecks into Auto Save. But if you don’t usually save more than 10%, you could get a great rate.
    • PenFed Access America Checking: PenFed is a strong credit union overall, but you’ll earn better rates with our top picks.
    • Radius Rewards Checking: You won’t earn any interest on balances under $2,500, and the rate is relatively low for balances under $100,000.
    • Redneck Bank Rewards Checkin’ Account: The interest rate is pretty good, but you’ll need at least $500 to open an account.
    • Robinhood Cash Management: The rate isn’t super impressive, but this is a good hybrid checking/savings account overall.
    • SoFi Money: You’ll only earn the highest rate if you deposit at least $500 per month; even then, the rate can’t compare with those on our list.
    • Wealthfront Cash Account: Although the rate is just okay, you don’t need to do anything to qualify to earn interest, and you’ll earn APY on your entire balance.

    We’ve looked at the Better Business Bureau trustworthiness score for each of our top picks. The BBB assesses trustworthiness by looking at responses to customer complaints, honesty in advertising, and transparency about business practices.

    HMBradley is the only one of our top picks that doesn’t have an A+ from the BBB. The BBB states that HMBradley has a low grade because it’s failed to respond to 100% of customer complaints on the BBB website — but there has only been one customer complaint.

    OnJuno doesn’t have a BBB score yet. But its parent bank, Evolve Bank & Trust, has an A+ in trustworthiness.

    None of our top choices have any recent public scandals, so you may decide you’re comfortable banking with any of these companies.

    How did you choose the best high-yield checking accounts?

    We looked at accounts that paid the highest rates either on your entire balance, or on up to a high balance. We chose accounts that make it relatively easy to be eligible to earn interest. For example, we’d prefer a checking account that required you to deposit $500 per month to earn interest over one that required $5,000 per month.

    We examined other factors, too, like monthly service fees, out-of-network fee reimbursements, and minimum opening deposits.


    Credit unions
    typically pay the highest rates on checking accounts. Credit unions only offer services to members, so we selected credit unions that are easy for most people in the US to join. But keep in mind that a local or more selective credit union may offer better rates.

    What is a high-yield checking account?

    A high-yield checking account pays interest on your balance. Most standard checking accounts don’t pay any interest. Others pay a little, like 0.01% to 0.05% APY. High-yield checking accounts pay significantly higher rates.

    How does a high-yield checking account work?

    Most high-yield checking accounts require you to meet certain criteria each month to earn interest. For example, you may have to receive $500 in direct deposits or make 10 debit card transactions.

    Some accounts also pay tiered interest rates. Let’s say an account pays 1% APY on balances up to $25,000, then 0.25% APY on balances over $25,000. If you have a $30,000 balance, you’d earn 1% on the first $25,000, then 0.25% on the remaining $5,000.

    What is annual percentage yield?

    Annual percentage yield (APY) is similar to an interest rate, but it gives you a better idea of how much you’ll actually earn.

    APY tells you how much interest you’ll earn over one year, including compounding. A checking account may pay 0.499% in interest, but you’ll earn 0.50% APY.

    To learn more about what makes a good checking account and how to choose the best fit, four experts weighed in:

    Here’s what they had to say about checking accounts. (Some text may be lightly edited for clarity.)

    What makes a checking account good or not good?

    Roger Ma, CFP:

    “I would look at the ATM branch locations and then minimum balance amounts to not incur a monthly fee … I think there’s other stuff that could make life easier, whether it’s a free checks, online bill pay, are they in the Zelle network?”

    Laura Grace Tarpley, Personal Finance Insider:

    “I would make a list of the top three to five things you want out of a checking account. Is it a great mobile app, 24/7 customer support, no ATM fees? Then research the best banks for those features.”

    How should someone decide whether to choose a rewards checking account with a high APY, cash sign-up bonus, or cash back?

    Tania Brown, CFP:

    “I have checking accounts with all the above, because I use checking accounts for different purposes. I would tell someone, think through the experience of how you’re going to use it. So I have my account strictly for bills and I don’t attach a debit card to that. Well, I’m not going to get a lot of cash rewards out of that, because I rarely use that debit card, but I keep a pretty decent balance. So that one I use in particular for interest. I have a spending checking account. That one, I don’t care if the balance is zero, the money that goes in there, I expect for it to go out. But because I use that often, that is the one I attached to a cash reward. And then I have another one that I use just for travel, and I actually have a travel reward attached to that one.”

    Roger Ma, CFP:

    “I think if you’re someone who is responsible with credit, then instead of focusing on a checking account that rewards you, look to a credit card that rewards you for the areas where you spend money. I wouldn’t recommend people waste their time with a rewards checking account. Get the fundamentals right with fewer checking or savings accounts, and then start to move toward using a credit card to build your credit.”

    How can someone decide between a bank and a credit union?

    Tania Brown, CFP:

    “For most people, it falls into five categories: location, interest rates, services, technology, and relationships. Next, prioritize what’s important and you will have your answer. For instance:

    • If multiple regional and national locations are important: Banks typically have more locations than credit unions.
    • If the most important thing to you is a high interest rate: Credit unions, on average, offer better interest rates than banks.
    • If a lot of services (commercial banking, business banking, investment services, etc.) are valuable to you: Larger banks offers more services than most credit unions. 
    • If feeling like a person, not a number, matters to you: Credit unions are known for great personalized customer service.
    • If you are a tech junkie: Larger banks typically offer more tech bells and whistles for online users than credit unions.”

    Laura Grace Tarpley, Personal Finance Insider:

    “Look at interest rates and how often interest compounds. The more often an institution compounds interest, the more money you’ll earn. Many credit unions pay higher rates than banks. But they only compound interest monthly, whereas banks compound daily. Do the math to figure out where you’ll earn the most.”

    How can someone determine whether a banking institution is the right fit for them?

    Mykail James, CFEI:

    “The No. 1 thing about a checking account is you should know what provider the debit card is coming from. And a lot of people don’t think about that, because there are places that don’t accept MasterCard or don’t accept an Amex.”

    Laura Grace Tarpley, Personal Finance Insider:

    “I would look for the bank that charges you the least in fees. This means either no monthly fees, or you qualify to waive the monthly fees. If you never overdraw from your account, then a bank’s overdraft fees won’t matter much to you. But if you occasionally overdraw, then I’d look at the fees or overdraft protection options.”

    Laura Grace Tarpley is the associate editor of banking and mortgages at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing, bank accounts, and bank reviews. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). Over her four years of covering personal finance, she has written extensively about ways to save, invest, and navigate loans.

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