- 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
- 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.
Other high-yield checking accounts we considered
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.
Are these institutions trustworthy?
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.
|Connexus Credit Union
|Consumers Credit Union
|Wings Financial Credit Union
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.
Frequently asked questions
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.
The experts’ advice on choosing the best checking account
To learn more about what makes a good checking account and how to choose the best fit, four experts weighed in:
- Tania Brown, Certified financial planner at SaverLife
- Roger Ma, certified financial planner with lifelaidout® and author of “Work Your Money, Not Your Life”
- Mykail James, MBA, certified financial education instructor, BoujieBudgets.com
- Laura Grace Tarpley, certified educator in personal finance, associate editor of banking, Personal Finance Insider
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.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.
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