August 15, 2022

Bucks: High-Yield Checking Accounts, if You Qualify

It’s a bit harder to find nationally available, high-yield checking accounts, but they are out there. And they can offer significantly better interest rates than a traditional account — if you meet their requirements.

An annual survey from found at least 57 banks offering such accounts, with 27 available nationally. (The findings aren’t necessarily all-inclusive — there could be other accounts out there — but the list represents results culled from a survey of 155 banks and credit unions.)

The average annual percentage yield on the accounts was 2.56 percent, compared with a paltry 0.11 percent for a traditional interest-bearing account. That’s a good deal, for a federally insured account that allows quick access to your money, Greg McBride, Bankrate’s senior financial analyst, said.

There are caveats, of course. Most of the accounts require at least one automatic deposit or payment a month, and a minimum of 10 debit transactions a month, to get the best rate. Failing to meet the minimum requirements results in a steep drop in interest — typically, down to the measly interest of a regular account. So if you’re someone who uses your debit card for everything, the accounts make sense. If you’re just an occasional debit card user, you won’t get the benefit of the higher rate. “It doesn’t do any good to average 10 transactions a month,” Mr. McBride says. “You need to hit the mark every month.”

Most of the accounts cap the balance that is eligible for the high rate — typically, $10,000 to $25,000. So to get the best deal, you have to compare both the rate as well as the balance limit. BankTexas, for instance, offers a rate of 3.25 percent, but caps the eligible balance at $10,000, the survey found. North Country Savings Bank, by contrast, has a higher cap of $50,000 — but a rate of 1.75 percent.

Despite pending caps in the rates that banks are paid for processing debit card transactions— so-called swipe fees — most banks haven’t increased the number of debit transactions required to qualify for high-yield accounts, Mr. McBride said. That may change, however, once the caps take effect later this summer.

Has your high-yield account started requiring more debit transactions?

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