Interest rates on deposit accounts are still scraping the bottom of the earnings floor, for the most part they’re not worth even a glance from consumers who wisely put most of their savings in 401(k)s or IRAs.
But there is such a thing, believe it or not, as a high-yield checking account. Almost two dozen financial institutions nationwide are offering checking account yields of 2 percent or better, according to Bankrate’s 2015 High-Yield Checking Survey. A few might even reach 5 percent. That’s four- to five-fold better than the average checking or savings account, which are averaging 0.39 percent and 0.46 percent, respectively.
The yields on high-yield checking accounts are significantly higher than the meager national average rate for money market accounts, which is 0.09 percent, and even of the highest-yield money market accounts in Bankrate’s database.
Savers can earn yields substantially higher than those on conventional savings accounts, as long as they’re willing to do some research and meet certain monthly requirements. Any month you don’t meet those conditions, you’ll earn a much lower interest rate.
Nearly all the high-yield checking accounts surveyed by Bankrate capped the amount of money on which you could earn that impressively high interest rate, ranging from just $500 to $25,000. Once you exceed that cap, you’re back to earning a normal, much-lower deposit rate that averages 0.24 percent.
An Additional $400 Per Year
“For a saver meeting the requirements each month, the top yielding nationally available accounts can generate an additional $400 per year over what would be earned in the average money market mutual fund,” says Greg McBride, CFA, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.
Different accounts have different requirements, Bankrate says, but they typically include some combination of the following:
- A certain number of debit card transactions: The most common number of transactions required in our survey was 10, and 14 percent of banks surveyed wanted signature-based debit transactions, specifically.
- Getting your checking statements electronically: Our survey found that 98 percent of accounts require electronic statements.
- One direct deposit going into the account: Eighty percent of accounts offered this as an option for meeting account requirements.
— or —
- One bill pay or other transfer going out: Eighty-four percent of accounts offered this as an option for meeting account requirements.
“I think that depositors really have to think hard about what is being required,” Eleanor Blayney, Certified Financial Planner and consumer advocate for the CFP Board, tells Bankrate. “Some of these are fairly benign — maintaining a valid email address, for example — and are not a big deal, and it may be no cost really to you because you will be doing that anyway. Some of them involve a certain amount of activity every month.”
See the chart below. Also, see Bankrate’s complete charts on high-yield checking accounts offered by banks and credit unions.