When you think of interest-generating bank accounts, your mind likely goes to savings. After all, that’s your reward for building an emergency fund or socking away money for a future expense, right? A regular, end-of-month deposit into your savings account, courtesy of your bank.
Good news: You can also earn interest with select checking accounts.
Online banks have less overhead than brick-and-mortar locations and are increasing in popularity. To compete for your business, many now offer interest-yielding checking accounts.
We’ll be honest — with today’s interest rates, you won’t be raking in the dough. However, if you can earn something versus nothing for keeping your money in a checking account, we think it’s worth exploring.
How We Picked the 6 Best Checking Accounts That Pay Interest
Our methodology for this list is simple: According to the FDIC, the average interest rate for interest-bearing checking accounts is currently 0.03%. So, we looked for accounts that came in around that range or higher. (Note: APR fluctuates over time, so a lower rate now could rise in the future.)
Beyond the interest rate, we looked at what else the account brings to the table. We gave preference to ones that don’t have maintenance fees or require minimum balances and that offer ATM fee reimbursement.
The 6 Best High-Interest Checking Accounts
Here are the six best high-interest checking accounts where you can use your money and make a little money at the same time.
One of the highest interest rates we’ve found for an online checking account is from SoFi Money. That checking account earns you 0.25% APY, or annual percentage yield, which is percent in interest (including compound interest) you’ll earn on your money in a year.
SoFi Money takes a number of steps to make the transition to online banking easy:
- ATMs: With automatic reimbursement of ATM fees, you can use just about any ATM anywhere for free.
- Overdraft Protection: This feature is new. SoFi Money members who meet certain criteria and accidentally spend more than they have in their account will be covered up to $50 with no fees.
- Website: SoFi’s website and mobile apps have detailed FAQs, and they make it simple and easy for you to find any information you want.
Read our full Sofi Money review.
2. NBKC Personal Checking
The NBKC Personal Checking Account offers 0.15% interest on all balances and has no minimum balance requirement. It also features $0 overdraft and non-sufficient funds charges, so if you tend to overextend your money, you won’t get dinged.
Do you use ATMs? NBKC Personal Checking also offers up to $12 monthly to refund those pesky ATM fees.
3. Memory Bank
You may not have heard of Memory Bank. Or maybe you did and you just forgot. (Get it?) Anyhoo, Memory Bank’s EarnMore Checking Account is another option for a high-interest checking account with 0.02% APY.
Memory Bank is a great choice for those of us who like the perks of online banking, but also want to know that we can get personal service when we need it. They offer live support by phone, email or online chat. That can be a great benefit when you just need to ask a quick question, but don’t want to get stuck on an automated phone system for an hour.
4. Capital One 360
The real beauty of the Capital One 360 Checking Account is the pure ease of its online banking setup. Both the website and the app are remarkably intuitive. Plus, you won’t have any minimum balance or fees to deal with.
The base APY right now for the Capital One 360 is 0.1%, which is a respectable three times the national average.
5. Charles Schwab
OK, when you think of Charles Schwab, you probably don’t think about checking accounts. That could change. Its High Yield Investor Checking is a free account that earns 0.03% APY on your balance.
It also features unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide. That’s pretty cool if you travel a lot.
This account has no minimum balance, no minimum opening deposit and no maintenance fees.
There is one catch: You need to have a Schwab One brokerage account linked to your checking to avoid maintenance fees. It may not be for everybody, but if you already invest, why not take advantage of it?
6. Ally Interest Checking Account
As the name suggests, you’ll earn interest with the Ally Interest Checking Account. For balances under $15,000, you’ll earn 0.1%, which isn’t all that remarkable.
But, if you tend to have $15,000 or more on hand, you can earn 0.25%. While 0.25% may not seem like much, that’s about eight times the national average for checking accounts that pay interest.
Ally’s Interest Checking really makes its mark with the other perks. The account has:
- No maintenance fees.
- No minimum balance requirement.
- No minimum opening deposit.
- Easy online access.
Another nice perk is that Ally will reimburse you for up to $10 worth of ATM fees charged by other banks per statement cycle. And, as of June 2021, Ally Bank has eliminated overdraft fees on all accounts for all customers.
Check out our current list of bank promotions for a chance to gain a monetary bonus when signing up for a new bank account.
How to Choose a High-Interest Checking Account
If you’re thinking about moving to a high-interest checking account, take a few things into consideration.
- Look for accounts that won’t negate those interest earnings by charging you fees. However, if you carry a high balance, it may be worth paying a small fee to get a better interest rate. Do the math.
- Keep an eye on minimum balance requirements. We focused on accounts that don’t require a minimum balance, but if you know that you’ll consistently have at least $1,000 in your account at all times, you may want to shop around a bit more. There may be a great deal out there.
- Look at the requirements. Maybe you don’t use your debit card that much or you don’t want to have a direct deposit. Choose an account that fits with the way you like to use your account.
- Keep ATMs in mind if you use them. It’s 2021, and you shouldn’t have to pay those fees. There are too many banks that are willing to cover those for you.
- The app. If you do a lot of banking on your phone, make sure the bank you choose has a solid banking app. Once you find the checking account that checks all the right boxes for you and how you like to use your account, sign up and start earning money on your money already.
Contributor Kathleen Garvin (@itskgarvin) is a personal finance writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida, and former editor and marketer at The Penny Hoarder. She owns a content-writing business and her work has appeared in U.S. News, Clark.com and Well Kept Wallet.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.