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Earning Interest

The Best High Yield Checking Accounts in 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Checking accounts are like a pair of khakis slacks: You should have at least one, but shopping for them is a chore. You know you need a checking account—preferably one without fees—but most people think it’s not going to yield more than a token amount in interest.

These high yield checking accounts break this tired paradigm, featuring sky-high interest rates that can put even the best savings accounts to shame. In this article, we’ll help you make an informed decision about whether one of these high yield checking accounts are right for you and your financial goals.

How we picked the best high yield checking accounts

We followed a strict approach when selecting these accounts. We used the online rate finder for FDIC- or NCUA-insured rewards checking accounts on DepositAccounts.com, another LendingTree.com-owned site, to list the top 10 high yield checking accounts with the highest rates, assuming a deposit amount of $100.

Credit unions were only included if they allow membership to anyone (such as by making a donation to their chosen charity). Finally, we filtered out any high yield checking accounts that are not available nationwide, or that carry a health rating of below a B.

The Best High Yield Checking Accounts in 2020

Consumers Credit Union (IL) — Free Rewards Checking

  • Minimum amount to open: $0
  • Requirements to earn the high APY: You must complete the following four things each month:
    1. complete at least 12 signature-based debit purchases totaling $100 or more
    2. receive at least one direct deposit, ACH debit, or pay one bill through their free bill payment system totaling $500 or more
    3. log into your online banking account and be signed up for eStatements
    4. spend $1,000 or more with a Consumers Credit Union Visa credit card each month
  • Monthly service fee: No monthly service fee.
  • ATM fees: If you meet the requirements to earn the high APY, you won’t pay any ATM fees.
  • ATM refunds: You are eligible for refunds on all ATM fees as long as you meet the requirements to earn the highest APY.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Consumers Credit Union (IL)’s secure website

NCUA Insured

La Capitol Federal Credit Union — Choice Checking

  • Minimum amount to open: $50
  • Requirements to earn the high APY: Make at least 20 debit purchases per month.
  • Monthly service fee: $8; waived if you either have a balance of at least $1,000 or make 20 non-ATM debit card transactions each month.
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM refunds: Up to $25 in out-of-network surcharges (the money the ATM’s owner charges you) per month if you are signed up for eStatements

SEE DETAILS Secured

on La Capitol Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

T-Mobile — T-Mobile Money Checking Account

  • Minimum amount to open: $0
  • Requirements to earn the high APY: You must be enrolled in a qualifying T-Mobile wireless plan, be registered for perks with your T-Mobile ID, and have a minimum of $200 in qualifying deposits.
  • Monthly service fee: None
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM refunds: None

SEE DETAILS Secured

on T-Mobile Money’s secure website

Member FDIC

Partner Colorado Credit Union — High-Interest Checking

  • Minimum amount to open: $0
  • Requirements to earn the high APY: You’ll need to do three things each month: 1) use your debit card to make at least 20 signature-based purchases of $5 or more, 2) be signed up for eStatements, and 3) log into your Online or Mobile Banking account.
  • Monthly service fee: $5; waived if you meet the requirements to earn the high APY.
  • ATM fees: None.
  • ATM refunds: None.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Partner Colorado Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

One American Bank — Kasasa Cash

  • Minimum amount to open: $50
  • Requirements to earn the high APY: You’ll need to do the following three things for each qualification cycle (be aware: their qualification cycles are not the same thing as a calendar month):
    1. complete at least 12 debit purchases of $5.00 or more,
    2. be enrolled in eStatements, and
    3. log into your Online Banking account.
  • Monthly service fee: No monthly service charges.
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM refunds: Up to $25 per qualification cycle if you meet the requirements to earn the high APY.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on One American Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union — Vertical Checking

  • Minimum amount to open: $0
  • Requirements to earn the high APY: You must complete the following things each month: 1) have at least one direct deposit into your account, 2) be enrolled in e-statements, 3) use your debit card to make at least 15 purchases per month, and 4) log on mobile or online banking once.
  • Monthly service fee: None
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM refunds: Up to $15 of out-of-network ATM fees per month.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Heritage Bank — eCentive Account

  • Minimum amount to open: $100
  • Requirements to earn the high APY: Each month you’ll need to make 10 or more debit card payments and/or purchases (excluding ATM transactions), have at least one direct deposit or ACH deposit, and receive monthly electronic bank statements.
  • Monthly service fee: None
  • ATM fees: None listed $1 per transaction for ATMs not in the credit union’s network
  • ATM refunds: Up to $25 per qualification cycle if you meet the requirements above

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Heritage Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Market USA Federal Credit Union VIP Checking Platinum Tier

  • Minimum amount to open: $0
  • Requirements to earn the high APY: 1) Enrollment in e-Statements
    2) monthly direct deposit of at least $250 3) 12 Visa Debit Card Purchases per month, minimum purchase $5 4) 3 bill payments per month using Market USA’s Bill Pay service, at least $20 each
  • Monthly service fee: None
  • ATM fees: access to 30,000 surcharge-free CO-OP Network ATMs nationwide
  • ATM refunds: Eight free monthly transactions at STAR and PLUS ATMS, minimum direct deposit of $500 required and ATM surcharges may still apply

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Market USA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Signature Federal Credit Union Choice Checking

  • Minimum amount to open: $0
  • Requirements to earn the high APY: 1) Have direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more into your account per month 2) Enroll in eStatements 3) Use your debit card at least 10 times per month for purchases
  • Monthly service fee: None
  • ATM fees: Free ATMs through CO-OP and CulianceNetworks
  • ATM refunds: If you do not choose the higher APY as your Choice Checking benefit, you have the option of receiving up to $10 per month in out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Signature Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Main Street Bank (MI) Free Kasasa Cash Checking

  • Minimum amount to open: $100
  • Requirements to earn the high APY: 1) At least 1 direct deposit, ACH payment or bill pay transaction 2) At least 10 debit card purchases 3) Receive eStatements 4) Use online banking
  • Monthly service fee: None.
  • ATM fees: None listed
  • ATM refunds: Unlimited ATM fee refunds nationwide, as long as qualifications are met

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Main Street Bank (MI)’s secure website

Member FDIC

How are these banks able to offer such a high APY?

Did you notice that most of the institutions offering high yield checking accounts tend to be smaller names that you’ve probably never heard of? It turns out there’s a good reason for that, and it all has to do with the Dodd-Frank Act, a set of sweeping financial regulations passed by Congress in the wake of the Great Recession.

Back when the Dodd-Frank Act was passed in 2010, a tiny legislative nugget called the Durbin Amendment was included in the text. This amendment limited the swipe fees that big banks can charge merchants for each purchase that one of their customers makes using a debit card.

Suddenly, big banks (defined as institutions with at least $10 billion in assets) could only charge half as much per swipe as they had been doing, and swipe fees became a lot more lucrative for smaller banks and credit unions instead.

That’s why so many smaller institutions have strict rules requiring you to use your debit card each month. According to the Federal Reserve, in 2016 smaller banks earned anywhere from 18 to 65 cents for each debit card swipe, compared to a maximum of just 22 cents plus 0.05% of the purchase price for larger banks.

Say, for example, a smaller bank requires you to make 10 debit transactions per month, and earns 65 cents from each transaction. Your bank would then earn $6.50 from your spending that month.

That is where the high interest rates come from. It’s also why the high interest rates are generally capped to smaller balances, so that you don’t earn too much money and negate all the swipe fees that the bank earns.

Is it worth meeting requirements to go after the high APY?

Some of these high yield checking accounts have a lot of requirements.

If you prefer to use debit cards, chances are you’ll be able to easily meet the minimum debit swiping requirements for most of these accounts. On the other hand, if you’re a cash or credit card junkie, you may find yourself frequently worrying at the end of the month about whether or not you’ve met the minimum debit swiping requirements. In this case, a high yield checking account might not be right for you.

Another thing to consider is that many of these banks require you to make a signature-based debit transaction, rather than a PIN-based debit transaction for it to count. Unfortunately, this is slightly less secure than using the PIN-based payment method.

You’ll also need to avoid making a rush of charges at the end of the month to meet the spending requirements. That’s because banks and credit unions will usually only count a charge that has finished posting to your account towards meeting the monthly swiping requirement. It can take a few days for debit swipes to post to your account, so it’s better to get these charges in early to make sure they post to your account in time to count.

The good news is that checking accounts aren’t designed to hold significant amounts of cash. That’s what a savings account is for, and you can still earn pretty good interest rates with a high yield savings account (although still nowhere close to these high yield checking accounts).

If you’re going to keep a smaller deposit in your checking account anyways, why not earn as much as you can from it—especially if you know you’ll have an easy time meeting the requirements?

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Earning Interest, Reviews

Discover Bank CD Rates Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Discover Bank
Discover Bank’s roots stem back to the Discover credit card brand and the Sears-owned Greenwood Trust Company. Over the past 30 years, Discover Bank’s parent, Discover Financial Services, has become one of the largest credit card issuers in the U.S.

Discover Bank offers an array of financial products, including a full menu of certificates of deposit (CDs). If you’re looking for competitive CD rates, Discover Bank is worth a look.

Discover Bank’s CD rates

CD term

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

3 months

0.35%

6 months

0.65%

9 months

0.70%

12 months

1.75%

18 months

1.75%

24 months

1.75%

30 months

1.75%

3 years

1.80%

4 years

1.80%

5 years

1.80%

7 years

1.80%

10 years

1.80%

How do Discover Bank’s CD rates compare?

While Discover Bank’s CD rates aren’t always the highest available in our listings of the best CDs, they are consistently among the top offers we’ve seen across all terms. That said, you may be able to find a similar or even better rate with a CD that has a lower minimum deposit than Discover Bank’s rather hard-to-swallow $2,500.

There are usually several nationwide banks offering a 12-month CD at an annual percentage yield (APY) that’s higher than Discover Bank’s 12-month CD APY. Some minimum deposit requirements are also lower.

Regarding returns, it’s always a good idea to invest in CDs with the highest APYs possible, but remember to keep your CD investing strategy in mind. For example, if you’re investing in CDs using the ladder strategy, it might be easier to keep everything in one bank since you’ll be switching in and out of CDs frequently.

Discover Bank manages to stand out from its competition with its mobile app and 24/7 U.S.-based customer service. To some people, these conveniences may be worth a few basis points of interest accrued.

What you need to know about Discover Bank’s CDs

Discover Bank provides an open image, and the company makes even its fine print more accessible and easier to understand than other banks do. Consumers may find Discover Bank’s transparency a key asset when investing their wealth. Due to this approach, purchasing CDs through Discover Bank is a rather straightforward process.

How to open a Discover Bank CD

On Discover Bank’s online banking webpage, click on the orange “Open an Account” button near the top right of the page. You can then choose which accounts you’d like to open. Select the certificate of deposit option, then after inputting your details, choose a CD term and enter an initial deposit amount.

You’ll then need to complete the application by providing your name, address, date of birth, phone number, Social Security number, employment status and possibly your driver’s license. Once your application is complete and accepted, you’ll need to fund the account.

How to fund a Discover Bank CD

You’ll need to fund it within 45 days of submitting your application, which you can do in one of three ways:

  • Transfer funds from another bank account over the phone. (You can only do this when you first fund your account.)
  • Transfer funds from another bank via online transfer.
  • Mobile check deposit.
  • Write a check to yourself and send it to the following address:
    • Discover Bank
    • P.O. Box 30417
    • Salt Lake City, UT 84130

The minimum opening deposit amount for each of Discover Bank’s CDs is $2,500. Once you open a CD, you can’t deposit funds into the same CD later, so it’s a good idea to make sure you have all the cash you want to invest before you open the account. Alternatively, you could look into a CD ladder strategy.

Withdrawing funds from a Discover Bank CD

When you want to withdraw money from your CD, the biggest thing to consider is whether that CD has matured or in other words, finished its term.

If your CD hasn’t yet matured, you have two options: You can take your earned interest out penalty-free at any time, or you can withdraw the principal at any time — but you will incur a penalty. Discover Bank’s penalty amount is determined by the original term of your CD:

  • Less than 1 year: three months’ worth of simple interest
  • 1 year to less than 4 years: six months’ worth of simple interest
  • 4 to 5 years: nine months’ worth of simple interest
  • 5 years to less than 7 years: 18 months’ worth of simple interest
  • 7 years or longer: 24 months’ worth of simple interest

If your CD has finished its term, you can withdraw your money penalty-free, allow the CD to renew or roll it into a CD of a different term length (more on that in a bit).

Earning interest on a Discover Bank CD

Your Discover Bank CD will start earning interest on the same business day that you fund the account. The interest will then be added to your account once each month.

When deciding what to do with your interest, you have two options: The default option is to allow it to compound within the CD (meaning you’ll earn interest on that interest amount), or you can have it automatically deposited each month into another Discover Bank account.

What happens once the Discover Bank CD matures?

You’ll get a heads-up notice from Discover Bank about a month before your CD matures so you can decide what to do with the money. You have two main options: Either reinvest it into another CD (of the same term length or a different term length), or withdraw the money from the CD and put it into another account, such as a checking or savings account, or even a CD at a different institution.

If you don’t let Discover Bank know what you want to do with the maturing CD, it will automatically renew in a new CD of the same term length. You have a nine-day grace period after your CD automatically rolls over to make any changes or withdrawals penalty-free.

The bottom line

As far as big-name banks go, Discover Bank offers great CD products. Although the initial investment required seems a bit high, the bank offers exceptional customer service and APYs that make up for a relatively minor inconvenience for many investors.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep your finances in one place, Discover Bank has competitive online savings and checking accounts. No matter how long you’re considering investing money in a CD, Discover Bank is worth a look. Even if the bank doesn’t have the best available APYs, it’s usually within several basis points of the top offerings and well above the average.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Earning Interest, Reviews, Strategies to Save

Review of Live Oak Bank’s Deposit Rates

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Live Oak Bank’s savings account

When it comes to the savings accounts with the highest interest rates, Live Oak Bank is up there with the best.

APY

Minimum Opening Deposit

1.75%

No minimum

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM fee refunds: None

Live Oak Bank has one of the best savings account rates available listed on our site. The bank is lowering the bar for entry into the high-yield savings account space with a monthly maintenance fee and minimum deposit of zero — for both. Allowing anyone to take advantage of these high interest rates, no matter how much money they have, certainly makes Live Oak Bank stand out amongst competitors that require much higher initial investments.

Live Oak Bank wants you to use your savings account, and use it often, which is one reason why it has no monthly maintenance fee. If there is no activity on your account for 24 months and your balance is less than $10.01, Live Oak Bank will take the remainder of your balance as a Dormant Account Fee and close your account, so keep up-to-date with transactions. One way to do this is setting up automatic withdrawals to ensure you never incur this penalty.

Getting money into a Live Oak Bank savings account from an external bank account can take a little bit of time, depending on how you do it. If you request the money through Live Oak Bank’s online portal, the funds won’t be available for up to five or six business days. But if you send the money to Live Oak Bank from your current bank, the money will be available as soon as it’s received. Your Live Oak Bank savings account will start earning interest as soon as the money posts to your account.

You can easily withdraw your money at any time via an Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfer. Simply log into your Live Oak Bank savings account and transfer the money electronically to any bank account you wish. The funds will be available in two to three business days.

You are limited to making just six withdrawals per month from this savings account. That’s not a Live Oak Bank thing, Federal law mandates certain types of telephone and electronic withdrawals, including transfers from savings accounts up to 6 per statement cycle. If you can’t wait until the next month to make a withdrawal beyond the six per month, you’ll be charged a $10 transaction fee for each additional action from the bank.

Live Oak Bank CD rates

Live Oak Bank also has some of the best rates on certificates of deposit (CDs).

Term

APY

Minimum Opening Deposit

6-month CD

1.40%

$2,500

1-year CD

1.90%

$2,500

18-month CD

1.90%

$2,500

2-year CD

1.50%

$2,500

3-year CD

1.50%

$2,500

4-year CD

1.50%

$2,500

5-year CD

1.50%

$2,500

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • CD terms that are less than 24 months — 90 days’ interest penalty
    • CD terms that are more than 24 months — 180 days’ interest penalty

Live Oak Bank consistently offers some of the highest CD rates listed on our site. This bank’s minimum deposit requirements also seem to be right on par with other banks’ requirements. At the time of publishing this article, the best CDs out there have minimum deposit requirements both above and below Live Oak Bank’s $2,500 benchmark.

It’s a relatively straightforward process to open a CD. Simply complete the forms online, provide any needed documentation (such as your current bank account details), and wait for an account approval. Once your account is open, you can transfer your deposit, where it will be held for five days before officially launching your CD. It’s important to note that only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to open these accounts.

If you are able to resist the urge to withdraw your money early, congratulations! Your CD will automatically renew into a CD with the same term length. However, don’t panic if that’s not what you want: You have up to 10 days after the CD has matured to withdraw your money penalty-free and move it to another bank account.

If you need to withdraw your deposit early, you’ll incur a penalty. If your original CD term was for less than 24 months, you’ll be charged 90 days’ worth of interest. If your original CD term was for longer, you’ll be charged a higher rate — 180 days’ worth of interest.

Conclusion

Live Oak carries an “A” health rating according to our analysis and has a top-notch online banking portal as well as a streamlined app. It’s easy to overlook Live Oak Bank for other larger, more established consumer banks like Ally Bank or Discover Bank. That might be considered hasty, as Live Oak has some of the best CD rates around and one of the best savings accounts available on the market based on our site.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.