For many of us, letting money sit in a checking account is no better than hiding it under a mattress. Either way, it’s not generating any interest.
Even if your bank pays interest on your deposits, you’re probably barely earning anything. The average annual checking account yield is 0.06 percent APY, according to a recent Bankrate survey.
The checking accounts with the best rates, however, pay as much as 5 percent APY. While there’s usually a balance cap limiting the amount of interest you earn, you can still walk away with a sizable amount of cash to invest or transfer to a savings account.
Bankrate looked at the nation’s best high-yield checking accounts with the highest yields and balance caps and the lowest minimum deposit requirements. Compare the best checking account rates and find the one that’s the right fit for you.
Best checking account rates
|La Capitol Federal Credit Union||4.25%||$3,000|
|One American Bank||3.50%||$10,000|
|Consumers Credit Union||3.09%||$10,000|
|Market USA Federal Credit Union||3.01%||$15,000|
|Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union||3.00%||$20,000|
|Lake Michigan Credit Union||3.00%||$15,000|
|Signature Federal Credit Union||3.00%||$15,000|
Compare the best checking account rates and find the one that’s the right fit for you.
Checking accounts with the best rates
First Financial Credit Union offers the highest nationally available checking account yield. Its High 5 Checking account:
- Pays 5 percent APY on balances up to $2,500.
- Refunds up to $10 in ATM fees per month.
- Has no minimum balance requirements or monthly service fees.
To earn the top yield (and qualify for ATM fee reimbursements), you’ll need to complete at least 15 signature-based debit card transactions each month and sign up for eStatements.
High balances earn 0.10 percent APY. The credit union is headquartered in Chicago and earned four out of five stars in Bankrate’s review of its financial health. Membership is open to anyone who makes a donation to a nonprofit (SitStayRead or Resources for Community Living).
Next on the list is La Capitol Federal Credit Union. Its Choice Checking account:
- Pays 4.25 percent APY on balances up to $3,000.
- Refunds up to $25 in ATM fees per month when you opt for eStatements.
- Requires a $50 minimum opening deposit.
The highest yield applies to anyone who has at least 20 non-ATM debit card transactions that post per month. Balances above $3,000 earn either 2 percent APY or 0.10 percent APY (if the balance exceeds $10,000).
The credit union is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and earned four out of five stars in Bankrate’s latest review of its financial health. Membership is open to anyone who pays a $20 fee and joins the Louisiana Association for Personal Financial Achievement.
One American Bank’s Kasasa Cash checking account also pays a high yield: 3.50 percent APY. The balance cap is $10,000.
The bank has branches in Centerville and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. But anyone nationwide can open an account online and earn the top yield by:
- Having at least 12 debit card purchase transactions (of at least $5) post and settle each month.
- Signing up for online banking (and logging in at least once per monthly statement cycle).
- Signing up for eStatements.
Earning the highest checking account yield
Before you choose an interest-bearing checking account, pay attention to the requirements you must meet to earn the highest yield. You may need to set up direct deposit, enroll in eStatements and/or make a certain number of debit card purchases each month.
While savings account rates have increased in recent months, interest-bearing checking account rates have largely remained stagnant. Still, the best checking account rates are more than two times higher than the best savings account rates.
If you can’t meet the criteria to qualify for one of the best checking account rates, consider opening a high-yield CD instead.