For any adult looking to take charge of their personal finances, owning both a savings and checking account is essential. Of course, there’s the basic reason that you need an account for depositing checks and paying bills. But, also, these accounts show banks how reliable you are when you fill out credit applications. The one question every single loan application has is “Do you own a savings account, checking account, or both?”
Unfortunately, over the last 10 years, owning these accounts has become more expensive. Banks have been kind enough to pass their additional fees along to you. If you’re not careful, you could be losing $100 to $300 a year simply for the privilege of owning a checking or savings account. Lucky for you, there are ways to avoid these fees. Perhaps even luckier for you, some banks are willing to pay up to $500 simply to get your business.
Below is a list of the best online savings and checking promos and bonuses we could find. They include a variety of big banks and one smaller bank, so nearly all of offers you see below are nationwide. All fifty states are eligible for each offer (sans Huntington Bank), and the more money you have to deposit, the more money you’re likely to earn in the form of a cash bonus.
Keep an eye out for the requirements to avoid the monthly maintenance fees, and feel free to contact us if you think you’ve found an offer as good as or better than the ones below.
Best Checking Accounts
|Best Overall||Citibank Account Package|
|Best Perks (free checks)||Bank of America Checking|
|Best Bonus||Chase Total Checking|
Best Savings Accounts
|Best Interest Rate||Citi Accelerate Savings|
|Best Fee Free Account||HSBC Direct Savings|
|Best Savings Tools||CIT Savings Builder|
Table of Contents:
1. Chase Total Checking® – $200 Cash Bonus
You can earn a $200 bonus with a Chase Total Checking® account. To receive the $200 checking bonus:
- Open a new Chase Total Checking account, which is subject to approval.
- Have your direct deposit made to this account within 60 days of account opening. Minimums to avoid monthly service charges are much lower than average with this account.
The very first checking account I opened after graduating college was with Citi. Partly because they had a great online bonus, and mostly because their branch was half a block from my apartment! Citi is currently offering a $700 bonus on their priority account package if you meet the following criteria:
- Open a new Citibank Priority Account Package by 06.30.2020.
- Within 30 days of account opening, make a qualifying deposit of $50,000 or more of non-Citi funds into the new account, and maintain this deposit as your daily balance for a period of 60 days.
The $30 monthly service fee for this account is waived for average daily balances of $50,000 more more. Any non-Citi ATM fees you incur while owning this account are waived so long as you meet that average daily balance above.
3. Bank of America Checking – $100 Cash Bonus
Bank of America is offering a $100 cash bonus to new customers who open an eligible online checking account. Both the Bank of America Core Checking and Bank of America Interest Checking qualify for the $100 bonus. Terms of the bonus are as follows:
- Open a checking account through the link above before March 31st, 2020.
- Set up at least two qualifying direct deposits of $250 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
The caveat here is that Bank of America will charge a $12 monthly fee on the Core Checking and $25 monthly fee on the Interest Checking. You can offset these fees through a variety of ways for the Core Checking product (see below). For the interest checking account, the only way to have the fee waived is to maintain a combined balance of $10,000 or more through a variety of BOA products. To have the Core Checking fee waived, you must meet one of these requirements:
- Be a student under the age of 24;
- Have a preferred rewards account;
- Maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more; or,
- Have at least one qualifying $250 recurring direct deposit.
4. TD Bank Beyond Checking – $300 Cash Bonus
TD Bank offers a simple way to earn a great $300 cash bonus while owning a top notch checking account that promotes ATM fee reimbursement and requires no minimum deposit to open.
- Open a TD Beyond Checking Account
- In the first 60 days of opening the account, make direct deposits of $2,500 or more.
- Boom. $300 cash money.
There is a $25 monthly service fee associated with the TD Beyond Checking Account but it can be waived one of three ways:
- Make $5,000 in monthly direct deposits OR
- Maintain an account balance of $2,500 OR
- Have a total of $25K across eligible TD accounts
Offer is available to new personal checking customers who do not have an existing or prior personal checking account at TD Bank.
5. HSBC Premier Checking – Up to a $600 Cash Bonus
HSBC shook things up a little bit to kick-off 2020, and has changed the way in which account holders can earn up to a $600 bonus. Here are the details:
- Open a new Premier checking account by September 30th, 2020.
- Set up a recurring direct deposit
- Earn 3% cash back on your direct deposit (up to $600 in total) for the first six months
It’s actually quite simple. HSBC wants you to continue to use your checking account each month, so they’ve given you incentive to do so. Every month, the maximum amount of cash back you can earn is $100; which you will hit if you’re making at least $3,333 in direct deposits each month. The last month of the six, you’ll have $100 available in cash back if you’ve hit the first 5-month targets
The money hits your account roughly 8 weeks after you’ve made the qualifying direct deposits each month.
The HSBC Premier Checking account does have a hefty $50 monthly maintenance fee, but that fee can be waived by meeting one of three criteria:
- Maintain a combined monthly average balance of $75,000 across your deposit and investment accounts
- Make direct deposits of $5,000 or more (in total) each month into your account
- Have a mortgage w/ HSBC in the original amount of $500,000 or more
The easiest one to hit for qualified applicants in the $5,000 per month of direct deposits. That will also guarantee you max out on the $600 cash bonus.
6. HSBC Advance Checking – Up to a $240 Cash Bonus
The rules to obtain the HSBC Advance Checking bonus of $240 are identical to that of the Premier; there’s just a lower amount of cash back available. ($40 per month instead of $100)
- Open a new Advance checking account by September 30th, 2020.
- Set up a recurring direct deposit
- Earn 3% cash back on your direct deposit (up to $240 in total) for the first six months.
The HSBC Advance Checking account does have a smaller $25 monthly maintenance fee, but that fee can be waived by meeting one of three criteria:
- Maintain a combined monthly average balance of $5,000 across your deposit and investment accounts
- Make a monthly recurring direct deposit from a third party
- Have a mortgage w/ HSBC in any amount
The ways in which you can get the monthly fee to $0 are a little easier here; but not easier if you have no previous relationship with HSBC and don’t have a lot of cash on hand. I can tell you that I personally have just signed up for the Premier Checking Account because the $600 is quite lucrative and I just barely meet the direct deposit threshold to waive the monthly fee. The Advance Checking account is perfect for any current HSBC mortgage holder or someone who can afford to park $5,000 in cash.
7. Fifth Third Bank Checking – $250 Cash Bonus
In order to receive the voluptuous $250 bonus from Fifth Third, you must meet three simple conditions.
- Open a new Checking account by April 30th, 2020.
- Deposit at least $500 within the first 45 days of opening the account.
- Maintain that balance for 60 days after you’ve reached requirement #2.
Fifth Third Bank Checking offers mobile banking, mobile deposits, unlimited check writing, online bill pay instant alerts, fast and secure person-to-person payments with Zelle, and access to more than 50,000 fee-free partner ATMs nationwide. The account has an $11 per month service charge, which can be waived for any of the following:
- Maintain a combined monthly average balance of $15,000 across your deposit and investment accounts.
- Spend at least $500 per month on a Fifth Third credit card.
- Have an outstanding balance with a Fifth Third personal mortgage, auto loan or line of credit.
The service fee can also be reduced to $8 per month with monthly direct deposits of at least $500. Other Fifth Third checking accounts have their own service fee charges and waivers.
8. Santander Bank Simply Right Checking – $225 Cash Bonus
This is one of the easier checking account bonuses to qualify for. All you need to do are the following three steps:
- Open an account by March 31st, 2020 with the promotion code SDB225G699.
- Have direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more posted to the account within the first 90 days, starting the first business day after opening the account.
- Keep your account open for at least 90 days, and open at the time of the bonus payment.
Upon meeting these three conditions, and once your account has been open for at least 90 days, the bonus will be paid within 30 days. You must be at least 18 years old, not a current Santander Bank checking account holder within the last 12 months, and the offer cannot be combined with any other bonus.
Apart from the cash bonus qualification requirements, Santander Bank Simply Right Checking requires a minimum opening deposit of just $25. There is no minimum balance requirement thereafter, and you’ll have access to fee-free ATM transactions at more than 2,000 ATMs, including more than 1,000 located in CVS pharmacies.
The account does have a $10 monthly service fee, but it can be waived with just one transaction per month. That can be either a deposit, withdrawal, transfer, or payment.
1. Citi Accelerate Savings – 1.00% APY
Citi Accelerate Savings is currently paying an annual percentage yield of 1.00%, and requires no minimum opening deposit.
There is a monthly service fee of $4.50, which can be waived if you maintain a minimum $500 average monthly balance for the calendar month. Unfortunately, the account does not come with check writing privileges. There is also a fee of $2.50 for non-Citibank ATM transactions.
There is a $10 monthly service charge if you link the savings account with a Citi checking account. However, that can be waived if you either make one qualifying direct deposit or one qualifying bill payment per statement period, or if you maintain a $1,500 minimum combined average monthly balance in all linked accounts.
2. American Express® Personal Savings – 1.00% Annual Percentage Yield
American Express National Bank – Member FDIC is currently the bank where I keep a lot of my savings. The interest rate comes in at a very competitive 1.00% and the user interface is very straight-forward and clean. Rates current as of 06.25.2020.
American Express is most known for their line of credit cards (for both consumers and businesses) but they entered the savings game a few years ago and have always had strong interest rates. You can connect both your savings and credit card accounts behind one login so you can keep track of all your accounts in one online portal.
3. CIT Bank Savings Builder – 1.01% APY
To qualify for the advertised rate, you must either maintain a minimum balance of $25,000, or make monthly deposits of $100, beginning with a minimum $100 opening deposit. If you have less than $25,000, and don’t make monthly deposits, the annual percentage yield drops to 1.10%.
Unfortunately, you are limited to no more than six transactions per statement cycle, however you may deposit checks into your Savings Builder account remotely, as well as make transfers with the CIT Bank mobile app.
How Does a Checking Account Work?
A checking account is the ultimate form of demand deposit account. A demand deposit account is one that gives you regular access to your funds. It also takes in savings accounts and money markets. But checking accounts have the advantage of giving you greater access to your money than virtually any other type of account.
The very term “checking account” is fast becoming something of a dated term. Checking accounts were so named because of the ability to access your funds through checks. And there was a time when checks were the only way to access your account, short of going to the bank and withdrawing funds directly (which itself may have required writing a check!).
But today’s checking accounts offer multiple ways to access your funds. And an increasing number of checking accounts no longer offer paper checks at all. This shouldn’t be surprising at all, given that fewer merchants are accepting paper checks than ever.
Today, it’s more common to make payments online. And with the widespread development of ATM machines, you can now get cash without having to go to a bank branch. Meanwhile, checking accounts now offer online bill payment capabilities, as well as person-to-person transfer methods.
Checking accounts are the preferred destination for direct deposits from paychecks, pensions and government benefits. But you can also move money into a checking account by transferring it from a savings account or money market at the same bank, or from another bank.
How Do I Check My Checking Account?
The old-fashioned way – 20 years ago – was to maintain an updated check register, and reconcile it against the bank statement that was mailed to you each month. While a few people still use this method, it’s easier and much more convenient to check your account electronically.Virtually every bank today offers online banking. That gives you the ability to check your account on your home or work computer at any time. You have access to all accounts you have with a particular bank, including your checking account. You also have the ability to transfer funds between accounts, transfer funds to outside accounts, and make payments online.
But nearly all banks also have mobile banking. Many provide all the functionality of the online version, though some banks may limit certain activities. However, you can check your account balance, run transactions, make payments from your phone, and even transfer money directly to and from individuals using various payment services.
Another major advantage of mobile banking is mobile deposits. The feature enables you to accept checks through your smart phone. You simply take a photo of both the front and back of the check, then download it to your account through the mobile banking app. The clearing process isn’t as quick as making a deposit in person, but it will enable you to make the deposit immediately while saving you a trip to the branch.
Is There a Limit on Transactions Within a Checking Accounts?
Generally speaking, there are no limits on the number of transactions made within a checking account. This is because a checking account is specifically designed to be a high activity account. You’ll typically have an unlimited number of transfers outside the account, checks written, and debit card transactions.However, a bank may impose certain limits on one or more of its checking account offerings. While it may offer unlimited activity, it might impose an activity fee tied to a certain number of transactions. For example, it may permit up to 10 outgoing transactions per month. But if you exceed that number, an activity fee will be applied to the excess transactions. It’s one of those “fine print” fees that every depositor needs to be aware of in choosing the right checking account.
If there are any transaction limits on checking accounts, it isn’t due to any type of federal laws. For example, Federal Regulation D, limits the number of outgoing transactions from either a savings account or a money market. The limit is no more than six “convenient” transfers or withdrawals per month per account. Convenient transfers include preauthorized, automatic transfers, and transfers and withdrawals initiated by phone, fax, or online, as well as those made by check, debit card, or other methods payable to third parties.
Again, those limitations apply only to savings accounts and money markets, and not checking accounts. In most cases, there’ll be no limit on the number of transactions you can run through your checking account.
Do Checking Accounts Earn Interest?
In most cases, checking accounts don’t earn interest. And where they do, rates are downright microscopic. In fact, according to the FDIC’s Weekly National Rates and Rate Caps – Weekly Update, interest-bearing checking accounts currently pay just 0.06% APY on average.That’s the rate level you’ll typically see with local banks and credit unions. In fact, some interest-bearing checking accounts pay a rate of just 0.01%. In the grand scheme of things, that’s just dust! But you don’t have to maintain a checking account with a bank that pays such low rates. There are banks available, primarily online banks, that pay much higher interest.
Checking accounts that pay little or no interest aren’t an attempt by banks to mistreat their customers. Since checking accounts are essentially in-and-out accounts, interest isn’t usually a significant factor. When most banks do pay interest on checking, it’s just a token amount, probably mostly to make their checking account offers look more attractive than the competition.
However, if you’re looking to add high interest to your bank savings, there are several online banks offering high interest on savings, money markets, and certificates of deposit. Many of these savings accounts are paying interest in excess of 2%. You can maintain a checking account with a minimal balance, and move any excess funds into a high-yield account to get the benefit of high interest.
How Many Checking Accounts Can I Have?
Though there may be certain banks that limit the number of checking accounts you can have, most won’t. You can have several accounts for yourself, as well as one or more for each member of your household – including your children. For example, you might maintain one checking account to pay general expenses, and another dedicated to paying house related expenses – it’s your choice.Banks also offer business checking accounts. If you have a business, you can maintain both a business checking account and a personal checking account.
Each checking account offered by a bank generates fee income for the bank. This can come in the form of a monthly service fee, ATM access fees at non-network ATMs, and service fees charged to merchants for debit card usage. It’s usually in the bank’s best interest to allow you to have as many checking accounts as you want.
Of course, there are a number of reasons why you’ll want to limit the number of checking accounts you have:
- Having several accounts can be a bookkeeping nightmare, as you try to keep track of the activity in each account.
- Multiple checking accounts can be confusing. You might mistakenly assume a payment made from one account was actually made from another.
- Generally speaking, the more checking accounts you have, the more bank fees you’re paying.
Related: Have a business? Check out the Best Business Checking Accounts
How Does a Savings Account Work?
Much like a checking account, a savings account is also considered to be a demand deposit account. It’s so called because you have the ability to access funds at will. This is different from a certificate of deposit, which is referred to as a time deposit, and ties up your money for the duration of the term of the certificate.Savings accounts at most banks typically require very little money to open a new account. Most also impose no minimum on the amount you must keep in your account. That said, interest rates paid on savings accounts are frequently based on your account balance.
Most will pay higher interest rates on larger account balances, which is sometimes referred to as tiered interest rates.While you do have access to the funds held in a savings account, it’s usually more restricted than it is with a checking account. For example, a checking account typically comes with check writing, an ATM card, online bill pay, and even direct person-to-person transfer apps. Most savings accounts will offer only one of those access options, usually an ATM card. But many banks won’t offer any direct access capability at all. Instead, you’ll need to transfer money into your checking account for payment purposes.
Though it’s not as common with savings accounts as it is with checking accounts, you can also have money from paychecks, pensions and government benefits direct deposited into your savings account. In most cases, people will deposit a small amount from those payments into savings, as a regular savings plan, with the rest going into checking. It’s also possible to have your income tax refund deposited into a savings account.
How Do I Check My Savings Account?
Since a savings account is usually a low activity account–few withdrawals, and even fewer deposits–it’s never been common for depositors to keep written records of their savings account balances.With online banking, the best way to check your account is to do so on your computer or mobile device. This has become common with checking accounts, largely because of the greater number of transactions running through the account. Regularly checking a savings account balance may not be seen as a priority. However, it should never be ignored.
Even if you have very few transactions, you should check your savings account balance on a daily basis. This is necessary if only for unauthorized transactions. A thief could gain access to your bank account, and totally ignore your checking account because your savings account has a much larger balance. Since a savings account is usually a much richer target than a checking account, monitoring it on a daily basis is at least as important as staying on top of your checking account balance.
In addition, if your bank limits account withdrawals to electronic transfers into your checking account or an external account, you’ll need to always be aware of your savings account balance for budgeting purposes. And at a minimum, you should check your savings account balance every time you have a transaction in the account. You’ll be looking for a) that the transaction took place, and b) that there weren’t any errors.
Even with electronic transfers, there can still be errors. The sooner you correct them, or the sooner you identify unauthorized activity, the faster and easier the remedy will be.
If you regularly check your checking account online, you should take an extra 30 seconds to also view your savings account balance.
Is There a Limit on Transactions Within a Savings Accounts?
Transaction limits are one of the major differences between savings and checking accounts. While checking accounts usually have something close to unlimited transactions, savings accounts are more restricted.There are usually no limits to the number of deposits you can make into a savings account. But once again, savings accounts are limited to a specific number of outgoing transactions. Under Federal Regulation D, you’re limited to no more than six “convenient” transfers or withdrawals per 30-day account cycle.
Convenient transfers include preauthorized, automatic transfers, and transfers and withdrawals initiated by phone, fax, or online, as well as those made by check, debit card, or other methods payable to third parties. However, a bank may impose no limit on the number of transfers you make into your checking account, or funds withdrawn at the teller window. You need to check with your bank to determine what their specific policies are on these limits.
What is the Interest Rate Range for Savings Accounts
Under “Best High Yield Savings Alternatives” we offered two online banks that pay interest of 2.00% APY or higher, including one that also pays cash back. But you should understand that these rates are exceptional. The vast majority of local banks and credit unions pay much lower rates on savings accounts.According to the FDIC’s Weekly National Rates and Rate Caps – Weekly Update, interest paid on savings accounts is averaging just 0.10% nationwide.
It makes little sense to hold savings in a bank paying such low rates. However, people frequently do it because they like the idea of a local brick-and-mortar branch. But if you keep your money in such a low interest paying account, you’re paying a heavy price for physical access. Either of the banks we’ve listed in this guide pay at least 20 times more in interest than the average local bank.
What’s more, despite lacking local branches, online banks can give you just as much access to your funds as a bank with local branches. The vast majority of financial transactions now take place online. You can just as easily transfer funds from an online bank as you can between accounts at your local branch, though there may be a one or two day wait on the completion of the transfer.
A good savings strategy, that will earn you higher interest and still give you quick access to transfers into your checking account is to maintain just enough money in a local bank savings account to make necessary transfers in the checking account. Any excess funds–which should be the bulk of your savings–can be invested in a high interest online savings account.
How Many Savings Accounts Can I Have?
Just as is the case with checking accounts, you can usually have as many savings accounts as you want. However, you’ll have many of the same disadvantages that you will with multiple checking accounts. This can include bookkeeping complications and the general confusion that comes with having several of the same type of account.But there is one important issue that’s more significant with savings accounts than it is with checking accounts. Because savings accounts normally have higher balances than checking accounts, you could bump up against the FDIC limit.
FDIC insures funds held at banks for a maximum of $250,000 per depositor. If you have that kind savings, you’ll want to make sure your combined accounts at any single bank don’t exceed that amount. If so, you should transfer the excess funds to another bank. Fortunately, you can get an additional $250,000 of FDIC coverage at each bank where you have deposits.
Final Thoughts on the Best Checking and Savings Account Promotions, Deals and Offers
There are all types of checking and savings accounts available. You’ll certainly want to go with the one that will work best for your personal situation. But if you’re shopping for a new account, you’ll want to favor those that pay generous account opening bonuses, like those listed in this guide. And since each account has a certain minimum time limit to qualify, you can simply wait until it expires, then apply for a cash bonus at a different bank.
It’s a way to earn a few hundred dollars extra each year.