Most checking accounts don’t pay interest or allow you to earn points or cash back on purchases the way credit cards do.
But American Express is combining both these perks with its new American Express Rewards Checking account. Customers can earn one point for every $2 spent on eligible purchases with the account's debit card. Plus, the Amex Rewards Checking account pays a 0.50% APY on your entire balance.
The typical checking account today pays no interest on balances, and the 0.50% APY offered by Amex's new account is much better than the 0.06% national average interest rate on savings accounts. In other words, the Amex Rewards Checking Account functions much like a high-yield savings account. There are no maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements with Amex's new checking account either.
American Express Rewards Checking: What to know
The American Express Rewards Checking account is currently available to U.S. Amex consumer cardholders who have had their accounts open for at least three months. American Express Business Checking customers currently aren’t eligible for the new Rewards Checking account.
American Express is marketing this product as its "first all-digital checking account," and it offers common digital features like mobile check deposit and compatibility among digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. At the same time, the account still comes with a physical debit card.
Generally speaking, most purchases made with the debit card are eligible to earn reward points. The exceptions include things like reloadable prepaid cards and person-to-person payments. Your points can be exchanged for deposits into your checking account.
While it's nice to have a checking account that allows you to earn any reward points whatsoever, the ratio of one point for every $2 spent is low compared to many credit cards. With the American Express Gold card, for example, you can often earn up to four points for every $1 spent in categories like restaurants.
If you already have a Membership Rewards card with Amex, you can redeem your checking account points the same way you do through that account. For instance, some American Express Membership Rewards cards let you redeem points for credit card payments.
In addition to earning rewards points for eligible purchases and paying interest, the Amex Rewards Checking account offers some other perks. Here's an overview:
- No maintenance fees
- No minimum balance requirements
- Physical debit card
- Fee-free ATM withdrawals at 37,000 MoneyPass ATMs
- 24-7 customer service via phone or chat
You should also note that American Express doesn’t currently offer overdraft protection for its Rewards Checking account. That means you won't get hit with overdraft fees. Instead, Amex typically doesn’t allow transactions that go over your available balance. And you won't get reimbursed for out-of-network ATM fees, which is a benefit that select other accounts have.
Other checking accounts with good perks
While it's rare to find checking accounts that offer both rewards points and interest, there are some accounts that may suit your preferences better than the Amex Rewards Checking account. Compare it with these.
Quontic Cash Rewards Checking: This checking account offers 1.50% cash back on purchases and gives you fee-free access to more than 90,000 ATMs. It has no maintenance fees either.
Discover Cash Back Checking Account: This account gives 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases. It has no insufficient fund fees or maintenance fees, and you get fee-free access to more than 60,000 ATMs.
Axos Bank Rewards Checking: Paying interest at 0.30% to 1% APY on balances, this account has no maintenance fees or overdraft fees. It also provides you with unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.