If you want a bank that offers generous APYs, you might be hard-pressed to find one. Few banks extend these types of promotions right now, so some people are looking toward checking accounts with higher yields and rewards programs to get a little more out of their bank.
The downside to this is that the criteria to get the best APYs and cashback perks are sometimes demanding. And, depending on the customer, they could be risky. Sometimes, getting the most out of your rewards account means spending more than you should — which negates the benefit of having one of these accounts.
So, just how strict are these requirements? DepositAccounts.com assessed 73 high-yield checking accounts from both banks and credit unions and discovered that 65% of high-yield and rewards accounts have at least two major qualification criteria.
Opting for a checking account with a competitive APY and rewards program can be a great decision for your finances. However, it’s important to learn what it takes to get these benefits.
For example, researchers also looked at how many times the average consumer needed to swipe their debit card to earn those rewards. They found that customers had to use their card about 13 times per month, or three times per week, to get these higher APYs and benefits.
Additionally, DepositAccounts data showed that credit unions typically have tighter restrictions than banks concerning monthly debit card purchases. Three credit unions — Premier Members, Ideal, and Partner Colorado — demanded at least 20 monthly debit card purchases.
DepositAccounts also found that on average:
- Banks required between seven and 18 monthly debit card swipes
- Credit unions needed eight to 25 purchases
- 79% of credit unions had monthly debit usage restrictions
- 65% of banks required monthly debit card use
One reason traditional financial institutions have these requirements is that they earn money every time customers use their debit cards. “When you make a purchase with a debit card, the merchant pays an interchange fee of around 2% on the amount of the purchase,” DepositAccounts founder Ken Tumin explained. “A significant part of that interchange fee is paid to the bank where the debit card was issued.”
Understand Other Restrictions On Rewards And APYs
Using your debit card so often each month is a common stipulation for earning higher APYs and better rewards. But depending on the bank, there can be other limitations — some of which can change without any warning.
DepsitAcocunts researchers studied four specific areas:
- Debit card purchases
- Direct deposit
- Online banking
- Online bill pay
They concluded that 65% of traditional financial institutions necessitated that customers fulfill a minimum of two criteria. That’s why doing your research and comparing lenders, deals, terms, and rewards are so important.
Debit Cards: Not All They’re Cracked Up To Be
Debit cards indeed offer a high level of convenience and flexibility. But using them for frequent purchase might not be what’s best for your finances, as DepositAccounts explains.
You Don’t Get The Same Fraud Protections
Fraudulent purchases are one of the top security threats to debit cardholders. According to Tumin, “The longer it takes the consumer to report the unauthorized charges, the more liability the consumer assumes for those charges.” That liability could amount to the full charge if it’s reported more than 60 days after your monthly statement. On the other hand, many credit card issuers provide secure liability protection against theft.
You Don’t Get The Same Rewards
If you have a high-yield APY checking account, swiping your debit card can help you maximize your return. However, credit cards offer many more rewards opportunities, from cashback to travel to discounts at your favorite restaurants, and more. “This is possible since banks generally receive a higher percentage of interchange fees from credit cards than from debit cards,” Tumin noted. Credit card companies then send those savings to cardholders as generous rewards programs.
You Don’t Build Your Credit
If you have no credit history or bad credit, credit cards can be a great way to change that since most card issuers report your activity to the three major credit bureaus. However, banks and credit unions don’t do that when you have a debit card.
It’s essential to keep in mind that some banks allow similar benefits as credit cards while offering a competitive APY on your accounts, but you’ll need to dig deep to find which ones have these deals.
“There are a few high-yield reward checking accounts with activity requirements that involve credit card purchases instead of debit card purchases,” Tumin explained. “This can give checking account customers the benefits of both the high interest rates on the checking account and extra protection and rewards of credit cards.”
- DepositAccounts. “Expect to Use Your Debit Card 13 Times a Month – on Average – to Earn the Highest APYs, Best Rewards.” Deposit Accounts, 10 Nov. 2020, www.depositaccounts.com/blog/use-debit-card-13-times-month-to-earn-highest-apys-best-rewards.html.