Free High Yield Checking Accounts

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2009-10-197

Your high interest savings funds and certificates of deposit are earning you returns, but what about your free checking account?

If you’ve hardly made much from your checking account all this time, you are not alone. Lots of savers haven’t had a chance to shop around for a better yielding checking account, figuring that since their liquid accounts are usually in flux (with lots of ongoing transactions), that trying to eke out interest from these accounts isn’t a priority.

But just because you’ve already placed your intermediate and longer term savings elsewhere where they are earning savings account rates at par with the markets, it doesn’t mean that you can’t earn more with your short term money. These days, every little bit counts, so checking out higher yielding checking accounts for those extra returns is worth doing, in my opinion. Here’s a list of accounts to consider:

A List Of Free Checking Accounts With Good Returns

EverBank FreeNet Checking Account

1. EverBank has the Yield Pledge Checking Account which currently yields .83% APY. This is a no fee account that requires a $1,500 minimum opening balance. Relative to other bank accounts, it’s recognized for its low cost features such as the lack of debit card fees and monthly fees as well as free ATM use. In the past, this account had some additional bonus rates attached, but it’s been revamped to address current banking industry concerns (regarding fees) and to become more accessible to a wider range of customers.

To open an account at EverBank here’s where to go.
ING Direct Electric Orange Checking Account

2. ING Direct has the widely known Electric Orange Checking Account. This account has no fees (other than those incurred for extra services) and no minimum balance required. However, just like EverBank’s free checking account, you’ll earn a rate that is commensurate to the balance amount that you’re able to maintain. ING Direct Electric Orange Account currently yields .20% to 1.10%. Other great benefits include free online bill pay, free debit card, free ATM access, direct deposit, and the ability to make p2p payments. One more thing: this is a paperless checking account but you can send out checks through online methods.

To open an ING Direct checking account here’s where to go.
Ally Bank Interest Checking

3. Ally Bank has an interest bearing checking account called Ally Interest Checking. It yields a 0.50% APY if you maintain a balance under $15,000. Any balance above $15,000 will return a decent interest of .80% APY. Also, Ally Bank won’t charge you ATM fees and will reimburse any ATM fees you are charged by other banks. The other great features of this account? There’s no minimum balance required to open it and no monthly fees; it has free bill pay and online banking, free checks, debit card and unlimited check writing privileges, free fund transfers and “around the clock” customer service.

To open an Ally Bank checking account here’s where to go.
Zions Bank Internet Checking

4. Zions Bank has an online checking account called Zions Bank High Yield Internet Checking that you can open with a minimum balance of $100. It offers a tiered interest rate based on your balance amounts that range from .10% to .40% APY. You’ll get the top rate if you keep a balance of $100,000 or higher. If your balance is between $20,000 and $99,999, then you’ll earn somewhat of a lower rate and you’re required to keep a minimum balance of $2,500 in order to earn the lowest rate in the tier. You can certainly fund your account with a low $100 but you won’t earn any interest. Still, you’ll have the benefit of receiving checks and an ATM card to use for your checking account needs.

Aurora Bank Checking

5. Aurora Bank offers an interest-bearing checking account named Aurora Bank Checking which can be opened with just $1. Like many banks, the interest that you earn is tied to how much you’ve got funded in your account. You’ll need at least $1,000 in order to start receiving interest, which at this point, amounts to 0.83%. As an account holder, you’ll have access to a wide ATM network, have check writing privileges, and access to online banking, direct deposit and electronic transactions. There’s also overdraft protection if you need it. This bank also has a lot of other savings products available, such as a money market account, savings account and CDs that range from 6 month to 60 months.

E*Trade Max-Rate Checking Account

6. E*Trade is known for being a top broker but they’ve also got a reputable banking division. However, their Max-Rate Checking Account presently sports a rather low .15% yield, and that is if your balance is at least $5,000! Below this amount, you’ll barely earn anything. The good news though, is that they also offer free online bill pay, a free ATM debit card, and actual free checkbooks. There is a minimum initial deposit of $100 for this account and a requirement for you to maintain a $5,000 average monthly balance if you want to avoid getting charged a monthly fee. Out of all the high yield checking accounts in this list, this is the only one that is not truly free.

HSBC Advance Online Payment Account

7. HSBC Advance also has a paperless checking account called the Online Payment Account. It has an interest rate of 0.85% APY and works just like a checking account, except without the paper checks. This means that you can send out checks electronically through free online bill pay and have the ability to schedule recurring or one time payments. In addition, you’ll receive a free debit/ATM card and be able to easily link to HSBC Advance’s Online Savings Account. This account has no monthly fees and requires a minimum balance of only $1.

Best High Yield Checking Account?

In my opinion, EverBank looks like a really solid option. I like this online bank particularly because they also have a rich stable of other financial products that appeal to me, including a high yield CD, a money market account and a roster of foreign currency certificates of deposit that can be a good fit for a well diversified portfolio. These are some products I’m personally considering as potential investments (especially since we’re possibly headed for an inflationary environment). For more information on EverBank’s interesting products, check out my EverBank review.

So far, these are the accounts and banks I’ve had a chance to study. Once I get a chance to review a few more, I’ll add them here.

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric October 20, 2009 at 1:52 am

If I were looking for a high yield checking, I would check out rewards checking account. The requirements aren’t TOO bad once I got accustomed to them…right now I’m getting about 5%

John DeFlumeri Jr October 20, 2009 at 5:27 am

It is nice to see interest earned on a checking account, vs monthly fees subtracted from your balance, like some banks.

Anonymous October 20, 2009 at 4:54 pm

There are numerous rewards checking accounts that offer substantially higher interest rates, though they have additional requirements to obtain that rate – typically a minimum of debit card use, electronic statements, and monthly direct deposit.

Silicon Valley Blogger October 20, 2009 at 5:05 pm


Thanks for your comment! I am somewhat aware of rewards checking accounts; I was actually planning to tackle them another time in some detail. Yes, they do have additional requirements that you’ll need to address in order to qualify for the higher rates — and aren’t there consequences if you fail to meet those requirements?

Eric October 20, 2009 at 8:17 pm

The “consequence” is typical earning a much lower yield for the month — think brick and mortar 0.3% or something. But it’s nothing negative in that sense.

Anonymous October 26, 2009 at 8:21 am

Charles Schwab offers the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking, that provides a 0.75% APY, fully reimbursed ATM transactions, free checks, postage paid deposit envelopes, online bill pay & electronic bills, and a Visa debit card. This account has no minimums or monthly charges, when opened with a Schwab One brokerage account .

Anonymous November 25, 2009 at 2:01 am

Royal Banks of Missouri has a free checking account called the Majestic that boasts a 4.30% APY on balances up to $25K & 1.4% APY on balances above 25K .. The requirements are ~ Minimum of 10 debit card purchases (ATM usage does not count toward the 10 purchases)
1 Automatic Payment or Direct Deposit transfer
Receive your monthly account statement electronically. That’s it…………………….

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