As the competition among banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions for depositors’ funds continues to escalate, perks, bonuses, and rewards are often attached to checking accounts. For seniors, traditional promotions include free checking, discounts on safe deposit boxes, and waived monthly fees for maintaining minimum account balances. As a result of increased competition across all demographic groups, however, a wide variety of checking accounts offer these benefits but also offer additional rewards.
Because there are many choices, seniors should consider checking accounts outside of the financial products targeting their age group and seek solutions that address their needs and lifestyles. These solutions may include proximity to a branch office, earning higher interest rates, investment opportunities, or earning rewards in the form of airline miles. The following are 10 checking accounts for seniors to consider.
For seniors seeking convenience, the Chase Total Checking account from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) offers free checking, is available in nearly 5,000 branch office locations, and allows deposits by taking a picture of a check and submitting it through its mobile app. Seniors can also set up Social Security checks for direct deposit, which qualifies for a $200 sign-up bonus if the direct deposit is set up within 60 days of when the account is opened.
There is a $12 monthly account fee associated with the Total Checking from Chase, but it is waived if the customer direct deposits $500 or more per month or has more than $1,500 in account balance at the beginning of each day during the month (or $5,000 across all Chase bank accounts).
- Competition among banks and credit unions for deposits has led many financial institutions to offer additional perks and rewards with checking accounts.
- Many checking accounts for seniors have maintenance fees, but those are typically waived if certain account balance or direct deposit requirements are met.
- A handful of credit unions offer relatively high-yielding checking accounts for those that sign up for online banking and meet other requirements.
- Large banks do not always have interest-bearing checking accounts, but some offer other perks, like the ability to accumulate reward points, financial advice, or commission-free stock trading.
US Bank (USB) has several levels of checking accounts. The fee on its most basic checking account is $6.95, but the fee is waived for those 65 years old and older. Other features include free checks (on first order), mobile banking, free direct deposits, and access to over 2,700 branch offices across the country. The platinum checking account, which carries a $24.95 monthly fee (waived for those with combined US Bank accounts greater than $25,000), also offers 100 free stock trades per year and pays interest, but rates are just 0.01% per year.
With a senior checking account at BB&T Corporation (BBT), account holders are allowed one early withdrawal from a certificate of deposit (CD) held by the bank for a medical emergency without incurring a penalty. Designed for those 55 and older, the senior checking account has a $10 monthly maintenance fee, which is waived for maintaining an average balance of $1,000 per month or more than $500 in direct deposits per month. The account also offers free checks, overdraft protection, mobile banking, personalized debit cards, and low balance alerts.
For seniors seeking to increase income from cash reserves, the Interest Checking from Northpointe Bank pays a .25% annual percentage yield (APY) on balances ranging from $25,000 to $99,999 and .30% for anything beyond that. The requirement to open the account is $2,500 and any account with less than $24,999 earns .15% APY. The checking account carries no fees and offers free access to other bank ATMs (up to $15 per month).
Consumers Credit Union
With an interest rate of 4.00% on balances up to $15,000, the checking account at Consumers Credit Union provides a unique high-yield interest rate solution for seniors. To earn 4.00%, the account requires signing up for electronic statements, making at least 12 debit card purchases, and receiving direct deposits of more than $1,000 per month.
One American Bank
For seniors seeking interest without a monthly spending requirement, the Kasasa Cash checking account at One American Bank pays a 2.0% APY on balances of up to $10,000 and .25% APY on the portion of daily balances that are greater than $10,000. Customers are required to sign up for paperless statements, make 12 debit card transactions per month, and log in to the online banking portal at least one time per month. The bank also waives ATM withdrawal fees nationwide (up to $25 per month).
Lake Michigan Credit Union
Like One American Bank, the Max checking account offered by the Lake Michigan Credit Union does not have a spending requirement. The account pays an APY of 3% on balances less than $15,000. Earning the maximum rate requires signing up for paperless statements, making one direct deposit per month, and a minimum of four logins per month to the online banking website. It also requires making 10 debit card transactions per month. Seniors can become members of the credit union by donating $5 to the ALS Foundation.
CapEd Federal Credit Union
With its high-yield checking account paying 2.5% on balances up to $10,000, the CapEd Federal Credit Union also delivers a fixed income solution for seniors. To earn the maximum rate, customers must agree to paperless billing, make 12 debit card transactions per month, and receive at least one direct deposit or make one payment per month using the bill-paying system. Benefits of the checking account include overdraft protection, free online banking, and refunds on ATMs nationwide (up to $25 per month). There are no maintenance fees and no minimum account requirements.
Since interest rates, fees, and perks are always changing, it makes sense to ask the bank or credit union about its latest requirements and benefits before opening a checking account.
For seniors seeking to combine investment and banking needs, Citigroup offers a checking account for those with $200,000 or more (combined average monthly balance on deposits, retirement accounts, and investments) in deposits with the bank. With Citigold checking, most of the fees—ATM, maintenance, wire transfers—are waived, and customers have access to wealth management services, financial advice, and $4.95 stock trades. Citigold offers the opportunity to earn reward points, which can be redeemed for merchandise or travel.
Seniors can also rack up airline miles with BankDirect’s Mileage Checking with Interest account. Within six months of opening a checking account, customers can earn AAdvantage miles (American Airlines frequent flier miles program) by meeting the requirements for direct deposits, online bill paying, and debit card transactions. Customers also earn 100 AAdvantage miles per $1,000 in the account per month, up to $50,000.
The Bottom Line
Increasing competition has forced some banks and credit unions to offer checking accounts that offer higher yields and rewards to attract new customers across all demographic categories. By limiting checking account choices to age-targeted products, seniors may miss opportunities in a variety of areas, including high-interest accounts and the potential to accumulate thousands of airline miles for travel purposes.