As the competition among banks, credit unions and other financial institutions for depositors’ funds continues to escalate, an increasing number of perks, bonuses and rewards are being attached to checking accounts. For seniors, the 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 of this, 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 or earning rewards in the form of airline miles. The following are the top 10 checking accounts for seniors.
For seniors seeking convenience, the Chase Total Checking account from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) offers free checking, is available in over 5,300 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 when the account is opened.
Through the senior version of its premium checking account, U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) offers free personal checks, no maintenance fees if one account owner is over 65 years old and over 3,000 branch offices across the country. The premium checking account pays interest, but as of May 2016, the rate was only 0.01% for balances under $50,000.
With a senior checking account at BB&T Corporation (NYSE: 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. The senior checking account has a $10 monthly maintenance fee, which can be waived for maintaining an average balance of $1,000 per month or establishing a direct deposit account. The account also offers free checks, mobile banking and low balance alerts.
For seniors seeking to increase income from cash reserves, the UltimateAccount from Northpointe Bank pays a 5% annual percentage yield (APY) on balances of up to $5,000 in a free checking account. The requirements to earn the maximum rate include debit card activity of at least $500 per month, 15 transactions per month and one direct deposit per month.
Consumers Credit Union
With an interest rate of 4.59% on balances up to $20,000, the checking account at Consumers Credit Union also provides a high-yield interest rate solution for seniors. The account requires signing up for electronic statements, one login per month at the online banking portal and direct deposits. Customers must also execute signed transactions totaling at least $1,000 with the debit card linked to the account. Seniors can join the credit union with a $5 donation to the Consumers Cooperative Association.
One American Bank
For seniors seeking high interest rates without a monthly spending requirement, the Kasasa Cash checking account at One American Bank pays a 3.5% APY on balances of up to $10,000. At that rate, the checking account paid almost two times the interest of the 10-year Treasury note (T-note) as of May 2016. 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.
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.
For seniors who travel, the Airline Rewards Checking account offered by UFB Direct is a great way to accumulate airline miles. The account pays one American Airlines Group (NASDAQ: AAL) AAdvantage mile for every $3 spent on the linked debit card for point of sale transactions, up to 120,000 miles per calendar year. The only requirements are a minimum $100 opening deposit and setup for direct deposits.
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 up to 22,000 AAdvantage miles 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.
Increasing competition has forced banks and credit unions to offer high-yield accounts 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.