Personal checking accounts aren’t what they used to be. You might remember a time when you earned enough interest to make some bank products worth a second look. Today, if you want to make money off your money, you'll probably need to look at other investment options.

Still, if you’re somebody who holds a balance higher than most, banks will compete for your personal checking account business. Each of the large multinational banks and many of the regionals have accounts designed for customers who keep larger balances. Chase Sapphire Checking is the higher of JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) two premium accounts (Chase Premier Plus is the lower level). Here we review some of the benefits and services that come with a Chase Sapphire Checking account, helping you decide if the account is right for you.

Key Takeaways

  • The Chase Sapphire account is Chase's premium personal checking account.
  • The account includes many fee-free services, such as free checks, cashier's checks, money orders, and wire transfers.
  • With the Sapphire account, travelers benefit from no fees for foreign exchange rate adjustments on ATM withdrawals or debit card purchases made outside the U.S.
  • One big downside to a Chase Sapphire personal checking account is the low interest rate, which as of Jan. 2020 was 0.01%.

The Account

The Chase Sapphire account is Chase’s top-tier personal checking account. Of course, you get all of the services offered to all checking account holders including access to 16,000 Chase ATMs and nearly 4,900 branch locations, online and mobile banking, and a debit card with EMV chip technology—a standard feature on nearly all new-issue cards in the banking industry.

Chase Sapphire customers get added features not offered to regular checking account customers. At non-Chase ATMs worldwide, Sapphire members don’t pay the Chase ATM fee. However, they do have to pay the fee charged by the ATM owner. 

The account also pays interest. However, interest rates offered by most brick-and-mortar banks are low, and Chase is no exception. As of Jan. 2020, the annual percentage yield (APY) for a Chase Sapphire checking account is 0.01%. That means account holders will earn only $5 per year if they maintain a $50,000 average daily balance. 

Fee-free Services

The perks of a Chase Sapphire personal checking account are in the fee-free services the bank offers. Ordering checks is free. There are no fees for cashier’s checks or money orders. There's no fee for the first four overdrafts within 12 months. Stop payments are free—as are incoming and outgoing wire transfers. In addition, account holders receive priority 24/7 customer service.

If you travel abroad extensively, you'll benefit from no fees for foreign exchange rate adjustments on ATM withdrawals or debit card purchases made outside the U.S.

If you want to set up separate checking accounts to better manage your funds, you can link up to nine Chase Sapphire Checking accounts with no monthly service fees.

Requirements

The account requires an initial deposit of $100. To avoid the monthly $25 service charge, you have to hold an average daily balance of $75,000 or more in “qualifying linked deposits and/or investments." These include balances in any of the nine linked accounts, Chase savings accounts, certain CDs, money market accounts, and Chase Liquid cards (Chase's prepaid card). Investment accounts include certain retirement plan investment balances and annuity products made through JPMorgan Chase or its affiliates. Other accounts may be eligible as well.

Is It Worth It?

Because of the low interest rates, the perks that banks offer their high-balance checking account customers aren’t very impressive, but that’s true of premium accounts at most banks. Every bank offers its premium customers a paltry interest rate with a series of free services and dedicated customer service.

If a higher interest rate is more important to you than fee-free services and personal customer service, then a high yield account at an Internet bank might suit your needs better.

The Bottom Line

These premium accounts aren’t Chase’s very highest tier. Like many major banks, there are some exclusive products designed for ultra-high net worth customers offered through the company’s investment division.

Don’t think of a premium account as something reserved for the wealthy. Premium accounts are a level of service available to anybody who will pay the monthly fee if they don’t reach the minimum balance requirements. When deciding if a premium checking account is worth it, consider things like how much you'll use the account's other services and if these services are important enough for you to forego the higher interest rate you might earn elsewhere.