5 Best Rewards Checking Accounts and Sign Up Bonuses for 2024


Contrary to the popular statement, in some cases, there is such a thing as a free lunch. When you sign up for a cash-back rewards checking account, you earn back a percentage of every dollar you spend, which is kind of like getting an automatic discount on everything. (Hey, that discount might only be 1%, but it still counts!)

What’s more, certain banks and credit unions will actually pay you a hefty bonus just for opening your account. You could get a sign-up bonus of $200, or a lot more, just for becoming a customer. That isn’t a bad way to earn an extra couple hundred bucks if you ask us.

Both the long-term earning potential of a cash-back rewards account and the instant-gratification windfall of an opening bonus are great ways to make free money just by finding a place to keep the money you already have. In this post, we’ll go over the very best bank and credit union offerings to help you earn money just by having money.

5 Best Rewards Checking Accounts

They say you have to spend money to make money. And while that may be true in a broader sense, these rewards checking accounts make it easy at a granular level, too. And better yet, each one of these accounts is totally fee-free when you meet certain minimum stipulations.

1. Upgrade

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Features & Benefits

  • No minimum deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • Get paid up to 2 days early
  • Up to 2% cash back on purchases

The Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus account eliminates monthly fees, overdraft fees, and transfer fees. Customers who establish monthly direct deposits exceeding $1,000 can earn up to 2% cash back on routine debit card purchases.

Upgrade operates as a financial technology firm, not a traditional bank. The Premier Savings account, which offer a competitive 5.21% APY on balances over $1,000, are provided through Cross River Bank, a Member FDIC.

This partnership ensures that your funds are insured up to $250,000 by the FDIC.

2. First Tech Federal Credit Union

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Features & Benefits

  • Up to $300 sign-up bonus with direct deposit
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Earn up to 5.00% APY
  • Over 30,000 fee-free ATMs

First Tech Federal Credit Union offers an attractive banking solution that goes beyond traditional constraints, providing members with a combination of high-yield interest and multiple financial incentives across its platforms.

With the First Tech Rewards Checking & Savings accounts, there are no minimum balance requirements and no monthly maintenance fees. Members can take advantage of a $300 bonus simply by establishing a qualifying payroll direct deposit of $1,000 or more per month for three consecutive months.

These accounts offer competitive interest rates, with the potential to earn up to 5.00% APY on both checking and savings accounts, depending on the balance—significantly higher than many conventional banks.

Additionally, First Tech offers extensive accessibility with over 30,000 CO-OP network ATMs nationwide for fee-free withdrawals.

The credit union also ensures enhanced financial security and flexibility with features like real-time fraud monitoring and free overdraft transfers, contributing to a comprehensive and secure banking experience.

3. Axos Bank

Features & Benefits

  • No minimum deposit
  • No monthly service fee
  • No overdraft or NSF fees
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements

The Rewards Checking account from Axos Bank has no monthly maintenance fees, unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements, and it comes with cash back rewards.

You get unlimited free mobile deposits and your funds are FDIC insured up to $250,000. Plus, there are no overdraft fees or non-sufficient fund fees.

There are no minimum balance requirements, and you’ll only need a $50 deposit to open the account.

4. Discover Bank

Features & Benefits

  • Minimum deposit: none
  • Monthly service fee: none
  • Details: Earn 1% back on up to $3,000 of regular debit card purchases per month. Offer does not extend to ATM transactions, peer-to-peer payments like Apple Pay and Venmo, or the purchase of cash equivalents like money orders.

With no monthly service charges, no minimum account balances, and no minimum deposit to get started, Discover’s free online checking account is one of the best.

Plus, you’ll get 1% cash back on up to $3,000 of debit card purchases per month, there’s plenty of incentive. You’ll also pay no ATM fees at more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs, and if you happen to lose your debit card — no problem. There’s no fee to replace it.

5. Consumers Credit Union

Features & Benefits

  • Minimum deposit: none, but $10,000 to earn high-level rewards
  • No monthly fees
  • Details: Earn 3.09%, 4.09%, or 5.09% APY on your account balance depending on the level of activity requirements you meet each month. See the website for full details.

If you can maintain a relatively high daily balance, you could put your money to work for you at Consumers Credit Union. Their free high yield checking accounts earn up to 5.09% APY, depending on which set of requirements you meet.

However, even the lowest tier earns 3.09%. (Keep in mind that the average interest-earning checking account earns only 0.06%, according to the FDIC; even savings accounts only bring in 0.09% on average.)

You can open and fund a deposit online in just minutes, or, if you’re in the state of Illinois, walk into one of more than a dozen branches the credit union has in the state.

Best of all, the account carries no monthly maintenance fees or balance minimums. Although if you drop below $10,000, it’s only 0.01% APY, which is still something.