What Are Premium Checking Accounts?

By Sarah Li Cain · March 21, 2022 · 5 minute read

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What Are Premium Checking Accounts?

Most of us have checking accounts and love their convenience, but you may be curious about premium checking accounts, which offer even more perks. Some offer higher interest rates and ATM-fee reimbursements. But what’s required to reap those benefits?

Let us answer that question. Here, we’ll fill you in on the differences between your typical checking account and the premium variety.

What Does Premium Checking Mean?

Premium checking accounts are a type of checking account in which account holders are rewarded for meeting high balance requirements or paying higher monthly fees. These rewards may include higher interest rates, fee-free ATMs, free checks, and more.

In some cases, a bank may offer you these perks if you open multiple types of account at the same institution — an example would be having both premium checking and savings accounts at a bank. Another common scenario with premium checking accounts is that the more you keep on deposit, the more incentives you may receive.

What Are the Benefits of a Premium Checking Account?

Those who qualify for a premium checking account may be rewarded with the following benefits:

•   Lower fees for other financial products within the same financial institution

•   Dedicated customer service

•   Higher interest rates

•   Free or low-cost wire transfers

•   ATM fee reimbursements

•   Free checks

These can be attractive ways to encourage customer loyalty, as many financial institutions work to find new ways to enhance their clients’ experience (SoFi’s membership benefits are an example, too).

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Pros and Cons of a Premium Bank Account

Opening a premium bank account might be valuable if you can take advantage of all the benefits offered. That being said, there are some downsides, too. Meeting certain requirements can make this type of account inaccessible to some. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and the downsides.

Pros

•   Higher APYs: Premium checking accounts typically come with higher annual percentage yield compared to basic checking accounts (which may not accrue any interest). That enhanced interest rate means your money earns more money.

•   Waived or lowered fees: In most cases, premium checking accounts will waive fees such as those for out-of-network ATMs, money orders, cashier’s checks, and wire transfers. Depending on the bank and what other accounts you have with them, you may even get lowered or waived fees on exchange rates for ATM withdrawals outside the U.S.

•   Discounted rates on other financial products: It’ll depend on your relationship with the bank (and what other accounts you have in addition to a premium checking account), you could receive lower rates for personal loans or mortgages compared to other customers.

•   Higher transaction limits: You may be able to make larger daily ATM withdrawals, transfers, or debit card purchases.

Cons

•   Rates may not be as high as you think: Although you could receive a higher interest rate compared to other types of checking accounts, it may not be as high as what you could get with savings or money market accounts.

•   More stringent requirements: You’ll typically need to maintain a higher minimum balance in your account in order to avoid monthly maintenance fees or to earn interest. For instance, many banks require anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 or more in your premium checking account. The good news is that the balance requirements may be the total across all your accounts with the same financial institution.

•   Benefits may be tiered: While it varies from bank to bank, you may have to “level up” to an even higher minimum balance to access the best interest rates and other perks.

How Can I Qualify for a Premium Checking Account?

In most cases, all you need to do is to have a minimum amount on deposit in order to open a premium checking account. Some may even require you to open other financial products or allow you to meet the minimum deposit requirements across a number of qualifying accounts.

Some major banks, like Chase and Bank of America, will allow you to meet minimum deposit requirements across different accounts as long as they’re linked.

Additional Features of a Premium Checking Account

You may want to consider whether having that much money in a checking account is a worthwhile move for you. Consider the following points:

•   Is earning interest a priority for you? If you’re after a checking account that earns a higher amount in interest, a premium checking account may be for you. Keep in mind though that if you may not earn as much as you think you will. For instance, if a bank currently offers a 0.05% APY, on a $50,000 balance, you’re only earning $25 per year.

•   How often do you use ATMs? Many premium checking accounts offer more ATM transactions and even waive fees for third-party ATM fees. For those who use ATMs frequently, especially out-of-network ATMs, this perk may not be worth it.

•   Do these perks sync up with your financial goals? Premium checking can be part of a deeper relationship with your bank (often called relationship banking) that offers holistic support for your finances. This includes benefits like discounted rates on other financial products — say, a home loan. If you’re willing to remain with one bank for all their finances, a premium checking account might be a good fit and open other doors for you.

Are Premium Checking Accounts Worth It?

To decide if a premium checking account is right for you, it can be a smart idea to compare them to standard checking accounts. You may be able to get many of the same benefits, such as free checks or equivalent interest rates, without stashing as much cash as premium accounts require.

If all you’re looking for is a checking account without fees, a regular checking account might be a better fit. Getting a high-yield savings account could be a good option if you want to earn a higher interest rate but can’t meet the large minimum balance criteria required of premium checking accounts.

That said, premium checking accounts can be a great fit for people who want to keep all their banking with the same financial institution — this includes investment and loans. If you’re able to maintain a high balance across your qualifying accounts, then it could be well worth it, especially if you’ll use all the perks like free checks and ATM reimbursements. By thinking about your financial goals and how you like to bank, you may decide that premium checking is the right move for you.

SoFi Is Making Banking Better!

While you’re thinking about checking accounts…hey, over here! Open a High Interest Bank Account with SoFi, where you can earn up to 1.25% APY without affordable minimum-deposit requirements. Plus, you don’t have to worry about monthly maintenance fees (there aren’t any) and can take advantage of other benefits.

SoFi: The smart, simple way to bank.

FAQ

Is a premium checking account worth it?

A premium checking account may be worth it depending on whether you can afford to meet the higher than usual minimum balance amount and whether you’ll be able to take advantage of all the perks. If you can, and if you frequently use ATMs and would like those fees waived, it may be a good fit.

What are the benefits of a premium bank account?

Some of the key benefits of a premium bank account is a higher interest rate, waived out-of-network ATM fees, discounted rates on loan products, and overdraft protection. Some may even offer free financial and investing advice.

What does a premium bank account mean?

A premium bank account is a type of account offering extra perks once you meet a minimum balance requirement.


Photo credit: iStock/Charday Penn

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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