Average Checking Account Interest Rates 2021

Average Checking Account Interest Rates 2021

Interest-bearing checking rates average around 0.04% APY for traditional brick-and-mortar banks, and 0.31% APY for online-only banks.

As a general rule of thumb, interest-bearing checking accounts should be looked at in two groups: traditional brick-and-mortar banks and online-only banks, whose lower operating costs often allow them to provide better rates on checking accounts. That being said, the specific checking account rate you'll get at each bank can change depending on several factors, such as minimum balance requirements, account type and monthly activity.

Average checking account rates at brick-and-mortar banks

Since 2009, the FDIC has published the weekly average for interest rates for different types of deposit accounts. The average for interest checking accounts at the $2,500 balance level has dropped fairly consistently since data collection began — with the exception of the years 2018 and 2019, when rates were climbing.

The graph below includes interest checking options at all banks receiving deposit insurance coverage from the FDIC, a group that includes nearly every bank in the U.S.

National rate on non-jumbo deposits

For a more useful view of checking account interest rates, we looked at standard banks and online banks in separate groups, then took the APY of each bank's most affordable interest checking account. The banks featured below include the top 10 biggest brick-and-mortar banks as determined by assets under management. We've also included the minimum balance required to earn the rates and avoid maintenance fees, which can easily wipe out interest earned. Note that the APYs featured below may vary based on your location.

Interest Rates for Checking Accounts at the Biggest U.S. Banks
BankAccount NameChecking APY*Minimum balance to waive monthly fee and/or earn APY
Chase BankChase Total Checking0.01%$1,500
Bank of AmericaAdvantage Plus0.01%$1,500
Wells Fargo BankEveryday Checking0.01%$500
CitibankInterest Checking for the Citibank Account0.03%$10,000
US BankEasy Checking0.01%$1,500
BB&TElite Gold0.01%$25,000
PNC BankVirtual Wallet With Performance Spend0.01%$2,000
TD BankBeyond Checking0.01%-0.03%$2,500
Capital One360 Checking0.10%$0
HSBCAdvance Checking0.01%$0 with qualifying direct deposits

*The order in which these banks appear are from biggest to smallest, as measured by assets under management. Rates are accurate as of 11/13/2020

As you can see from the table above, for the most part, traditional banks offer very low interest rates regardless of your checking account balance. Of these, the strongest performer is easily Capital One.

A number of other banks grant small rate increases if you open a premium account, but the gain is rarely worth the higher minimums you will need to meet in order to avoid maintenance fees. For example, TD Bank’s Beyond Checking account has a low rate of 0.01% APY on balances between $0.01 and $99,999.99, yet that rate climbs to 0.02% for balances between $10,000 and $49,999.99 and yet again for balances of $50,000 and higher. To waive the $25 monthly maintenance fee, though, you will have to maintain a minimum daily balance of at least $2,500.

Average online checking interest rates

Online banks don't have any physical locations for you to visit, but they provide FDIC-insured checking account services that you can access online or with your smartphone. They tend to spend far less in operating costs than standard banks, which in turn allows them to provide better interest rates to consumers and do away with a lot of the usual account fees.

The banks featured below include the top 10 biggest online-only banks, as determined by assets under management. We've also included the minimum balance required to earn the rates and to avoid any maintenance fees, which can easily wipe out your monthly interest earnings. Note that the APYs for the online checking accounts featured below may be different depending on your location.

Interest Rates for Checking Accounts at the Biggest Online Banks
BankChecking APY*Minimum balance to waive monthly fee and/or earn APY
Charles Schwab Bank0.03%None
Ally Bank0.10%None
Discover BankNone, 1% cash backNone
USAA Bank0.01%$1,000
CIT Bank0.10%None
TIAA Bank0.12%None
Axos BankUp to 1.25%$1,000
First Internet Bank0.40%$500
myeBanc0.50%None

*The order in which these banks appear are from biggest to smallest, as measured by assets under management. Rates are accurate as of 11/13/2020

Online rates tend to vary more widely than rates at brick-and-mortar banks, so it shouldn't come as a surprise if you find additional online banks with significantly different APYs. It's also important to consider the additional activity requirements for earning the full APY on certain checking accounts.

Common requirements include meeting a monthly direct deposit minimum and using your debit card for a certain number of transactions. Failing to meet these requirements can drastically lower your interest rate for the month, so it's important to consider whether a given account will fit into your usual habits. For example, with the Axos Rewards Checking account, you will need to make $1,000 in direct deposits and 15 debit transactions of at least $3 each every month in order to earn the 1.25% APY.

How to shop for checking account rates

Looking at APY is one of the most useful ways to compare different checking account rates. Most banks will list both the interest rate and the annual percentage yield (APY) for their accounts, but only APY offers an apples-to-apples comparison of offers at competing banks.

This is because APY accounts for the effect of compounding interest, which doesn't work the same way at every institution. Many online banks, for example, compound your balance daily and pay out that interest monthly, while other banks compound on a monthly or quarterly basis. APY is a convenient yardstick for measuring accounts that compound at different intervals.

In general, shopping for checking account rates online will show you that the highest rates almost always belong to online-only banks. However, this doesn't always mean that online banks are automatically the best choice for you. Earning interest on your checking balance is definitely an advantage, but it makes little sense to get an account that doesn't provide easy access to your money in the ways that you prefer. Online accounts that earn more also tend to offer less in-person service, so think carefully before you decide to switch accounts based on a higher APY.