Qualifying for the Rate
First and foremost, you have to make sure you will meet the account qualifications to earn the interest rate. Otherwise, you would have missed out on a lucrative interest-earning opportunity.
For direct deposit, you can route your monthly pay or government benefits to the account. But, if you don’t have direct deposit or receive benefits, there is a little trick that may work for you. Some banks consider incoming external transfers to be direct deposit. Examples include fund transfers from another bank and other money services such as PayPal.
To see if this trick works for your bank, set up an account alert to tell you when a direct deposit has been received. Then, perform the transfer to see if the alert is triggered. If it works, you can schedule an automatic monthly transfer to meet the direct deposit requirement!
Preferably, this is a small transfer so that you don’t unnecessarily exceed the $10,000 limit, or whatever the limit may be on your rewards checking account.
The debit-card-transaction requirement will be the most troublesome. The best way to fulfill this requirement is to make multiple, small purchases at the beginning of every statement cycle.
Ideally, you should buy items that you would typically buy anyway. You don’t want to end up spending more money than you need to earn interest.
For example, on a $10,000 account balance with a 3.00% APY, you’ll earn $25 in interest per month ($300 per year). If you’re spending more than $25 on unessential purchases, you’re not getting any value out of the extremely high rate.
What you should not be doing is making large purchases because it will drastically reduce account balance, which will also reduce the amount of interest earned on the account. In fact, you should not use the debit card or the checking account to pay for anything else after making the small purchases to qualify for the rate. (If possible, it would be smarter to use a rewards credit card for major purchases.)