American Express Rewards Checking Account 2023 Review
From one of the most trusted card issuers, the American Express Rewards Checking offers its version of a checking account by allowing you to earn back some of what you spend in Membership Rewards. In addition to that benefit, this online checking account has no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees.
There is one caveat to know. You'll need to have an American Express personal credit card to open an account.
If you're already an Amex customer, keep reading our Rewards Checking review to help you decide if it's right for you.
Rewards Checking With No Monthly Fee
Checking account fees can be a real pain. Traditional banks might charge $5, $10 or more each month just to have an account.
Opening an online checking account is one way to steep monthly maintenance fees.
Online banks don't have the same overhead costs as traditional banks. So they can afford to charge fewer fees while offering higher interest rates on deposits.
The American Express Rewards Checking account has no monthly fee. There's also no fee to open the account. You don't need to meet any deposit requirements to get started either.
Only for existing cardmembers
You will need to have an American Express credit card to apply for a Rewards Checking account.
You'll need to have had your account for at least three months. So, you couldn't open a new American Express personal credit card today and apply for a Rewards Checking account tomorrow.
That rule might change in the future. And for now, this checking account offer isn't open to Amex business credit cardholders.
Earning and Redeeming Membership Rewards
Our review wouldn't be complete without explaining how you can earn--and redeem--rewards with an American Express checking account.
Here's how it works:
- You make purchases with your debit card
- For every $2 spent, you earn 1 Membership Rewards point
As you accumulate points, you can redeem them for deposits into your Rewards Checking account. There's no cap on the number of points you can earn.
What if you have an American Express credit card that earns Membership Rewards points?
All the points earned with your card and with your checking account get pooled together in a single rewards "bank". You can then combine points to redeem them for:
- Gift cards
- Statement credits
While there are other checking accounts that earn rewards, the American Express Rewards Checking account is unique since you can pool points with credit card rewards.
Pro tip: You'll typically get the most value for Membership Rewards points when you redeem them for travel.
Can You Earn Interest With American Express Rewards Checking?
Earning rewards is a nice enough perk but the American Express Rewards Checking account also pays interest on balances.
The APY isn't quite as high as what you might get with an online savings account. But it's still well above the national average savings rate.
There's no minimum deposit requirement to earn interest. And the interest isn't capped so the higher your balance, the more you could earn.
Of course, if you want to get a higher APY you could link your Rewards Checking account to an American Express High-Yield Savings account.
Grow Your Savings With No Monthly Fee
Saving with American Express is simple. You can open an account online in minutes and make deposits from a linked checking account.
Similar to the Rewards Checking account, this account has:
- No monthly fees
- No minimum deposit requirement
The APY is on par with what some of the best high-yield savings accounts offer. And it's easy to link savings to checking when you log in through the American Express website or mobile app.
What Other Fees Will You Pay?
Being able to skip a monthly maintenance fee is a good thing, since fees can eat away at your balance.
But are there any other fees to know with American Express Rewards Checking? Here's a closer look.
Other Service Fees - American Express Rewards Checking
|Out of network ATM fee||$0 (ATM operator may impose surcharge)|
|ATM and debit card non-USD transaction fee||2.7% of transaction|
|Returned item fee||$0|
|Unpaid item fee||$0|
|Replacement debit card fee||$0|
|Incoming wire transfer||$0|
As you can see, fees are pretty scarce with American Express Rewards Checking.
One typical fee you don't see that other banks charge is an overdraft fee. That's because American Express doesn't offer overdraft services.
So, you can't link your American Express savings account to checking for overdraft protection. But you won't be charged any overdraft fees.
However, if a transaction goes through that leaves you with a negative balance, American Express expects you to correct it immediately.
You can do that by transferring funds over from your American Express savings account if you have one, or scheduling an ACH transfer from a linked account at a different bank.
How Convenient Is American Express Rewards Checking?
Since this is an online checking account, you won't be able to manage your money at a branch.
However, you do still have access to online and mobile banking. Some of the things you can do with either one include:
- Viewing transaction history
- Transferring funds between accounts
- Paying bills
- Downloading statements
- Making person-to-person payments through Venmo or PayPal
Mobile banking access includes remote check deposit as well.
Mobile check deposit limits are $5,000 per day; $15,000 within any rolling 30-day period.
You'll also get a debit card with your account that you can use to make purchases or withdraw cash at ATMs.
You can use your card fee-free at 37,000+ MoneyPass ATMs. If you use your card at an out-of-network machine, American Express won't charge you any fees.
However, the ATM owner could tack on a fee of its own.
Opening an American Express Rewards Checking Account
As mentioned, you'll need to have an American Express personal credit card to open a Rewards Checking account.
Assuming that you meet that requirement, you can open your account online. You'll need to log in to your American Express account to fill out the application.
When you apply, you'll want to have the account number and routing number for the account that you want to link in order to make your initial deposit.
Again, there's no minimum deposit requirement.
One thing to note is that American Express checking accounts are designed for one person only. So you can't open a joint checking account here.
American Express Rewards Checking vs. Other Checking Account Options
Checking accounts aren't all alike. There can be a big difference between an online checking account and one offered by a traditional bank.
In terms of what sets American Express apart, the main benefits include:
- Earning rewards on purchases
- Earning interest on balances
- No fees
- Online and mobile banking features
With that being said, some people may still prefer to open an account at a brick-and-mortar bank.
When comparing checking accounts, it helps to look at all of the features and benefits before making a decision. Some of the things to consider include:
- Monthly maintenance fees
- Minimum opening deposit requirements
- Minimum balance requirements
- Overdraft fees
- Other fees the bank charges
- ATM and branch locations
- Debit card availability
- Rewards program if offered
- Interest rate on balances if offered
- Customer support
- Online and mobile banking access
- Online tools and features
It's also important to look beyond checking accounts to see what else the bank might offer.
For example, you might want to open a savings account or CD account in the same place you keep your checking account. In that case, you'd want to know upfront what kind of accounts the bank offers.
Remember to compare the interest rates, fees and minimum deposit requirements for any savings options you're weighing.
Final Verdict: Should You Open an American Express Rewards Checking Account?
You might consider opening an American Express Rewards Checking account if you have an American Express credit card or you're thinking of getting one.
This account could be a good fit for people who:
- Want to be able to earn back some of what they spend in rewards
- Would like to earn interest on checking account balances
- Are interested in avoiding monthly maintenance fees and other banking fees
You may need to look elsewhere for a checking account if you need branch banking access. And of course, you wouldn't be able to open this account just yet if you don't have an American Express credit card.
Compared to other online checking accounts, American Express Rewards Checking definitely stands out. And it easily trumps checking accounts offered at brick-and-mortar banks or credit unions.
The easiest way to decide if it's right for you is to consider your spending habits and personal preferences for online vs. in-person banking.
Comparing American Express Rewards Checking to similar online checking accounts or checking accounts from traditional banks can help you narrow down which one is right for you.