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How Perkstreet Checking Stacks Up

I recently saw a Perkstreet ad that caught my attention, so I decided to look into it a little more.  I wanted to compare it to companies I work with now.  At first I thought it was too good to be true since it mentioned giving 2% cash back.  Then I realized it had some drawbacks too like the fact that it only gives any cash back for debit card purchases.  Based on what I could find at Perkstreet.com [3], here is how they stack up against the three companies I have experience with – ING Direct, Smarty Pig, and Chase.

Perkstreet Checking

With Perkstreet checking, you earn 2% with all non-pin debit card [4] purchases for 3 months or as long as you keep a $5,000 balance, 1% after that, and 5% on certain categories at certain times.  You can redeem your cash back earnings for gift cards it seems.  Their checking is also free – no monthly fees, free bill pay, 37,000 nationwide ATM’s, free online banking, etc.  You can deposit money using direct deposit, online transfers, and they even accept mailed checks and cash you send via Moneygram.

ING Checking

With ING checking, you do not earn cash back rewards, but you do get a tiny bit of interest on your money.  Right now, that interest rate is 0.25% for balances less than $50,000, 1.1% over $50,000, and 1.15% over $100,000.  Their checking is also completely free – no fees, free bill pay, 35,000 nationwide ATM’s,  free online banking, etc.  You can only deposit money via direct deposit and online transfers though.

Smarty Pig

With Smarty Pig, you can only save for set goals, so there are no checking accounts.  But you do get 1.1% interest, can redeem that for straight cash or get an additional 14% for certain gift cards, and can use their Smarty Pig Rewards Mastercard to get 10% cash back at more than 9,000 locations once you load the card with cash from your goal accounts.  They also do not have monthly fees, but you cannot bank through their site either.  You can deposit your money via online transfers.

Chase Checking

I was a Washington Mutual customer that was handed to Chase, and here is what I get through Chase Total Checking.  There is no cash back or interest.  Their checking is free if you have a direct deposit of $500 or more or a running average of $1500 or more in the account.  They have more than 16,000 ATM’s.  You can deposit money using direct deposit, online transfers, checks, or cash.

My Personal Take

Personally, Perkstreet sounds fine, but I do not use debit cards [5].  I use rewards credit cards since I am one of those people who spend more with a debit card or cash.  I like the fact that credit card purchases are there to stare me in the face all month before I pay the balances in full.  Therefore, I would not get the benefits of Perkstreet’s debit card cash back.  ING will give me interest while Perkstreet and Chase will not.  Smarty Pig is too restrictive to be useful to us.  In short, ING is our best bet right now.  If you are a debit card user though, Perkstreet may be a great idea for you!

What checking account do you use?  Do you get rewards or any interest?  Can you suggest any other great options?