There’s recently been a tremendous amount of positive buzz and news about earning cash-back rewards with PerkStreet Financial! You most commonly hear of credit card reward programs, but I’ve found PerkStreet to be different. Perkstreet offers rewards based on spending from your checking account. Why is that a good thing? This program promotes spending within your means because the money is coming from your checking account. You’re not spending ahead with credit!
My wife and I made the switch from Bank of America to Perkstreet Financial a year ago for our primary checking needs. We have been really pleased with the switch. Overall, we haven’t lost a thing in terms of convenience and love the fact that we earn approximately $50 every few months in cash-back rewards just be spending out of our checking account with budgeted money! We’ve used our awards to help pay for groceries, kids clothing, entertainment and more. We’re so pleased to have this extra ‘bonus money’ to help cover our expenses, especially when we find we’re short on money some months. In many ways it provides a buffer for us.
How Does Perkstreet Work?
PerkStreet Financial is an FDIC insured checking account that provides perks for all non-pin debit purchases. You can earn 2% when your balance is $5000 or above, or earn 1% when your account balance is less than $5,000. 2% is also available for the first 3 months after the account has been opened. There is no cap on the amount of rewards you can earn and no annual fee. There isn’t a monthly fee as long as you use your account. Perkstreet provides online account management features such as bill pay, bank transfers and account balance. Finally, your account is FDIC insured up to $250,000 just like it is with all major banks.
What perks are available with a PerkStreet account?
If you’re like me, I was curious to find out some of the perks you can get from spending with your debit card. Here’s the perks Perkstreet offers:
- Cash back rewards: You can choose from gift cards from Target, MasterCard (this is what we use), Best Buy, Amazon, Gap, Ticketmaster and more.
- Music: You can receive credits with iTunes and other vendors.
- Coffee: You can also redeem your perks for coffee at Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Peet’s Coffee and Bruegger’s Bagels.
Here’s some more information from the PerkStreet website around the cash back specific rewards and how they work:
- Get 2% cash back on all non-PIN purchases when your Current Account Balance at the start of the day is $5,000 or more and for the first 3 months your account is open.
- Get 1% cash back when your Current Account Balance at the start of the day is less than $5,000, which is still phenomenal compared to other banks.
- Plus, get up to 5% cash back in popular categories no matter what your balance is. We will announce the retailers and associated time periods for earning up to 5% cash back at those retailers via Twitter, our Facebook page or other company communications.
If you think about it, 1% cash back on using your debit card for bills and groceries every month could be significant. If your family spends $600 on groceries you’ll be earning $6 back. That might not seem like a lot but what if your family spends $5000 across a few months? That earns you $50 which could pay for a lot of groceries!
How do perks work?
- You can switch between perks whenever you want with no penalties
- There are no limits on what you can earn.
- You redeem your perks online.
So, how is PerkStreet able to offer you so many perks? Here’s the deal:
PerkStreet doesn’t have branches as do most major banks. They use the money they save and give it back to their customers. I’ve seen similar models with the online savings accounts. Instead of offering perks, they offer the higher interest rates on your savings. Personally, I think this is brilliant business, customer focused and a great way to take advantage of modern technology!
Is your money safe?
This was the first question my wife asked me when I started telling her about PerkStreet. Yes, there was some initial skepticism. That’s a fair question and something that was honestly on my mind too. We won’t bank with anyone who isn’t FDIC insured and PerkStreet has that covered. Again, they are FDIC insured up to the standard $250,000.
As an aside, we recently experienced unauthorized use of my wife’s check card. Bank of America immediately stepped in and protected us. So, I also wanted to make sure we wouldn’t have liability for purchases if someone were to steal our check card with PerkStreet. Here’s their policy straight from the website:
PerkStreet Financial MasterCard Debit Cards are protected by The MasterCard Zero Liability policy. This policy ensures that you won’t be held responsible for any unauthorized transactions. This policy covers U.S.-issued cards only and does not apply to ATM transactions, PIN transactions not processed by MasterCard, or certain commercial card transactions. Cardholder must notify issuer promptly of any unauthorized use.
How do you bank with PerkStreet?
Another important question is related to banking. Is a company such as PerkStreet focused on online banking features, user friendliness, etc., or just the perks? Well, it appears to be both…
Banking with PerkStreet works basically the same as it does with your regular checking account. Here are a few features they offer through online account management:
- Online bill pay
- Ability to transfer money electronically
- Set up automatic deposits from your employer
- Find over 42,000 nation-wide ATMs to choose from
- Set up mobile alerts
Are there any things to watch out for in the fine print?
There are only a few things I found that really aren’t that big of a deal to me. First, there is a monthly inactivity fee of $4.50. So, if you don’t have at least one transaction or deposit you’ll be charged. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re planning to use PerkStreet as your primary checking account. Also, as with any bank, you have to opt out of overdraft protection. It is automatic and is $25 per item.
How do we deposit and withdraw money?
I was a little bit concerned with moving to an online checking account because I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to withdraw money or deposit checks or cash from time to time. This has not been a problem for us at all! My paycheck is automatically deposited from my employer to my account each month. I send other checks in the mail using a Perkstreet deposit slip (printed from their website) and postage paid envelopes they provide. From time to time I have cash I need to deposit. Perkstreet pays for a service called MoneyGram express which you can use at any Wal-Mart. Basically, depositing cash is just like making a trip to the bank (except I go to Wal-Mart). Finally, to withdraw money we have located free ATMs in our area. We visit those same ATMs to get to our money and locate other ATMs via the Perkstreet website when away from our house. In summary, depositing and withdrawing money is easy with Perkstreet and hasn’t caused us any problems.
How Do You Switch to PerkStreet?
I know switching checking accounts can be a hassle so I was a little bit hesitant to make the move. But it wasn’t that difficult by following some simple steps and a plan. I made a list of the below steps and followed them exactly. I checked each one off when complete and was up and running in short order. I’ve provided them for you below and I recommend following them when you start to make the switch over to Perkstreet.
- Apply for a Perkstreet account, get approved and receive your debit card(s) in the mail. Applying is easy. It took me 5 minutes to apply for a new account online.
- Make a list of all your scheduled ACH transactions and bills you pay with your existing financial institution’s online bill pay.
- Access your new Perkstreet account online and set up online bill pay as you have it with your current financial institution.
- Set up a link with your savings account so you can transfer money to or from Perkstreet.
- If your paychecks are automatically deposited into your existing checking account, let them deposit for the current month and then fill out appropriate forms with your employer to start depositing to Perkstreet next month.
- Change all your ACH withdrawals by either contacting the company or doing so online. Review your list you made in step 2 and check them off when completed. Note: it’s important to make the change immediately after your ACH transactions clear from your existing checking account.
- Search for ATMs. Use the ATM locator at Perkstreet.com to find an ATM nearest to you. I recommend identifying 2 or 3 close to your home so you can get quick access to your cash if needed.
- Wait a month and close your previous checking account.
- Earn cash back rewards! Start using your new Perkstreet debit card each time you make a purchase (choose the credit option) and start earning your rewards.
Overall, we are extremely happy with Perkstreet and using it for our primary checking account needs. I support Perkstreet because I like how they provide incentive to use a debit card to earn cash back rewards instead of a credit card which can cause you to over spend.
What do you think about Perkstreet? If you have, please share your experience with us in the comments. I’d like to hear about the rewards you’ve received, how you made the switch to Perkstreet and any other feedback.