TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking Account Review

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While the TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking Account is open to everyone, it targets a wealthier clientele than most. Its tiered APY structure rewards those with the largest balances, and even the number of ATM fee reimbursements you qualify for is tied to your balance. There are other perks that anyone can enjoy, including rare debit card protections and a high introductory APY, but those with lower balances may be disappointed at how much their growth slows once the promotional APY ends.

Top perks

Earn 1.01% APY for your first year: The TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking Account offers an impressive 1.01% APY on your balance for your first year. This is higher than most checking accounts and only beat by some of the best savings accounts, so it's a good fit for those looking for a checking account that's more than just a home for their money. Although the APY drops after the first year, it still remains above the industry average.

Guaranteed competitive APYs: TIAA's Yield Pledge® promise guarantees that the account’s APYs will always be within the top 5% of all competitive checking accounts offered by the 10 largest banks in 10 large U.S. banking markets. So while TIAA’s rates may change over time, you can always be sure that you're getting a high APY.

ATM fee reimbursement: TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking Account holders may use Allpoint and MoneyPass® ATMs without incurring a fee, but don't worry if you don't live near one of these. People with minimum balances under $5,000 receive up to $15 in reimbursements per month, while those with balances of $5,000 or more are eligible for unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.

Debit card includes purchase protections: Your TIAA Bank debit card includes some rare purchase protections usually reserved for credit cards. These include:

  • Extended warranty protection: When you use your TIAA Bank debit card on an eligible purchase that carries a U.S. manufacturer’s warranty, the bank may extend your protection. Warranties of three years or less may be extended by up to one year, and warranties of one to six months could be doubled.
  • Price protection: If you purchase an item with your TIAA debit card and the price drops within the next 60 days, TIAA’s price protection program can pay you the difference between the price you paid and the new advertised price, up to $250.
  • Return protection: Return protection reimburses you for the cost of an item even if the merchant refuses to take it back. Only purchases made with your debit card within the last 90 days qualify for return protection.

What could be improved

APY drops after the first year: The high APY meant to entice new customers to the TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking Account is a limited-time offer that expires after your first year. Following that, you'll receive only 0.25% to 0.55% APY, depending on your account balance. Most people will fall within the 0.25% range because it takes a minimum balance of $10,000 to move up to the next tier (0.30%), and it takes a whopping $100,000 minimum balance to qualify for the 0.55% APY. A 0.25% APY is still far better than what most checking accounts offer, but it's a bit of a letdown after earning such a high rate for that first year.

Fees

TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking Account Monthly Maintenance ATM Withdrawal Overdraft Stop Payment Insufficient Funds
Fees $0 $0 $0 for transfers from linked TIAA Bank savings account $25 per item $30 per item

How to access your money

Here's a closer look at your options for depositing and withdrawing money from your TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking Account:

Deposit options

Use any of the following methods to fund your TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking Account:

  • ACH transfer
  • Wire transfer
  • Mailed check
  • Mobile-deposited check
  • Visit a TIAA Bank branch

TIAA Bank currently has more than 100 branch locations in the United States. You can use the Locator tool on the company's website to find the one nearest you if you prefer to fund your account this way.

Withdrawal options

You can choose from any of these methods to withdraw money from your TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking Account:

  • ACH transfer
  • Wire transfer
  • Request a mailed check
  • ATM withdrawal
  • Point-of-sale withdrawal
  • Visit a TIAA Bank branch

While you can technically use any ATM without paying a fee thanks to TIAA Bank's ATM fee reimbursements, you can skip those extra hoops by using one of its surcharge-free ATMs. The Locator tool on TIAA's website and its mobile app can help you find the one nearest you.

Online checking account comparison

The Simple Protected Goals Account is worth considering if you want a competitive, high-yield checking account that doesn't lower your APY after the first year. The account also offers some unique budgeting tools to help you better manage your money and cut back on unnecessary spending to help you reach your financial goals more quickly.

The Discover® Cashback Debit Account is a better choice for those who don't keep a lot of money in their checking account. It doesn't offer any interest, but you can earn cash back on your debit card purchases just like you can with a cash back credit card. This could prove more lucrative than an interest-bearing checking account for frequent debit card users. Discover also doesn't have any monthly fees or minimum balance or activity requirements to worry about.

Rates as of Jan. 16, 2020
Offer
TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking
 
Member, FDIC
Simple
 
Member, FDIC
Discover Cash Back Debit
 
Member, FDIC
Rating
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
APY

APY: 1.01% (intro rate)

APY: Up to 2.15%

APY: 0%

Best For

Best For: High intro APY and ATM fee reimbursement

Best For: Budgeting tools

Best For: Cash back on $3,000 of spend monthly

Min. to earn APY

Min. to earn APY:

Min. to earn APY:

Min. to earn APY:

Next Steps

This checking account is right for you if:

The TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Checking Account is best for those who maintain a high checking account balance and want the VIP treatment. If you aren't keeping a high balance, there are other top checking accounts to consider. Those with $10,000 or more in their checking accounts will receive the most benefits, including higher APYs after the end of the first year and unlimited ATM fee reimbursements. But anyone can enjoy the account's rare protections on debit card purchases and guaranteed competitive rates.

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