UPDATE 08-12-13: It saddens me to say that Perkstreet has closed it’s doors. They truly were a great bank with a great vision to help put some of the profits that all the other banks take back into the pockets of their customers. I have yet to find a bank that comes even close to the cash-back rewards that Perkstreet offers, but I will start investigating a bit more and see what the next best thing is now that they are closed. Stay tuned, but in the meantime here are some interest bearing checking accounts to check out:
I heard about the PerkStreet Financial Cash-Back debit card about a year and a half ago and it seemed like a pretty good deal when they were offering 1% cash back on all purchases. But when I found out that they were offering 2% cash back for new customers for the first 3 months, I decided to give it a shot.
Now that I have been banking with them for 1.5 years I figured I would let you know how it has worked out for me.
Since opening my account in May of 2010 I have earned $1169 cash back.
This breaks down to an average of $58/month for doing nothing different than I was doing before I switched from my old bank. They have all the same protection and features of my old bank, the only difference is I get a ton of money back just for using them.
Everyone’s situation is different, so I know not everyone will be able use a bank like Perkstreet, but I would recommend looking at your current banking situation and budget and considering if opening an account would be worth it for you.
Below is the original article I wrote in June of 2010:
The PerkStreet Deal
Basically this is a rewards debit-card (note: debit card, not credit card) that really does have some great perks. You are lucky to find a credit card that gives you 2% cash back on your purchases, much less a debit card.
In order to get the 2% beyond the 3 month introductory period, you just need to maintain an account balance of $5000. We did this by moving our Emergency fund over to the account. But even if you have a $10 balance in your account you will still earn 1% on all purchases. So if you use the card as your primary debit card, you can imagine how the rewards could add up.
Once you are ready to cash out your rewards, you just go to the PerkStreet site and press a button and viola, your $50 or $100 Visa Gift Card will be on the way.
Here are a few of the answers to the questions I had…
- They do not have physical branches
- Similar to Capital One 360, to make a deposit you have to transfer the $ from another account or set up direct deposit.
- They do offer checkbooks (and the first one is free)
- They have live phone service 24/7
- Free online banking and bill pay
- According to their website they have the “Nation’s largest surcharge-free ATM network”
- No minimum balance requirement
- FDIC insured up to $250,000
What’s the catch?
I am naturally skeptical when it comes to good deals, I am always looking for the catch in the fine print – and here it is… There is a monthly inactivity fee of $4.50 if you don’t use your debit card or write a check that month.
While I wish they didn’t have the inactivity fee, I still opened an account because I am going to make it my primary debit card. I use my debit card almost daily, so as long as I am using this account – I won’t ever being charged a fee.
How do they offer 2% cash back rewards?
According to their website, “U.S. banks spend over $80 billion a year to build and keep their branches open. Our customers prefer to bank online, so we invest our money in what really matters.” This makes sense to me. ING functions using a similar business model – they save millions by doing away with branches and pass some of the savings on to the customers.
Deciding if it is worth it
Before signing up Linda and I had a quick discussion about whether or not it would be worth it for us to sign up. I am not a guy who drives 10 miles out of my way to save 3 cents on gas, and so I didn’t want to waste my time creating this account if it really weren’t going to be worth our time.
Looking at our budget I calculated that during the first 3 months we would likely earn $55-$60 each month if we kept a $5000 buffer in our account.
After thinking about it I realized that while it would take a little time setting up the account, once it was set up, running our personal budget and money management would be no different – except that the debit card would have a different logo. So after chatting about it for a few minutes we realized that for us it would definitely be worth trying it out.
We would likely earn $500-$600 this year in cash back rewards and really don’t have to do anything different.
If things end up being different than I am expecting I will be sure to update this article.
Setting up the account
As it says on the website, it only takes about 5 minutes to open the account. I filled in all the info and then they said they would get back to me within 2 business days and the debit cards and checks would be in the mail.
(A few days later…) I logged into my new PerkStreet Account today and my deposit had been made. I haven’t received my debit card or other paperwork in the mail yet, but it looks like everything is good to go. The website is pretty simple, but seems like it will do everything that I will need it for – transferring money and bill pay.
(A couple days later…) I just received my debit cards and activated them. Now we are good to go!
If you are interested and want to find out more, you can watch the video below or visit their website here.
Have you tried out the PerkStreet CashBack debit card or are you planning on it in the future?