New American Express Checking Account Earns Interest & Membership Rewards Points New American Express Checking Account Earns Interest & Membership Rewards Points

New American Express Checking Account Earns Interest & Membership Rewards Points

Bonus Points

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On February 8, 2022, American Express just launched a new checking account option. In addition to offering competitive interest rates, you'll also earn Membership Rewards points on debit purchases. The new account is open to those with US-issued Amex consumer credit cards. Here's a look at the details of this new offering and the positives and negatives to this account.

Details of New American Express Checking Account

Image of new debit card for American Express checking account
Image courtesy of

In a press release, American Express says it is filling a void — which is that it doesn't offer consumer checking account services. Amex already offers savings accounts, as well as small business checking (Kabbage), so this is definitely a new offering. If interested, you can apply at this link.

Fees / Minimums

There are no fees on the account. Additionally, there are no minimum balance requirements.

Interest Rate

The new American Express digital checking account will earn interest at 0.50%. This is a competitive rate in the market right now, where many banks are offering less.

While this is a great rate in comparison, remember that 0.50% interest on $1,000 is just $5 per year. What you're earning is higher than what you may find with other banks, but it's still not a lot. However, earning interest on a checking account with no fees and no minimum balances is excellent — especially on an account where you can earn rewards. More on that below.

Use of ATMs

Your ATM/debit card will include free withdrawals at Moneypass ATMs. You can find locations for these here. There are over 37,000 Moneypass ATM locations in the U.S.

Earn Membership Rewards on Debit Purchases

Using your debit card for purchases will earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $2 spent. Note that these are the same Membership Rewards we are accustomed to with credit cards. The key difference here is that how you use the rewards is a bit different.

First, if you do not have any other card that earns Membership Rewards, then you will not be able to transfer your Membership Rewards points to travel partners.

This is similar to the way no-fee cards with Chase work: you can't transfer the Ultimate Rewards to travel partners without a premium card of some type to unlock this feature. With American Express, the debit card will have this same “locked” points feature, for lack of a better term.

Second, if you can't transfer your points, your only option will be cashing them out into your checking account. The cash-out rate will be 0.8¢ per point. That's far below the average AwardWallet user redemption rate of Membership Rewards, which is around 2.41¢.

But…It's A Debit Card That Earns Points

Debit cards that earn points are not common. Thus, even though the points earning is not great (just 1 point per $2 spent) and the redemption rate is low (0.8¢) without another card to unlock the points, it can't be understated that a debit card which earns points is fantastic.

First, some businesses may not accept credit cards (or even might accept cards but not American Express credit cards). Second, there are businesses which tack on extra fees when using a credit card. Think of paying your taxes online or even gas stations that charge a higher rate for gas when paying by credit. In this way, you could earn rewards without paying these extra fees.

Make sure to do the important “do the rewards I earn justify the fees?” math before deciding which card to use on any purchase with fees.

And It's a Debit Card with Perks

Another unique feature of this new checking account option is that the American Express debit card will offer purchase protection for accidental damage and theft on items purchased with the card. Amazingly, the benefit is automatic and does not require enrollment in advance. Not needing to enroll is uncommon for Amex products.

The purchase protection is valid for 90 days from the purchase date of covered items. This benefit is limited to a maximum of $1,000 per occurrence / up to $50,000 per account per calendar year.

Downsides of the New American Express Checking Account

Lack of Incentives

While the above are all positives, there is a glaring negative. If you have high account balances or use your debit card often, many banks will reward you for this.

For example, Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program offers higher earning rates on rewards if you have a lot of money in investments, checking & savings with them. With this new American Express checking account, everyone earns the same rewards at the same rate — no matter how much or how often you use the account and its debit card.

Additionally, there are no extra incentives for those who hold premium rewards cards with American Express. The silver lining to this is that holding any type of Membership Rewards-earning credit card card will unlock your points for transferring to hotel/airline programs, but there are no other perks aside from this.

International ATM Fees

For those of us who enjoy international travel, this one will hurt. If you pay withdrawal fees at an international ATM, these will not be refunded. Use of Moneypass ATMs in the U.S. is free, but any use of other ATMs — in the U.S. or worldwide — will not be eligible for a refund on the withdrawal fee.

Image of woman holding an American Express Platinum Card and a mobile phone

Who is Eligible?

If you're interested in this new checking account option, you can apply online with American Express at this link. You are eligible to apply if you have a consumer credit card (meaning personal, not small business or corporate) issued by Amex in the U.S.

Note that this card can be a co-branded card that earns Hilton points or Delta SkyMiles, for example. It doesn't have to be a Membership Rewards-earning card.

Our Take

This is a very interesting product with some real strengths. The new American Express checking account doesn't have fees or minimums, and you can earn Membership Rewards points and interest in ways you might not have had previously.

However, there are some negatives, such as the lack of incentives and the overseas ATM fees.

We don't believe the debit card here should replace your overall points & miles strategy, as you're likely to earn better points and are likely to have more / better perks available on consumer credit cards. However, the best use of the debit card on this checking account is likely in places where you would pay fees for using a credit card — or simply can't use a credit card. The ability to earn Amex MR points here might be the selling point for many people looking to earn more points in ways they couldn't previously.

What do you think? If you're eligible for an account, do you plan to apply?

4.5 / 5 - (6 votes)
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  • I am tempted. Ongoing Membership Rewards for * medical insurance premiums, * house, * tax payments.

    • Update: The American Express website says
      * Tax payment processors take debit cards for a flat fee less than $3 .
      * Plastiq lower fee for debit card transactions does NOT apply to American Express, only to Visa/Mastercard/Discover.
      Beyond that, all the places (physical or online) I buy at, or have considered buying at, that do NOT accept credit cards for payment accept cash, check, wire transfer, ACH, bitcoin and/or other cryptocurrency. No place I have come across that accepts debit cards does not also accept credit cards. Some places offer lower pricing to not use credit card or debit cards (or require paying a fee to use credit or debit), but none of those offered the lower pricing (or waived the transaction fee) on debit card transactions.
      So, since I already pay small flat feesI to use credit cards for utility payments, I plan to open a new Amex checking account to get rewards on my taxes.

    • UPDATE – Just discovered, you can NOT use the American Express Debit Card to pay IRS taxes to earn points with only a $2 – $3 fixed fee.

      I just tried to pay my estimated income taxes with my new American Express Debit Card. The first 2 IRS authorized payment providers linked from – ACI Payments and Pay1040 both calculated the fee at the credit card rate. The third payment provider PayUSAtax allowed me to select Debit Card up front – but when I entered the card number got a error message saying that the number was not valid. So I went back and selected credit card – and this time did not get an error message.

      So, if I were to go this route to pay my taxes, would make more sense to use Capital One Venture X or American Express Blue for Business and get 2X points, which with the lowest IRS payment provider – Pay1040 – at 1.87% would cost less than a penny per point (about 9/10 of a cent in fact)

  • No, I do plan on applying for this account. The rewards are just too low. My life is complicated enough to add another checking account, nope!

    • I do not plan to apply. Does AwardWallet know that there is captcha issue with your site?

      • Could you elaborate on this? If you face any issues on AwardWallet, please contact our support team:

      • When you get the CAPTCHA error, just hit your browser back button, copy the post you typed, and then press “Post comment” again. If you get the CAPTCHA error again, repeat the above, this time pasting your comment. If you still get the CAPTCHA error, then reload this blog post, start your comment, but paste in your comment. The comment should post just fine at that point (with the moderation message, of course). I think the CAPTCHA problem happens if you type your comment too slowly, as I almost always have to follow the above procedure to work around the CAPTCHA error message when commenting here.

  • This really caught my eye and I do really want to earn more MR points but everything else you mentioned just doesn’t make sense for me to move from my credit union to Amex. This tempting though.

  • How does this card compare to Point, Enzo, or Bilt which are also offering points for debit purchases?

    • Point earns 5% cash back on subscription services, 3% on delivery & rideshare, and 1% on everything else. The card has a $9.99 monthly fee. There are also rotating bonus earnings with various merchants. It’s cash back only. Enzo offers 10% back on Uber, 5% on Doordash, 2% on rent, and 1.25% on everything else. It offers 0.50% APY just like Amex. There are no fees. The card is “coming soon”. For Bilt, you can see our guide here –