About Ken Tumin

Ken Tumin founded the Bank Deals Blog in 2005 and has been passionately covering the best deposit deals ever since. He is frequently referenced by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications as a top expert, but he is first and foremost a fellow deal seeker and member of the wonderful community of savers that frequents DepositAccounts.

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PerkStreet Financial

PerkStreet Financial's 2% Cash-Back Debit Card Promotion - Available Nationwide


PerkStreet Financial has a new promotion for its online checking account. New customers get 6 months of 2% cash back on their non-PIN debit card purchases. Here's an overview of the requirements:

  • Open an account online with at least $25
  • The 6 month period will begin once your account has been opened
  • Must be non-PIN debit card purchases (credit or signature option)
  • After the 6 month period, you'll earn 1% cash back on all non-PIN debit card purchases
  • If you choose to receive free music or coffee instead of cash back, you'll still earn double for your first 6 months
  • Offer expires April 30th, 2010 (extended to June 6, 2010)
  • Excludes existing customers, previous customers who had accounts in last 12 months and new customers who have a household member with a Perkstreet account

PerkStreet had offered a $50 sign-up bonus last year (and $100 for a little while). You'll have to make at least $5K in purchases in 6 months for this new offer to be sweeter than the $50 bonus from last year.

Some other details about this online checking account include:

  • $4.50 monthly fee can be avoided by using the account (debit card usage, writing a check that clears the account, using Online Bill Pay, initiating a withdrawal or making a deposit to the account)
  • No interest
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • First book of checks is free
  • No fees for ATMs within the STARsf network ($2 fee for other ATMs plus any fee the ATM owners may charge)
  • ACH bank-to-bank transfer service
  • Free deposits at 3,400 UPS and Mailboxes Etc locations

According to the Perkstreet Financial's website, banking services are provided by The Bancorp Bank which is a FDIC member. The Bancorp Bank has a been a FDIC member since 2000 (FDIC Certificate # 35444).

Why choose PerkStreet over a reward checking account?

Reward checking accounts reward debit card use with high interest rates. PerkStreet rewards debit card use with cash back, similar to credit card reward programs. If your average balance is only $3K, a 4.00% yield will only give you about $120 of interest during the year. With 1% cash back, you'll earn more if you make at least $12K in purchases during the year (excluding the effect of taxes).

For those who prefer credit cards, it's hard to compete with credit cards from PenFed, Charles Schwab and Fidelity. For those who prefer debit cards, PerkStreet's cash back debit card is pretty unique.

Why reward for debit card use?

As I mentioned in January Visa and banks profit from non-PIN debit card use from interchange fees charged on merchants. You can say that this cost just gets passed to the consumer. At least with these reward programs, we can get some of that back.

Related Pages: checking account

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Q (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #1
They also changed the rules for the $50 bonus.  You now have to use their card at least 25 times to get the bonus (you used to have to do nothing).
Angbjs (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #2
snipeman   |     |   Comment #3
Why not use the Schwab VISA with 2% back all the time?
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #6
There are several problems with this bank, so I would warn potential customers to be aware of the fine print. Although PerkStreet's website has the appearance of being clear about their policies, I found that not to be the case. These "fine print" policies seem designed to (1) make it difficult to move money out of the account, and (2) to limit the cashback that you can earn. Below are examples.

(1) They have a limit of $1500 on incoming online transfers in an entire *month*! They don't tell you about this anywhere except when you actually try to move money into your account. When I called them about it, they said that they have this restriction for new customers and I was still in my first month. After a couple more calls, I realized that they will increase this limit to $2500 after six months.

Stated reason: Security.
Suspected motive: To limit the amount of money you can spend to get cashback.

(2) They have a limit of $500 on outgoing online transfers. So, say you move $5000 into your account to get 2% cashback. You are stuck with that money with them for the rest of the month (unless you adopt a slower paper check route).

(3) They have a limit of $1500 on daily expenses and explicitly say on their website that it can be waived simply by making a phone call. I had to book two one-way international flight tickets that cost a total of over $1500. I booked these and called them to waive the limit. They refused to do so because I was still in my first month. There is no notice about waivers not being allowed in the first month anywhere. As a result, I have to now spend much more money re-booking that ticket just because PerkStreet does not allow me to spend my own money.

Stated reason: Security for new customers. They claim that all banks have spending limits on debit cards. Really? Bank of America did not.

Suspected motive: Limiting spending => limiting cashback.

(4) When I tried to circumvent the limitation in (1) above to move more money into my account using FedEx, there was another surprise! The first FedEx check takes not 1 day as stated, but about 9 days for some reason. Again, some vague security reason that is incomprehensible to rational beings is given as an explanation.

Bottomline: It is not easy to get much cashback because of their restrictive policies on what you can do with your money. And they make it harder to move money out of the account while not giving any interest on it. As for the 5% cashback, they are on such specific and tiny items that I have never been able to get 5% cashback so far.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #9
Perkstreet is a joke with their attempts to portray themslevs as different from a big bank. Wait till you get hit with your first $4.50 inactivity fee. Then, when you try to close your account by phone, they will refuse unless your balance is under $2--you must submit the request in writing. I would avoid them like the plague. They have been a huge disappointment.