Amex Launches Digital Checking Account for Consumers

American Express announced today the launch of its first all-digital consumer checking account. The new account is called the American Express Rewards Checking. It is currently available for eligible U.S. Consumer Card Members. Any non-business card member in good standing is eligible for the no-fee, no minimum balance account. The launch of a digital account option comes during a boom in digital banking services, often with more competitive banking offerings.

American Express already offers checking accounts for small businesses. Last year, it rolled out an account for small business owners called Kabbage Checking. American Express has also offered online savings accounts since 2008.

The new account offers Membership Rewards points for eligible debit card purchases, and 0.50% APY, whish is a higher rate than most traditional banks. Amex Rewards Checking members can also access and manage their checking accounts on the American Express app and can deposit checks via the app.

“Our Members want more banking products and services from us,” said Eva Reda, the executive vice president and general manager of consumer banking at American Express, in a statement. “And they want more from their checking account, without giving up the benefits that are important to them. That’s why we built Amex Rewards Checking to deliver more value for Members with the powerful and trusted backing of American Express. It’s digital checking without compromises.”

The account also comes with fraud protection and monitoring, along with access to customer service via phone or chat. The new checking offering adds to the company’s existing consumer deposits products, including the American Express Savings account (HYSA) and Certificate of Deposits (CDs).

The account is already open for applications. You must be the primary Card Member and must have your American Express credit card for a minimum of three months before applying.

Earning Membership Rewards

Amex Rewards Checking comes with an American Express debit card that earns members one Membership Rewards point for every $2 spent on eligible purchases.

Debit Card Members can redeem Membership Rewards points for deposits into Amex Rewards Checking accounts. This will be the only option for those members who do not have a Membership Rewards earning credit card. Redeeming for a deposit into your account is not the best use of Membership Rewards, at a rate of just 0.8 cents per point.

But these Membership Rewards points earned through Amex Rewards Checking are otherwise exactly the same as those earned from your American Express credit cards. That means that you can combine them if you have a consumer credit card that earns Membership Rewards points. If you already have a Membership Rewards-enrolled Card, in most cases your Amex Rewards Checking account will automatically be linked to your existing Membership Rewards Program Account. You can then choose to redeem points the same way you always have, or cash them out at 0.8cpp. You can do better if you have the Schwab Platinum card or through travel partners.

There are also plans to expand redemption options for Cobrand Card Members over time.

Paying with a debit card to earn 0.5x Membership Rewards points per dollar is normally not a good idea. American Express has plenty of credit cards that earn increased rates on select categories. But this could be a useful option for payments where a credit card is not accepted or there’s a much higher fee than using a debit a debit card. 



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