Posted by Chuck on April 23, 2019
High-Yield APY Accounts

Published on April 23rd, 2019 | by Chuck

47

Empower Banking 2% Savings Account, 1% on Debit Card Spend + Referral Offer to Double That

Update 4/22/19: Drop is offering a 50,000 point bonus when you sign up for Empower Banking currently, you need to connect a pay direct deposit of $500 within 45 calendar days to receive the bonus. Check out our review on the Drop app here. Hat tip to Travel In Points

Empower Banking is another online/digital/mobile banking account with high interest rates and no fees. They also offer cashback on debit card spend.

  • 1% cash back on up to $1,000 in debit card spend per month
  • 2.00% interest savings account
  • No fees, no minimum balance requirements
  • Free ATMs (25,000 in-network plus 1 reimbursed/month anywhere in the world)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • FDIC insured

Looks pretty similar to Discover who offers a high interest savings account (currently 2% or 2.05%), and also offers 1% back on debit usage with their checking account. Discover is better due to higher $3,000 limit on earning cashback. Empower is better due to the lack of foreign transaction fees and the one ATM reimbursement per month.

Referral Offer

Empower has an interesting referral offer whereby both the referrer and the new member get a 30-day boost to double their 1% debit rate and 2% savings rate. You’ll get 2% on debit card spend and 4% on your savings account (max $50k gets the 4% rate).

This amounts to a nice signup bonus for new members since if you deposit $50,000 immediately, you’ll land up with $75+ during the first 30 days from the extra 2% boost, plus an extra $10 from the debit card boost if you max out the $1,000 debit spend.

If you are someone who has regular referrals, e.g. a blogger, you can keep this account as a permanent 4% savings account on $50,000, plus you’ll get permanent 2% back on up to $1,000 in debit card purchases per month. (‘Permanent’ in this context is temporary since they can end this referral bonus at any time.)

Currently Android users cannot refer members. They hope to have this fixed by the end of January.

DO NOT LEAVE REFERRALS HERE, instead, head over to this dedicated page to connect with others and refer. 

Hat tip to reader raekwon



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rick
rick

so you have to refer someone new every month (30 days) to keep the double bonus alive or am i reading incorrectly?

also, your referral page linked for this bank is not enabled for anyone to leave a comment it seems

arizonapv
arizonapv

It doesn’t have to be a new person every month. You could have 11 people sign up right now and they can stack up get used as prior ones expire. Hard to explain, but kind of a cool referral program.

Frank
Frank

This actually seems like a fairly reasonable design. Not sure I’ll pull the trigger though since 4% is only a little better than other rates and I don’t have blogger level referral access. Debit would be a nice $20 a month

arizonapv
arizonapv

The terms say “Invite friends by logging in to your Empower app and sending an invite SMS to your friends” By saying I need to log in to my empower app, does this mean it is app only and not accessible via online using my desktop?

More Info
More Info

Yes App only

Gadget
Gadget

I just signed up, and looks like nothing can be accessed via desktop. Everything, including acct signup, is done via app.

Also appears that the ability to do referrals is not given out instantly. I would hope once the account is funded, or debit card activated, that would be the case. However, I haven’t found it in the terms. I submitted a help request via app to ask how to refer others – no response yet.

Account signup went smoothly, and was done in a couple minutes – account numbers and ACH provided in app. Did have to take picture of ID/DL via app and upload as part of application.

arizonapv
arizonapv

Thanks, Gadget, for the info regarding that the site is accessed only via the app.

Gadget
Gadget

Also appears that Empower checking/savings is not able to be linked to Mint. That’s a pain. I know, they expect you to use them for bank account aggregation. I linked one account, just to test it out.

Andrew Donshik
Andrew Donshik

can someone comment on the account aggregator side of the app? personal capital has been getting jankier by the week.

Dylan
Dylan

I wonder if you can buy MOs with the debit card and get caah back?

Hmm…

Francesco
Francesco

Would this work on Venmo debit card transactions? If I’m not mistaken Discover excludes it in T&C.

Charlie
Charlie

Did you ever find out if Venmo/PayPal transactions trigger 1% back?

Francesco
Francesco

No sorry, I didn’t open that account, but I would consider doing so if someone has the answer.

Dheeraj
Dheeraj

No it does not. Can confirm I did not receive cashback from Venmo or Chase Starbucks Prepaid card reload.

Gadget
Gadget

I got a response from Empower, asking why I could not see the ability to do referrals in the app:

“Referral for banking on Android is not available yet. We are working to complete this feature and hope to release it early in January.”

Jon from Empower

parkdanil

This is a very important point and should be added to the main post.

William Charles

Done

William Charles

Thanks, added this to the post.

Gadget
Gadget

No prob. Happy New Year! (EDT)

Daniel
Daniel

Does their debit card work with VENMO/Paypal. I’ve had issues with it not working with Discover

Charlie
Charlie

Did you ever find out if Venmo/PayPal transactions trigger 1% back?

Seonwoo Lee

It should also be pointed out that debit card transactions are subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which forbids more than six outbound transactions per month from savings accounts (with a few exceptions, namely withdrawals or transfers made at ATMs, transactions made in person at the bank, withdrawals made by telephone with a check mailed to the deposit)

More Info
More Info

True, however, this bank comes with both a checking account and savings, you can’t apply for just the savings, so the debit card is connected to the checking account.

Mike
Mike

email me at [removed] if you need a boost referral

More Info
More Info

The rest of January will yield a 4% APY savings account automatically and with the referral bonus one should be able to get through February at 4% for up to $50,000. Not a bad deal for not a tremendous amount of work. All mobile.

DMitri
DMitri

I know this is still new, but has anyone tried adding cash to cash app to trigger the $10 cashback?

Would consider signing up for the few seconds of work each month for $10.

Leanne
Leanne

Any idea if this is going to be something you can access through a desktop at some point or will it only be via app?

Gadget
Gadget

Leanne I have the same question. Nothing I see says any news about that. MoneyLion and Varo are the same way, app only, and I am not a fan. Seems like to me that they are all web based and should have the ability fairly easily, but I suppose it takes time and money to add complexities. But, I will put up with app only for now.

Gadget
Gadget

William Charles FYI, Android referrals are a thing now. Tap “Boost” in lower right-hand corner, tap “Continue”, then “Invite Friends”.

I gave up hope of getting numerous referrals in order to maintain 4% interest. I figured it wouldn’t be sustainable.

Honestly, this new offer sounds desperate and I have a feeling Empower is powering down soon.

Gadget
Gadget

Chuck William Charles Probably should have tagged Chuck the first time, pointing out that referrals are now available in Android. Also, $50 for both parties is better than Drop points for only one person. (https://empower.me/referralterms/)

Hopefully you can do an article update, as the referral bonus offer is currently slated to end 4/30. The only thing left in question is that if the $500 DD can be triggered by alternative methods. But that will be the same for Doshers.

Kind of retracting my statement about not being sustainable… so far I got a couple referrals, so I am moving my cash nest-egg to Empower savings for now. Nice consolation prize of 4+% interest, even if DD proves to be difficult to trigger for the referral $50.

Ken
Ken

Does this account offer free overdraft transfers from savings to checking?

Gadget
Gadget

Ken I’m not sure from reading their help file/blog. Says “we don’t provide overdraft and you will never get charged an overdraft fee or insufficient fund fee. Your transaction will simply be denied if you ever run out of money.”

I would assume… yes. I would think they would rather shift money from savings than deny a transaction. But then again, there is that Reg D rule about number of savings transfers per month. So maybe you have to manually move savings to checking?

Ken
Ken

I schedule all my bills to be paid the same day so usually do not have to worry about the Reg D rule. Guess we will find out. 🙂

Gadget
Gadget

Crafty. My luck the bank would take it out bill by bill on the same day. I would think you will be fine. Banks want you to spend your money. That’s why so many of these deals want a DD – because that is (normally) the first money you spend every month.

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