Posted by Chuck on February 20, 2020
High-Yield APY Accounts

Published on February 20th, 2020 | by Chuck

67

Level Checking-Savings Hybrid Account With .50% APY & More

[Update 3/19/20: rate being reduced to .50% APY on 3/20/20.]

Level Bank offers 2.10% APY checking account, along with the potential to earn 1% cash back on the linked debit card, and also offers ATM reimbursements. The Account has no monthly fees or foreign transaction fees. Level is an arm of Zero Financial which you may remember from their debit-style credit card which offers 3% cash back when you spend $100,000 annually.

Direct Link to Level Bank

Level 2.10% APY Account

Direct Link to Level Bank

The most interesting thing is the substantial 2.10% APY rate offered on the checking account. The rate is highly competitive even among high-yield savings accounts, and certainly for a checking account. We only have to wait and see if they maintain a rate which is at the top of the pack or if this is a sort of teaser/startup rate.

As is the case with some other fin-techs, they are essentially trying to roll the checking and savings account into one, something quite convenient. SoFi and Wealthfront have similar products.

1% Cashback on Debit

Level offers 1% cashback on signature and online debit card purchases, not on PIN purchase. One important caveat: you need to have a monthly $1,000 direct deposit in order to be eligible for the debit card cash back.

As soon as your Level Debit Card transactions post, your cash back will become available for redemption. Can be redeemed as often as you’d like.

Other Account Details

  • No monthly fees.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No overdraft fees, no maintenance fees, no minimum balance fees.
  • ATM Reimbursement: Level does not add-on any ATM fee. Moreover, if you use your Level Debit Card and the ATM owner charges you a fee, they’ll reimburse you for those fees, up to three (3) times a month and up to $4 per reimbursement.
  • Level itself is not a legal bank; they offer banking services through partnership with Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC. Evolve Bank & Trust holds all deposits in the Level Bank Account and is the issuer for the Level Debit Card, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.
  • Funds FDIC insured up to $250,000.
  • U.S. government-issued photo identification is required to apply for Level. Accepted forms of identification include drivers license, passport, work permits issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or ID cards. You must have a physical address in one of the 50 U.S. states to apply for Level.
  • Cash or check deposits are not currently accepted.

Our Verdict

I’m really impressed by their 2.10% APY rate, and there’s no minimum needed to get the rate. Other than the high-yield savings rate, there are a few other parts of this account which some might find interesting. Some people might have creative uses for the 1% debit cashback and the lack of ATM and foreign transaction fees is noteworthy.

Without check deposit and bill pay capabilities I don’t see how this can realistically be used as a checking account; I wouldn’t be surprised if they add that at some point. Regardless, this might be another good high-yield savings vehicle. We’ll add it to our List of Best Savings Account Rates.

Hat tip to reader Aaron



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Pizza
Pizza

Does PayPal F&F qualify as online debit purchase for 1%?

Ben
Ben

Depends on the funding source. If you choose “bank account” the PayPal transaction is free and you won’t earn 1%. If you choose “debit card” you’ll earn the 1% but pay almost 3% in PayPal fees. So there is no point.

Jon
Jon

That rate won’t last what’s the point

Chris
Chris

I think you’re right. Not bothering with this one.

Vy
Vy

What’s the hurt? Even two months of interest is worth something.

Plus, after the APY drops the account will still have limited ATM reimbursements worldwide.

Pierre
Pierre

The hurt is that if you are transferring from another HYSA, the transit time alone would take away the benefits of the increased rate.

Vy
Vy

But that’s the case with EVERY new account funding. Are you saying that there’s no point in opening a new account because there’s an opportunity cost? There’s ALWAYS an opportunity cost for EVERYTHING.

Steve

If the opportunity cost is $100 but you’ll make $2000, it’s probably worth it.

If the opportunity cost is $100 but you’ll make $50, it’s not worth it.

In this case we don’t know how much we’ll make until the rate drops. But even if we estimate that our net gain after opportunity costs will be slightly positive, we may not want to bother with it.

Myles
Myles

I opened the account and immediately funded 2 days ago, via debit card. The money arrived at the end of the same business day. Its obviously a different approach then others like SoFi for example, as there is no enrollment bonus, but at least for now, they pay a competitive rate. I’m just going for the yield on this one. When the rate is no longer competitive, I’ll move on. No DD needed.

Yuriy Gerzon
Yuriy Gerzon

Does the direct deposit requirement get fulfilled by any ACH transfer or it must be from an employer?

Ctown Bin
Ctown Bin

What kind of creative uses could there be for the 1% cash back on the debit card, if PIN doesn’t count? I can think of maybe paying taxes, assuming the IRS considers it a debit card but it still processes as signature/online and earns the 1%. Anything else?

Jason
Jason

money order at walmart

CtownBin
CtownBin

Don’t think this would work, since the terms say PIN purchases won’t earn 1% and you can only buy money orders at Walmart using a PIN.

Dan - Legal Bank Robber
Dan - Legal Bank Robber

Meh – Sticking with SoFi.

JV
JV

me too. had zero issues with them and .5% isnt worth the change

Patrick
Patrick

How about 2%? Has Level lowered rates in light of the fed change? Doesn’t specify in their general info on their page.

Joe boe
Joe boe

Their terms state that you cant use checks to pay for stuff and that if a merchant processes a transaction as a check that it would get rejected.

Frank

Skeptical that the debit card can be used for too many games — the Zero credit card already codes Simon purchases as only 1% cash back rather than 3% so I think they’re on the lookout for reindeer games

Ralph Hendry-Wabel
Ralph Hendry-Wabel

I don’t think it’s that bad. We all know the rate will drop, but still sounds promising. Agree except of the higher rate (today) it’s not really different than SoFi

Harold
Harold

They are on to us! Their account agreement says:

Manufactured Spend … may not be eligible for cashback. Manufactured Spend means Level Debit Card transactions deemed, in Level’s sole discretion, to have been initiated for the primary purpose of earning Rewards; including, but not limited to, purchases of gift cards, purchases for commercial or business purposes and purchases of cash equivalents.

Harold
Harold

Qualifying Direct Deposit is Automated Clearing House (ACH) credits in the amount of at least $1,000 of your payroll, pension or government benefits (such as Social Security) by your employer or the government. Transfers from external accounts or peer-to-peer payments (such as Cash App, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, etc.) do not qualify. We may require documentation to verify that credits are Qualifying Direct Deposits.

kai
kai

Joined and then called to cancel. i hate doing EVERYTHING on my phone. need a website interface regardless of how much higher their rate is.

CO
CO

Thanks for the warning, hard pass for me then!

Vy
Vy

Soft pull?

OffByOne
OffByOne

This information was missing from the post, but the ATM fee reimbursement is worldwide (good Schwab debit card alternative)

From their website :

Use any ATM worldwide that accepts Visa and we’ll reimburse you the ATM operator fee up to 3 times per month, up to $4 per reimbursement.

Bruce
Bruce

Not sure with that $4 limit. I haven’t actually seen how much international ATM charges usually run

qmc
qmc

$4 covers most everything, possible exceptions being casinos….

Julia
Julia

Casinos work! At least where I tried with the zero card in California. Should be the same with Level.

Steve

ATMs in strip clubs have higher fees…

Jon
Jon

International $4 isn’t so great. Thailand for example, is always about $6. Same with my recent trip to Mexico. Imagine there are many others

Ted
Ted

Try Argentina. Had a $16 ATM fee there once.

A M
A M

Is it possible to have a link in the bank account section with banks that have 0 FTF?

Ali
Ali

Also note that they offer 2 day early paychecks

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