PerkStreet Financial was launched in 2009 with an unusual offering: checking accounts only and a debit card rewards program. The idea, according to the site, is to encourage people not to go into debt by charging purchases. Instead, customers earn cash back (between 1 percent and 5 percent) for non-PIN debit card purchases. The account is free, but there is a $4.50 per month inactivity fee.
PerkStreet is on PCMag.com's recent list of five top Internet banks; as the review puts it, "PerkStreet is all about the perks. You don't get an interest-generating checking account, but instead, checking with a… debit card that loads on the rewards."
PerkStreet makes extensive use of online and social media, including Facebook and Twitter, and hosts its own blog where customers share money-saving tips. Customers are also asked to weigh in on which merchants and categories will earn them PowerPerks (5 percent cash back); choices rotate monthly. In addition, even if you don't have an account with PerkStreet, you can sign up for free e-mail based courses on financial management.
There is no minimum to open an account, and customers can make free withdrawals from more than 42,000 ATMs in the STAR network; there is an ATM locator on PerkStreet's website. You can link your PerkStreet account to other bank accounts to transfer money, but checks must be mailed to PerkStreet for deposit; they do pay the postage, however.
Consumers are enthusiastic about PerkStreet; MyBankTracker.com reports that users give it the highest customer ratings of any bank on the site. Note, however, that PerkStreet is not really a bank, but its partnership with Bancorp Bank means that deposits are FDIC insured. ConsumerAffairs.com analyzed more than7,000 comments about PerkStreet on blogs, Facebook and Twitter, and it reports "a net sentiment in the 90% neighborhood towards year's end (2011), which is about as good as it gets."
NerdWallet.com has two positive reviews of PerkStreet, one more detailed than the other, and personal finance journalist Kevin Mulligan of GoodFinancialCents.com includes it on his list of the best online checking accounts.
Reviewer Eric Griffith recommends the five best internet-only banks based on reviews from CNNMoney.com, MyBankTracker.com and other sites, including the previous Online Banking report from ConsumerSearch. PerkStreet is on the list for its cash-back, free checking account.
Review: Five Great Internet Banks, Eric Griffith, Nov. 8, 2011
This list of banks that get the highest customer ratings on MyBankTracker.com has PerkStreet at the top, even though it's not technically a bank. More than 170 people team up to render a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
Review: Top Consumer Rated Banks, Editors and contributors to MyBankTracker.com
While customers seem to like it, the editors of MyBankTracker.com assign PerkStreet a middling rating of 3 out of 5 stars. The major area where PerkStreet loses points is for its remote deposit capability. It has none.
Review: Bank Report Card: PerkStreet Financial, Editors of MyBankTracker.com
Kevin Mulligan writes about personal finance for several websites, including this one. In this review of the best online checking accounts, PerkStreet Financial is a "close second" to Ally Bank for its cash back account.
Review: Best Online Checking Accounts, Kevin Mulligan, May 9, 2012
James R. Hood's detailed review of PerkStreet Financial is based on his own experience opening an account there, as well as on an analysis of more than 7,000 comments on Facebook, Twitter and various blogs.
Review: What If the Bank Paid You to Have an Account?, James R. Hood, Dec. 22, 2011
This blog is dedicated to helping consumers find the best deals on checking and savings, credit cards and other products. In this list of 10 checking accounts that really are free, she includes PerkStreet, saying it "is the undisputed king of debit card rewards."7
Review: 10 Truly Free Checking Accounts: NerdWallet's Picks, "Laura", March 12, 2012
This review goes into detail about how PerkStreet's debit card rewards program works, comparing it to rewards programs offered by other banks, including Chase, TD Bank and Wells Fargo. PerkStreet's program is clearly best for the consumer, blogger "Laura" concludes.
Review: Are Debit Card Rewards Still Possible? PerkStreet Financial Says Yes, "Laura", Aug. 31, 2011