Perkstreet Financial Checking Account Review

December 12, 2012 4 Comments »
Perkstreet Financial Checking Account Review

Perkstreet Financial’s cash back checking account is a product that came on the scene after the banking collapse of ’08 when credit card issuers were forced to tighten their eligibility and become more transparent. Subsequently, consumers were switching to debit cards at a rapid pace – creating a wonderful opportunity for Perkstreet Financial.

Today, their cash back checking account is still the number one account of it’s kind – combining the lucrative rewards of a cash back credit card with the simplicity and debt-free guarantee of a debit card.

If you haven’t heard of Perkstreet Financial, you’re certainly not alone. They are an up and coming company with a highly innovative checking account and unique approach to banking. They will undoubtedly become a household name as more people begin to recognize their brand – and especially as larger national banks continue to lose their trust amongst consumers.

In this review of Perkstreet’s checking account we’d like to give a thorough breakdown of it’s benefits, simplicity, and functions and open up the section below for reader/customer comments and suggestions.

The first thing one should know about the Perkstreet checking account is that it’s a hybrid of sorts. As we mentioned above, it applies a similar reward structure to that of a cash back credit card, but leaves the consumer with zero possibility of sinking into debt.

It comes with all of the features a desirable checking account and/or debit card would have such as: the largest surcharge-free ATM network with over 37,000 ATM’s to use nationwide, a cash back structure of between 1% and 25% depending on where you shop. As well as easy and free online account management with 24/7 live customer support.


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Like many other popular community banks and credit unions Perkstreet has partnered with STARsf® to give their customers easy access to their cash without ever paying ATM fees. These locations are strategically located in frequented shopping centers such as Target, Costco, CVS, Walgreens, etc. Keep in mind the ATM’s do not feature the Perkstreet logo on them, but rest assured they are surcharge free. You can find free ATM’s in your neighborhood by visiting their website or using their mobile app.

Perkstreet Checking Account Rewards:

New checking account customers earn between 1 and 25 percent cash back on almost every purchase.

Here is how the cash back breaks down.

If you purchase goods online, you’ll almost always be able to get at least 2% cash back. Perkstreet allows for this 2% cash back on a huge network of online retailers including,,, and other nationally recognized brands.

As for the 25%, this is only applied to selected deals that they personally send to you. They call this your “Power Perks” and the items are send to your inbox every week.

The 1% cash back is applied to everything else you purchase outside of the categories mentioned above. The one catch is that you must purchase the item without using your pin. Pin based purchases won’t be eligible for cash back.

Here’s how you can earn $600 in cash back every 12 months (see graph above as well):

Spend $2500 monthly with the card and earn $600+ in cash back every year! Making $601 in weekly non-PIN purchases will earn you $625 in perks annually (when you maintain a balance of $5,000).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends $601 per week on purchases that could be put on a debit card, including stuff like utility bills or rent. According to the Federal Reserve paper ‘Household Switching Behavior at Depository Institutions’ (2002), the average lifespan of a checking account is ten years, which would make the average family’s lifetime earning $6,250.

Perkstreet Checking Account Features:

  • Free checks
  • No minimum balance required
  • No account maintenance fees when you use your account
  • The nation’s largest surcharge-free ATM network
  • Free online banking and bill-pay
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  • AV

    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.

  • Jason Henrichs

    My name is Jason Henrichs and I work for PerkStreet. I’ve corresponded with AV since his experience and also worked with our customer service team to improve the information he was delivered. We are always working to improve the experience and any customer’s feedback is appreciated. We are taking action on the areas of AV’s experience that can be corrected, but there are several parts of his claim that I’d like to better explain.
    Unfortunately fighting fraud is a tremendous burden that has several impacts not just for the bank but for the customers as we establish a relationship. For AV’s first point, the limit does go up over time and with the deeper relationship. There are several ways you can get money in the account besides our free online transfer- by pushing the money from the other account, setting up direct deposit or sending a check. We recognized that this would limit a new customer’s ability to meet the $5,000 threshold which is why we put in a 90 day grace period where you earn 2% no matter what. If we were looking to bait and switch to keep your balance captive we certainly wouldn’t have done that. We keep a small share of the interchange earned when a customer uses the card and give most of it back to the customer. It is in our best interest to make sure customers can spend as much as they want while balancing the fraud exposure to us and to the customer.
    On the daily limit, I’ve worked with the customer service agent on how to better handle the situation and apologize that it was not a stellar experience.
    For your last point on the check, it is clearly stated in FAQs what the hold times are but let’s face it, wading through FAQs is a pain so you naturally picked up the phone where the representative was not clear in her explanation. Again, I’ve worked on the education that she should have inquired whether you were a new customer because their is an extra hold time for the first 30 days.
    Unfortunately banks have done little to engender trust so we’re fighting little by little to do better and earn that back. IM- I hope you’ll give us a shot. We aren’t perfect but I can assure we have many customers who love us. And I don’t know many other banks that have their COO writing a lengthy reply to an irate customer on a Saturday because he genuinely cares about making banking better.
    Any customer or potential customer can contact me directly if they have questions or suggestions: jhenrichs -at-

  • Carl

    WARNING ON PERKSTREET: If you take the “cash” rewards option they send you a visa check card. If you never receive or lose your check card YOUR MONEY IS GONE AND THEY CANNOT REPLACE IT. I just got off the phone with a PerkStreet customer service rep because this happened to me. A $50 card never arrived (although I did receive two $100 cards prior to this). I was apologetically told there was nothing they could do. Essentially, someone in their shipping department can take the cards, list them as shipped and you are S.O.L.

    I’m quite pissed.

    For those who do keep your account (I’m going to kill mine), you should take the gift cards. The codes are supposedly emailed.

  • Tara

    Overall I’m happy with Perkstreet, and I’ve received almost $200 cash back in the year and a half I’ve had the account. However, due to the inability to have same-day deposits, extreme slowness of deposits, and the number of days it takes to transfer money, I have paid way more than that in fees. I work sporadically and payment sometimes comes in the form of cash and personal check. There simply is no way to deposit cash, and the check deposits take more than a week. So I end up spending the cash (no perks there- and no purchase protection), cashing the checks (having to drive to my client’s bank, which alot of times charges me a fee), and buying money orders (another fee).