SECU Total Checking & Rewards Review: A Rewarding Way To Save
Once upon a time, we stuffed our cash under our mattresses. Today we’re much smarter and safer with our dollars and cents, putting that which we know we will spend in a checking account instead. Keeping our money in there allows us to easily pay bills online, track our spending, access our paychecks via direct deposit, make transactions with a debit card, and so much more.
But just how much more depends on which checking account you use. One option to consider is the SECU TotalTM Checking & Rewards Account. This account excels when it comes to well-rounded benefits, including no monthly fees, debit cash back*, credit card rewards**, plus additional perks that allow you to earn more depending on how much is in your account and what other accounts you have with SECU.
How the SECU TotalTM Checking & Rewards Account Works
The SECU TotalTM Checking & Rewards Account wins hearts thanks to its cushy perks like debit cash back, credit card rewards and higher interest than a traditional checking account. The more you use SECU, the more rewards you can earn. Here’s how it works:
Blended APY***: Based on your Rewards Level and checking balance. Each portion of your balance receives a certain APY that is added together, resulting in the blended APY. See current rates.
- All members start in “Bronze” with a $25 opening deposit.
- Other levels require e-statements & $500/month direct deposit into checking, as well as qualifying balances†:
- “Silver”: $10,000+ in combined deposit/loan balances OR $3,500+ in checking
- “Gold”: $50,000+ in combined deposit/loan balances OR $10,000+ in checking
- “Platinum”: $100,000+ in combined deposit/loan balances OR $25,000+ in checking
Rewards levels are calculated on the last day of each month, based on average daily balance and activity for that month.
†Qualifying balances include either Combined Deposit/Loan Balances: deposit accounts (savings, checking, money market, CDs, IRAs) + loan accounts (mortgages, home equity, personal loans and credit cards) + any investment balances that you maintain with SECU’s investment program partner; OR the highest balance in any of your SECU checking accounts.
Minimum balance to open account: $25
Minimum balance to keep open: $0
Monthly maintenance fees: None
Debit card cash back: Yes, with Gold and Platinum accounts with 12 or more debit purchases per month. Gold members get 1% of their first $1,000 in purchases per month (max of $10/month) and Platinum members get 2% of their first $1,000 in purchases per month (max of $20/month).
Additional interest on 12 Month CDs: Yes, with Gold and Platinum accounts
Mortgage closing costs rebates: Yes, with Gold and Platinum accounts
Bonus credit card rewards: Yes, with Platinum accounts — and you need a SECU Visa credit card. Platinum account holders are offered bonus credit card rewards upon making at least 12 credit card purchases per month with a SECU Visa credit card. Points-eligible cards are granted 1,000 bonus points per month. Cash back cards will receive $10 per month.
Virtual appointments available: Yes
Mobile app and virtual banking: Yes
Free checks: Yes, one free box per calendar year
ATM access: Yes, over 50,000 free ATMs nationwide
NCUA-insured: Yes, up to $250,000
Combined account balances: Yes, your total balances for SECU loan and deposit accounts help you qualify for rewards levels.
How to apply: You can apply for an account on the SECU website or at your local financial center. You’ll be asked if you’re already a SECU member.
The potential drawbacks: Account holders need to read over exactly how the system works and which category they fall under (Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum) to determine which features they will earn. Key perks such as the debit card cashback and the elevated CD interest rates are only available for Gold or Platinum members. Not everyone is eligible to join SECU.
Who Is Eligible To Join SECU?
Gone are the days when you had to be a Maryland state employee to join SECU. Now, with more than 1,900 ways to be eligible, you’re probably a shoo-in. You may be eligible through a family member, work, the college you attended, an organization you are affiliated with or simply through a one-time donation to SECU MD Foundation.
Best Paired With A SECU Certificate Of Deposit (CD) Account
SECU members with SECU TotalTM Checking & Rewards Account in the Gold or Platinum level can earn additional interest with 12 Month Gold & Platinum CDs****. At present, SECU is also offering 2.00% APY for a 5-year term. To unlock this rate, you need to put down a minimum deposit of $500. See current rates.
A SECU CD has its own advantages, separate from how it ties in with the SECU TotalTM Checking & Rewards Account. Chiefly, it touts higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts based on the term (terms range from 3 months to 5 years). Early withdrawal penalties may apply.
SECU was launched in 1951 in a hallway of the Miller Building in Baltimore and set up by credit union volunteers. SECU has generously expanded since then and now touts 22 branches throughout Maryland, sports over 260,000 members, and manages over $4 billion in assets.
The Bottom Line
The SECU TotalTM Checking & Rewards is a great choice if you’re interested in a well-rounded account and are eligible to join SECU. It’s highly recommended that if you’re interested in any SECU account, you set up a free virtual appointment to go through all your options because there is quite a lot to choose from and the rewards get quite a bit more enticing based on which tier and which accounts you have.
*Debit Cash Back: requires 12 or more debit purchases per month, including Point of Sale and monthly subscription payments using your debit card (i.e. bill pay and gym memberships, etc.). Gold: 1% of your first $1,000 in purchases per month (max of $10/month); Platinum: 2% of your first $1,000 in purchases per month (max of $20/month). The cash back will post to your checking account on the last day of the month and will appear as “Debit Card Cash Back – Interest Adjustment” on your statement. Debit cash back is considered interest and will generate a 1099.
**Bonus Credit Card Rewards: Platinum offers bonus credit card rewards when you make at least 12 credit card purchases per month with a SECU Visa®️ credit card. Points-eligible cards will receive 1,000 bonus points per month. Cash back cards will receive $10 per month. Bonus rewards will appear in your ScoreCard account in the following month.
***APY = Annual Percentage Yield. Fees may reduce earnings on the account. Rates current as of 05/25/2022 date. Rates subject to change at any time. Membership required.
****12 Month Gold and 12 Month Platinum CDs are only available to members that have a SECU Total™️ Checking & Rewards account that qualified for the Gold or Platinum rewards level in the last 3 months and must be opened in a branch, Virtual Financial Center or via mail.