As one of the biggest banks in the United States, you’d expect U.S. Bank to have a whole slew of checking accounts, each tailored to a specific group of potential customers. You might shrink at the idea of evaluating all these options and eventually choosing the one that best fits your needs.
Rest assured, there’s no need to worry. U.S. Bank has only two checking account options, and the best choice for most users is U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking. With a modest maintenance fee that’s relatively easy to waive and a potentially generous account opening opportunity, it’s better than most big-bank checking accounts and an excellent fit for a range of users.
That said, U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking isn’t perfect. Before you open an account, understand its limitations and downsides and decide whether it’s truly the best choice for you.
What Is U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking?
U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking is a personal checking account from U.S. Bank. It has a $6.95 monthly maintenance fee that can be waived with a qualifying direct deposit, minimum balance, or U.S. Bank credit card.
Smartly® Checking has many features you’d expect from a full-service checking account, including optional overdraft protection, fast person-to-person funds transfers, a robust ATM network, and a banking rewards program. As a member FDIC bank, U.S. Bank offers deposit insurance on eligible balances up to $250,000.
You can open a U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking online or in-branch and fund it with a check deposit or electronic funds transfer. However, you must reside in AZ, AR, CA, CO, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, NC, ND, OH, OR, SD, TN, UT, WA, WI, or WY to be eligible.
What Sets U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking Apart?
Smartly® Checking has several features that set it apart from similar checking accounts elsewhere:
- Highly rated mobile app. Smartly® Checking has a top-rated mobile app that can do basically everything the web-based online banking portal can. It’s easy to bank on the go with this account.
- Strong overdraft protection options. Smartly® Checking has two overlapping layers of overdraft protection and doesn’t charge an overdraft fee for negative balances less than $50.
- Built-in banking rewards program. U.S. Bank’s complimentary Smart Rewards program features clutch benefits like out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements, boosts to your linked savings account’s interest rate, and a complimentary virtual consultation with a member of U.S. Bank’s wealth management team.
- Excellent account opening opportunity. This account comes with a new account opening opportunity worth $300 when you open your account by July 11, 2023 and complete qualifying activities. Terms apply.
Key Features of U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking
U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking has all the features you’d expect from a full-service checking account at one of the country’s biggest banks. It has some less-common (and very welcome) features as well.
Account Opening Opportunity
You can earn $300 when you open a new U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking account online and complete qualifying activities. Offer valid through July 11, 2023.
Complete these steps within 90 days of opening your new Bank Smartly® Checking account online:
- Complete two or more direct deposits of $6,000 or more
- Enroll in online banking or the U.S. Bank Mobile App
This offer is subject to certain terms and limitations.
Account Minimums & Geographical Requirements
The minimum opening deposit is $25, but there’s no ongoing minimum balance once your account is opened.
Account holders must reside in AZ, AR, CA, CO, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, NC, ND, OH, OR, SD, TN, UT, WA, WI, or WY to be eligible for a new Bank Smartly® Checking account.
Maintenance Fee & Waiver Options
The monthly maintenance fee is $6.95. It’s waived in any statement cycle where one of the following applies:
- You receive direct deposits with a combined value of $1,000 or more
- You have an average account balance of $1,500 or more
- You have an active, eligible U.S. Bank credit card
As a Smartly® Checking customer, you pay no ATM withdrawal fees at MoneyPass® Network ATMs. Transactions outside these networks may incur surcharges.
Overdraft Protection Options
You have the option to link an eligible U.S. Bank account to your Smartly® Checking account for overdraft protection. If you attempt a transaction that would result in a negative checking account balance, U.S. Bank automatically transfers funds to cover the overdraft.
The amount advanced is $5 for overdrafts of $5 or less and an amount rounded up to the nearest $50 for larger overdrafts. There’s no overdraft fee for overdrafts smaller than $50. If you’re eligible for U.S. Bank’s Overdraft Fee Forgiven program, you may get the overdraft fee reimbursed on larger overdrafts if you deposit funds to cover the negative balance by 11pm ET the day it occurs.
Budgeting & Planning Tools
This account comes with useful financial tools like:
- Goal Planner, which can help you estimate how much you’ll need (and how fast you’ll need to save) for a forthcoming expense, like a down payment on a house
- Automatic spending categories to easily track and manage your expenses and see where you can cut back
- Personalized market insights tailored to your financial behaviors and preferences
As a U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking account holder, you can sign up for the complimentary Smart Rewards® to earn progressively more valuable benefits as your balance grows.
Your benefits depend on your total balance in all linked U.S. Bank accounts. For example, above $20,000, you get your checking account maintenance fee waived with no deposit, credit card, or further balance requirements. Above $250,000, the highest tier, you enjoy unlimited ATM fee surcharge reimbursements and a 15% boost to interest earned on interest-bearing U.S. Bank accounts.
U.S. Bank has a top-rated mobile app that can do just about anything the web interface can, including:
- Fast person-to-person money transfers with Zelle®
- Mobile check deposit
- One-time and recurring bill payments
- Automated budgeting and expense categorization
- Custom account alerts and account management tasks
This account comes with federal deposit insurance on balances up to $250,000.
Pros & Cons
U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking has a lot of advantages and a smaller but still notable number of downsides.
- Strong account opening opportunity
- Highly rated mobile app
- Above-average overdraft protection program
- Not available in all states
- Has a monthly maintenance fee that may be difficult for some to waive
- No yield
Smartly® Checking is a well-rounded checking account that rewards everyday users and provides valuable peace of mind.
- Strong account opening opportunity. This account has one of the best new account opening opportunities of any checking account in its class. Terms apply.
- Broad ATM network. U.S. Bank has a network of tens of thousands of ATMs that don’t charge withdrawal fees. They’re distributed across the United States, so finding one near you shouldn’t be too difficult.
- Excellent mobile app. U.S. Bank has a top-rated mobile app that effortlessly replicates the web-based online banking experience. It’s easy to bank from anywhere with a Wi-Fi or LTE connection.
- Comes with budgeting and planning tools. This account comes with some useful and entirely complimentary budgeting and financial planning tools to help you prepare for big upcoming expenses and shore up your budget in the meantime.
- Potentially valuable banking rewards program. U.S. Bank’s Smart Rewards® program gets more generous as your combined eligible balance increases. It’s definitely worth signing up for, even if you don’t have tons of cash right now.
- Strong overdraft protection options. U.S. Bank’s overdraft protection program is comprehensive and reasonably priced. You’re not charged for overdrafts smaller than $50, nor for larger overdrafts if you can make a deposit to restore a positive balance by 11pm ET the day they occur.
Smartly® Checking has a monthly maintenance fee that may be difficult for some users to avoid, and it’s not available everywhere.
- Not available everywhere. Smartly® Checking is available in most states, but not all. Before you apply, confirm that your location is eligible.
- Has a monthly maintenance fee. This account comes with a $6.95 monthly maintenance fee. While the waiver requirements are attainable for many would-be users, they could prove difficult for some.
- No yield. Most checking accounts don’t pay interest, but a growing number do. This account falls short next to them.
If you’re dissatisfied with your current checking account or simply curious about what else is out there, take a look at U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking. While not perfect, it has a nice package of features and benefits that make it far better than the typical big-bank spending account. Its monthly maintenance fee is easier to waive than many peer accounts’ too.
While you’re at it, take a look at U.S. Bank’s other banking products. Its CDs are particularly interesting if you’re seeking an above-average return on savings at a major member-FDIC bank.