American Express National Bank is an FDIC-insured online bank unit of American Express, which is best known for its consumer and business credit cards. The bank offers savings accounts, checking accounts and certificate of deposit, or CD, accounts. To qualify for a checking account, you must have an American Express consumer credit card that's been active for at least three months.
Annual percentage yields for Amex's savings account and certain CD terms are competitive -- although not the absolute highest you can find -- and its checking account has a decent yield with no fees and no hoops to jump through like some other high-yield checking accounts. With a checking account, you can also earn Membership Rewards points on your debit card purchases, albeit at a lower rewards rate than most Amex credit cards.
All said, American Express National Bank is a good way to manage your finances in one place without sacrificing yield -- if you have an existing Amex account. Just be sure you're OK doing your banking entirely online with no access to physical branches.
What we like
- 24/7 customer support: Live customer support is available around the clock.
- Some competitive APYs available: Several deposit accounts earn highly competitive interest rates or APYs.
- Good account selection: Amex offers checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs and credit cards, allowing you to meet most of your banking needs in one place.
What we don't like
- No bank branches: This bank doesn't operate physical bank branches.
- Amex credit card required for checking account: To apply for a checking account, you need to have an existing American Express card that's been open for at least three months. There's no credit card requirement to open a savings or CD account.
- No cash deposits: Bank accounts don't accept cash deposits.
Who is American Express Bank best suited for?
With competitive yields, virtually no fees and 24/7 customer support, American Express Bank is a good option for most if you are comfortable with a digital banking environment.
However, its value really shines through for American Express credit card holders. An Amex credit card gives you access to the online checking account, which offers perks like a competitive APY, purchase protection and debit card rewards that can be combined with credit card points for maximum value. Between an Amex checking account, savings account and credit card, you do almost all of your banking in one place while still earning good interest. That's rare for a bank owned by an established corporation -- just look at the paltry interest rates of other big banks like Chase or Bank of America.
True yield-chasers will be better off mixing and matching different bank accounts to get the absolute highest rates from their checking account, saving account or CD. But if you're not interested in optimizing your finances to that degree, American Express National Bank provides a great one-stop-shop for your banking needs.
Checking account review
The American Express Rewards Checking account offers all the basic functionalities of a checking account, including a debit card, check-writing access (you can order paper checks from a third-party provider, which may charge a fee), check deposits and access to over 37,000 fee-free ATMs on the MoneyPass network.
The account earns a competitive yield on balances along with rewards on qualifying debit card purchases -- one Membership Rewards point for every $2 spent, or 0.5-point per dollar. Rewards on your spending is always nice, but less valuable than it seems. Given that opening a checking account requires holding an Amex credit card, and nearly all Amex cards earn at least 1x points per dollar on eligible purchases, you'll almost always earn more rewards by paying with your credit card.
However, the debit card cash back can still be useful in situations where you can't pay with a credit card, such as certain types of bills, or if you'd prefer not to use your credit card to avoid overspending and racking up interest. When you use your debit card, you'll also get purchase protection that covers eligible purchases in the event of accidental damage and theft for up to 90 days, at no additional cost.
You can redeem rewards points for cash that's deposited directly into the checking account. If you link your checking account to an eligible Amex credit card that earns Membership Rewards points, you can pool your points from the two accounts and may be able to access more redemption options, including gift cards or travel, depending on your specific card's benefits.
If you close your Amex credit card, your rewards checking account will remain open, although you'll be limited to redeeming your points for cash instead of whatever redemption options were offered by your credit card.
Checking account features
|Account||APY||Minimum initial deposit||Monthly fee||Overdraft fee||Foreign transaction fee|
What we like
- No fees and no minimum balance: No minimum balance required to open the account and no monthly fees regardless of account balance.
- Reward benefits: You can earn rewards points for qualified debit card purchases.
- Easy to redeem rewards: Rewards points can be redeemed for cash deposits into the account. Additional redemption options may be available for holders of select American Express credit cards.
- Purchase protection: You'll get automatic, no-additional-cost purchase protection against theft and accidental damages on eligible purchases made on your debit card for up to 90 days from the purchase date.
What we don't like
- Amex credit card is required: An American Express credit card open for at least three months is required to qualify for this account.
- Foreign transaction fees: If you use your debit card for a purchase or ATM withdrawal made in a currency other than US dollars, you'll pay an additional fee.
Savings account review
American Express Bank offers an online savings account with a reasonably competitive APY. There is no minimum deposit required to open, and it has no minimum balance requirements or monthly service fees. Unlike with its checking account, you don't need an existing Amex credit card to open a savings account.
Additionally, you won't receive an ATM card, debit card or checks for this account. That's the same as most other banks, as savings accounts aren't meant for everyday transactions like a checking account is.
- APY: 3.40%
- Minimum balance to open: $0
- Monthly maintenance fee: $0
What we like
- Compound structure: Interest compounds daily and is deposited monthly into the account.
- No fees: No monthly fees and no minimum deposit required to open the account.
- No additional fees: Electronic and paper statement are optional at no additional fee.
What we don't like
- Higher APYs elsewhere: Higher APYs are available at competitor banks.
CD account review
American Express Bank offers traditional CDs, with terms ranging from six months to five years. You don't need to have an Amex credit card to open a CD.
Interest is compounded daily and paid out to the account monthly. Interest can be withdrawn fee free, but early withdrawal penalties apply to the principal. You can choose to have any accrued interest transferred to another account or paid by check on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Keep in mind, however, that this will reduce your total interest earnings as the interest you withdraw is no longer compounding within the CD.
When your CD reaches its maturity date, you'll have 10 days to withdraw your funds without penalty before it automatically renews, unless you've opted out of automatic renewal beforehand, or Amex is no longer offering a CD with the same term as the original. Amex doesn't allow partial withdrawals from, or additional deposits to, CD accounts.
CD account features
What we like
- High rate options available: Three CD terms offer highly competitive APYs.
- No minimums: No minimum deposit is required.
- Access interest penalty-free: Interest -- but not the principal -- can be withdrawn during the term or deposited into a separate account without incurring early withdrawal penalties.
What we don't like
- Limited number of competitive rates: Four of the CD terms aren't competitive, limiting the range of terms that customers can choose from.
- No specialty CDs: This bank doesn't offer specialty CDs like no-penalty or step-up CDs.
American Express Bank customers must be comfortable with an online-only banking experience because this bank doesn't operate physical locations. This can present some inconveniences, such as the inability to deposit cash or cash a check in person (although you can still deposit checks with mobile deposit or by mail). However, these limitations are common among most online banks, which can offer higher interest rates because of their lower overhead from not operating physical branches.
But just because you can't walk into a local branch, that doesn't mean you'll be without help. Amex offers around-the-clock customer support via several virtual options including phone and online chat.
American Express Bank doesn't charge overdraft fees on any of its deposit accounts.
Customer support is available 24/7 via live chat through your account or by calling 800-528-4800.