Update on Thursday, June 18, 2020
Level Bank offers an interest earning cash management account with zero fees and cash back rewards. These checking and savings account hybrids usually offer better APYs and higher FDIC coverage, making them a popular banking choice. But not all cash management accounts are created equally, so itâ€™s important to read the fine print. Weâ€™ll take you through the offerings and pros and cons of Level Bankâ€™s cash management account to help you decide if itâ€™s the right fit for your banking needs.
What is the Level Bank account?
Level Bankâ€™s cash management account is an online-only account that earns 0.50% APY (annual percentage yield) on all deposits and carries no fees. Though Level Bank itself is not a bank, funds in the account are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 through its partner bank, Evolve Bank & Trust, a Memphis-based bank that is a member of the FDIC.
Level Bank is unique in that it offers a cash back Visa debit card. On top of the 0.50% APY, you can 1% earn cash back on qualified purchases you make with your card as long as you make at least $1,000 in direct deposits per month. Qualified purchases include online purchases and purchases you make with your card when you run it as credit.
- FDIC insured: Yes, up to $250,000
- Partner bank: Evolve Bank & Trust
- Fees: None
- Special features: 1% cash back on all qualified debit card purchases when you have at least $1,000 in direct deposit per month.
Level fees and minimums
|Level Fees and Minimums
|Minimum balance requirement
|Monthly maintenance fees
|ATM fee refund policy
||If an out-of-network ATM owner charges you, Level Bank will refund you up to three times per month, up to $4 for each fee
|ATM withdrawal limits
||$300 per day
|Foreign transaction fees
|Total daily debit card limit
||$5,000 per day, including cash back
||N/A (overdrafts are not possible with this account)
Like most cash management accounts, there are no fees associated with the Level Bank Account. There are no maintenance fees, and Level Bank offers fee-free access to over 2.3 million ATMs, with a refund policy in place to cover operator fees you may incur.
What you are likely to encounter, though, is difficulty accessing your money. Currently, the only way to get money in your Level account is through ACH direct deposit or electronic transfer. If you set your paycheck up for direct deposit, you can receive your paycheck up to two days early. Still, the accountâ€™s deposit limitations mean you wonâ€™t be able to deposit cash or checks.
Level anticipates launching its remote capture feature in the near future, which would allow users to deposit checks. Even when this feature becomes available though, you would only be able to deposit six checks per statement cycle, and their value could not exceed $10,000 total. Daily, you will be able to deposit $5,000 worth of checks. Checks will take at least one business day to process; full funds may not be available immediately.
Pros and cons of the Level Bank account
- Cashback program: Level isnâ€™t the only company offering a cashback program, and its offerings arenâ€™t the most generous. But it is transparent and universal, offering 1% cashback on all online or POS purchases run as credit â€” as long as you deposit at least $1,000 per statement period. There is no cap on the rewards you can earn.
- No fees: Level charges no maintenance fees, no ATM fees, no NSF fees and no foreign transaction fees. Because you cannot overdraw the account, there arenâ€™t any fees for overdraft or overdraft protection either.
- ATM fee reimbursement: Level does not charge ATM fees itself, but you are likely to be charged an out-of-network ATM fee by ATM owners. Level refunds the first three fees every statement cycle, up to $4 each. If you withdraw cash more than three times per month, though, youâ€™re highly likely to incur those fees without reimbursement.
- Low APY: Level Bank Accountâ€™s APY is disappointing for a cash management account, especially in comparison to some of its competitors. Still, you donâ€™t have to jump through any hoops or open multiple accounts to earn its highest advertised rate.
- Difficult to deposit funds. Unless you do all of your banking electronically without any cash or paper checks, youâ€™re likely to run into trouble with the Level Bank account. Thereâ€™s no way to deposit cash and no current mobile deposit option for checks. When those capabilities are launched, the cap on check deposits is low compared with the competition.
- Low ATM withdrawal limit. Levelâ€™s daily ATM withdrawal limit is low. You can easily find other accounts with at least double Levelâ€™s limit of $300 per day.
How to open a Level Bank account
To open a Level Bank Account, you will need to fill out a questionnaire. Youâ€™ll be asked to provide the following information:
- Physical address in the U.S.
- Date of birth
- Driverâ€™s license or state ID
- Other personally identifying information
After youâ€™ve verified your identity, youâ€™ll be able to open an account via the Level website or the app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices.
Level vs. other cash management accounts
Aspiration Spend and Save
||Up to 1.00%
||Up to 1.20%
||Up to 0.20%
Level vs. Aspiration Spend and Save
- APY:Aspiration wins in terms of APY, offering almost double the APY of Level. Still, you do have to jump through a few hoops to earn Aspirationâ€™s highest APY, while Levelâ€™s applies to all customers.
- Cashback benefits: Level does offer 1% cashback on purchases. Aspiration trumps that by offering up to 10% cashback, though not every purchase will earn the same reward percentage.
- Mobile check deposit: Currently, Aspiration has mobile check deposit while Level does not. When Levelâ€™s launches, the time it takes for your funds to be available will be similar to Aspiration. However, Aspiration allows you to deposit $50,000 via mobile check deposit every statement period while Level limits you to $10,000.
Level vs. Simple
- APY:Simple is by far the winner here, with the potential to offer more than triple the APY of Levelâ€™s Bank Account. You must open two accounts to earn Simpleâ€™s top advertised APY though, whereas Level only requires you to open a single account.
- App: One of Simpleâ€™s core products is its app, which allows users to save for targeted goals and shows them how much is â€˜Safe-to-Spend.â€™ Level also comes with an app, but itâ€™s not as innovative.
- ATM access: Level Bank bests Simple when it comes to ATM access. While Simple offers you free access to a network of 40,000+ ATMs in the Allpoint Network, Level provides free access to 2.3 million ATMs worldwide. Additionally, Level refunds you for the first three ATM owner fees you incur in a month.
Level vs. SoFi Money
- APY: Level does beat SoFi Money in terms of APY, but itâ€™s a low bar to hop. Neither account is particularly competitive.
- ATM reimbursement: SoFiâ€™s ATM reimbursement policy is more generous than Levelâ€™s, offering unlimited ATM fee reimbursements as opposed to capping it at three reimbursements per month.
- FDIC coverage: Levelâ€™s cash management account carries up to $250,000 in FDIC insurance. SoFiâ€™s account, on the other hand, offers $1.5 million in coverage by sweeping your money into several different partner banks.
Is Level right for you?
The Level Bank account is a straightforward cash management account that has no fees and offers 0.50% APY and 1% cash back on all debit card purchases. Still, it may not be a good fit if you:
- Deposit more than $10,000 in checks per month
- Donâ€™t direct deposit at least $1,000 per month
- Prefer dealing with your money in cash or paper checks
In fact, because of its comparatively low APY and the limited ways in which you can access your money, Level Bank Account likely isnâ€™t the best choice for most people looking to open a cash management account. At least consider shopping the competition to find higher APYs and easier access to your money.