TIAA checking review: Free checking with a high-yield guarantee

Woman sitting at her desk, looking over documents as she considers opening a TIAA checking accountImage: Woman sitting at her desk, looking over documents as she considers opening a TIAA checking account
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TIAA Yield Pledge Checking® account at a glance

Physical locations Only in Florida
Getting started Simple process with a minimum $100 initial deposit
Monthly service fee No monthly account fees
Overdraft fees No overdraft fees, but transactions may be declined if you overdraw your account
Other fees Returned deposit fee: Up to $10 per declined item deposited into your account
Stop payment fee: $25 per item to stop payment
Expedited electronic bill payment: $4.95
Expedited overnight bill payment: $14.95
How to deposit Mobile check deposits, internal and external transfers, Zelle transfers, direct deposits, checks by mail, wire transfers, in-person deposits (at Florida financial centers)
How to pay/withdraw Debit card transactions, internal and external transfers, checks, Zelle, TIAA locations and ATMs
Notable feature TIAA assesses competitor yields every week and adjusts its yields to ensure they remain in the top 5% of competitive accounts

TIAA offers a Yield Pledge Checking account, as well as a basic checking account. We’ll focus on TIAA’s Yield Pledge Checking account.

Yield Pledge Checking offers convenient checking with an overdraft protection option as well as competitive checking account yields and no monthly account fees.

It’s simple to get started, but you’ll need to make an initial deposit of at least $100, which is higher than some other checking account options, including TIAA’s basic checking account.

5 things to know about TIAA’S Yield Pledge checking account

Here’s a closer look at some of the most important features of TIAA’s Yield Pledge checking account. 

1. Full-service banking solutions

In addition to offering standard checking account services, TIAA also offers business banking and a variety of retirement and investment products. For people looking to tie in savings and money market accounts, TIAA has a similar yield pledge for its money market account.

Being able to handle many financial needs with one institution might be an advantage for you, since it can be more convenient than having to deal with multiple companies.

2. Debit card with purchase protection benefits

When you use a TIAA Bank debit card, you’ll automatically receive purchase benefits, including extended warranty protection on eligible purchases.

This is a benefit that not all free checking accounts provide. In fact, it’s more commonly seen as a credit card perk. The extra protection and peace of mind can be a significant benefit that may make a TIAA checking account more attractive than some other checking accounts.

3. Powerful online and mobile platforms

The TIAA Yield Pledge checking account has online and mobile platforms that allow you to manage your money from wherever you are, 24 hours a day.

TIAA’s platform lets you set budget and savings goals, make internal and external transfers, send and receive Zelle transfers, and more. It also offers a “web safety guarantee,” which offers protection for any funds lost because of unauthorized online use.

This can be an advantage if you enjoy the convenience and flexibility of online and mobile banking — or if you work nontraditional hours or travel and don’t want to be tied to specific banking hours and locations.

4. You may find higher rates elsewhere

Despite TIAA’s pledge to remain in the top 5% of checking account yields, it may be possible to find higher rates elsewhere. New account sign-up bonuses at other financial institutions might put more cash in your pocket.

5. Limited customer service

While you can access your accounts online or through your smart phone at any time, if you need to speak to a customer service representative, you’ll only be able to reach them by phone between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern time on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time on Saturdays. This can be inconvenient, particularly if you have an issue you want to resolve right away.

Does TIAA have checking accounts?

While TIAA may be best known for its roots as a major retirement and pension fund manager for teacher’s unions and government workers, the company offers two types of checking accounts: a basic checking account and the Yield Pledge checking account.

Who can join TIAA?

TIAA is an acronym for the Teacher’s Insurance and Annuity Association of America. But access to TIAA bank isn’t limited to teachers. Anyone can apply for a TIAA banking account.

Not sure if TIAA Yield Pledge checking is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • SoFi checking: This may be a good option if you’re interested in a free checking account with no monthly fees, overdraft fees or minimum balance requirements.
  • Capital One 360 checking account: This checking account offers more than 70,000 fee-free ATMs branches and cafes for in-person banking.

About the author: Beth Deyo is a personal finance freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in Finance from the University of South Florida. She is also a Certified Financial Planner™ with 14 years of wealth management experience. She … Read more.