Banking Checking Accounts

U.S. Bank Smartly Checking Review [2024]: Worth Moving for a Bonus

The U.S. Bank Smartly Checking account offers a standard account, but its promotional bonus is what got me to move.

Updated July 16, 2024
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U.S. Bank Smartly®️ Checking

OUR VIEW

The U.S. Bank Smartly Checking account is a solid standard checking account. What do I mean by standard? It’s a checking account from a brick-and-mortar bank. Like most checking accounts from these banks, it pays almost no interest (0.001%-0.005% (as of Sept. 22, 2023) depending on the balance, to be exact). 

So, why consider a Smartly Checking account, even if some aspects are a bit dated? The frequent bonuses U.S. Bank offers. If you see a Smartly Checking bonus you can qualify for, it’s essentially free money. 

A bonus was the deciding factor in why I got a Smartly Checking account, but I’ve kept it because, overall, it’s a basic checking account that does what I need it to — briefly hold my money until I pay my bills.

Pros

Overdraft protection options to help mitigate fees1
Branch presence makes it a good fit for those who frequently deposit cash
Mobile app has budgeting features that could eliminate the need for a separate budgeting app
Member FDIC for peace of mind

Cons

Charges overdraft fees in certain circumstances
$6.95 monthly maintenance fee, but can be waived if you meet direct deposit requirements or if you’re in certain customer groups (seniors age 65 and older, military personnel, age 24 or younger) 2
Only open to residents in 26 states
How we evaluate products

U.S. Bank Smartly Checking details

Annual percentage yield (APY) 0.001%-0.005% (as of Sept. 22, 2023)3
Minimum deposit requirement $25
Monthly maintenance fees $6.95 (can be waived)21
Overdraft fees
  • $36 for each item
  • Fee is charged when the overdraft item is $5.01 or more and your negative balance is $50.01 or more
Number of branches 2,000+ branches in 26 states4
ATM access
  • 40,000+ ATMs
  • Fee for using a non-U.S. Bank ATM: $2.50
FDIC insured Up to $250,000

Who should get this account?

Two groups will benefit most from a Smartly Checking account:

  • People who live near a branch and value having that access
  • People who qualify for a promotional bonus U.S. Bank is offering (more details on qualifying below)

First, while I aim to never set foot in a bank, I know other folks need to deposit cash or otherwise value face-to-face interactions. So if one’s convenient to you, I’d consider applying to open a checking account.

It’s not a great account for earning interest, but checking accounts generally aren’t. For example, I think SoFi’s 0.50% (as of 07/22/24) APY on its checking account (if you have direct deposit) is a pretty good rate.5

Let’s face it — it’s a hassle to change banks, especially if you like to put bills on autopay. Which is why I needed a bonus to nudge me into taking action and moving my banking.

The $600 bonus offered in April 2023 by U.S. Bank on its Smartly Checking account made it worth the trouble to me. U.S. Bank frequently offers bonuses for opening this account, though the amount and exact requirements vary.

Read the fine print

That said, be sure to read the fine print on any bonus offer, including any offer from U.S. Bank. You want to be sure you can meet the qualifications before you put in an account application.

In general, bonus offers are paid based on how much you direct deposit in a certain time period, the balance you have over a certain time period, or both. You may also need to open a savings account.

One key factor to consider is the type of direct deposits you receive. Typically, only employer and government benefit direct deposits count, but some banks may allow other deposits to qualify.

You’ll also have a specific timeframe to meet the bonus qualifications, so be sure to note that as well.

Here’s the fine print on U.S. Bank’s current offer, for example:

Earn up to $450 when you open a new U.S. Bank Smartly® Checking account and complete qualifying activities

  • You earn $450 with a new Bank Smartly Checking account if you deposit a total of $8,000 within 90 days of account opening
    • To qualify, you need to enroll in the U.S. Bank Mobile App or online banking within 90 days of opening your account
    • You also need to make two or more direct deposits totaling $2,000 to $4,999.99 to earn $250, $5,000 to $7,999.99 to earn $350, or $8,000 or more to earn $450
  • Paychecks and deposits of government benefits count
  • Fund your new account within 30 days to start qualifying activities
  • Other electronic deposits or person-to-person payments don’t count
  • You must open an account by September 26, 2024 with a minimum deposit of $25 online to qualify 
  • It’s not available if you live outside of the U.S. Bank footprint (see states served by U.S. Bank below)
  • May not be available if you’re a current U.S. Bank or State Farm customer

So do the math, check the details, and apply if it works for you.

Other key facts

Customer eligibility

You won’t be able to submit an application if you don’t live within U.S. Bank’s service area. These are the states where U.S. Bank operates.

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming2

Overdraft options

Unfortunately, U.S. Bank does charge overdrafts in certain circumstances. So if you’re someone who runs their checking account pretty low, you may want to opt for an option that doesn’t have overdraft fees. SoFi and Discover both have checking accounts with no overdraft fees.6

That said, U.S. Bank does come with an overdraft fee forgiveness program, where if you deposit enough to bring your balance up to $0 on the first day you’re charged a fee, it will automatically waive the fee in most cases.

You can also link another account, like a savings account, to cover transactions that overdraw your checking account.

Monthly maintenance fees

There’s a $6.95 monthly service fee. It’s possible to waive this fee if you meet certain criteria, but it would be better if you didn’t have to worry about a service charge at all. Especially since many banks and fintech companies have gotten away from service fees altogether.2

Smart Rewards

As the name indicates, the Smart Rewards Program rewards you for your account balances. U.S. Bank will consider more than just your checking account balance, though. It will take checking, savings, money market, CD, and IRS accounts along with U.S. Bancorp investments and certain personal trust accounts.

Here are some of the benefits Smart Rewards offers and the balances you need to qualify:

Primary Plus Premium Pinnacle
Minimum total qualifying balances $20,000 $50,000 $100,000 $250,000
ATM fees waived First two non-U.S. Bank ATM fees waived First four non-U.S. Bank ATM fees waived All non-U.S. Bank fees waived All non-U.S. Bank fees waived
Overdraft fees waived N/A N/A One overdraft Paid Fee waived per statement period All overdraft fees waived
Savings interest rate lift 5% 10% 15% 15%
Discount on Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) annual fee $25 $50 No annual fee No annual fee

Moving money

I’ve been able to move money into and out of my Smartly Checking account with no problems. I’ve done external transfers, but U.S. Bank also offers Zelle transfers and mobile check deposits using U.S. Bank’s mobile app. And the mobile app is pretty user-friendly and has some useful features like tracking your spending.

Callout: The U.S. Bank Mobile Banking app has a 4.8 out of 5 rating with over 1.6 million ratings on the App Store. On Google Play, the U.S. Bank mobile app has a 4.7 out of 5 rating with over 400,000 ratings. I agree with that assessment. It’s a solid app, but it hasn’t changed my life or anything.

FAQ

Is U.S. Bank a good bank to use?

U.S. Bank is fine. It’s a traditional bank with standard account options. It does offer services beyond banking like personal loans and mortgages, if you’re the type that likes all their financial accounts in one place.

Are U.S. Bank accounts safe?

Yes, eligible U.S. Bank accounts provide FDIC insurance of up to $250,000. That includes checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, IRAs, and more. Note that certain investment products that aren’t deposits, such as mutual funds and stocks, aren’t covered by FDIC insurance.

Why would U.S. Bank deny me a checking account?

If U.S. Bank denied you for a checking account, you might have negative information on your checking account report. Many banks and credit unions use reports from checking account screening companies, such as Early Warning Services, to help with application screening processes.

You can typically check these reports and dispute any information you believe to be inaccurate.

Bottom line

I have no complaints about my U.S. Bank Smartly Checking account. It does its job. And the bonus I earned when I qualified definitely came in handy. If you see a bonus for opening a U.S. Bank account, review the criteria carefully, and if you meet them, I’d consider submitting an application.

If this account doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, though, check out our list of the best banks to find an account that makes more sense for you.

Overdraft protection options to help mitigate fees1
Branch presence makes it a good fit for those who frequently deposit cash
Mobile app has budgeting features that could eliminate the need for a separate budgeting app
Member FDIC for peace of mind

Author Details

Melinda Sineriz, ABFP™

Melinda Sineriz is a Lead Editor at FinanceBuzz and an Accredited Behavioral Finance Professional™ designee. Melinda has a B.A. in English from Miami University and a master’s degree from Bard College. Before focusing on personal finance content, she worked in insurance for six years, educating clients on Medicare supplements, life insurance, long-term care, and annuities.