Friday, December 2, 2022

    The best no-fee checking accounts of September 2022

    The best no-fee checking accounts of September 2022

    Updated

    2022-09-27T18:34:59Z


    Insider’s experts choose the best products and services to help make smart decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive a commission from our our partners, however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

    A good checking account is essential for managing everyday purchases and it shouldn’t cost you a penny.

    For our top picks, we wanted to highlight the checking accounts that charge zero monthly maintenance fees, regardless of your account balance or circumstance.  This list is similar to our list of best checking accounts, since many of our top picks from that list don’t charge monthly fees and offer unique perks. 

    Our expert panel for this guide

    We consulted banking and financial planning experts to inform these picks and provide their advice on finding the best checking accounts for your needs. You can read their insights at the bottom of this post.

    PFI Banking Expert Panel that includes Tania Brown, Roger Ma, Laura Grace Tarpley, and Mykail James

    Insider



    We’re focusing on checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fees, but we’re also taking fees for foreign transactions, out-of-network ATMs, and more into consideration.

    Compare our top picks for no-fee checking accounts

    • Capital One 360 Checking®

    • Discover Cashback Debit Account

    • Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account

    • LendingClub Rewards Checking Account

    • Axos Bank Rewards Checking

    • Chime Checking Account

    • Alliant High-Interest Checking Account

    • Wealthfront Cash Account

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    Editor’s rating

    4.5/5

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    Editor’s rating

    4.25/5

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    Editor’s rating

    4.5/5

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    No minimum opening deposit

    Editor’s rating

    4.25/5

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    A five pointed star

    Editor’s rating

    4.25/5

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    Editor’s rating

    4.25/5

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    No minimum opening deposit

    Editor’s rating

    4.5/5

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    No minimum opening deposit

    Editor’s rating

    4.25/5

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    Capital One 360 Checking®

    Capital One Capital One 360 Checking®

    Capital One 360 Checking®


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.10% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Capital One Capital One 360 Checking®

    Capital One 360 Checking®


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.10% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Deposit Details


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.10% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Pros & Cons

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    0.10% APY on all account balances

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No opening deposit or minimum account balance

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No monthly service fee

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No foreign transaction fee

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Range of overdraft protection options

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Processes direct deposits up to 2 days early

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    $2 out-of-network ATM fee

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    Doesn’t reimburse out-of-network ATM fees

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    Limited access to customer service by phone

    Highlights

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    • Over 70,000 free ATMs nationwide
    • Branches in NY, LA, TX, MD, VA, NJ, and Washington, DC
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured

    Additional Reading

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Why it stands out: With this Capital One checking account, there are no monthly service fees, no foreign transaction fees, and a variety of overdraft protection options. You’ll have access to over 39,000 Capital One and AllPoint ATMs and connects to Zelle for digital money transfers. All balances earn 0.10% APY. 

    What to look out for: Though Capital One Cafés are popping up in big cities around the US, the bank only operates about 470 branches in nine states.

    Discover Cashback Debit Account

    Discover Discover Cashback Debit Account

    Discover Cashback Debit Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    None


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Discover Discover Cashback Debit Account

    Discover Cashback Debit Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    None


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Deposit Details


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    None


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Pros & Cons

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Earn up to 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases per month

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No monthly service fee

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Over 60,000 ATMs

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Early direct deposit

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Enroll in free overdraft protection

    Dash icon A dash. It often indicates an interaction to shrink a section.

    Debit card can only be used in the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean

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    Only 1 branch location

    Highlights

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    • Earn 1% cash back on up on up to $3,000 per month in eligible debit card purchases
    • 100% US-based customer service available 24/7
    • No opening deposit or minimum account balance
    • No monthly maintenance fees
    • Over 60,000 ATMs
    • FDIC insured

    Additional Reading

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Why it stands out: Discover doesn’t charge monthly fees, and you can enroll in free overdraft protection. You’ll earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases every month, and we’ve chosen Discover as one of our favorite rewards checking accounts.

    What to look out for: You can only use your Discover debit card in the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

    Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account

    Charles Schwab Bank Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account

    Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.25% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Charles Schwab Bank Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account

    Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.25% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    On Charles Schwab Bank’s website

    Deposit Details


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.25% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Pros & Cons

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No opening deposit

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No minimum account balance

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Unlimited out-of-network ATM reimbursements

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No foreign transaction fees

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Free overdraft protection

    Dash icon A dash. It often indicates an interaction to shrink a section.

    Must also open a Schwab One brokerage account

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    $25 overdraft fee if you don’t enroll in protection

    Highlights

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    • 24/7 live online chat
    • No ATM network, but unlimited ATM fee reimbursements
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured

    Additional Reading

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Why it stands out: Charles Schwab doesn’t charge ATM fees, and the bank offers unlimited refunds worldwide when an ATM provider charges you a fee. Charles Schwab also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and it has free overdraft protection.

    What to look out for: You must open a brokerage account with Charles Schwab before opening a checking account.

    LendingClub Rewards Checking Account

    LendingClub LendingClub Rewards Checking Account

    LendingClub Rewards Checking Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Up to 0.15% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $100

    LendingClub LendingClub Rewards Checking Account

    LendingClub Rewards Checking Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Up to 0.15% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $100

    Deposit Details


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Up to 0.15% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $100

    Pros & Cons

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Earn 1% cash back on credit purchases if you have at a $2,500 balance on your account

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Earn interest on your checking account

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No monthly service fee

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Receive your paycheck 2 days early

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Unlimited refunds on out-of-network ATM fees

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Overdraft protection is available that lets you link to another account

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    $100 minimum opening deposit

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    Must have $100,000 in your account to earn the highest APY

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    $25 non-sufficient funds charge

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    $5 daily overdraft fee after the 5th straight day of a negative balance

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    Interest compounds monthly, not daily

    Highlights

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    • Online banking institution with 1 branch in Boston, Massachusetts
    • Earn 1% cash back on all credit purchases if you have at least $2,500 in your account
    • Earn 0.00% APY if you have an account balance of $0.00 to $2,4999.99
    • Earn 0.10% APY if you have an account balance of $2,500 to $99,999.99
    • Earn 0.15% APY if you have an account balance of $100,000 or higher
    • Access to over 325,000 surcharge-free ATMs through the NYCE, SUM and MoneyPass ATM networks
    • Interest compounded monthly, paid monthly
    • Member FDIC

    Additional Reading

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Why it stands out: This account gives you the opportunity to earn both cash-back rewards and interest if you maintain a $2,500 balance. You can earn cash back on an unlimited amount each month, and you’ll earn up to 1% on select purchases. 

    What to look out for: You must have $2,500 to make the most of your checking account. LendingClub also compounds interest monthly rather than daily, which will affect how much you earn in the long run.

    Axos Bank Rewards Checking

    Axos Axos Bank Rewards Checking

    Axos Bank Rewards Checking


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Up to 1.25% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $50

    Axos Axos Bank Rewards Checking

    Axos Bank Rewards Checking


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Up to 1.25% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $50

    Deposit Details


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Up to 1.25% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $50

    Pros & Cons

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    High APY

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Unlimited out-of-network ATM reimbursements

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No monthly maintenance fees

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No overdraft fees

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No non-sufficient funds fees

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    $50 opening deposit

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    No APY if you can’t meet qualifications

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    Few mobile app reviews

    Highlights

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    • Zero monthly maintenance fees
    • Zero overdraft or NSF fees
    • Zero minimum monthly balance reqs
    • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
    • Online debit card management
    • Simple, 3-step process for direct deposit
    • Only $50 to open an account

    Additional Reading

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Why it stands out: Axos has a free network of over 91,000 ATMs, and it reimburses an unlimited amount of fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers. The bank doesn’t charge overdraft fees. You have the potential to earn a high APY.

    What to look out for: You can earn up to 1.25% APY, but you must meet certain criteria. 

    Each month, you’ll earn 0.40% APY if you receive at least $1,500 in direct deposits each month. You have to meet this requirement first in order to be eligible for additional interest.

    To earn up to 1.25% APY, you also have to do the following monthly:

    • Make 10 debit card transactions (minimum $3 per transaction) or you need to sign up for Account Aggregation/Personal Finance Manager.
    • Keep at least a daily average of $2,500 in an Axos Managed Portfolios Invest Account.
    • Keep at least a daily average of $2,500 in an Axos Self Directed Trading Invest Account.
    • Make a monthly Axos consumer loan payment with your Reward Checking account.

    Chime Checking Account

    Chime Chime Checking Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    None


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Chime Chime Checking Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    None


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Deposit Details


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    None


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Pros & Cons

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No minimum opening deposit

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No monthly service fees

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Receive your paycheck up to 2 days early

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Rounds debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar and puts spare change in your Chime Savings Account

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No overdraft fees for overdrafts up to $200 with SpotMe, if you qualify

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No foreign transaction fees

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Request checks be sent to recipients online

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Can deposit cash at select retailers

    Dash icon A dash. It often indicates an interaction to shrink a section.

    $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee

    Dash icon A dash. It often indicates an interaction to shrink a section.

    No overdraft protection for overdrafts exceeding $200

    Dash icon A dash. It often indicates an interaction to shrink a section.

    No physical checkbook

    Highlights

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    • 38,000 free ATMs nationwide through MoneyPass® and Visa® Plus Alliance
    • Free cash deposits at Walgreens; May deposit cash at other select retail locations but you may be charged a fee
    • Rounds debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar and moves spare change into your Chime Savings Account
    • Qualify for SpotMe overdraft protection by receiving $200 in direct deposits per month
    • Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.

    Additional Reading

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Why it stands out: You can use 38,000 ATMs for free. Chime doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. You can receive your paycheck up to two days early. If you also have a high-yield Chime Savings Account, then you can round each debit card purchase up to the nearest dollar and automatically put the spare change into savings.

    What to look out for: Chime’s SpotMe feature allows you to overdraw by up to $200 with no overdraft fee — but you must receive $200 in direct deposits each month to qualify for SpotMe.  Your transaction will be denied if you need to overdraw by more than the limit. 

    Alliant High-Interest Checking Account

    Alliant Credit Union Alliant High-Interest Checking Account

    Alliant High-Interest Checking Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.25% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Alliant Credit Union Alliant High-Interest Checking Account

    Alliant High-Interest Checking Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.25% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    On Alliant Credit Union’s website

    Deposit Details


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.25% APY


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $0

    Pros & Cons

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Earn interest

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No minimum opening deposit

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No monthly service fees

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    $20/month in out-of-network ATM fee refunds

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No overdraft fees

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No incoming wire transfer fee

    Dash icon A dash. It often indicates an interaction to shrink a section.

    Compounds interest monthly, not daily

    Dash icon A dash. It often indicates an interaction to shrink a section.

    $25 outgoing wire transfer fee

    Highlights

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    • Several ways to become a member; the easiest is to join Foster Care to Success (Alliant will cover your $5 membership fee)
    • Earn a cash bonus of $100 and Alliant will donate an additional $100 to the Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society, or Easterseals; To qualify you meet the following requirements: 1) Open the High-Rate Checking account by October 7, 2022, with a minimum opening deposit of at least $100; 2) Sign up for online statements, make at least one electronic deposit per month, and maintain a $100 account balance through the end of February 2023
    • 80,000 free ATMs
    • Alliant does not charge overdraft fees; you can overdraw, but you will not pay a fee. You may also link checking to a savings account and select for funds to automatically transfer to cover overdrawn amount.
    • Interest compounded monthly
    • Federally insured by the NCUA

    Additional Reading

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    Why it stands out: Alliant ranks as one of our top credit union picks, so if you prefer a credit union over a bank, this checking account could be a good choice. You don’t need to meet any qualifications to earn interest. Alliant’s free network includes over 80,000 ATMs, and the credit union reimburses up to $20 per month in fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers. You can enroll in free overdraft protection if you also open a savings account.

    What to look out for: If you don’t enroll in overdraft protection, then Alliant can charge you its $28 overdraft fee an unlimited number of times per day. Like many credit unions, Alliant compounds your interest monthly rather than daily, which will limit how much you earn.

    Wealthfront Cash Account

    Wealthfront Wealthfront Cash Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    2.55%


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $1

    Wealthfront Wealthfront Cash Account


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    2.55%


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $1

    Deposit Details


    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    2.55%


    Minimum Deposit Amount

    $1

    Pros & Cons

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Use as both a savings and checking account

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    $1 opening deposit

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    No monthly service fees

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    FDIC insured for $1 million

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Get paid 2 days early

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Access to a debit card

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Mobile check deposit

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Automatically move extra money into investments with Autopilot

    Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

    Save for separate goals in one account

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    No physical branch locations

    Dash icon A dash. It often indicates an interaction to shrink a section.

    To deposit cash, pay a fee at a Green Dot location

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    $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee

    Highlights

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    • FDIC insured for $1 million
    • 19,000 free ATMs
    • Autopilot feature lets you set maximum account balance, and automatically transfers money into investments if you exceed maximum balance by more than $100
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly

    Additional Reading

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Why it stands out: You can receive your paycheck up to two days early. You don’t need to meet any qualifications to earn interest on your balance. Set the maximum amount you want in your account through Wealthfront’s Autopilot feature. When your balance exceeds that amount by over $100, Wealthfront will move the excess funds into a Wealthfront investment account.

    What to look out for: Wealthfront doesn’t charge overdraft fees, but this also means you don’t even have the option to overdraw from the account. Your purchase would just be denied.

    Other accounts that didn’t make the cut and why

    • Ally Interest Checking Account(Member FDIC): This is a solid online checking account that pays interest on your balance, but its features aren’t as unique as what you’ll find with some of our top picks. Read Insider’s full review of Ally here.
    • HMBradley Account (Member FDIC): Some of our top picks offer higher interest rates, and you need an invitation to open an HMBradley account. Read Insider’s full review of HMBradley here.
    • CIT Bank eChecking Account (Member FDIC): The minimum opening deposit for this account is $100 and it only offers up to $15 of fee-free ATM visits a month, otherwise it’s a fine account earning 0.10% APY on balances below $25,000. Read Insider’s full review of CIT Bank here.
    • Betterment Checking Account (Member FDIC): This online checking account reimburses ATM and foreign transaction fees, and there are no monthly service charges or overdraft penalties. However, Betterment is still in the process of developing features like physical checkbooks and joint accounts. Read Insider’s full review of Betterment here.
    • Axos Bank Essential Checking (Member FDIC): A solid online-only checking account with unlimited ATM fee reimbursement, but nothing extra special. Read Insider’s full review of Axos here.
    • Axos Bank Rewards Checking(Member FDIC):  This account offers up to 1% cash back on purchases (up to $2,000 per month), but doesn’t count transactions from grocery stores and requires an average daily balance of $1,500 to earn the cash back. If your balance falls below that limit, you get 0.50% cash back. Read Insider’s full review of Axos here.
    • TIAA Yield Pledge® Checking Account(Member FDIC): No monthly service fees and all balances earn a competitive APY for the first year; after that, the rate drops. To enjoy unlimited ATM reimbursement you need to keep an average daily balance of at least $5,000. You also need at least $100 to open the account. Read Insider’s full review of TIAA here.
    • SoFi Checking and Savings (Member FDIC): This hybrid checking account/savings account pays interest and lets you earn cash-back rewards, but you must deposit $500 per month to qualify for either. Read Insider’s full review of SoFi Checking and Savings here.
    • USAA Classic Checking (Member FDIC): USAA is specifically for military members and family, and new recruits get paid a day early with a checking account. 
    • Aspiration Account(Member FDIC): You have the option to plant a tree every time you swipe your debit card, and you can earn 3% to 5% cash back when you shop at companies like TOMS and Blue Apron.

    Which banks are the most trustworthy?

    The Better Business Bureau assigns companies grades, ranging from F to A . A good BBB grade indicates a company responds effectively to customer complaints, advertises honestly, and is transparent about business practices. Here are the BBB grades for our top picks:

    Capital One 360, Chime, and Wealthfront are the only institutions on our list that don’t have at least an A rating from the BBB.

    Capital One 360 currently does not have a BBB rating because its profile is being updated.

    Wealthfront has a C- grade because it’s received six customer complaints and hasn’t responded to customer complaint. Chime’s BBB rating is because the companies received a high volume of customer complaints. 

    A strong BBB grade doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a smooth relationship with a company, though. We’ve also looked at any public scandals.

    In July 2021, LendingClub Corporation paid $18 million in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission when accused of deceptive lending practices that charged consumers hidden fees and said they were approved for loans even when they weren’t.

    Chime has also been involved in one recent public controversy: The platform used the URL “Chimebank.com” and the words “bank” and “banking” but Chime isn’t licensed as a bank. Chime is a banking platform, and is insured by a bank. 

    Methodology: How did we choose the best no-fee checking accounts?

    To find the best no-fee checking accounts, we consulted our list of the best checking accounts, many of which are completely free for all account holders, regardless of their balance. To compile that list, we considered offerings at over 20 financial institutions, as well as reviews at popular comparison sites like Bankrate and Nerdwallet, to determine the strongest options.

    We also polled Insider employees for their favorite picks and considered J.D. Power’s US National Banking Satisfaction Study for 2021, which measures customer satisfaction at America’s largest retail banks.

    While big retail banks in the US have the most widespread ATM and branch location access, they typically do not offer completely free checking accounts, so we didn’t name a winner for ATM and branch access.

    Unlike a savings account, a checking account doesn’t need to have a high interest rate to be good. In fact, the annual percentage yield (APY) shouldn’t matter much if you’re using your checking account to pay your monthly bills and cover expenses in short order. If your money is constantly flowing in and out of your checking account, it won’t get a chance to earn much interest anyway.

    Frequently asked questions

    Why trust our recommendations?

    At Personal Finance Insider, we strive to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of nearly three dozen checking accounts available at over 20 national and online-only banks so you don’t have to.

    We understand that “best” is often subjective, however, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a checking account — no fees, for example — we outline the limitations, too.

    What banks offer free checking accounts?

    You can find completely free checking accounts at Ally, Betterment, CIT Bank, US Bank, TD Bank, Capital One, Charles Schwab, Discover, Axos, and SoFi Money, to name a few.

    Which banks have the best checking accounts?

    Through our extensive research, we’ve concluded that the best checking accounts available right now are at Capital One, Discover, Simple, and SoFi Money. Some of these may offer to waive service fees if certain requirements are met, but most charge none at all.

    Which banks have free checking with no minimum balance?

    Several banks offer free checking accounts with no minimum balance or opening deposit requirement, including Ally, Charles Schwab, Betterment, and Capital One.

    The experts’ advice on choosing the best checking account for you

    To learn more about what makes a good checking account and how to choose the best fit, four experts weighed in:

    Here’s what they had to say about checking accounts. (Some text may be lightly edited for clarity.)

    What makes a checking account good or not good?

    Roger Ma, CFP:

    “I would look at the ATM branch locations and then minimum balance amounts to not incur a monthly fee. I think there’s other stuff that could make life easier, whether it’s a free checks, online bill pay, are they in the Zelle network?”

    Laura Grace Tarpley, Personal Finance Insider:

    “I would make a list of the top three to five things you want out of a checking account. Is it a great mobile app, 24/7 customer support, no ATM fees? Then research the best banks for those features.”

    How can someone determine whether a bank is the right fit for them?

    Tania Brown, CFP:

    “Obviously, you want to make sure it’s FDIC insured. Also, your banking experience — do you like walking into a bank? Well, then you need someone local. Do you just not care if you ever see your bank? Then you’re okay online. Do you write checks? Do you not write checks? So it’s thinking through how your experience with it is going to be before you make that decision.”

    Mykail James, CFEI:

    “The No. 1 thing about a checking account is you should know what provider the debit card is coming from. And a lot of people don’t think about that, because there are places that don’t accept MasterCard or don’t accept an Amex.”

    Laura Grace Tarpley, CEPF

    Personal Finance Reviews Editor

    Laura Grace Tarpley (she/her) is a personal finance reviews editor at Insider. She edits articles about mortgage rates, refinance rates, lenders, bank accounts, wealth building, and borrowing and savings tips for Personal Finance Insider. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF).
    She has written about personal finance for six years. Before joining the Insider team, she was a freelance finance writer for companies like SoFi and The Penny Hoarder, as well as an editor at FluentU. You can reach Laura Grace at ltarpley@insider.com.
    See below for some of her work.
    Today’s 30-year mortgage rates
    Here are the best mortgage lenders right now
    The pros and cons of paying off your mortgage early
    The best online high-yield savings accounts
    Chase checking accounts: Compare all 5 options
    Learn more about how Personal Finance Insider chooses, rates, and covers financial products and services »


    Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Read our editorial standards.

    Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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