12 Best Free Checking Accounts at U.S. Banks


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It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find truly free checking accounts. At many banks, you’re now required to pay a monthly maintenance fee for the privilege of keeping your checking account open. Such fees can range from a few dollars to $20 or more, depending on the bank and other associated perks. To avoid these fees, you may need to maintain a high minimum daily balance, make regular deposits of a certain size or frequency, or execute a minimum number of transactions in a statement period.

Fortunately, it’s still possible to find free checking accounts. You just have to know where to look. Many online banks offer legitimately free, FDIC-insured (up to $250,000 per account) accounts with few restrictions and plenty of sweeteners. Some even pay noticeable interest.

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If you’re looking for a checking account that won’t eat away at your deposits, take a closer look at these options available to customers throughout the United States.

Best Free Checking Accounts

1. Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account

Very Attractive Yields, Even on Low Balances

bank5connect logoIf you’re looking for an attractive yield with a reasonable minimum balance requirement, it’s hard to do better than the Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account. Bank5 Connect also has reasonable overdraft fees and a generous reimbursement policy for third-party ATM fees. A sub-par mobile app counts against it, but the main website works okay on mobile devices.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s a $10 minimum opening balance and no daily minimum balance requirement. However, to earn interest you need to keep a daily balance of at least $100.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: All Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account balances greater than $100 yield 0.76% APY. This is significantly higher than many competitors.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Bank5 Connect never charges a fee for withdrawing money at U.S. ATMs. If you withdraw from other banks’ ATMs, Bank5 Connect reimburses those surcharges up to a total of $15 per month. Your first order of personal checks (five books), all wire transfers, and cashiers checks are also free. The UChoose Debit Rewards program earns 1 point per $2 spent on signed and PINless debit card transactions. Redeem your points for travel, gift cards, and merchandise at Bank5 Connect’s rewards portal.
  • Mobile Features:Check deposit and bill pay. The account is Android and iPhone compatible, though the mobile app is not as user-friendly as other options.
  • Overdraft Options: If you have a savings account with Bank5 Connect, you can opt in to an overdraft transfer program that automatically pulls money from it to cover a checking account overdraft at no charge. If you don’t have another account with Bank5 Connect, you can opt in to overdraft protection, which levies a flat fee of $15 per overdraft.
  • Possible Fees: Returned deposit ($7), stop payment ($15), paper statement ($1 per month), and levies and garnishments, which occur when a government entity pulls funds from your bank account to cover back taxes, judgments, or other legal obligations ($25 per item).

2. Discover Bank Cashback Checking

1% Cash Back on Up to $3,000 in Debit Card Purchases Each Month

Discover Bank is a full-service online bank with an unusually generous, totally free checking account. The headline here is the account’s 1% cash back yield on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. That adds up to as much as $30 cash back per month, or $360 cash back per year.

Discover Bank has no minimum balance requirements and boasts a pretty forgiving fee schedule with no bill pay, check reorder, replacement debit card, bank check, or wire fees. Plus, customers have fee-free access to more than 60,000 ATMs around the U.S. – more than most competitors.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: None.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: No yield, but qualifying debit card purchases earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 spent each month. P2P transfers, third-party money market purchases, ATM transactions, and point-of-sale cash back transactions don’t earn cash back or count toward the spending cap.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Discover Bank doesn’t charge ATM fees. Checks, replacement debit cards, and a slew of other services are free.
  • Mobile Features: The account is Android and iPhone compatible, with impressive functionality across the board.
  • Overdraft Options: Discover Bank doesn’t have a formal overdraft protection plan. Insufficient funds transactions cost $30 per item, limit one per day, and Discover Bank reserves the right to decline them at any time.
  • Possible Fees: Stop payment ($15), outgoing wire ($30), NSF transactions ($30).

3. Ally Bank Interest Checking

No Minimums; No ATM Fees, Ever

Ally Bank is one of the original online banks, and its Interest Checking account remains immensely popular. There are no minimums of any kind here. Ally also reimburses all third-party ATM fees, without exclusion. Low overdraft fees (just $9 per transaction) sweeten the deal further.

Drawbacks include low yields on modest balances and a surcharge on all international transactions.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum deposit to open an account, and no minimum daily balance.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: This account yields 0.10% APY on balances less than $15,000, and 0.60% APY on balances greater than that amount.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Ally Bank never charges ATM fees and provides unlimited reimbursements for all third-party ATM fees or surcharges at the end of each month.
  • Mobile Features: Mobile check deposit (Ally eCheck Deposit), ATM finder, send money to a friend (Popmoney), bill pay, and internal and external transfers using the Zelle® money transfer app. The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: Ally lets you opt in to a free overdraft transfer service that pulls funds from your savings or money market account to cover negative balances. You can also opt in to an overdraft protection program that charges a one-time fee of $25 per overdraft transaction. If you don’t elect either program, you won’t be able to make transactions that would result in an overdraft.
  • Possible Fees: Stop payment ($15), outgoing wires ($20), and international transactions (1% of transaction total).

4. Capital One 360 Checking

No Minimum Balances; $50 Account Opening Bonus

capital one 360 logo360 Checking from Capital One 360 comes with an attractive yield, especially for larger balances. Though the once-generous account opening bonus has been discontinued, the relatively low fees make this a low-overhead option for frugal account holders.

360 Checking’s mobile app is among the best in the business, with intuitive mobile check deposit, an interactive ATM finder, seamless person-to-person money transfers, and text alerts for a wide range of account functions. Drawbacks include high fees for replacement debit cards, high minimum balance requirements for the best annual yields, and no out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum deposit or balance required for this account.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: Capital One 360 Checking yields 0.20% APY on balances up to $49,999.99, 0.75% APY on balances between $50,000 and $99,999.99, and 1.00% APY on balances greater than $100,000.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Capital One 360 customers enjoy access to about 40,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide – 38,000 in the Allpoint network, and 2,000 Capital One-branded machines. All new accounts come with a free checkbook as well. Out of this network, your ATM fees aren’t reimbursed.
  • Mobile Features: Mobile check deposit, ATM finder,  bill pay, and text alerts for balances and bills due. The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: You can opt in to an overdraft line of credit that accrues daily interest at variable rates north of 10% APR. You can also opt into an overdraft protection service that charges $35 per item, or a free savings transfer program that draws from your Capital One 360 savings account.
  • Possible Fees: Statement copies ($5), NSF or non-sufficient funds check ($9), and domestic outgoing wire (up to $40).

5. Bank of Internet USA Rewards Checking

Tiered Yields up to 1.25%

bank of internet usa logoThe Bank of Internet USA Rewards Checking account is one of several free checking options offered by Bank of Internet USA, a pioneering online bank. Rewards Checking doesn’t automatically pay interest, but you can earn a yield of up to 1.25% on your funds by meeting certain qualifications. These include using your debit card 10 times per month and accepting a monthly direct deposit of at least $1,000. Basically, BoI wants to be your primary checking account.

BoI is one of the few online-only banks that allows remote cash deposits, thanks to its partnership with the Green Dot® Reload @ the Register program. If you earn a substantial portion of your income in cash, this is a definite perk – though, at up to $4.95 per transaction, it’s not cheap.

One big downside is no overdraft service unless you open another account with BoI. And, though the bank advertises free checks with a new checking account, you actually need to request them when you open the account (and checks might not be the first thing on your mind at that time).

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: You need $100 to open a Rewards Checking account, but there’s no minimum daily balance requirement once it’s open.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: Rewards Checking accounts come with a base yield of 0%. However, you can earn interest on balances of any amount in several ways. If you only receive a $1,000 direct deposit or use your card at least 10 times (but less than 15 times) in a given month, your annual interest rate for that month is 0.4166%. If you use your card at least 15 times, it’s 0.8333%. If you both receive a $1,000 deposit and use your card at least 10 times, your rate for that month is also 0.8333%. If you receive a $1,000 deposit and use your card at least 15 times, you earn 1.25%. Qualifying transactions must be $3 or greater.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Bank of Internet USA offers unlimited reimbursements for all U.S. ATM fees. You also get your first 50 checks free with a Rewards Checking account if you ask for them at account opening.
  • Mobile Features: Check deposits, bill pay, send money to friends, and FinanceWorks (a budgeting tool from Quicken). The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: Bank of Internet USA offers free overdraft transfers from a linked internal savings or money market account. If you don’t opt in to this service, any transaction that would result in an overdraft fails.
  • Possible Fees: Debit card replacement ($10), cashiers checks ($10), stop payment ($35), cash deposits at participating retail locations through Green Dot Reload @ the Register (up to $4.95 per transaction).

6. Independent Bank Free Rewards Checking

Potential for Very High Checking Yields

Independent Bank is a Texas-based institution that offers banking products to customers across the United States. Though its Free Rewards Checking account comes with a relatively low baseline interest rate, it has the potential to yield up to 1.50% annually when used properly. If you satisfy certain conditions, the Free Rewards Checking account pays better than many 24-month CDs. These conditions are:

  • You must make least 12 debit card purchases per month
  • Sign up for electronic statements
  • Have at least 1 monthly direct deposit or debit

Other useful features include the option to link to Independent Bank’s REALSaver savings account for automatic savings transfers.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: You need to make a minimum opening deposit of $100, but there’s no minimum balance requirement thereafter.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: This account has a baseline annual yield of 0.01% on all balances. However, you can dramatically boost your account’s annual yield – to 1.50% on balances up to $10,001 – by meeting 3 qualifications: signing up for electronic statements, initiating at least 1 direct deposit or debit per month, and making at least 12 debit card transactions per month. If you meet the qualifications, only balances below $10,000 are eligible to yield 1.50% annually.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Independent Bank never charges a fee to use ATMs. It also offers reimbursements for all ATM fees levied by other institutions, up to $20 per billing cycle. If you open a REALSaver account (yielding 0.50% annually on balances up to $15,000), sign up for electronic statements, initiate a monthly direct deposit, and make at least 12 monthly debit card transactions, Independent Bank automatically deposits your ATM reimbursements into that account.
  • Mobile Features: Bill pay, ATM finder, check deposit, and text alerts. The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: Independent Bank allows you to tie in a checking or money market account and make transfers to cover your checking account’s overdraft transactions. The fee for this service is $7 per active day (days on which a transfer is required). You can also opt in to an overdraft protection program that charges a one-time fee of $34 per overdraft transaction. Or you can opt into an overdraft line of credit program, which charges variable interest on overdrafted balances. If you don’t opt in to any of these programs, you can’t make transactions that would result in a negative balance.
  • Possible Fees: Stop payment ($35), NSF or non-sufficient funds checks ($35), and outgoing wire transfers ($25).

7. FNBO Direct Online Checking Account

Competitive Yields on All Checking Account Balances

fnbo direct logoThe FNBO Direct Online Checking account is a straightforward product that pays an attractive yield on all balances, has a negligible minimum opening deposit ($1), and never requires a minimum balance. Despite its no-frills appearance, this account has a nice mobile platform that lets you send money directly to friends and family at no charge.

FNBO does have some drawbacks: no reimbursement for out-of-network ATM fees and hefty daily overdraft fees.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s a minimum opening deposit amount of $1 and no minimum balance requirement.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: This account yields 0.65% APY on all balances.
  • Rewards and Incentives: FNBO Direct doesn’t charge its own ATM withdrawal fees. However, it never reimburses ATM withdrawal fees charged by other banks.
  • Mobile Features: Bill pay and send money to a friend using the Popmoney app (free for standard-duration transfers, $10 for next-day transfers). The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: You can opt in to an overdraft protection program that charges a one-time fee of $33 per transaction, up to a daily maximum overdraft charge of $132. That’s equivalent to 4 overdraft transactions per day. FNBO Direct waives this fee for 1 overdraft per calendar year. If you don’t opt in, you can’t make transactions that would result in an overdraft……Read more>>

 

Source:- moneycrashers

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