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.
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. Chime Deposit Account
Get Paid 2 Days Early With Direct Deposit; Virtually No Fees
Chime is a mobile-first banking app that merges the low cost of online checking and savings accounts with the convenience of truly on-the-go banking. The headline here is Chime’s promise – subject to the policies of payers and their banks – that its Deposit Account (checking) customers get paid two days faster with direct deposit. If you’re accustomed to Friday paydays, but could really use the money on Wednesday, the Chime Deposit Account may be the free checking account you’ve been waiting for.
Speaking of free: Chime has virtually no fees, save for a $2.50 over-the-counter cash withdrawal charge that’s easily avoided when you use one of the bank’s 38,000 fee-free ATMs. Add in an automatic savings option that rounds up the change on every debit card transaction and you’ve got a serious contender on your hands.
- Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum opening deposit and no minimum daily balance.
- Account Opening Bonus: None.
- Yield: None.
- Rewards and Incentives: Chime charges virtually no fees. Under normal circumstances, you won’t pay a dime to use your account.
- Mobile Features: Mobile check deposit, fee-free P2P transfers, fee-free electronic bill pay, mobile payment app compatibility (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay). The mobile app is Android and iPhone compatible.
- Overdraft Options: Chime does not offer overdraft protection. Under normal circumstances, transactions that would result in a negative account balance are automatically declined. Chime deals with special cases that unavoidably result in negative balances, such as pay-at-the-pump gas transactions, on a case-by-case basis.
- Possible Fees: Over-the-counter cash withdrawal ($2.50).
2. Axos Bank Rewards Checking
Tiered Yields up to 1.25%
The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account is one of several free checking options offered by the bank formerly known as Bank of Internet USA, an online banking pioneer. 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, Axos Bank wants to be your primary checking account.
Axos Bank isn’t perfect. For instance, the bank advertises free checks with a new checking account, but you may actually need to request them when you open the account. 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: Axos Bank 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: Axos Bank 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).
3. 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: For a limited time, Discover is matching all cash back earned on debit transactions for the first 6 months your account is open. You must open your account by May 29, 2019, using this link and promo code ‘CBMA519’, to qualify for the match.
- 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).
4. 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).
See our Ally Bank Review for more information.
5. Capital One 360 Checking
No Minimum Balances; $50 Account Opening Bonus
360 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)……Read more>>