If you are looking to open a new checking account, you’ll find there are many options. Why wouldn’t there be? A checking account is the cornerstone of most people’s. It’s the place where payments, deposits and withdrawals are made. As such, it’s important that your checking account is working with you (and your other ) and not against you.
We can help you sort through all your options and find the best checking account for you. We analyzed more than two dozen options across a broad range of categories in both traditional and online-only banks. As with any financial account, a handful of key features rise above the rest: ATM and branch availability, overdraft protection, fees, minimum deposit requirements, bank bonus enticements and reimbursements and just how easy it is to move money in and out of an account — whether by direct deposit, mobile deposit or old-school cash deposit. Interest rate isn’t really a factor with a standard checking account (more on that below).
We also looked at some new, trendy features, such as banks making funds available a few days early to customers who have signed up to receive their paycheck via direct deposit. Each financial institution’s online banking capabilities were taken into consideration as well.
We paid particularly close attention to bank account fees. Even if a bank touts a “free checking account,” that might not be the whole truth. If you’re considering a new checking account, scrutinize the fee schedule, which will reveal how much a bank charges for a “monthly maintenance fee,” using an out-of-network ATM, falling below a minimum balance requirement or spending more than you have (resulting in an overdraft fee). You don’t want to get hit with a $4 fee just for making an ATM withdrawal at the wrong machine for your bank account.
Though some fees may apply only in certain conditions — you haven’t set up direct deposit or you want to receive monthly paper statements, for example — such waivers should be carefully scrutinized. You won’t want to be in a position where missing your minimum deposit by a couple of bucks or keeping an account balance that’s slightly too low racks up a “monthly maintenance fee.”
We’re also a bit dubious of checking accounts that feature cash-back and rewards incentives. Though a 1% cash-back account could be moderately lucrative, this type of account may obligate you to hit a monthly spending threshold or maintain a certain minimum balance. If earning cash back or rewards is your priority, you’re better off using a Read more>>, the best of which offer significantly higher rates. And if you tend to maintain a high account balance in your checking account, consider putting some of that cash into a , or money market with a higher annual percentage yield…