The 7 Best Banks With Free Checking of 2020
Because who wants to pay fees if you don't have to?
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Your checking account is the nerve center of your personal finances, which is why it is so important to choose the right bank for your needs. If you want free checking, a former staple of all big banks, you may have to do a bit of hunting and you should be sure to check the following important criteria off your list.
Monthly fees: The first place to look is monthly fees. The best free checking accounts have no minimum balances or requirements to avoid a monthly maintenance fee. There should be no maintenance fee at all.
ATMs: Online banks work with large ATM networks. Before signing up, make sure your new checking account offers ATM locations that are convenient for you. If you have regular vacation spots or like to visit the family “back home,” make sure there are ATMs there as well. But the best accounts reimburse other bank ATM fees and don’t charge one even if you do go out of network.
Depositing cash: The big stickler for online-only accounts is depositing cash. The big, traditional banks have to keep branches open for cash deposits, which is quite expensive. The best free checking accounts don’t let you deposit cash. If that is important for you, consider a credit union or traditional branch bank.
Now that all the bases are covered, below you'll find the best banks with free checking today. So dive into our list and let us help decide which one may be the best fit for you.
Ally Bank is an online-only bank with one of the best free checking accounts available today. It comes with no fees, up to $10 in monthly ATM fee reimbursements for other banks’ ATM fees, mobile check deposit and even pays a little bit of interest to sweeten the deal.
Ally doesn’t offer the very best interest rate around, paying 0.10 percent APY on balances up to $15,000 and 0.60 percent on balance of $15,000 and above. However, the combination of no fees for regular activity and some of the best online banking options around, you can’t go wrong with this checking account. The only thing you can’t do is deposit cash. Unless you are in a tip-heavy profession, that probably isn’t an issue.
Capital One 360 Checking is a great account for no fees. It has all of the online and mobile banking features you would expect from an online bank and offers four options for overdrafts, including auto-decline, free transfer from savings and an overdraft line of credit. Say goodbye to overdraft fees forever, along with the rest of the fees big banks charge for regular monthly activity.
This bank pays 0.20 percent interest for balances up to $50,000, which is a bit better than what you get at Ally for lower balance accounts. Capital One 360 customers can access over 39,000 ATMs fee-free, but no refund for other bank ATM charges. This bank isn’t completely online only. They offer a chain of Capital One Cafes, that double as coffee shops and bank branches in one.
If you took your favorite budgeting software and favorite no-fee checking account and mashed them together, you would end up with Simple. Simple offers just one account, a no-fee checking account that is tightly tied to its online banking and mobile app. But those online banking systems don’t stop at transfers and bill pay, they offer quite a bit more.
Simple has budgeting and spending tracking features built into the same app that you use for mobile banking. No more wondering if you can afford a purchase, you can look it up and know right on the spot. It also features a savings goal feature to help you stash away cash for a future trip, purchase or anything else.
Unlike most “free checking” accounts that charge fees for some irregular needs, this one charges no fees at all. For anything. Really. You might see a pass-through from using your debit card outside the United States or a fee from another bank’s ATM, but no fees ever from Simple.
Want to learn more? Check out our full review of Simple.
While the Internet is not a real place you can go to, it is a location real enough for its own bank. Axos Bank is an online bank for anyone in the United States, and it has six unique checking accounts to choose from, three of which charge no fees.
Rewards Checking is a no-fee account with unlimited reimbursement of any domestic ATM fee, which is great for those who get paid by direct deposit but prefer going to an ATM to spend cash (conditions apply to earn interest). Platinum Checking is better for those use the ATM less ($8 in reimbursements per month, $5,000 minimum balance for interest). The basic is Essential Checking, which doesn’t offer interest but does give you unlimited ATM reimbursements with no minimum balance.
If you want an online checking account that pays competitive interest rates without having to jump through hoops, you should check out Bank5 Connect. This fee free account opens with a $10 minimum deposit and you need to keep $100 in the account to earn interest, which is currently at a competitive 0.76 percent APY.
One of the biggest benefits is the ATM fee reimbursement, which goes up to $15 per statement cycle. That is roughly four to five trips to any old random ATM without paying a cent out of pocket. Plus, you get all of the regular online banking perks such as online bill pay, online statements (you have to pay to get them in the mail), mobile banking, first free order of basic checks and even debit card rewards when you make a non-PIN purchase for everyday spending. This kind of cash back is rare for debit these days, which makes it a very valuable added benefit.
You can also read through our full review of Bank5 Connect.
Usually, you need a credit card to earn the best cash back, but Discover offers a pretty compelling deal with one percent cash back on up to $3,000 in monthly purchases. That’s up to $360 per year in cash back depending on your spending habits, plus the checking account is free with no fees for regular activity.
This account has no monthly fees and no minimum balances, a standard to get on this list. Discover Bank offers 60,000 fee-free ATMs and includes free check reorders when you use up your checkbook, which will probably take quite a while in this day and age.
The one big downside to this account is that the debit card is Discover branded, which means you can’t use it for purchases as widely as Visa and Mastercard branded debit cards. However, with almost no fees outside of sending a wire, stopping a payment and the dreaded overdraft, you’ll be able to enjoy everything this account has to offer without paying fees.
Check out our full review of Discover Bank.
Charles Schwab is one of the best-known discount brokerages in the United States. But Schwab has a secret: It also offers one of the best free checking accounts around. Schwab’s Investor Checking account requires a brokerage account to open, so it isn’t for everybody. But if you do have the chops for investments, you may want to add on this free checking account as a bonus.
The bank offers a small level of interest, but the most important feature for regular travelers is its unlimited reimbursement of other bank ATM fees, including those from outside the United States. No more worrying about getting pesos before you head to Mexico or Euros before hopping on a red-eye across the pond. Now you can just go to an ATM and get reimbursed for any fees. You typically also get some of the best exchange rates with ATMs, not exchange shops or cambios you’ll see in popular tourist spots.
Want some more information? Read through our full review of Charles Schwab Bank.