The 7 Best No-Fee Checking Accounts of 2020

Why shell out money when you don't have to?

Image shows two people sitting at a desk; one is setting up the other with a no-fee-checking account

Image by Maddy Price © The Balance 2020

A checking account is the core of your personal finances. For most people, your regular income and expenses pass through a checking account. In many ways, a checking account is like your personal finance headquarters, with other financial accounts linking to this account for transfers.

For many years, free and no fee checking accounts were a given. But over time, the big banks have slowly eliminated no-fee checking accounts. Instead, checking accounts might charge hefty monthly maintenance fees if you don’t meet specific requirements. And for most people, those fees are completely worthless and avoidable.

If you want to choose a bank with a no-fee checking account, follow along with this guide to some of your best options for no fee checking accounts in the United States.

Best Overall: Ally Bank Interest Checking

If you want an easy-to-use, no-fee checking account, Ally Bank’s Interest Checking Account is a top choice. This online banking account is simple to use and does not charge any fees for regular checking account activity.

This account pays a modest interest rate and offers free Allpoint ATM uses and up to $10 in monthly reimbursements for other bank ATM fees. It also offers quick online transfers with Zelle and has great customer service where it is easy to reach a human on the phone (which is pretty rare nowadays).

There are no monthly fees, plus no fees for ACH transfers to or from other banks, no fees for cashier’s checks and no fees for incoming wires. This account also offers free checks, which come in handy for your landlord or anyone else who still wants to get paid like it’s the 1990s.

Like all online accounts, you can’t deposit cash into an Ally Interest Checking Account. However, you can easily deposit checks from your phone or by mail, manage your banking online on your computer or phone and get cash from ATMs if you ever need it. Unless you have a job where you get paid in a lot of cash (restaurant, valet and other tip-heavy jobs) or want a physical bank branch to visit, this is a great account for most people’s checking needs.

Best No ATM Fees: Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking

Most people think of Charles Schwab as an investment brokerage, which is accurate. But Schwab does more for your money than just investments. This checking account does require you also have a Schwab brokerage account (no fees there either), but once it is open it is easy to use. If you want a checking account that you won’t have to think about very often because it just works, Investor Checking is a good choice.

Schwab’s checking account offers one feature that stands out above almost all other checking accounts: unlimited ATM rebates worldwide. You can go to any ATM anywhere, and Schwab will automatically reimburse you each month. It doesn’t matter if you are at the airport, a stadium or the other side of the world working in a foreign currency. Your ATM transaction is fee free!

Schwab Investor Checking offers a modest interest rate, one that beats pretty much all of the big brick and mortar banks. This account comes with everything you expect from an online bank, including online banking, mobile banking, mobile check deposits and compatibility with mobile payment wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.

You can’t deposit cash, but you can visit any Schwab brokerage branch to deposit a check or get help if you want in-person support. But the online and phone customer service is so good, you probably won’t need to bother making a trip to the branch.

You can also read through our full review of Charles Schwab.

Best for Flexible Overdrafts: Capital One 360 Checking

This is a great checking account with no regular fees, but you already know that or it wouldn’t be on this list. Capital One 360 checking stands out from other no-fee checking accounts because of its high-tech banking experience and lots of flexibility for avoiding overdraft fees.

This account offers a modest interest rate, some of the best mobile and online banking interfaces among all online banks, free Allpoint ATMs, plus all of the other goodies you expect from online banking.

Even the best low-fee and no-fee banks might still charge for overdrafts, but 360 Checking takes a unique approach. Users get four options for overdrafts depending on what you value most. One option is to simply auto-decline any overdrafting transaction at the ATM, checkout counter or elsewhere with no fee. You can also transfer from a linked savings account or transfer for free from a linked overdraft line of credit (you just pay interest). Finally, you can set your account to pay the overdraft with one business day to remedy for free before getting hit with a $35 fee.

With no fees for regular use, highly rated apps and flexible overdraft options, Capital One 360 Checking, formerly ING Direct Electronic Orange Checking, may be perfect for your needs.

Best for High Interest Rates: Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking

Bank5 Connect is newer to the lists of top checking accounts, but it landed with a splash. This account offers 0.76% APY interest (as of this writing) with no strings attached. Some banks do offer higher interest but require extra activity requirements such as direct deposit, debit card use or bill pay use. With Bank5 Connect, you get the best interest rate just for having an account.

Bank5 Connect charges no monthly fees and is free to use with online statements (pay $1 per month for paper statements). The account also offers up to $15 per month in ATM fee reimbursements, online and mobile banking and all of the other goodies you expect from an online bank. That even includes your first order of basic checks for free.

One unique feature of this account is the UChoose Debit Rewards program. Earn points when you use your debit card, which you can redeem for gift cards, electronics, travel packages, and other items. You can get better rewards with a high-end rewards credit card, but among debit cards, this is one of the better rewards programs available today.

Want to learn more? Check out our full review of Bank5 Connect.

Best for Military: USAA Classic Checking

Military members and their families can join USAA, one of the best banks in the country for military families. And for checking accounts, USAA offers several good options to choose from. The Classic Checking account is fee-free with no minimum balance, like all accounts on this list. But it does more for military members and families than any other checking account.

USAA Classic Checking offers 60,000 in-network ATMs and up to $15 per month in refunds for domestic ATM use. Avoid overdraft fees with a linked savings account or credit card.

Some military-specific benefits include no opening deposit for new recruits and a prefilled 1199A form for direct deposit. This means you’ll get paid easily and quickly every payday from DFAS with no hassles starting on day one. Plus you get all of the mobile and online banking features you expect from any modern bank.

Best for Budgeting: Simple

Simple offers just one account, its flagship Simple checking account. Simple Checking is mobile first, with the mobile app and debit card acting as your primary methods of interacting with the account.

In addition to online and mobile banking, no fees and all of the other features that come with an online-only bank, Simple a goal feature that makes saving and budgeting much easier. Simple takes some of the tools offered by outside money management apps and integrates them right into the Simple checking account.

This makes saving and budgeting easier with Simple than just about any other account out there (consider Chime as a similar, competing option). Plus, no fees for anything. Really, no fees at all. That’s unique and pretty darn cool.

If you want more information, you can also read our full review of Simple

Best for Debit Card Rewards: Discover Cashback Checking

How does one percent cash back on every debit card purchase up to $3,000 per month sound? If you want your debit card to pay you back in cash, Discover Cashback checking is the best no-fee choice. With a $3,000 monthly limit on purchases for cash back, you can earn $30 per month or up to $360 per year in cash back from this account.

Discover Cashback Checking comes from Discover, the same company that offers Discover credit cards among other financial products. The only big downside of this account is that the debit card is Discover branded, which means it is not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard branded debit cards. This means you may need another credit or debit card handy if you want to shop everywhere around the country and around the world.

But beyond that one drawback, it is a pretty great account. You'll get free access to 60,000 in-network ATMs and the account offers free checks and debit card replacements. You can also send and receive funds to other banks accounts in the U.S. for no fee, as well as use online bill pay and other online banking tools for free. There are a few fees for uncommon activity, but you can sit back and relax knowing most of your banking is fee-free.