10 Best Online Checking Accounts of 2015

The checking account is one of the most popular and widely used banking products out there. It’s certainly the most central to everyday life — from posting a rent check to getting paid, the vast majority of Americans’ interaction with their money is facilitated by their checking accounts. But despite the fact that these products are so vital to account holders’ finances, they often present a missed opportunity.

Many customers overlook the added value a truly great checking product can offer — lower fees, for example. The average checking account comes with about 30 fees, and those can add up: While a $5 monthly maintenance charge might not seem like much, that’ll amount to $60 over the course of a year. Even checking accounts that waive fees aren’t that much less of a headache when customers have to keep track of complicated and long-winded terms and conditions to avoid facing a charge. Clearly, low or no-fee checking accounts are worth searching for.

Many of the Best Checking Accounts Can Be Found Online

An easy way to find checking accounts that offer great value is to head online. In a recent GOBankingRates study that ranked checking products at 120 of the top U.S. banks, nine of the 10 best checking accounts were offered by online banks.

In many ways, online banks have changed the game when it comes to traditional banking products, offering features that help make their customers’ lives easier and cheaper: fewer fees, better interest rates, the latest banking technology and total accessibility through digital account management.

GOBankingRates surveyed online checking accounts based on these features, finding the 10 best. The study also revealed that the top products also often offer award-winning mobile apps, free out-of-network ATM access and complimentary peer-to-peer payment services. Read on to see our list of the top checking products of 2015.

10 Best Online Checking Accounts of 2015

Capital One 360 Checking

  • Tiered rates start at 0.20% APY and range up to 0.90% APY.
  • No minimum balance requirements.
  • No hidden fees.

The Capital One 360 Checking account features a unique overdraft fee structure: Instead of charging a flat fee (the average bank charges $31, according to Capital One’s website), the bank opens a line of credit for the customer with a lower APR than many credit cards (11.25%). To put that in perspective: If you overdrew $100 for 10 days, you’d owe the bank just 31 cents.

Another perk of the account: The high 0.20% APY that goes up with your account balance.

Ally Interest Checking

  • Tiered rates start at 0.10% APY and bump to 0.60% APY on balances of $15,000 and up.
  • No minimum opening deposit.
  • No monthly maintenance fee.

This free, interest-bearing checking account from Ally Bank is a great value, adding bonus features like the person-to-person payment service Popmoney, which can also be used to easily send money to other bank accounts.

EverBank Yield Pledge Checking

  • A 1.40% APY introductory rate applies for first six months.
  • $1,500 minimum opening deposit.
  • No monthly maintenance fee.

The bank’s introductory 1.40% bonus APY on all balances is impressive and outstrips even rates offered on many high-yield savings accounts. After the first six months, tiered first-year APYs apply range from 0.85% to 1.01%, based on account balance. After the account’s been open for over a year, the standard rate structure applies, with APYs starting at 0.30% and ranging to 0.61%.

A bonus for customers who make frequent use of ATMs: EverBank reimburses all ATM fees for customers who can maintain a $5,000 minimum balance.

Bank of Internet USA Rewards Checking

  • Conditional interest rate system with the option to earn up to 1.25% APY.
  • $100 minimum opening deposit.
  • No monthly maintenance fees.

Most checking accounts require customers to scramble to meet minimum balance requirements to avoid monthly fees. But for Bank of Internet USA Rewards Checking account holders, “free” is a given; the account doesn’t charge any monthly maintenance or overdraft fees. Instead, account holders have the option to earn more interest by meeting certain requirements, like receiving direct deposits of $1,000 or more or using the Rewards Checking debit card at least 10 times a month.

Then there are the rewards that give the Rewards Checking account its name: Bank of Internet USA offers a cash rewards program that gives customers money back on payments made with a Bank of Internet USA debit card at select merchants.

MyCBB Free Checking

  • Interest rate at 0.79% APY.
  • $100 minimum deposit.
  • No monthly maintenance fee.

MyCBB’s Free Checking offers interest rates that consistently beat the national average, in fact, this checking account is among the highest in interest paid of all the accounts we surveyed, with an APY at 0.79%. What’s more the account is actually “free” — no hidden fees or monthly maintenance charges.

Customers will get their first debit card and order of checks free and enjoy access to free online and mobile banking. What’s more, the account offers completely free access to a network of more than 24,000 ATMs nationwide (so customers can kiss annoying ATM fees goodbye).

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

  • Interest rate at 0.76% on all balances over $100.
  • $10 minimum opening deposit.
  • No monthly maintenance fee.

Not only does Bank5 Connect not charge any fees for using an ATM, it will reimburse third-party ATM fees up to $15 per statement. The bank also offers a mobile banking app to help customers access their accounts, send money, pay bills and find local ATMs.

Simple Checking

  • No minimum opening deposit requirement.
  • No monthly maintenance fee.

Simple is an innovative, online-only financial institution with no monthly maintenance or NSF fees. Hailed as “Bank 2.0,” Simple caters to mobile customers who use their phones to pay bills, deposit checks and keep a budget, and has created an app that provides cutting-edge tech to track spending and manage budgets, including a “safe-to-spend” indicator.

Nationwide Bank E-Checking

  • Interest rates are tiered, starting at 0.10% APY and ranging up to 0.60% APY.
  • $8 monthly maintenance fee, waived with direct deposit and eight debit card transactions per statement period.

Customers get access to over 76,000 surcharge-free ATMs, and can also use non-Nationwide Bank ATMs for free up to six times per month.

FNBO Direct Online Checking

  • Interest rate at 0.65% APY.
  • Minimum opening deposit is $1.
  • No monthly maintenance fee.

Like Ally Bank, FNBO customers can use Popmoney to facilitate peer-to-peer payments from their phones. Additional perks: FNBO charges no ATM fees and offers free debit card fraud monitoring, free incoming wires and stop payments, and online banking, billpay and account alerts.

GoBank

  • $20 minimum opening deposit.
  • $8.95 monthly membership, unless the account receives payroll or government direct deposits totaling at least $500 monthly.

GoBank has positioned itself as a low-cost banking alternative to high-fee prepaid cards, aimed at the underbanked or those with spotty financial histories. “You’re always welcome to apply for a GoBank account even if you’ve been turned down for a checking account in the past!” GoBank invites visitors on its site. While it does have a $8.95 monthly membership fee, GoBank promises to never charge overdraft, NSF or penalty fees.

This company truly embodies a mobile-first mentality. The app boasts innovative features like the “Fortune Teller,” which allows users to set simple budgets with bill payment reminders. Simply check the app before making a purchase to get a “yea” or “nay” based on what’s left in the budget.

This list includes financial institutions that are GOBankingRates clients.