Checking account fees are some of the most commonly overlooked costs in personal finances. Some checking accounts can cost you a pretty penny to maintain each year, so you could be flushing away a whole paycheck just through your regular transactions.
It’s possible to get around these unnecessary costs, however. Some banks and credit unions offer free checking with no minimum balance. This way you get a checking account that doesn’t charge you ridiculous fees to pay.
Best Free Checking Accounts
A checking account is an essential financial tool, but you don’t have to pay expensive fees to get a good one. Here are the best free checking accounts available now:
Capital One 360 Checking
Capital One 360 Checking offers a lot, with nothing weighing it down aside from its mediocre APY for low-balance accounts. Capital One 360 checking comes with other free perks, including:
- Free debit card
- Online banking
- Mobile banking
- Overdraft forgiveness
- Access to over 40,000 ATMs across the U.S.
The only real downside to Capital One 360 Checking is its relatively low APY for lower balance accounts. Accounts under $50,000 only earn 0.20% APY each year, whereas accounts with balances from $50,000 to $99,999, and accounts with over $100,000, earn 0.75% and 1.00% APY respectively. As a result, despite the free checking and no minimum balance, Capital One 360 Checking might be best for people with more money to put in their account.
Ally Bank Interest Checking
Ally Bank Interest Checking is another account that offers plenty but has an APY that might not be for everyone. Like Capital One, Ally offers a free debit card, online and mobile banking services, checks and over 43,000 ATMs throughout the U.S. Ally Bank customers can also use Popmoney, a payment system that’s an easy way to send money to anyone with a U.S. banking account using just their phone number or email address.
Ally Bank offers up to 0.60% APY depending on your account balance.
Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking
Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking is one of the best free checking accounts available. This account offers a reasonable 0.76% APY, along with free online and mobile banking, checks with no additional fees and a debit-card rewards system. Bank5 Connect also offers free ATMs and will even pay your surcharges up to $15 per statement cycle if other banks charge you to use ATMs.
Bank5 Connect’s debit reward program, UChoose Rewards, is also available when you open an account. For every $2 you spend, you earn one point on your debit card. These points can be used for almost anything online — gadgets, vacations, gift cards and much more.
EverBank Yield Pledge Checking
EverBank Yield Pledge Checking offers a variety of convenient services, including:
- Mobile banking
- Online banking
- Mobile check deposits
- Free ATMs
- Free debit card
Not only does EverBank provide free ATMs, it also pays any ATM fees other banks might charge for accounts with a balance of over $5,000.
EverBank has an average APY across the board, but it really stands out and draws customers in with its spectacular one-year introductory APY. Accounts with a balance below $250,000 receive 1.50% APY for the first year, which is one of the best interest rates available and higher than many 12-month CD rates. The APY goes down to average numbers after one year, but for many, the great first-year APY combined with free checking makes it worth it to open an account.
Discover Bank Cashback Checking
Discover Bank Cashback Checking offers the standard amenities for a free checking account, including:
- Mobile banking
- Free debit card
- Free access to over 60,000 ATMs throughout the U.S.
What really sets Discover apart, however, is the rewards it offers. You earn 10 cents each time you make a purchase on your debit card, pay a bill online or clear a check. This might not sound like much of an offer, but over the course of a few months, it can add up to $10 per month of passive income if you make 100 transactions.
Bank of Internet USA Rewards Checking
Bank of Internet USA has all of the standard features for free checking accounts with no minimum balance, offering online and mobile banking, free check deposits and unlimited ATM withdrawals. It also offers a number of checking account tools like Popmoney and Free FinanceWorks, which allows you to see all your accounts in one place.
Bank of Internet USA is an online-only bank but is also unique for the great APY it offers. You’ll need to do more than simply have money sitting in the bank to make use of it, however. You earn 0.4166% APY for monthly direct deposits of over $1,000, another 0.4166 percent if you use your debit card 10 times each month and the final 0.4166 percent if you use the debit card 15 times in a month. If you meet all three of these criteria, it adds up to a 1.25% APY.
FNBO Direct Online Checking
FNBO Direct Online Checking offers nothing really out of the ordinary for banks with free checking and no minimum balance. It provides the standard online and mobile checking and bank statements, as well as check deposits, free ATMs and a free debit card with debit fraud monitoring.
Its rates are average, with a 0.65% APY offer across the board, regardless of how much or how little money is in the account. But this is good news for those with a lower balance. Although this APY is somewhat low for higher balance accounts, lower balance accounts will have a hard time finding a better offer. So, FNBO Direct offers the best rates to those who don’t have much money in their accounts.
State Farm Bank Checking Account
Although it costs $25 to open, the State Farm Bank Checking Account has no minimum balance after that. It provides the usual features, including:
- Free online banking
- Free mobile banking
- Free use of ATMs
- Complimentary debit card
Although State Farm isn’t a bad bank to have your checking account with, their APY certainly weighs them down. No interest is earned on accounts with a balance below $2,500, and that increases to just 0.25% APY for accounts over $2,500. Therefore, consumers who value the passive income they get from interest might want to find an account with better APY.
First Internet Bank Free Checking
First Internet Bank Free Checking offers free online banking, mobile banking, unlimited check writing, a debit card and free use of ATMs, but that comes with a huge price: no interest. If interest isn’t something that matters to you, then there’s no real downside to First Internet Bank. If you stand to lose a lot of money by not having any interest, however, then First Internet Bank Free Checking definitely isn’t for you.
BankDirect Smart Checking
Although BankDirect Smart Checking does offer free checking, if you’re looking for a free checking account you can do a lot better. Not only is the minimum amount of $100 to open an account higher than most other free checking accounts, it also pays absolutely no interest. Additionally, checks have to be ordered, and only the first order of 50 personalized checks is free.
On the bright side, BankDirect also offers a free Visa CheckCard, free access to ATMs and free online and mobile banking. These benefits might not outweigh the drawbacks about Smart Checking, but they do tip the scale more in BankDirect’s favor.
USAA Federal Savings Bank Secure Checking
Although USAA Federal Savings Bank Secure Checking offers most of the typical amenities offered by free checking banks for military recruits and college students. USAA provides free online and mobile banking, as well as unlimited mobile check deposits. It will also reimburse up to $15 in ATM fees per month.
Although you can make unlimited monthly withdrawals from USAA-owned ATMs, USAA you’re allotted just 10 ATM uses before you incur a $2 penalty for each withdrawal. And although for some consumers this isn’t a problem, for those who need to withdraw money often there are better banks available.
Related: 10 Best Checking Accounts
TIAA Direct Interest Checking
TIAA Direct Interest Checking is another checking account that has all the standard offerings — except an appealing APY. TIAA offers online and mobile banking, a free debit card and unlimited access to ATMs. Its APY, however, leaves something to be desired. Accounts with a balance under $1,500 get 0.05% APY, accounts from $1,500 to $24,999 receive 0.10% APY and accounts over $25,000 get 0.15% APY. Though it’s better than nothing, consumers seeking higher interest rates should keep looking.
AloStar Bank of Commerce Personal Checking
The AloStar Bank of Commerce Personal Checking lacks anything that stands out — positive or negative. It offers all the standard amenities — free online and mobile banking, a free debit card, free first checks and unlimited check writing. Opening an account requires a minimum deposit of $100, and online bill pay is a $5 monthly fee if you wish to add it.
Up Next: 5 Best Banks for No Fees
This content is not provided by any of the financial institutions listed. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the above banking institutions. APYs are all accurate as of June 5, 2017, except for Ally Bank, Capital One and FNBO which are accurate as of today.