Your current checking account might not deliver much more than fees just to hold your money. Fortunately, now’s a great time to check out banks with free checking — or very low account fees — that actually pay you interest so your money can grow. You have many choices for free checking accounts that bear interest, and GOBankingRates found some of the best ones available in 2017.
GOBankingRates’ Best Banks study reviewed the most basic checking accounts offered by the financial institutions in the study and identified the 10 best checking accounts in the U.S. based on five criteria:
- Minimum deposit required
- Monthly maintenance fee
- Minimum balance required to avoid fees
- Annual percentage yield
- Nonsufficient funds fee
Here are the 10 best banks for checking accounts currently available. Many of them offer free checking and checking account bonuses, so if you’re unhappy with your current checking account, you might want to consider switching to a free bank account today.
- Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking
- FNBO Direct Online Checking
- iGObanking.com iGOchecking
- Capital One Bank 360 Checking
- EverBank Yield Pledge Checking
- Ally Bank Interest Checking
- Discover Bank Cashback Checking
- Charles Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking
- Incredible Bank Checking
- TIAA Direct Interest Checking
|Bank||Account||Min. Deposit||Monthly Fee||Min. Balance||Checking Account Interest Rate (APY)||NSF Fee|
|Bank5 Connect||High Interest Checking||$10||$0||$0||0.76%||$15|
|FNBO Direct||Online Checking||$1||$0||$0||0.65%||$33|
|Capital One Bank||360 Checking||$0||$0||$0||0.20%||$9|
|EverBank||Yield Pledge Checking||$5,000||$0||$5,000||1.21% (introductory, one year||$30|
|Ally Bank||Interest Checking||$0||$0||$0||0.60%||$25|
|Discover Bank||Cashback Checking||$0||$0||$0||N/A||$30|
|Charles Schwab Bank||High Yield Investor Checking||$0||$0||$0||0.10%||$25|
|Incredible Bank||Incredible Bank Checking||$1,000||$15||$300||0.59%||$10|
|TIAA Direct||Interest Checking||$100||$0||$0||0.05%||$25|
Why: Bank5 Connect received the Best Checking Account award in 2016, and it earned the top spot again for the category this year. Bank5 Connect’s high-interest account offers one of the highest interest rates, no monthly fees, an NSF fee of just $15 and a minimum deposit of $10 — making it the best bank account for checking in the study’s top 10.
Review: This online-only bank offers a competitive rate of 0.76% APY on its High-Interest Checking account. The minimum balance to earn interest is $100. The no-fee checking account includes online banking, mobile banking, bill pay and a free first order of checks.
How to open: You can open a bank account online or, if you need help with your online bank account opening, you can call 855-55-BANK5. The process takes about 10 minutes, and you’ll need your Social Security number, valid ID and address.
Banks That Rounded Out the Top 10
Bank5 Connect wasn’t the only financial institution offering a great checking account option in the annual Best Banks study. Here are the runners-up for the Best Checking Account award — and details on what makes them stand out as the best traditional and best online checking accounts.
Why: Customers who have an online checking account with FNBO Direct pay no monthly services fees, earn 0.65% APY and enjoy several free features. The minimum deposit to open an account is just $1.
Review: The FNBO Direct Online Checking account doesn’t charge a monthly service fee, but it does charge a $33 NSF fee for overdrafts. The account’s features include free online banking, bill pay, account alerts, stop payments, debit card fraud monitoring and person-to-person payments with Popmoney.
How to open: You can open a checking account online. You’ll need your Social Security or tax ID number, valid ID, employment history and information about any loans or mortgages you have. You’ll also need your current bank account and routing numbers to transfer funds electronically to your new account.
Related: Best Second-Chance Checking Accounts
Why: iGOBanking.com’s online account requires a minimum deposit of just $1, charges no monthly maintenance fee and offers a 0.25% APY.
Review: The iGOBanking.com high-interest checking account’s $30 NSF fee is a drawback compared with some accounts on this list; however, this account offers free bill pay and a tool that lets you import an unlimited number of bills and pay them online.
How to open: Opening a bank account with iGOBanking.com is easy. It takes about 10 minutes, and you’ll need to provide your Social Security number, ID, address, and current bank account and routing number to transfer funds to your new account.
Why: Customers enjoy no fees and no minimum deposit or minimum balance requirements with the Capital One 360 Checking account, which offers a 0.20% APY.
Review: The Capital One 360 Checking account’s base APY of 0.20 percent increases to 0.75 percent on balances of $50,000 to $99,999.99 and to 1.00 percent on balances of $100,000 or more. Customers have access to Capital One’s network of more than 40,000 ATMs nationwide.
How to open: You can open an account online or by calling 800-289-1992. Opening a checking account takes about five to 10 minutes, and you’ll need a check from an existing account to fund your new account.
Why: This checking account from EverBank offers the highest introductory rate on this list — 1.21% APY — but it’s one of the bank’s checking account promotions and is applicable only on balances up to $250,000 during the first year after opening an account. The ongoing rate is 0.25% APY on balances under $10,000.
Review: The EverBank Yield Pledge Checking account offers a great 1.21% APY for a year. Although its APY offer is attractive, its minimum deposit requirement of $5,000 and its $30 NSF fee are high compared with the others on this list.
How to open: You can open a checking account online by providing your Social Security or tax ID number and address.
Why: Ally Bank doesn’t charge customers any monthly maintenance fees and doesn’t require a minimum deposit for this online checking account, which has a 0.10% APY.
Review: The Ally Bank Online Interest Checking account has an overdraft fee of $25 and a tiered interest rate. The 0.10% APY jumps to 0.60% APY on balances of $15,000 or more. Other perks include free online and mobile banking, bill pay, and standard checks.
How to open: You can open an Ally Bank account online or by calling 877-247-2559. You’ll need to provide your address, date of birth, Social Security number and valid ID. No minimum deposit is required to open a checking account online.
Why: The cash-back checking account from Discover Bank charges no monthly fees, requires no minimum balance and no minimum deposit, but it does have a high NSF fee of $30.
Review: Discover’s Cashback Checking account offers access to more than 60,000 free U.S. ATMs, free online bill pay and a free replacement debit card. In addition, you’ll receive $0.10 rewards on debit purchases, online bill payments and checks cleared for up to 100 transactions a month.
How to open: Only existing Discover customers can open a Cashback Checking account. Existing customers can log in with their existing credentials, agree to all relevant disclosures, and then fund the account at that time or later.
Why: The online account from Charles Schwab Bank charges no monthly maintenance fee and doesn’t have required minimum amounts for your initial deposit or balance. The APY is 0.10 percent as of Jan. 9, 2017, and the account must be linked to a no-fee, no-minimum balance Schwab One brokerage account.
Review: Account features include free bill pay and standard checks, plus unlimited rebates for ATM fees. The big draw of this account is that it allows you to open a Schwab One brokerage account without the usual required minimum deposit of $1,000 — if you have automatic deposits of at least $100 per month and link your brokerage account to your checking account.
How to open: You can open an account online in 10 minutes or download an application form to send by mail. You’ll need your Social Security number, driver’s license and employer information.
Why: Incredible Bank’s checking account offers convenient access to your money and a competitive interest rate. The minimum deposit required to open an account is $1,000, but the perks outweigh that amount.
Review: Standard features on the Incredible Bank checking account include free online bill pay, free online and mobile banking, reimbursed U.S. ATM fees, and a Visa check card. Sixty days after you open an account, you can request bank-to-bank transfers.
How to open: You can open an account online. You’ll need your Social Security number, date of birth, address, email address, phone number and valid ID.
Why: You can earn interest on your TIAA Direct checking account without paying a monthly maintenance fee or maintaining a minimum balance.
Review: The TIAA Direct interest checking account comes with interest on your checking balance, free bill pay, a debit card, access to nationwide ATMs and a free first order of checks. The minimum opening deposit is $100.
How to open: You can open an account online as long as you’re at least 18 years old, are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, have a U.S. mailing address and a Social Security number.
Methodology: To compile its list of the top 100 banks, GOBankingRates surveyed the FDIC’s list of banks sorted by asset size, excluding non-active institutions, investment banks and any institutions that require customers to use investment services to access commercial bank accounts. This list of 100 banks includes 72 brick-and-mortar banks and 28 online-only banks according to the GOBankingRates database. No asset threshold was consulted for online-only banks.
Criteria for ranking: To determine its Best Checking Accounts category ranking, GOBankingRates scored each bank’s basic, personal checking account from most to least favorable on the following factors: (1) minimum deposit to open the checking account, (2) monthly maintenance fee, (3) minimum balance to avoid a fee, (4) annual percentage yield and (5) nonsufficient funds fee. Monthly maintenance fee and APY were weighted more heavily than other ranking factors, and accounts were then ranked by overall score.
Data was compiled from and verified against the individual institutions’ websites between Oct. 11 and Oct. 26, 2016. Rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at the discretion of the individual financial institutions. APY was based on the minimum deposit required to open the account. Some interest rates might be short-term or promotional offers only, and it is possible additional terms and conditions must be met in order to obtain the interest rates listed. Rates and availability might vary by region. Please verify terms and conditions before opening an account.
GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions, and other financial services organizations. Some banks mentioned in the Best Banks of 2017 survey are clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement.