Best Checking Accounts of 2020

The best checking accounts offer high APYs and charge low fees.

In the era of online banking, competition for checking accounts has become fierce. Many banks offer free checking accounts that come with a host of features, including high interest rates. To help consumers sort through the countless available options, GOBankingRates analyzed financial products from over 100 banks to find some of the best checking account offers for 2020. Criteria included the following:

  • Minimum deposit required
  • Monthly maintenance fee
  • Minimum balance required to avoid fees
  • Annual percentage yield
  • Nonsufficient funds fee

If you’re looking for specific information about the best checking accounts of 2020, click on one of the following links to jump ahead to your section of interest.

Here are GOBankingRates’ best checking accounts for 2020:

The Best Checking Accounts of 2020 at a Glance
BankAccountMinimum DepositService FeeMinimum BalanceAPYBalance To Avoid Fees
Simple BankSimple Checking$0$0$02.02% for under $10,000, 2.15% for balances over that$0
Bank5 ConnectHigh-Interest Checking Account$25$0$00.76%$0
Radius BankRewards Checking$100$0$01.00%$0
Legacy Texas BankMaximum Checking$100$0$01.00%$0
MidFirst BankeChecking$100$10$2501.50%$500
FNBO DirectOnline Checking Account$1$0$00.65%$0
Capital One Bank (USA)Money Checking$0$0$00.25%$0
First Internet Bank logo 2019First Internet BankInterest Checking$100$10$5000.70%$500
Customers BankBonus Checking$10$0$00.25%$0
BancorpSouth BankPerformance Checking$50$10$1,0000.75%$1,000


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Best Checking Accounts of 2020

If you’re looking for the best checking account to open, consider which features best meet your needs. Some things to consider might be free checking, the best interest rates, the best online checking account or a checking account bonus. You should be able to find a good option in this list no matter what you’re looking for. Keep reading for details on each account so you can more easily compare and decide which type of checking account best suits you.

 

Simple Bank: Simple Checking

Why We Like It: Simple Bank is part of the fintech wave, offering extensive user-friendly budgeting and spending tools while paying a high interest rate in a no-free wrapper.

Benefits:

  • Extremely high APY
  • No fees or account minimums
  • User-friendly banking and budgeting features
  • No overdraft fee

Drawbacks:

  • Not its own bank, but a financial technology company linked with BBVA Compass

Fees: $0

Minimum Deposit: $0

Minimum Balance: $0

Balance To Avoid Fees: $0

APY: 2.02% for under $10,000, 2.15% for over $10,000.

How To Open an Account: You can open a Simple account online here with just some basic personal and financial information.

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Bank5 Connect: High-Interest Checking Account

Why We Like It: The Bank5Connect high-interest checking account lives up to its name. The account pays a high rate and doesn’t come attached with any monthly maintenance fees. This bank is a repeat winner, also appearing on the GOBankingRates Best Checking Accounts 2019 list.

Benefits:

  • No monthly fee
  • Free online banking, bill pay and eStatements
  • Free mobile banking
  • Free first order of basic checks
  • Free in-network ATMs, with up to $15 in out-of-network fee reimbursements per month

Drawbacks: 

  • $1 monthly fee for paper statements
  • $15 overdraft fee
  • $100 to earn interest

Fees: $0

Minimum Deposit: $25

Minimum Balance: $0

Balance To Avoid Fees: $0

APY: 0.76%

How To Open an Account: You can open a Bank5 high-interest checking account online in about 10 minutes with your Social Security number, valid ID, address and a source of funding.

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Radius Bank: Rewards Checking

Why We Like It: No-fee, high-APY checking with free worldwide ATM withdrawals make the Radius Bank Rewards Checking account a knockout contender.

Benefits:

  • Receive 1% cash back from purchases with a balance of $2,500-plus or at least $2,500 in monthly direct deposits
  • Earn up to a 1.20% APY  on balance of $100,000 or more
  • Free ATMs worldwide
  • Free first order of checks
  • Early access to direct deposits
  • Mobile money management

Drawbacks:

  • $100 minimum
  • $25 overdraft fee

Fees: $0

Minimum Deposit: $100

Minimum Balance: $0

Balance To Avoid Fees: $0

APY: 1.00%

How To Open an Account: You can apply online for a Radius Bank account in under 3 minutes.

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Legacy Texas Bank: Maximum Checking

Why We Like It: The Maximum Checking account from Legacy Texas Bank offers all that most customers could want with an online checking account: no fees, no minimums, a high APY and no ATM fees anywhere.

Benefits:

  • Free online bill pay
  • No monthly service fee
  • Free ATMs anywhere
  • No minimum balance required
  • Free online and mobile banking
  • High APY

Drawbacks:

  • $100 minimum
  • $35 overdraft fee

Fees: $0

Minimum Deposit: $100

Minimum Balance: $100

Balance To Avoid Fees: $0

APY: 1.00%

How To Open an Account: You can use this link to open a Legacy Texas Maximum Checking account. You’ll need to agree to account disclosures and agreements, provide applicant information and designate a beneficiary before you fund your account.

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MidFirst Bank: eChecking

Why We Like It: MidFirst Bank pays one of the highest APYs available on a checking account, and the $10 monthly fee can be easily waived.

Benefits:

  • Very high APY
  • Online and mobile banking access
  • Free bill pay and eStatements

Drawbacks:

  • $100 to open, $250 minimum balance
  • $10 monthly fee (can be waived with direct deposits or a minimum balance)
  • $34 overdraft fee

Fees: $10

Minimum Deposit: $100

Minimum Balance: $250

Balance To Avoid Fees: $500

APY: 1.50%

How To Open an Account: At the present time, the MidFirst eChecking account cannot be opened online. You must contact the bank directly at (888) MIDFIRST.

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FNBO Direct: Online Checking Account

Why We Like It: FNBO Direct’s online checking account has no monthly fees and a high 0.65% APY, features that also put it on the Best Banks 2019 list.

Benefits: 

  • 24/7 worldwide access to more than 2 million ATMs, with no FNBO-generated fees
  • Free incoming wires
  • High APY with no hidden fees
  • Free online banking, bill pay, account alerts, stop payments, debit card fraud monitoring and person-to-person payments with Popmoney

Drawbacks:

  • No paper checks
  • $33 overdraft fee

Fees: $0

Minimum Deposit: $1

Minimum Balance: $0

Balance To Avoid Fees: $0

APY: 0.65%

How To Open an Account: You can open a checking account online with FNBO Direct in about 10-15 minutes with your Social Security or tax ID number, valid driver’s license or state ID, employment information, information about any loans or mortgages you have, as well as your bank account and routing numbers to fund your account.

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Capital One Bank (USA): Money Checking

Why We Like It: Capital One Bank (USA) Money Checking offers an interest-bearing checking account in a no-fee, no-minimum package, specifically designed for teens — although the over-18 crowd can use the account as well.

Benefits:

  • No fees or account minimums
  • Interest-bearing

Drawbacks:

  • Teens are limited to $500 per day in total card purchases and withdrawals

Fees: $0

Minimum Deposit: $0

Minimum Balance: $0

Balance To Avoid Fees: $0

APY: 0.25%

How To Open an Account: Accounts can be opened online in about 5 minutes. You’ll need to provide the standard personal and financial information, such as your name and address, Social Security number, date of birth and bank account information.

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First Internet Bank: Interest Checking

Why We Like It: First Internet Bank’s Free Checking account pays a high rate of 0.70% APY and comes with numerous freebies.

Benefits:

  • Free bill pay
  • High APY
  • Up to $10 in monthly ATM fee reimbursements

Drawbacks:

  • High fee
  • High minimum to avoid fee
  • High minimum to open account

Fees: $10

Minimum Deposit: $100

Minimum Balance: $500

Balance To Avoid Fees: $500

APY: 0.70%

How To Open an Account: Customers looking to open a First Internet Bank checking account can apply online. You must be a U.S. resident, at least 18 years of age and have a valid Social Security number and government-issued ID. 

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Customers Bank: Bonus Checking

Why We Like It: For customers that can spend at least $500 per month on a debit card, the APY on the Customers Bank Bonus Checking account is unbeatable; all customers will enjoy the lack of monthly fees and $0 minimum balance requirement.

Benefits:

  • Earn an additional 1.75% APY (for a total of 2.00% APY) on balance of up to $100,000 when you spend $500 per month on your Customers Bank debit card
  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fee

Drawbacks: 

  • Limited website functionality, including no way to open an account online
  • $20 overdraft fee

Fees: $0

Minimum Deposit: $10

Minimum Balance: $0

Balance To Avoid Fees: $0

APY: 0.25%

How To Open an Account: You’ll have to contact Customers Bank directly to open an account, as its web page has no account-opening link.

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BancorpSouth Bank: Performance Checking

Why We Like It: BancorpSouth Bank’s Performance Checking account offers ATM fee reimbursements, helpful online tools and an extraordinary APY if you meet certain conditions.

Benefits:

  • High APY
  • Unlimited bill pay and check writing
  • Online banking
  • Online budgeting tools

Drawbacks: 

  • Very high minimum balance
  • $36 overdraft fee
  • Must meet qualifying activities to earn higher APY

Fees: $10

Minimum Deposit: $50

Minimum Balance: $1,000

Balance To Avoid Fees: $1,000

APY: 0.75%

How To Open an Account: You can open an account online with BancorpSouth in about 10 minutes. You’ll need your Social Security number, a valid driver’s license, your previous home address and your bank account information.

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Tips for Choosing the Best Checking Account

With so many checking accounts available, choosing the right one can seem like a Herculean task. Simplify the process by analyzing your personal financial situation and prioritizing which checking account features are the most important for you. For example, if you have a large amount of money to deposit, you might be able to access an account loaded with services from a major international bank for no monthly fee. If you only have $50 to deposit, you might want to look at online banks that still offer traditional services but don’t require a large deposit to waive their monthly fee. 

Your choice may also be affected by how you use ATMs. If you travel a lot, for example, you might prefer a checking account that reimburses overseas ATM fees; if you only use in-network ATMs, you might not care about your bank’s ATM policy and gravitate towards one that offers local discounts, for example. 

Overall, your choice should provide you the most amount of services that you will actually use at the lowest possible cost. 

Related: How to Open a Bank Account Online

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Checking Accounts vs. Savings Accounts

Checking accounts and savings accounts are both places to hold your money, but they serve different purposes and typically offer different terms. Checking accounts are intended to be transactional accounts, from which you can access your cash and pay your bills. Savings accounts, as the name implies, are designed for savings, such as for emergencies or a housing down payment. 

Advantages of a Checking Account 

  • Access to cash via ATMs or debit cards: Most checking accounts offer you access to your cash anywhere in the world via an ATM network; you can usually use a debit card to pay for purchases anywhere that credit cards are accepted.
  • Access to online and mobile banking: In the age of electronic banking, you can nearly always access your account information via your smartphone or the web.
  • “Home base” for money, can receive direct deposits and send or receive ACH payments: Checking accounts offer the ability to manage your financial life in a single location. You can see and manage both your incoming deposits, such as paychecks, and your outgoing expenses, including bills and cash withdrawals.
  • FDIC insurance: Checking accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation up to $250,000 per covered bank.
  • More liquid than a savings account: Checking accounts are generally entitled to unlimited transactions. Certain savings account transactions, including pre-authorized, automatic, check or debit card transactions, are limited to six withdrawals per month by federal law.

Disadvantages of a Checking Account

  • Accounts generally have some type of fees: Not all checking accounts have minimum balance or ongoing monthly fees, but most have fees for certain transactions, be they wire transfers, overdrafts or out-of-network ATM transactions.
  • ATM withdrawal limitations: You may only be able to take out a few hundred dollars per day. In addition, you’ll still need to visit a branch if you want large sums of cash at once.
  • May have minimum balance or debit card transaction requirements to avoid monthly fees: Although there are many banks that offer free checking accounts, they often come with restrictions. You may need to deposit and maintain a certain minimum balance to keep your account “free,” or you may need to make a certain number of monthly debit card transactions.
  • Generally pay low or nonexistent yields: Checking accounts typically pay far less than savings accounts, primarily because funds are constantly flowing in and out of the accounts.

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FAQ

Although the basic idea behind a checking account can be simple to understand, there are still many common questions surrounding them, in part because there are so many different kinds. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding checking accounts.

What Is a Checking Account?

A checking account is a secure place where you can keep your money for daily transactional needs, such as paying bills or depositing your paycheck. Most banks have numerous checking account options that you can choose from based on your daily financial needs. 

How Does a Checking Account Work?

A checking account is merely a holding place for money. Both incoming and outgoing transactions are processed electronically within the FDIC-insured account, typically overnight, although debit card and ATM transactions usually reduce your available balance immediately. 

What Is a Checking Account Used For?

A checking account is primarily used as an insured place to conduct your daily financial transactions. You can use the debit card that came with your checking account to get cash out of an ATM or pay a merchant. If you need to write a check or send an ACH payment, that money will also come out of your checking account. You can sign up for direct deposit and have your paycheck directly deposited in your checking account, or you can use your bank’s smartphone app to make a mobile deposit of a check.

Can I Open a Checking Account With No Money?

Each individual bank sets its own account minimum. Ally Bank, for example, has no minimum required balance to open an account and no monthly maintenance fees. Other banks may require larger deposits or “qualifying activities,” such as monthly direct deposits or debit card transactions, to avoid a monthly fee.

What Is a Free Checking Account?

Since financial services is a competitive industry, there are various interpretations of the word “free.” Some banks, such as Ally, charge no monthly maintenance fees and have no minimum balance requirements. Others, such as Chase, may offer checking accounts that require monthly direct deposits or a minimum balance to avoid a monthly fee. Some banks may offer a checking account with no monthly maintenance fee but charge $3 or more for ATM withdrawals from out-of-network terminals. Read all of the fine print before signing up for a “free” checking account.   

Can I Get Free Money From Opening a Checking Account?

Many banks will offer new customers a bonus for signing up for a checking account. However, you typically need to conduct certain qualifying transactions to receive the bonus. For example, if you open a new checking account with TD Bank, you can earn $300 if you receive direct deposits of at least $2,500 within 60 days of opening your account.

Learn More: 15 Best New Bank Promotions and Bonuses: November 2019

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Summary

There is no one bank account that is right for every customer. However, once you decide what are the most important banking features for you, it’s easy to filter through the options and find a good selection of banks that you can choose from. Somewhere in the above list, you should be able to find a quality bank that provides the services you need for a low cost.

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates identified the Best Checking Accounts of 2020 based 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) overdraft/nonsufficient funds fee. For this ranking, we looked at every checking account available at the institutions except for relationship accounts, senior accounts or any youth/student accounts. GOBankingRates’ rankings for the Best Banks of 2020 were based on rates and other information compiled from individual institutions’ websites and/or conversations with representatives from the financial institutions throughout September 2019 and October 2019. Rates are subject to change. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Dec. 3rd, 2019 . All costs, terms and conditions are subject to change at the discretion of each financial institution. For more information, see the complete methodology for the rankings.

About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.