The checking account may be the most common and most useful type of bank account. With a checking account, you — or your employer — deposit money into the account, then take it out as you need it. It used to be that you wrote checks for your monthly expenses, but now most expenses are debited directly from your checking account. In fact, many checking accounts no longer offer physical checks.
Online banks — and brick-and-mortar banks that feature online banking — have a wide variety of checking accounts, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs. They all offer a free debit card, mobile app — which includes mobile deposit, and funds transfer with Zelle, Popmoney or some other method.
5 Best Online Checking Accounts
Here are some of the best online checking accounts.
- Ally Bank: Best Interest-Bearing Checking Account
- Discover, Member FDIC: Best Checking Account With a Cash-Back Debit Card
- Capital One: Best Youth Checking Account
- Chase: Best Checking Account for College Students
- Citizens Bank: Best Relationship Checking Account: Citizens Quest Checking
Best Interest-Bearing Checking Account: Ally Bank
For balances under $15,000, this account pays APY, and for a minimum daily balance of $15,000 or more, you’ll earn APY. Outgoing wire transfers do have a $30 service charge.
Ally Bank charges no overdraft fees. It also offers two solutions if you do accidentally overdraw your account. If you have a linked savings account, Ally will move money from your savings account to your checking account in $100 increments to cover the overdraft. These transactions count as part of your six-transaction limit on savings account withdrawals. Ally will also cover up to $250 in overdrafts, giving you 14 calendar days to cover the overdraft before withdrawals are restricted.
Ally Bank does not require a minimum deposit to open the Interest Checking Account.
Why We Like It
Best Checking Account With a Cashback Debit Card®: Discover
“Cash back” is a term often associated with credit cards. Most credit cards give you points for each purchase you make, which you can then redeem for a credit to your statement.
The Discover checking account has no maintenance fees, no overdraft fees and includes access to over 60,000 ATMs with no surcharges across the nation.
Discover does not require a minimum deposit to open this account. There are no minimum balances required, either.
Why We Like It
Discover gives you cash back when you use your debit card, which you get with your checking account. When you use your debit card to make a purchase, either online or in a store, you get 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases each month. So, if you spend $3,000 on your debit card every month, you’ll get $30 back, or a total of $360 a year. Cash back is earned on purchases only, so ATM withdrawals, loan payments, and payments to third-party providers like PayPal and Venmo don’t count.
Best Youth Checking Account: Capital One Money Teen Checking Account
Your teen can be in charge of managing their money through the highly-rated mobile app, while also giving parents the ability to keep a close eye on the account as well–including the ability to lock and unlock the card if necessary. Capital One Money Teen Checking Account is primarily geared towards teens, but anyone 8 years old can have an account.
Teens get a free debit card they can use at over 70,000 ATMs with no fees. There are no maintenance fees or minimum balances, and kids earn APY on any balance.
Children as young as eight years old — along with a parent — can open a Money account.
There is no minimum deposit required with Capital One Money Teen Checking Account. You can open the account with an amount of your choosing.
Why We Like It
Capital One offers a joint account for teens and their parents. Each has their own login on the mobile app, letting teens manage their money while parents maintain visibility. Parents can link any account — even one at another bank — so they can transfer money as the teen needs it.
Best Checking Account for College Students: Chase College Checking℠
Chase is not a 100% online bank, but its College Checking account has all the features college students expect: no monthly service fee, no minimum balance, free ATM transactions, a mobile app and free transfers.
College students ages 17-24 will pay no monthly maintenance fee until they graduate — up to five years. After that, the $6 monthly maintenance fee is waived if you have direct deposit or if you maintain a $5,000 average daily balance.
Chase College Checking has no minimum deposit requirement to open an account.
Why We Like It
Students can earn a bonus of $100 when they open a new Chase College Checking account and complete 10 transactions within 60 days. Transactions include online bill payments, debit card purchases, mobile deposits, Zelle transactions or ACH credits.
Best Relationship Checking Account: Citizens Quest Checking
The Citizens Quest Checking account is a relationship account, meaning it’s intended for those who keep all — or most — of their accounts at the same bank.
With this account, Citizens won’t charge you any ATM fees when you use another bank’s ATM, although the other bank may charge you a fee. You’ll also pay no fees for personal style checks, bank checks, money orders, stop payments, wire transfers and more.
You’ll pay no fees on overdraft plans, and no overdraft fee on the first overdraft or non-sufficient funds occurrence each year. And if your account is overdrawn, you have until 10 p.m. ET the following day to deposit the funds to cover the overdraft. If you do so, any overdraft fees will be reversed.
The Citizens Quest Checking account is subject to a $25 monthly maintenance fee, but it will be waived when you do either of the following:
- Make $5,000 in deposits in a month
- Maintain a combined balance of $25,000 in all your Citizens deposit and investment accounts
Touting no extra fees, there’s no minimum deposit required when opening a Citizens Quest Checking account. Just be sure you maintain you maintain the $5,000 monthly deposit requirement or a combined balance of $25,000 to waive the $25 maintenance fee.
Why We Like It
Citizens Bank has brick-and-mortar branches but has also embraced online banking. The Citizens Quest Checking account pays APY interest regardless of balance.
Pros and Cons of Online Checking Accounts
The most immediate pro of an online checking account is convenience–you can open and do most of your banking online, on your own schedule. That may work for some, but if you prefer to bank at a brick-and-mortar, this could be more of a disadvantage than anything. Here are some of the pros and cons of going online fully with your checking account:
- Higher APYs may be offered
- Lower fees overall
- Convenience and the ability to bank from anywhere
- Lack of ability to deposit cash
- No in-person teller services or branch support
- Risk of scams from online hackers and phishing
Online Checking Account FAQ
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about online checking accounts.
What Is a Checking Account?
A checking account is a deposit account at a bank or credit union. The account holder deposits money into the account and takes it out when it’s needed. Money can be taken out by writing a check, including the date and the name of the person or institution to whom or to where the money should be paid. Also included should be the amount and the account holder’s signature. Money can also be withdrawn from a checking account via an ATM or at a bank branch.
Can I Open a Checking Account With No Money?
Many banks indicate that their checking accounts have no minimum balance or no minimum opening deposit, but you do need to have some money to deposit into a checking account when you open it. If you don’t deposit money into a new account within a certain time frame, the bank will simply close the account.
What Is a Free Checking Account?
A free checking account has no monthly maintenance fees. In other words, you won’t pay a fee for simply having the account. A free checking account may incur other fees, however, such as overdraft fees or charges for bank checks or to stop payment on a check you wrote.
Can I Get Free Money by Opening a Checking Account?
Some banks will offer bonuses as an incentive to open a new account. To qualify, you usually need to open an account and then deposit a certain amount of money within a specific time frame or sign up for direct deposit.
Best of Checking Accounts
- Best Checking Accounts
- Free Checking Accounts With No Minimum Deposit
- Best Free Checking Accounts With No Minimum Balance
- Best Rewards Checking Accounts
- Best Student Checking Accounts
- Best Checking Accounts for Seniors
Melanie Grafil and Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.
Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Nov. 7, 2023.
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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase.