Figuring out the best bank to open a checking account usually entails finding an account that charges minimal fees and if you’re lucky, interest. Plenty of banks advertise free checking accounts that come with no monthly maintenance service charges and free ATM usage. But even these free checking accounts might carry high fees such as overdraft and stop-payment charges. Take a look at some of the fees you might be charged with a free checking account.
Fees Associated With Free Checking Accounts
Of the 15 financial institutions listed in the bank fees comparison chart below, none of them charge a monthly maintenance fee. Many of these banks also offer additional banking services, like mobile and online banking, at no extra cost. But the most common fees associated with free checking accounts are overdraft fees. And even the best free checking accounts sometimes require a minimum balance, though it tends to be relatively low.
To identify the best free checking accounts, compare banks and their bank account fees:
|Free Checking Account Fees|
|Bank||Free Checking Account||Overdraft Fee||Min. Opening Deposit||Free Services||How to Apply|
|Bank of Internet USA||Rewards Checking||$0||$0||Online and mobile banking, bill pay, mobile deposit, purchase rewards, cash-back offers||Learn More|
|Capital One Bank||360 Checking||$9||$0||Free use of 39,000 Allpoint or Capital One ATMs, Mastercard debit card, mobile deposit, checkbook||Learn More|
|Charles Schwab Bank||High-Yield Investor Checking||$25||$0||Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide||Learn More|
|Ally Bank||Interest Checking||$25||$0||Online and mobile banking, debit Mastercard, checks, online bill pay, postage-paid deposit envelopes||Learn More|
|Simple Bank||Simple Checking||$0||$0||No fees for transfers or card replacement||Learn More|
|Discover Bank||Cashback Checking||$30||$0||No-fee replacement debit card||Learn More|
|First National Bank||First National Free Checking||$33||$0||Free cashier’s checks, incoming wires, stop payments||Learn More|
|FirstBank||Anywhere Account||$34||$0||Free mobile checking deposit||Learn More|
|Fulton Bank||Simply Checking||$39||$0||No annual fee Relationship Rewards Visa debit card||Learn More|
|The Huntington National Bank||Asterisk-Free Checking||$37.50||$0||24-Hour Grace feature gives you more time to make a deposit to avoid an overdraft fee||Learn More|
|FNBO Direct||Online Checking||$33||$1||Free person-to-person payments with Popmoney, free debit card fraud monitoring||Learn More|
|iGobanking.com||iGOchecking||$30||$1||Free iGOdebitcard||Learn More|
|New York Community Bank||My Community Free Checking||$36||$1||Free mobile checking deposit||Learn More|
|Bank5 Connect||High Interest Checking||$15||$10||Free downloadable financial resources||Learn More|
|KeyBank||Hassle-Free Checking||$0||$10||Free mobile checking deposit||Learn More|
|Information accurate as of Dec. 13, 2017.|
Of the 15 checking accounts listed on the bank comparison chart, 10 don’t require a minimum opening deposit, three accounts only require $1 and two ask for $10 to open a checking account. The low minimum deposit requirements make the accounts accessible to all consumers. Of course, you’ll also need to review the checking account fees, which vary widely from bank to bank, as well as the many additional features these free checking accounts offer.
Free Checking Accounts With the Fewest Fees
Many banks with the lowest fees utilize online banking because it’s cheaper to operate. An online checking account usually incurs no overhead costs, so it’s easier for the banks to pass on savings to clients.
Bank of Internet USA, for example, has no service fee or monthly account maintenance fee and no overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees. Simple Bank is another online bank of the no-fee checking accounts with no overdraft, transfer or card replacement fees. The company also boasts a network of 40,000 free ATMs.
The best route to getting a checking account with fewer or no fees might be to go with an online bank. But if you prefer a no-fee checking account from a brick-and-mortar bank, try to negotiate a deal. If that doesn’t work, prepare to meet the requirement for monthly fees to be waived, such as keeping a minimum balance. This will keep the cost of maintaining your checking account low so that it works with your budget and gives you the opportunity to use the money you would have spent on fees on something more important.
Free Checking Accounts With the Most Fees
A large percentage of the banks with the high fees are brick-and-mortar banks, most likely because they are more expensive to operate. For example, Fulton Bank’s Simply Checking has the highest overdraft fee of the free checking accounts compared here, at $39. Ally Bank, on the other hand, charges an overdraft fee of $25, and the bank reimburses up to $10 per statement cycle for fees charged at other domestic ATMs.
Although Discover Bank’s Cashback Checking doesn’t have a minimum opening deposit requirement or charge a monthly fee, it does impose a $30 outgoing wire fee, a $15 stop payment fee and a hefty $30 non-sufficient funds fee.
Despite having more fees overall, there are benefits to maintaining an account at a brick-and-mortar bank, including a wider range of accounts offered, keeping all of your assets and accounts in one place and one-on-one interaction with a bank representative. The last point might sound silly to millennials, but for other generations, interacting with an individual at a bank is an integral part of their relationship with a financial institution.
Find Out: How to Avoid Overdraft Fees
Free Services Offered With Checking Accounts
The best free checking accounts compiled here offer a wide array of free services and perks. Not only do they make banking more convenient, but they also provide additional ways to save. Here are some of the best free services offered:
- Free online banking
- Free mobile banking
- Free online or electronic statements
- Free standard checks
- No ATM fees
- ATM rebates
- Debit card rewards programs
- Free fraud monitoring
Before committing to a bank, consider which of these features is most important to you so you can find a bank that offers a checking account with the features you value most.
Pros and Cons of Free Checking Accounts
Free checking accounts that come with minimum opening deposits and overdraft fees also tend to offer more free services, rewards and convenient perks. You’ll even find that some offer an interest-bearing checking account that allows you to earn interest on the money you keep in your account. For example, Bank of Internet USA offers a 1.25% APY on its Rewards Checking, Capital One Bank provides up to 1.00% APY on its 360 Checking, and Bank5 Connect gives clients a 0.76% APY on its High-Interest Checking account.
Free checking accounts without minimum opening deposit requirements or overdraft fees still tend to provide plenty of free services and features, such as rewards programs and online and mobile banking. When it comes to the best free checking accounts, you can pick and choose which fees and benefits fit what you’re trying to do with your money. For example, if you tend to visit the ATM frequently, you’ll want a checking account with a complimentary debit card and no ATM fees. Individuals who use their debit cards more than average would benefit from free fraud monitoring and the opportunity to take part in a rewards program.
Keep Reading: Guide to Daily ATM Withdrawal and Debit Purchase Limits