11 Best Options for Free Checking With No Minimum Balance

Keeping cash on hand never goes out of style — and according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. personal savings rate was 13.6% during February 2021, the most recent month on record.

For many consumers, there’s comfort in knowing that their cash is in the bank, where it won’t experience the volatility that it might in, say, the stock market. However, keeping cash in the bank brings risks, too — most significantly, it’s easy for your money to stay stagnant.

11 Best Free Checking Accounts at a Glance

Here’s the list of the 11 best free checking accounts where you might consider keeping your money.

1. Ally Bank Interest Checking

Ally Bank Best Online Savings Accounts

 

Ally Bank offers a free, interest-bearing checking account with no minimum opening deposit.

  • Minimum deposit to open: $0, but the account must be funded within 30 days.
  • Minimum balance requirement: $0. After initial funding of account, none required.
  • ATM access and fees
    • Use up to 43,000+ Allpoint ATMs for free in the U.S.
    • Get reimbursed automatically for up to $10 in other domestic ATM fees.
  • Interest
    • 0.10% annual percentage yield for accounts with a minimum daily balance of $15,000 or below.
    • 0.25% APY for accounts with a minimum daily balance of $15,000 or above.
  • Monthly maintenance fee? No.
  • Zelle? Yes. Same-day service not available for 90 days, and daily transfer limits apply.
  • ACH transfer fee? No.
  • Wire transfer fee? Free incoming wire transfers; $20 per outgoing wire transfer.
  • Overdraft fee? $25 per negative balance, maximum one fee per day.
  • Checks
    • Regular checks are free.
    • Cashier’s checks are free if they can be mailed within seven to 10 business days, or $15 per expedited check, which mails in two business days. The request cut-off time is 2 p.m. EST.
  • Physical locations? No. Online only.
  • Customer service:
    • Phone: 844-999-2967
    • Representatives available 24/7, including evenings, weekends and holidays.
  • Additional features
    • Expedited paychecks — get paid up to two days early.
    • Interest is compounded daily.
    • Round-up feature exists for users who also open savings accounts — rounds your purchases up to the next dollar and saves the spare change.
    • Debit card controls available.
    • You can open your account in the name of a trust for estate planning purposes.
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      2. Axos Bank

      Axos Bank, formerly Bank of Internet USA, has five free checking account and debit card options available. Here’s a look at what each account offers.

      Essential Checking:

      • No monthly service fees
      • No overdraft or insufficient funds fees
      • Free express direct deposits
      • Unlimited fee reimbursements for domestic ATMs

      Golden Checking:

      • 0.20% APY
      • No monthly service fees.
      • No minimum balance fees
      • Free personal checks
      • Up to $8 in domestic ATM fee reimbursements a month
      • No overdraft or insufficient funds fees
      • For those aged 55 and older

      First Checking:

      • 0.25% APY
      • Up to $12 in domestic ATM fee reimbursements a month
      • No monthly service fees
      • No overdraft or insufficient funds fees
      • For teens between the ages of 13 and 17

      Rewards Checking:

      • Up to 1.25% APY.
      • Receive $1,000 in monthly direct deposits: 0.4166% APY.
      • Use the Axos Visa debit card 10 times per month: 0.4166% APY
      • Use the Axos Visa debit card five more times per month: 0.4166% APY
      • No monthly service fees
      • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
      • No overdraft or insufficient funds fees

      CashBack Checking:

      • 1% cash back on up to $2,000 per month of signature-based purchases with a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more.
      • 0.50% cash back on up to $2,000 per month of signature-based purchases with a minimum daily balance under $1,500.
      • Unlimited reimbursements on domestic ATM fee reimbursements
      • No monthly service fees
      • No limits on check writing privileges

      Axos Bank offers its free checking accounts online only, so if you’re looking to apply for an account with a bank that has physical locations, this might not be the option for you.

      3. Capital One

      Capital One offers a free 360 Checking account that includes the following:

      • Minimum deposit to open: $0. You will need to make a deposit within 60 days.
      • Minimum balance requirement: $0.
      • ATMs: 70,000+ fee-free ATMs.
      • Interest? 0.10% APY
      • Monthly maintenance fee? No.
        • Account fees may apply for overnighted checks or replacement cards, stop payment requests or writing rejected checks.
      • Zelle? Yes.
      • ACH transfer fees? No.
      • Wire transfer fee? $30 per outgoing domestic wire transfer.
      • Overdraft fee?
        • Auto-Decline feature can turn away transactions that would move your account into overdraft status.
        • Next Day Grace feature enables the bank to pay for overdraft protection and gives you a full business day to add those funds to your account before you’re charged a $35 fee.
        • Free Savings Transfer allows you to automatically have funds from savings transferred in, provided that you also maintain a 360 savings account.
      • Checks? First book of paper checks is free
      • Physical locations? Yes.
      • Customer service:
        • Phone: 1-877-373-4802
        • Hours: 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. EST, seven days a week for existing customers
      • Additional features:
        • Real-time alerts about account activity
        • Debit card with $0 Fraud Liability, plus lock and unlock features
        • Assign up to 10 individuals as Payable on Death beneficiaries. However, you cannot assign beneficiaries for a Trust account.
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      4. Chime

      Here’s what you can expect when you open a free checking account with Chime.

      • Minimum deposit to open: No.
      • Minimum balance requirement: No.
      • ATMs: Get cash for free at 38,000 ATMs.
      • Interest? No.
      • Monthly maintenance fee? No.
      • Zelle? No.
      • ACH transfer fee? No.
      • Wire transfer fee? $15 per incoming domestic wire transfer; $30 for outgoing domestic transfers.
      • Overdraft fee? No. Chime uses SpotMe to allow you to overdraw your account temporarily without an overdraft fee.
      • Checks?
        • Free via the Checkbook feature. Checks may take three to nine days to arrive.
        • Cashier’s checks can be ordered for larger dollar amounts.
      • Physical locations? No.
      • Customer service:
        • Through Chime’s mobile app
        • Phone: 844-244-6363, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CST, Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST
      • Additional features:
        • Debit card replacement is free.
        • Debit card works anywhere that Visa debit cards are accepted
        • Instantly disable debit transactions in the app
        • Mobile payments are supported, allowing you to link your debit card to Google Pay, Apple Pay or both
        • Expedited paychecks — get paid up to two days early
        • Round up feature on purchases for savings account holders

      5. Discover

      The Discover Cashback Debit account is a robust option for fee-weary consumers. Here’s what you’ll get.

      • Minimum deposit to open: No. Account must be funded within 44 days of opening account.
      • Minimum balance requirement: No, but the balance cannot remain at $0 for more than 365 days
      • ATMs: Fee-free withdrawal at more than 60,000 domestic ATMs
      • Interest: No.
      • Monthly maintenance fee? No.
      • Zelle? Yes, after the account is open for 90 days.
      • ACH transfer fee? No fees for outbound ACH transfers to an external bank
      • Wire transfer fee?
        • Incoming wire transfers are free.
        • Outbound wire transfer: $30.
      • Overdraft fee? None.
      • Checks?
        • Regular checks are free.
        • Cashier’s checks are not offered; official bank checks are no charge and expedited delivery is free.
      • Physical locations? Mostly online; corporate branch is located in in Greenwood, Del.
      • Customer service:
        • Phone: 1-800-DISCOVER or 1-800-347-2683
        • 24/7, including evenings, weekends and holidays
      • Additional features:
        • 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month
        • Place temporary freeze on debit card from the app, if needed
        • Free expedited delivery for debit card replacement

      6. E-Trade

      The E-Trade Checking account is a noninterest-bearing account with these features:

      • Minimum deposit to open: No.
      • Minimum balance requirement: No.
      • ATMs: Debit cards can be used anywhere that takes Mastercard, including ATMs.
      • Interest? No.
      • Monthly maintenance fee? No.
      • Zelle? No.
      • ACH transfer fee? No.
      • Wire transfer fee? $25.
      • Overdraft fee? $5 per overdraft transfer.
      • Checks: First checkbook order is free.
      • Physical locations? Yes, in some areas.
      • Customer service:
        • Phone: 800-387-2331
        • 24/7 phone representatives, including weekends and holidays.
      • Additional features
        • E-Trade also offers an interest-bearing checking account, known as Max-Rate Checking, with a nominal 0.05% APY. The account has a $15 monthly fee unless you maintain an average monthly balance of $5,000.

      7. First Internet Bank

      First Internet Bank is a fully online bank. Its free checking account offers the full gamut of online and mobile banking services with the following features.

      • Minimum deposit to open: $25.
      • Minimum balance requirement: $0.
      • ATMs: Withdraw with any ATM that accepts the Visa Plus logo. Fees are covered up to $10 from any ATM.
      • Interest? No.
      • Monthly maintenance fee? No.
      • Zelle? Available immediately, transfer limit $500 per day.
      • ACH transfer fee? $5 for outgoing transfers.
      • Wire transfer fee? $20 for domestic wires.
      • Overdraft fee? $30 for every overdraft transaction.
      • Checks:
        • First order is free; after that, subject to charge from third-party partner.
        • $5 per cashier’s check; mails within 5 – 10 business days. $30 for overnight service.
      • Physical locations? No.
      • Customer service:
        • Toll-Free: 1-888-873-3424
        • Phone: 317-532-7900
        • 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday; 9 am – 3 p.m. EST on Saturdays. Closed Sundays and holidays.
      • Additional features
        • First Internet Bank also offers an interest-bearing checking account; rules apply.

      8. FNBO

      The FNBO Direct Online Checking account features standard online and mobile checking services, as well as the following:

      • Minimum deposit to open: No.
      • Minimum balance requirement: No.
      • ATMs: No fee at any Allpoint ATM. $1,000 limit per 24 hours.
      • Interest? 0.25% APY
      • Monthly maintenance fee? No.
      • Zelle? No, though person-to-person payments are available with PopMoney.
      • ACH transfer fee? BillPay — no fees.
      • Wire transfer fee?
        • Free incoming wire transfers.
        • Outgoing wire transfers $15 domestic.
      • Overdraft fee?
        • $33; maximum 4 per day
        • One overdraft or returned item fee waived every 12 months.
      • Checks? No paper checks available.
      • Physical locations? Yes, in select states.
      • Customer service:
        • Phone: 877-370-3707, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
      • Additional features:
        • No stop payment fees

      9. KeyBank

      The KeyBank Hassle-Free Account is a basic checkless checking account with the following features:

      • Minimum deposit to open: $10.
      • Minimum balance requirement: $0.
      • ATMs: Fee-free access to 1,100 branches and 40,000 KeyBank ATMs and Allpoint ATMs.
      • Interest? No.
      • Monthly maintenance fee? No.
      • Zelle? Yes.
      • ACH transfer fee? No.
      • Wire transfer fee?
        • $20 for incoming transfers.
        • $25 for outgoing transfers.
      • Overdraft fee? $0; transactions that could cause your account to turn negative are declined.
      • Checks?
        • Checkless account.
        • Cashiers’ checks are $8 at branches.
      • Physical locations? Yes.
      • Customer service: 24/7 phone service with live chat at select times.
      • Additional features:
        • $34 stop payment fee
        • $15 charge-back fee

      10. One Finance

      One Finance offers envelope budgeters an easy way to organize their expenses into categories, or “pockets.”

      • Minimum deposit to open: No.
      • Minimum balance requirement: No.
      • ATMs: Fee-free access at Allpoint network
      • Interest:
        • Pays interest on balances held in an unlimited number of free “save pockets.”
        • 1.00% APY on “save” pocket up to $5K without a qualifying direct deposit or up to $25K with a qualifying direct deposit.
        • 3.00% APY on auto-save pocket up to $5K without a qualifying direct deposit or up to $25K with a qualifying direct deposit.
      • Monthly maintenance fee? No.
      • Zelle? Yes.
      • ACH transfer fee? No.
      • Wire transfer fee? No. Bank can receive, but not send, wire transfers.
      • Overdraft fee? No.
      • Checks? No paper checks.
      • Physical locations? No.
      • Customer service:
        • Phone: 1-855-970=1919
        • Online help request is available here.
        • 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday; closed weekends and holidays

      11. Varo

      Varo’s checking account is online only. It’s not an ideal fit for anyone who deposits cash frequently, since deposits must be made through third-party sources at a fee.

      • Minimum deposit to open: No.
      • Minimum balance requirement: No.
      • ATMs:
        • 55,000+ fee-free Allpoint ATMs.
        • $2.50 per out-of-network ATM transaction.
      • Interest? No.
      • Monthly maintenance fee? No.
      • Zelle? No.
      • ACH transfer fee? ACH transfers are limited to no more than $5,000 per transfer and $10,000 each calendar month.
      • Wire transfer fee? Wire transfers are not currently available through Varo.
      • Overdraft fees? No; transactions that could leave your account in negative standing will be declined.
      • Checks? No.
      • Physical locations? No.
      • Customer service:
        • Phone: 1-800-VARO526 or 1-800-827-6526
        • 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. EST, Saturday and Sunday; closed on holidays.
      • Additional features
        • Get your paycheck two days early
        • Round every transaction to the nearest dollar
        • Set up automated transfers to your savings account
        • No foreign transaction fees

      What To Consider When Opening a Checking Account

      If you need a checking account that lets you keep cash on hand, but want to avoid or minimize the potential downsides of doing so, here’s what you need to know.

      Minimum Balance Requirements

      Some banks will force you to keep a minimum balance in your checking account. This number varies but can be up to $1,500 or more on the higher side. That’s a lot of money that could be optimized for growth elsewhere, so proceed with caution.

      Ask Questions Before Accepting a New Customer Bonus

      Banks want your business, but you’ll want to evaluate any on-boarding offers they make very carefully. There are eligibility criteria, stipulations, and more.

      Understand the Bank’s Fees

      Work to understand account terms upfront. Ask whether the bank waives any fees for customers using direct deposit regularly. Also, find out whether any of the following fees would apply and under what conditions:

      • ATM fees for both in-network and out-of-network transactions
      • Account maintenance fees, which can apply if your account goes below a specified balance
      • Overdraft fees if your account balance turns negative
      • Sustained overdraft fees if your account balance remains negative more than temporarily
      • Paper statement fees if you opt for printed, mailed account statements

      Know the Account’s Limitations

      You’ll want to understand whether or not the bank is insured and if so, by how much per account. Make sure to ask whether the insured amount is per account or if it’s across combined balances.

      Some banks will allow you to make transfers via a service like Zelle but will limit how much you can transfer per day. For example, you could potentially be limited to a transfer of $1,000. That may sound like a lot, but for people who are accustomed to considerable transfers due to co-parenting or business needs, it could be a hindrance.

      Consider Brokerage Accounts

      If you’re passionate about maximizing yield — especially if you invest in the stock market as well — you may want to consider keeping a portion of your cash in the cash position of a brokerage account. These accounts tend to perform at or near money market rates, but your cash is almost as accessible as it would be in a checking account — just a quick electronic funds transfer away!

      You may have to wait a day or two to see the money reach your checking account, so don’t do this with cash that’s needed urgently. However, for cash that you can afford to park, it’s a solid option and one that also positions you for using your available cash to make market investments whenever the right price strikes.

      Takeaway

      Finding the right checking account for you is a matter of knowing what your priorities are. Some banks prioritize low fees, some prioritize features, and some prioritize service. When you call a bank to ask for help in choosing an account, pay attention to what aspect of the experience feels best and what feels the most lacking.

      Be sure to understand every detail of how the account operates and consider your full range of banking needs before signing on the dotted line.

      This content is not provided by the companies mentioned. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the companies mentioned.

      Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of April 15, 2021.

      Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

      About the Author

      Kelli Francis is a writer and content strategist. She started her career with a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and went on to work in some of the industry’s busiest newsrooms, from The Seattle Times to MSN.com, WebMD and Yahoo. In nearly a decade at Yahoo, she worked as an assistant managing editor at Yahoo Finance, specializing in personal finance content; a producer for Yahoo News; and a managing editor on Yahoo’s home page team. A perennial seeker, Kelli is currently expanding her knowledge of all things finance as a student at The American College of Financial Services. She is also the very proud mom of a wonderful and unstoppable 7-year-old with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  

      11 Best Options for Free Checking With No Minimum Balance
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