9 Best Free Checking Accounts With No Minimum Balance

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Keeping cash on hand never goes out of style, and a checking account is the best place to keep it instantly accessible for bills and day-to-day expenses. But some checking accounts have minimum balance requirements that keep your cash tied up, and you also might encounter monthly fees that make those minimums even harder to maintain.

GOBankingRates has put together a list of checking accounts that don’t have minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. Not only do the accounts let you bank the way you want to, but they also let you hold on to more of your cash.

Are Free Checking Accounts Really Free?

That depends. A no-fee checking account might be free of monthly maintenance fees but have other, avoidable fees that can add up if you’re not careful. Here are some to watch for:

  • ATM fee: Usually charged when you use an ATM that’s outside of your bank’s network. In some cases, you’ll be charged by your bank and by the machine operator. You can avoid ATM fees by sticking with your bank’s own ATMs or withdrawing some cash each time you make a purchase with your debit card so that you always have some on hand.
  • Overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees: Charged when you spend more than you have in your account, whether by writing a check, withdrawing money from an ATM or using your debit card to pay for a purchase. It’s not uncommon for banks to charge $35 per occurrence — and charge you for several occurrences per day, in the event several charges come back before you’re able to make a deposit. Avoid these fees by keeping track of your balance.
  • Inactivity fee: Charged when you stop using your account for an extended period, usually six months. Inactivity fees can run as much as $20 per month, according to Forbes, but you can avoid them entirely by making regular deposits and withdrawals.
  • Paper statement fee: Charged when you get paper statements by mail. Some banks charge several dollars a month to mail your statements to you, but you can save that money by logging in to your online banking account and requesting e-statements.

More From Your Money

Advice

Look to online-only banks to avoid fees. Their lower overhead allows them to offer banking services at a lower cost compared to brick-and-mortar banks.

9 Best Free Checking Accounts With No Minimums

Here’s a look at the 9 best free checking accounts with no minimum balance requirements. As a bonus, you can open these accounts with a $0 deposit.

Ally Bank Best Online Savings Accounts

1. Ally Bank

Ally Bank’s interest-bearing checking account has lots of perks to help you manage your money. Deposit checks from your smartphone, or transfer money using Zelle or Ally Skill for Amazon Alexa. Open an online savings account and Ally Rounds Ups will round up your checking transactions and deposit the extra amounts into your savings account.

  • ATM access
    • No fee at 43,000-plus Allpoint ATMs in the U.S.
    • Automatic reimbursement for up to $10 in other domestic ATM fees
  • Interest
    • 0.10% annual percentage yield for accounts with a daily balance below $15,000
    • 0.25% APY for accounts with a daily balance of at least $15,000
  • Fees
    • Wire transfer: Free incoming wire transfers; $20 per outgoing
    • Overdraft fee: $25 per negative balance, maximum one fee per day
    • Returned deposit item: $7.50
  • Physical locations: No
  • Customer service
    • Phone: 877-247-2559, available 24/7
    • Wait time displayed on website
  • Additional features
    • Free checks
    • Expedited paychecks — get paid up to two days early
    • Interest compounded daily
    • Debit card controls available

      2. Axos Bank

      Axos Bank’s no-fee, no-minimum checking account is called Essential Checking, and it has the features you need most.

      • ATM access
        • Free withdrawals at approximately 91,000 locations
        • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements
      • Interest: Non-interest-bearing account
      • Fees
        • Paper statements: $5
        • Wire transfers: Incoming, free; outgoing domestic, $35; outgoing international, $45
      • Physical locations: No
      • Customer service
        • Evo virtual assistant
        • Phone: 844-999-2967
        • Via online banking
      • Additional features
        • Get access to funds up to two days early via Direct Deposit Express
        • Referral bonus for inviting friends
        • Free starter checks
        • Integration with third-party peer-to-peer payment apps

      3. Capital One

      Capital One offers a free 360 Checking account that includes integration with Zelle for easy peer-to-peer payments, plus additional features to make banking easy.

      • ATM access
        •  70,000-plus fee-free ATMs
        • No fee for out-of-network ATM use
      • Interest: 0.10% APY for all balances
      • Fees
        • Overdrafts: $35
        • Paper statement: $5
        • Checks: $7 per 50; $11 per 100
        • Wire transfer: Free incoming; $30 per outgoing domestic
      • Physical locations: Yes
      • Customer service
        • Phone: 800-655-2265, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET
        • Automated service available 24/7
      • Additional features
        • Next Day Grace delays overdraft fee by one business day to allow time to make deposit
        • Real-time alerts about account activity
        • Debit card with $0 fraud liability, plus lock and unlock features
        • Receive paycheck up to two days early

      More From Your Money

      4. Chime

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

      • ATM access
        • 60,000-plus free in-network ATMs
      • Interest: Non-interest-bearing account
      • Fees
        • ATM and over-the-counter withdrawals: $2.50 at non-network machines
      • Physical locations: No
      • Customer service
        • 844-244-6363, 24/7
        • Via Chime mobile app
      • Additional features
        • Send money via Chime’s own platform
        • Checkbook feature to request free checks via mail
        • Instantly disable debit transactions in the app
        • Google Pay and Apple Pay supported
        • Early paycheck
        • Round up feature on purchases for savings account holders

      5. Discover

      The Discover Cashback Debit account is a robust option for fee-weary consumers. In fact, this account pays you via cash-back rewards. Here’s what else you’ll get:

      • ATM access
        • Over 60,000 domestic ATMs
        • Free withdrawals
      • Interest: Non-interest-bearing account
      • Fees
          • Outbound wire transfer: $30
        • Physical locations:  Mostly online; corporate branch located in Greenwood, Delaware
        • Customer service
          • Phone: 800-347-7000
          • 24/7, including evenings, weekends and holidays
        • Additional features
          • 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month
          • Zelle after 90 days
          • Free checks

        6. E-Trade

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

        • ATM access
          • Use any ATM
          • No fees charged by E-Trade
        • Interest: Non-interest-bearing account
        • Fees
          • Check reorder: $8.75
          • Returned checks: $25
          • Overdraft protection: $5 per transfer
          • Wire transfer: Free incoming; $25 per outgoing domestic or international
        • Physical locations: Yes (currently closed due to COVID-19)
        • Customer service
          • Phone: 800-387-2331
          • 24/7 phone representatives, including weekends and holidays
        • Additional features
          • Initial checks free
          • Money transfers via E-Trade platform
          • Free bill pay
          • Transfer money to/from other financial institutions
          • Same-day wire transfers

        7. FNBO Direct

        The FNBO Direct Online Checking account features standard online and mobile checking services with just a nominal $1 deposit to open, as well as the following:

        • ATM access
          • No fee at any Allpoint ATM
          • $1,000 limit per 24 hours
        • Interest: 0.15% APY
        • Fees
          • Overdrafts: $33, maximum four per day
          • Wire transfers: Free incoming, $15 domestic outgoing
          • Popmoney service fee: $10 next day, $5 check issuance
        • Physical locations: Yes, in select states
        • Customer service
          • Phone: 877-370-3707
          • Secure email via FNBO Direct website
        • Additional features
          • No stop-payment fees
          • Popmoney money transfer service
          • Digital payments via Apple Pay, Visa SRC, Samsung pay
          • Account alerts
          • Budgeting tools

        8. One

        One offers envelope budgeters an easy way to organize their expenses into categories called Pockets.

        • ATM access
          • Access 55,000 ATMs in Allpoint network
          • Fee-free access
        • Interest
          • 1.00% APY on Save Pocket up to $5,000 without a qualifying direct deposit or up to $25,000 with a qualifying direct deposit
          • 3.00% APY on Auto-Save Pocket up to $1,000 per month
        •  Fees: None
        • Physical locations: No
        • Customer service
        • Additional features
          • App integrates checking, savings and credit line
          • Unlimited number of free Save Pockets
          • No integration with Zelle, but Zelle app isn’t blocked
          • Compatible with Cash App
          • Free ACH transfers
          • Overdraft protection (subject to approval)
          • Early paycheck
          • 12% APR credit line (subject to approval)

        9. Varo

        Varo is a full-service online bank geared especially toward those who deposit cash infrequently, as you’ll have to make deposits using Green Dot Reload @ the Register at participating retailers. But there are no account fees, and you can apply online or via the app in just a few minutes.

        • ATM access
          • 55,000-plus fee-free Allpoint ATMs
          • No foreign transaction fees
        • Interest: Non-interest-bearing account
        • Fees
          • $2.50 per out-of-network ATM transaction
          • Up to $5.95 retail service fee for cash deposits
        • Physical locations: No
        • Customer service
          • Phone: 877-377-8276
          • Email support@varomoney.com
        • Additional features
          • Early paycheck
          • Can round transactions to nearest dollar to build savings
          • Automated transfers to savings account
          • Pay via Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Cash App or Venmo
          • Wire transfers not available

        What To Consider When Opening a Checking Account

        Fees aren’t the only thing you need to watch out for when you open a new checking account. Here are some other factors to consider:

        • New-customer bonuses: Promotional bonuses reward you for opening an account. You’ll likely have to meet eligibility criteria, such as receiving a certain number of direct deposits into the account, to qualify.
        • Rewards for being you: Some banks, such as U.S. Bank, waive fees and/or offer special accounts or benefits for students, seniors and current and past members of the armed forces.
        • Account limitations: Some banks allow you to make transfers via a service like Zelle but limit how much you can transfer per day. Your ATM withdrawals and debit-card purchases might have limits, too.
        • Relationship perks: Banks often reward customers who open multiple accounts at the bank or maintain high balances. Relationship rewards might earn you better interest rates on your deposit accounts or rate discounts on mortgage and other loans.
        • Terms and conditions: Even no-fee, no-minimum banks have some limits on how long you can keep your balance at $0.

        Kelli Francis contributed to the reporting for this article.

        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 companies mentioned in this article might be clients of ConsumerTrack Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings and roundups are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement. 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 included in the article. All fees and rates are subject to change at the issuers’ discretion. Some interest rates might be short-term or promotional offers only, and it is possible additional terms and conditions must be met to obtain the interest rates listed. Rates and availability might vary by region. Verify terms and conditions before opening an account.

        GOBankingRates bases its assessment of “best” and “top” products on the above-stated parameters to create a baseline for comparison. This assessment is an approximation of “best” and “top” designed to help consumers find products that might be appropriate for them. There could be other options available as well. Consumers should consider various options appropriate for their circumstances.

        Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Sept. 10, 2021.

        About the Author

        Daria Uhlig is a personal finance, real estate and travel writer and editor with over 25 years of editorial experience. Her work has been featured on The Motley Fool, MSN, AOL, Yahoo! Finance, CNBC and USA Today. Daria studied journalism at the County College of Morris and earned a degree in communications at Centenary University, both in New Jersey.

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