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18 Best Free Checking Accounts at U.S. Banks

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It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find truly free checking accounts. At many banks, you’re now required to pay a monthly maintenance fee for the privilege of keeping your checking account open. Such fees can range from a few dollars to $20 or more, depending on the bank and other associated perks. To avoid these fees, you may need to maintain a high minimum daily balance, make regular deposits of a certain size or frequency, or execute a minimum number of transactions in a statement period.

Fortunately, it’s still possible to find free checking accounts. You just have to know where to look. Many online banks offer legitimately free, FDIC-insured (up to $250,000 per account) accounts with few restrictions and plenty of sweeteners. Some even pay noticeable interest.

Sign up for an account at Simple by 9/30/19 4:59 PM PT and get up to a $300 bonus and 2.02% APY (with qualified activities).

If you’re looking for a checking account that won’t eat away at your deposits, take a closer look at these options available to customers throughout the United States.

Best Free Checking Accounts

These are the best free checking accounts on the market today.

1. Simple Checking Account

Competitive Yields on All Balances in Your Protected Goals Account; Virtually No Fees

Simple.comSimple is a digital banking platform that centralizes banking, budgeting, and saving under one virtual roof. If there’s a headline here, it’s the very competitive yields on all balances in Simple’s Protected Goals Accounts – Simple’s answer to the traditional savings account.

Simple’s standard checking account doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance fee, regardless of balance, and you won’t find any miscellaneous nickel-and-dime fees at Simple either. The Safe-to-Spend feature is a head-slappingly straightforward tool that automatically accounts for account inflows and near-term expected outflows (scheduled bills out to 30 days from the present), ensuring you always know how much you can safely spend before the next payday. Meanwhile, trackable spending makes budgeting a breeze, and shared accounts empower couples to manage household finances with ease.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum opening deposit and no minimum daily balance.
  • Account Opening Bonus: Earn up to $300 when you open new Protected Goals Accounts with qualifying activities. To earn a $150 bonus for each new Protected Goals Account ($150 for Individual and $150 for Shared), open a new Protected Goals Account by 4:59pm PT on 9/30/19. Then, deposit $10,000 or more into the new Protected Goals Account by 4:59pm PT on 10/15/19 (the deposit must post by that time). Finally, maintain a balance of at least $10,000 in the new Protected Goals Account through 4:59pm PT on 12/31/19. If you meet the bonus requirements, you’ll receive a $150 bonus by 1/14/20. Your account must be open and in good standing at the time of the bonus credit. There’s a limit of one $150 bonus per Protected Goals Account.
  • Yield: 2.02% APY on all balances in your Protected Goals Account.
  • Rewards and Incentives: With normal use, your account is totally free to use and enjoy, though third-party ATM owners may charge fees beyond Simple’s control.
  • Mobile Features: Mobile check deposit, fee-free instant P2P transfers to other Simple users, fee-free third-party transfers and payments using apps like Square and Venmo, mobile payment app compatibility. The mobile app is Android- and iPhone-compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: Simple does not charge overdraft fees. Use the app’s Safe-to-Spend feature to monitor your spending and ensure you have sufficient funds to complete the transactions you attempt.
  • Possible Fees: Third-party ATM fees (charged by the owner, not Simple).

Learn More


2. BBVA Online Checking

Cash Back on Select Purchases Through Simple Cash Back; No ATM Fees at 64,000 Locations

BBVA Online Checking is a truly free checking account available nationwide with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. With a minimum opening deposit of just $25, no ATM fees at more than 64,000 AllPoint®, participating 7-Eleven® and BBVA USA ATMs around the United States, and a fee-free Visa debit card, BBVA Online Checking is a great choice for folks looking to blend the convenience of online banking with the flexibility of traditional deposit accounts.

Enroll in the free Simple Cash Back program to earn cash back on purchases made with participating BBVA partners. For a $4 monthly fee – money well spent – you can enroll in the BBVA ClearBenefits program and take advantage of potentially valuable services like cell phone protection and identity theft restoration and insurance.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: The minimum opening deposit is $25.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: This account does not pay interest.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Enroll in the Simple Cash Back program to earn cash back at select participating merchants. You’ll receive tailored offers based on your spending behaviors; simply choose which offers you want to take advantage of, and when. There’s no cost to enroll in this program.
  • Mobile Features: Mobile check deposit, mobile account alerts, mobile payments and transfers (including P2P transfers), mobile bill pay. The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: BBVA has multiple overdraft options. The default option is no overdraft protection; when you choose this option, transactions for which you have insufficient funds are simply declined. Option B is inter-account transfer, which sweeps funds from other BBVA accounts (such as savings) to cover checking transactions for which you have insufficient checking funds, subject to a $12 fee per day in which an overdraft is covered from a linked account. Option C is overdraft line of credit, in which an overdraft is covered by a transfer from a linked line of credit at a daily fee of $12, subject to credit approval. Option D is courtesy overdraft coverage, in which BBVA allows transactions that would normally be declined to go through, subject to a $38 NSF fee per occurrence (maximum 6 NSF fees per day). Additional fees may apply when your account is overdrawn for more than 7 consecutive calendar days.
  • Possible Fees: Paper statements ($3 monthly by default, but you can opt for free electronic account statements and eliminate the $3 fee when you turn off paper statements in your online banking account), early account closing ($25 for accounts closed within 180 days of opening).

Learn More


3. Chime Deposit Account

Get Paid 2 Days Early With Direct Deposit; Virtually No Fees

Chime is a mobile-first banking app that merges the low cost of online checking and savings accounts with the convenience of truly on-the-go banking. The headline here is Chime’s promise – subject to the policies of payers and their banks – that its Deposit Account (checking) customers get paid two days faster with direct deposit. If you’re accustomed to Friday paydays but could really use the money on Wednesday, the Chime Deposit Account may be the free checking account you’ve been waiting for.

Speaking of free: Chime has virtually no fees, save for a $2.50 over-the-counter cash withdrawal charge that’s easily avoided when you use one of the bank’s 38,000 fee-free ATMs. Add in an automatic savings option that rounds up the change on every debit card transaction, and you’ve got a serious contender on your hands.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum opening deposit and no minimum daily balance.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: None.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Chime charges virtually no fees. Under normal circumstances, you won’t pay a dime to use your account.
  • Mobile Features: Mobile check deposit, fee-free P2P transfers, fee-free electronic bill pay, mobile payment app compatibility (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay). The mobile app is Android- and iPhone-compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: Chime does not offer overdraft protection. Under normal circumstances, transactions that would result in a negative account balance are automatically declined. Chime deals with special cases that unavoidably result in negative balances, such as pay-at-the-pump gas transactions, on a case-by-case basis.
  • Possible Fees: Over-the-counter cash withdrawal ($2.50).

Learn More


4. Radius Bank Rewards Checking

1% Cash Back on Signature-Based Transactions; Yields Up to 1.20% APY

Radius Bank Rewards CheckingRadius Bank has a great checking product: Rewards Checking.

The headline here is twofold: an unlimited, category-leading 1% cash back reward on online and signature-based debit card transactions – transactions made when you select “Credit” at the point of sale – and yields up to 1.20% APY for high-balance accounts.

To qualify for cash back, you’ll need to maintain a minimum account balance of $2,500 or receive at least $2,500 in qualifying direct deposits each month.

Rewards Checking has no hidden fees, and direct deposit recipients get paid up to two days early.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: Once you make the $100 minimum opening deposit, there’s no minimum daily balance requirement to worry about.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: Earn 1.00% APY on balances between $2,500 and $99,999, and 1.20% APY on balances above $100,000.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Earn unlimited 1% cash back on online and signature-based debit card transactions (select “Credit” at the point of sale). To qualify for rewards, you’ll need to do one of the following: 1) Receive direct deposit into your account from a qualifying source of income (usually an employer or government benefits provider) totaling $2,500 or more; or 2) Maintain an average balance of $2,500 or more in your Rewards Checking account. Separately, you may receive direct deposits up to two days early.
  • Mobile Features: Mobile check deposits, bill pay, P2P transfers (send money to friends), mobile wallet and account link functionality, and a card management app.
  • Overdraft Options: Check your account’s terms and conditions document for details about Radius Bank’s optional overdraft protection service. Check terms and conditions for the latest information.
  • Possible Fees: See Radius Bank’s terms and conditions for details about possible account fees.

Learn More


5. nbkc Personal Account

1.01% APY on All Balances

Nbkc bankThe nbkc Personal Account doesn’t have the highest yield in the free checking space, but it more than makes up for any deficit with a virtually empty fee schedule. Most of the account activities and services for which other banks charge – sometimes more than they should – are included at no extra cost here. Even wire transfers, normally a moneymaker for consumer banks, are comparatively inexpensive at nbkc.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: You need $5 to open an nbkc Personal Account, but there’s no minimum daily balance thereafter.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: 1.01% APY on all balances.
  • Rewards and Incentives: nbkc offers complimentary access to about 32,000+ MoneyPass® ATMs in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico. The bank also reimburses up to $12 per month in out-of-network ATM fees. And, though wire transfers aren’t totally free, nbkc charges customers at cost.
  • Mobile Features: The account is fully Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: nbkc doesn’t charge for overdrafts or NSF transactions, a major advantage over most other online banks. Be sure to review your account’s terms and conditions for details on this perk, though.
  • Possible Fees: Outgoing domestic wires ($5), international wires ($45). Most other account activities, including stop payments and cashiers’ checks, cost nothing.

Learn More


6. nbkc Business Account

No Minimum Balance & Few Fees

Nbkc banknbkc has another free checking account worth mentioning: the nbkc Business Checking Account, a rare business checking account with no hidden fees. There’s also no minimum balance requirement, making the nbkc Business Checking Account a great choice for smaller businesses. If you routinely venture outside nbkc’s network of 32,000 fee-free ATMs, enjoy up to $12 in ATM fee reimbursements.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum deposit or balance requirement.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: None.
  • Rewards and Incentives: nbkc has a fee-free network of 32,000 ATMs across the United States and issues up to $12 in monthly refunds when you incur ATM fees anywhere in the world. This account is remarkably light on fees, with no charges for overdrafts or NSF transactions, billpay, mobile deposits, stop payment, or incoming wires.
  • Mobile Features: Apps are available for Android and iPhone devices.
  • Overdraft Options: There’s no charge for overdrafts or NSF transactions. See nbkc’s terms and conditions for more details about how the bank treats overdrafts.
  • Possible Fees: nbkc charges just two fees: send domestic wire transfers ($5) and send or receive international wire transfers ($45).

Learn More


7. Umpqua Bank Embark Checking

Complimentary Savings Account & Generous ATM Reimbursement

Umpqua BankUmpqua Bank’s Embark Checking account is basically a two-for-one account deal: When you make at least one transfer from your Embark Checking account into your Grow Savings account, Umpqua waives the savings account’s maintenance fee – and your money grows faster than it would sitting in your checking account.

With no monthly maintenance fees and low initial deposit requirements, Embark is a great account in its own right. Maintain a balance of at least $2,500 to qualify for $10 in monthly ATM rebates.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: You need $25 to open a Rewards Checking account. There’s no minimum daily balance requirement thereafter, but you’ll need to maintain an average daily balance of at least $2,500 to qualify for $10 in ATM reimbursements each month.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: None.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Umpqua Bank reimburses the first $10 in ATM fees each month when you maintain an average minimum daily balance of $2,500 during the period. The Go-To app provides on-the-go financial advice from your mobile device. and offers unlimited reimbursements for all U.S. ATM fees. And you’ll enjoy a complimentary Grow Savings account (with no monthly maintenance charge) when you complete at least one qualifying monthly transfer from your Embark Checking account.
  • Mobile Features: The account is Android and iPhone compatible and boasts a full range of mobile features.
  • Overdraft Options: You can opt into a paid overdraft program that charges $35 per occurrence, with a daily maximum of $175. The NSF fee for declined transactions is also $35. To reduce this charge, you can opt into Umpqua’s overdraft transfer program, which automatically transfers funds in $100 increments from a linked savings account, money market account, checking account, or line of credit, subject to a $10 fee per occurrence.
  • Possible Fees: Stop payment ($35), paper statements ($3), dormant account ($5 per month after 24 months with no activity).

Learn More


8. Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Tiered Yields up to 1.25%

The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account is one of several free checking options offered by the bank formerly known as Bank of Internet USA, an online banking pioneer. Rewards Checking doesn’t automatically pay interest, but you can earn a yield of up to 1.25% on your funds by meeting certain qualifications. These include using your debit card 10 times per month and accepting a monthly direct deposit of at least $1,000. Basically, Axos Bank wants to be your primary checking account.

Axos Bank isn’t perfect. For instance, the bank advertises free checks with a new checking account, but you may actually need to request them when you open the account. Checks might not be the first thing on your mind at that time.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: You need $100 to open a Rewards Checking account, but there’s no minimum daily balance requirement once it’s open.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: Rewards Checking accounts come with a base yield of 0%. However, you can earn interest on balances of any amount in several ways. If you only receive a $1,000 direct deposit or use your card at least 10 times (but less than 15 times) in a given month, your annual interest rate for that month is 0.4166%. If you use your card at least 15 times, it’s 0.8333%. If you both receive a $1,000 deposit and use your card at least 10 times, your rate for that month is also 0.8333%. If you receive a $1,000 deposit and use your card at least 15 times, you earn 1.25%. Qualifying transactions must be $3 or greater.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Axos Bank offers unlimited reimbursements for all U.S. ATM fees. You also get your first 50 checks free with a Rewards Checking account if you ask for them at account opening.
  • Mobile Features: Check deposits, bill pay, send money to friends, and FinanceWorks (a budgeting tool from Quicken). The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: Axos Bank offers free overdraft transfers from a linked internal savings or money market account. If you don’t opt into this service, any transaction that would result in an overdraft fails.
  • Possible Fees: Debit card replacement ($10), cashiers checks ($10), stop payment ($35).

Learn More


9. Discover Bank Cashback Checking

1% Cash Back on Up to $3,000 in Debit Card Purchases Each Month

Discover Bank is a full-service online bank with an unusually generous, totally free checking account. The headline here is the account’s 1% cash back yield on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. That adds up to as much as $30 cash back per month, or $360 cash back per year.

Discover Bank has no minimum balance requirements and boasts a pretty forgiving fee schedule with no bill pay, NSF, check reorder, replacement debit card, or bank check fees. Plus, customers have fee-free access to more than 60,000 ATMs around the U.S. – more than most competitors.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: None.
  • Account Opening Bonus: For a limited time, Discover is matching all cash back earned on debit transactions for the first 6 months your account is open. You must open your account by September 9, 2019, using this link and promo code ‘CBMA819’, to qualify for the match.
  • Yield: No yield, but qualifying debit card purchases earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 spent each month. P2P transfers, third-party money market purchases, ATM transactions, and point-of-sale cash back transactions don’t earn cash back or count toward the spending cap.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Discover Bank doesn’t charge ATM fees. Checks, replacement debit cards, and a slew of other services are free.
  • Mobile Features: The account is Android and iPhone compatible, with impressive functionality across the board.
  • Overdraft Options: Discover Bank allows you to link your Discover checking account to another Discover deposit account and automatically transfer funds to cover transactions that would normally result in a negative balance. This service costs nothing.
  • Possible Fees: Discover’s deposit accounts charge very few fees, a major selling point over otherwise comparable competitors.

Learn More


10. Ally Bank Interest Checking

No Minimums; No ATM Fees, Ever

Ally Bank is one of the original online banks, and its Interest Checking account remains immensely popular. There are no minimums of any kind here. Ally also reimburses all third-party ATM fees, without exclusion. Low overdraft fees (just $9 per transaction) sweeten the deal further.

Drawbacks include low yields on modest balances and a surcharge on all international transactions.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum deposit to open an account, and no minimum daily balance.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: This account yields 0.10% APY on balances less than $15,000, and 0.60% APY on balances greater than that amount.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Ally Bank never charges ATM fees and provides unlimited reimbursements for all third-party ATM fees or surcharges at the end of each month.
  • Mobile Features: Mobile check deposit (Ally eCheck Deposit), ATM finder, send money to a friend (Popmoney), bill pay, and internal and external transfers using the Zelle® money transfer app. The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: Ally lets you opt in to a free overdraft transfer service that pulls funds from your savings or money market account to cover negative balances. You can also opt in to an overdraft protection program that charges a one-time fee of $25 per overdraft transaction. If you don’t elect either program, you won’t be able to make transactions that would result in an overdraft.
  • Possible Fees: Stop payment ($15), outgoing wires ($20), and international transactions (1% of transaction total).

Learn More


11. Capital One 360 Checking

No Minimum Balances; $50 Account Opening Bonus

capital one 360 logo360 Checking from Capital One 360 comes with an attractive yield, especially for larger balances. Though the once-generous account opening bonus has been discontinued, the relatively low fees make this a low-overhead option for frugal account holders.

360 Checking’s mobile app is among the best in the business, with intuitive mobile check deposit, an interactive ATM finder, seamless person-to-person money transfers, and text alerts for a wide range of account functions. Drawbacks include high fees for replacement debit cards, high minimum balance requirements for the best annual yields, and no out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum deposit or balance required for this account.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: Capital One 360 Checking yields 0.20% APY on balances up to $49,999.99, 0.75% APY on balances between $50,000 and $99,999.99, and 1.00% APY on balances greater than $100,000.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Capital One 360 customers enjoy access to about 40,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide – 38,000 in the Allpoint network, and 2,000 Capital One-branded machines. All new accounts come with a free checkbook as well. Out of this network, your ATM fees aren’t reimbursed.
  • Mobile Features: Mobile check deposit, ATM finder,  bill pay, and text alerts for balances and bills due. The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: You can opt in to an overdraft line of credit that accrues daily interest at variable rates north of 10% APR. You can also opt into an overdraft protection service that charges $35 per item, or a free savings transfer program that draws from your Capital One 360 savings account.
  • Possible Fees: Statement copies ($5), NSF or non-sufficient funds check ($9), and domestic outgoing wire (up to $40).

Learn More


12. Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account

Very Attractive Yields, Even on Low Balances

bank5connect logoIf you’re looking for an attractive yield with a reasonable minimum balance requirement, it’s hard to do better than the Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account. Bank5 Connect also has reasonable overdraft fees and a generous reimbursement policy for third-party ATM fees. A sub-par mobile app counts against it, but the main website works okay on mobile devices.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s a $10 minimum opening balance and no daily minimum balance requirement. However, to earn interest you need to keep a daily balance of at least $100.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: All Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account balances greater than $100 yield 0.76% APY. This is significantly higher than many competitors.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Bank5 Connect never charges a fee for withdrawing money at U.S. ATMs. If you withdraw from other banks’ ATMs, Bank5 Connect reimburses those surcharges up to a total of $15 per month. Your first order of personal checks (five books), all wire transfers, and cashiers checks are also free. The UChoose Debit Rewards program earns 1 point per $2 spent on signed and PINless debit card transactions. Redeem your points for travel, gift cards, and merchandise at Bank5 Connect’s rewards portal.
  • Mobile Features:Check deposit and bill pay. The account is Android and iPhone compatible, though the mobile app is not as user-friendly as other options.
  • Overdraft Options: If you have a savings account with Bank5 Connect, you can opt in to an overdraft transfer program that automatically pulls money from it to cover a checking account overdraft at no charge. If you don’t have another account with Bank5 Connect, you can opt in to overdraft protection, which levies a flat fee of $15 per overdraft.
  • Possible Fees: Returned deposit ($7), stop payment ($15), paper statement ($1 per month), and levies and garnishments, which occur when a government entity pulls funds from your bank account to cover back taxes, judgments, or other legal obligations ($25 per item).

Learn More


13. Independent Bank Free Rewards Checking

Potential for Very High Checking Yields

Independent Bank is a Texas-based institution that offers banking products to customers across the United States. Though its Free Rewards Checking account comes with a relatively low baseline interest rate, it has the potential to yield up to 1.50% annually when used properly. If you satisfy certain conditions, the Free Rewards Checking account pays better than many 24-month CDs. These conditions are:

  • You must make least 12 debit card purchases per month
  • Sign up for electronic statements
  • Have at least 1 monthly direct deposit or debit

Other useful features include the option to link to Independent Bank’s REALSaver savings account for automatic savings transfers.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: You need to make a minimum opening deposit of $100, but there’s no minimum balance requirement thereafter.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: This account has a baseline annual yield of 0.01% on all balances. However, you can dramatically boost your account’s annual yield – to 1.50% on balances up to $10,001 – by meeting 3 qualifications: signing up for electronic statements, initiating at least 1 direct deposit or debit per month, and making at least 12 debit card transactions per month. If you meet the qualifications, only balances below $10,000 are eligible to yield 1.50% annually.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Independent Bank never charges a fee to use ATMs. It also offers reimbursements for all ATM fees levied by other institutions, up to $20 per billing cycle. If you open a REALSaver account (yielding 0.50% annually on balances up to $15,000), sign up for electronic statements, initiate a monthly direct deposit, and make at least 12 monthly debit card transactions, Independent Bank automatically deposits your ATM reimbursements into that account.
  • Mobile Features: Bill pay, ATM finder, check deposit, and text alerts. The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: Independent Bank allows you to tie in a checking or money market account and make transfers to cover your checking account’s overdraft transactions. The fee for this service is $7 per active day (days on which a transfer is required). You can also opt in to an overdraft protection program that charges a one-time fee of $34 per overdraft transaction. Or you can opt into an overdraft line of credit program, which charges variable interest on overdrafted balances. If you don’t opt in to any of these programs, you can’t make transactions that would result in a negative balance.
  • Possible Fees: Stop payment ($35), NSF or non-sufficient funds checks ($35), and outgoing wire transfers ($25).

Learn More


14. FNBO Direct Online Checking Account

Competitive Yields on All Checking Account Balances

fnbo direct logoThe FNBO Direct Online Checking account is a straightforward product that pays an attractive yield on all balances, has a negligible minimum opening deposit ($1), and never requires a minimum balance. Despite its no-frills appearance, this account has a nice mobile platform that lets you send money directly to friends and family at no charge.

FNBO does have some drawbacks: no reimbursement for out-of-network ATM fees and hefty daily overdraft fees.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s a minimum opening deposit amount of $1 and no minimum balance requirement.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: This account yields 0.65% APY on all balances.
  • Rewards and Incentives: FNBO Direct doesn’t charge its own ATM withdrawal fees. However, it never reimburses ATM withdrawal fees charged by other banks.
  • Mobile Features: Bill pay and send money to a friend using the Popmoney app (free for standard-duration transfers, $10 for next-day transfers). The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: You can opt in to an overdraft protection program that charges a one-time fee of $33 per transaction, up to a daily maximum overdraft charge of $132. That’s equivalent to 4 overdraft transactions per day. FNBO Direct waives this fee for 1 overdraft per calendar year. If you don’t opt in, you can’t make transactions that would result in an overdraft.
  • Possible Fees: Outgoing wires ($15) and cashiers checks ($10).

Learn More


15. eOne Checking by Salem Five Direct

No Minimum Opening Deposit or Balance Requirements

salem five direct logoThis account from Salem Five Direct offers a decent yield across the board, boasts a straightforward cash back program that rewards virtually all debit card purchases, and has a relatively low minimum opening balance requirement. It also reimburses all third-party ATM fees without limit – a powerful sweetener for a bank that has few branded ATMs of its own.

On the flip side, the annual yield is a bit low – it hasn’t changed since 2012. Plus, the mobile platform isn’t very user-friendly. Perhaps it hasn’t changed since 2012 either. And this account isn’t available through Salem Five’s physical branches, which dot Massachusetts – the only state with supplemental DIF insurance.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s a $100 minimum balance required to open your account.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: All balances held in Salem Five Direct’s eOne Checking account yield 0.25% annually.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Salem Five Direct reimburses all ATM fees charged by other financial institutions. Your first order of checks (5 books) is also free.
  • Mobile Features: Bill pay and mobile check deposit. The account is Android and iPhone compatible, though the platform feels outdated.
  • Overdraft Options: You can opt in to an overdraft protection program that charges a one-time fee of $25 per overdraft transaction. Under this program, Salem Five Direct doesn’t charge for overdrafts of less than $5. However, if you don’t opt in, any transaction that would result in an overdraft fails.
  • Possible Fees: Stop payment ($30), paper statements ($2.95 per statement), and returned deposits ($7.23).

Learn More


16. TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking

Yield Always in Top 5% of U.S. Checking Accounts; Many ATM Fees Waived

TIAA Bank (formerly EverBank) is a full-service online bank with a very attractive checking option: the Yield Pledge Checking Account. The “pledge” is that the account’s yield will always be in the top 5% of all U.S. checking accounts, as measured by the Bankrate BRM Index (released monthly). So far, TIAA Bank has held up this bargain.

Other advantages include a robust mobile app and an overdraft line of credit that may be cheaper than a traditional overdraft fee. The biggest drawback is the high minimum opening deposit requirement – $5,000. Other drawbacks include a minimum balance requirement for reimbursement of out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: TIAA Bank requires a minimum opening deposit of $5,000, but you don’t have to maintain a minimum daily balance once the account is open.
  • Account Opening Bonus: For balances less than $250,000, TIAA Bank pays an annual interest rate of 1.21% APY for your first 12 months. After 12 months, Yield Pledge Checking’s prevailing rates, which range between 0.25% APY and 0.71% APY, take effect.
  • Yield: TIAA Bank promises that Yield Pledge Checking’s yield is always in the top 5% of U.S. checking accounts. This account pays annual interest on a tiered scale: 0.25% for balances less than $9,999, 0.46% for balances between $10,000 and $24,999, 0.51% between $25,000 and $49,999, 0.61% between $50,000 and $99,999, and 0.71% for balances greater than $100,000.
  • Rewards and Incentives: TIAA Bank never charges a fee to withdraw money from an ATM in the U.S. Additionally, if you keep at least $5,000 in your account, you are reimbursed for other banks’ ATM fees.
  • Mobile Features: ATM finder, bill pay, check deposit (with photo), and send money to friends (People Pay). The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: TIAA Bank doesn’t charge a flat overdraft fee. To avoid fees completely, you can link another TIAA Bank account (savings or money market) to your checking account. If you attempt a transaction without sufficient funds in your checking account, TIAA Bank automatically pulls money from one of those accounts. Each overdraft transfer counts toward your monthly limit of 6 outgoing transfers from your savings or money market account – a limit that’s common to all online banks on this list. If you’d prefer not to open or link another TIAA Bank account, you can opt in to an overdraft line of credit, which essentially charges a variable interest rate on negative balances. This rate is based on the prime rate plus 5.9%.
  • Possible Fees: Cashiers check ($10), domestic wires ($25), and uncollected item ($30).

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17. First Internet Bank Free Checking

Low Minimum Opening Deposit; No Minimum Balance Requirement

first internet bank logoFormerly known as First Internet Bank of Indiana, First Internet Bank (or First IB) serves U.S. customers nationwide. It doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement and has a negligible minimum opening deposit.

Its biggest drawbacks include no yield and no reimbursement for other banks’ ATM fees. If you can manage a minimum daily balance of $500, spring for First IB’s Interest Checking Account, which yields 0.55% APY and waives its $10 monthly maintenance fee when you keep your balance above that threshold.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: You can open an account with a $25 deposit. There’s no minimum balance requirement after that.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: This account doesn’t pay interest.
  • Rewards and Incentives: First Internet Bank of Indiana doesn’t charge its own ATM fees. However, it never reimburses those of other banks, which is problematic because its own ATM network is small. You get 50 checks free with your account opening and free online bill pay services.
  • Mobile Features: Enrollment in FinanceWorks and bill pay (optional, costs $4.95 per month). The account is Android and iPhone compatible.
  • Overdraft Options: You can opt in to an overdraft protection plan that charges a one-time fee of $30 for each overdraft transaction. Otherwise, transactions that would result in an overdraft fail.
  • Possible Fees: Paper statements ($3), replacement debit card ($5), and overdraft fee ($30).

Learn More


18. State Farm Bank Checking Account

Low Account Opening Balance and No Minimum Balance Requirements

State Farm Bank is the consumer banking arm of State Farm, best known for its comprehensive lineup of insurance products. With a low account opening balance requirement and no ongoing minimum balance requirements, the State Farm Bank checking account is definitely worth a look in its own right though.

Perks include mobile check deposit, unlimited ATM fee reimbursements with a recurring direct deposit arrangement, and solid overdraft protection. The fee structure is relatively lax here – if you’re careful, you won’t pay much to keep this account running. But the nonexistent yield is a problem.

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: You need $25 to open an account, but there’s no ongoing balance requirement after that.
  • Account Opening Bonus: None.
  • Yield: None.
  • Rewards and Incentives: State Farm never charges fees at non-State Farm ATMs. It also offers unlimited foreign ATM fee reimbursement with a qualifying direct deposit arrangement. Otherwise, the limit is $10 per statement cycle. Other perks include a complimentary first round of checks.
  • Mobile Features: The Pocket Agent® app is Android and iPhone compatible. Features include mobile check deposit, customizable alerts, and full online banking interface.
  • Overdraft Options: You can choose up to 2 “protecting accounts” – basically, any State Farm Bank account other than your free checking account – backstop transactions that would otherwise result in overdrafts. Transfers are made in $25 increments for a flat $3 fee per item, regardless of the shortfall’s size. You can also connect your account to a State Farm Visa credit card and use the card’s cash advance feature as a fallback. Standard cash advance fees (the greater of $10 or 4% of the transaction amount) and interest rates (variable) apply.
  • Possible Fees: Debit card replacement ($5 for regular expedience), NSF transaction ($25 if no overdraft protection, limit 3 per day), and stop payment ($20 per item).

Learn More


Final Word

If you cling to the quaint notion that you shouldn’t have to pay for a basic checking account, any one of these options should suit you. However, before you settle on a choice, do your homework. Be especially vigilant for any signs of systemic problems, such as data security issues or a pattern of customer service complaints, at your chosen bank. After all, you don’t want to stop being an educated consumer just because a product or service is free.

What’s your favorite free checking account?

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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