Having the right checking account comes with several benefits and conveniences, from free ATMs to automatic bill pay. Your checking account can also end up costing you money in the form of monthly maintenance fees and overdraft charges.
Finding the best fit depends on various factors, including how you make deposits, what type of balance you carry, and how you spend.
To help narrow down your choices, we’ve compiled a list of the year’s best checking accounts in different categories. Even if you already have a checking account, it’s smart to review your options to make sure your bank or credit union is working for you.
15 Best Online Checking Accounts
Many people prefer the convenience of a strong online presence with great customer service over going to a bank’s physical location. Luckily, there are plenty of heavy-hitters with online checking options for anyone who’s constantly on the go.
Check out our best checking accounts that allow you to handle all your banking needs online.
Best High Interest Rate Checking Accounts
Interest rates on any type of bank account aren’t very high today, but that doesn’t mean they’re unheard of. You usually have to open a savings account to receive any type of yield on your balance. However, there are some high-yield checking accounts that offer interest on your deposits. Here are our top picks.
NBKC provides online checking accounts with competitive interest rates. They have four local branches in Kansas City, and access to about 37,000 ATMs nationwide via MoneyPass.
Our final pick for the best high-interest checking accounts is Bank5 Connect. This is a great choice because you only need a minimum deposit of $100 to start earning interest.
Best Credit Union Checking Accounts
Credit unions typically have certain requirements to qualify for membership, like working in a particular industry or living in a specific community. However, many national credit unions have wide membership requirements, but they offer some great financial products once you’re in.
Establishing a strong relationship with a credit union can set the stage to get approved for future financial needs, including personal loans or car loans.
Alliant offers an easy, free checking account that boasts no monthly service fees and no account minimums.
There are over 80,000 ATMs you can use for free, and Alliant will give you up to $20 a month in reimbursements for any ATM fees you accumulate.
Based in Michigan, Consumers Credit Union is available nationwide and has a high yield checking account that’s worth looking into.
Connexus offers checking account members various free services, including free online and mobile banking, bill pay, and eStatements.
Best Checking Accounts with Sign-Up Bonuses
A little free cash never hurt anyone, and two banks are currently offering some attractive sign-up bonuses. So, if you follow a few guidelines upon signing up, you’ll get a pre-determined deposit of cash right into your new checking account. Here are today’s best deals for checking accounts with sign-up bonuses.
U.S. Bank is currently welcoming new applicants in 26 U.S. states with a special online offering:
TD Bank is currently offering two sign-up bonuses for new customers opening up a checking account. The first is for a $200 bonus when you sign up for the TD Convenience Checking account.
Chase currently offers a similar promotion for new customers. You can receive a $200 bonus by setting up a direct deposit into your Chase Total Checking account.
Types of Checking Accounts
There are several types of checking accounts, including:
- Traditional checking accounts: These are the most common types of checking accounts and are offered by most banks and credit unions. Traditional checking accounts typically have low minimum balance requirements, allow unlimited transactions, and may offer online and mobile banking features.
- Interest-bearing checking accounts: These accounts offer a small amount of interest on the balance in your checking account. However, they may have higher balance requirements or charge higher fees to earn the interest.
- Premium checking accounts: Premium checking accounts often have a higher minimum balance requirement. They may charge higher fees in exchange for additional perks such as higher interest rates, waived fees for other bank products and services, and priority customer service.
- Rewards checking accounts: A rewards account may offer rewards or cash back for using the account in certain ways. For example, making a certain number of debit card transactions or signing up for direct deposit. They may also offer higher interest rates and lower fees, but may have other restrictions to earn the rewards.
- Second chance checking accounts: These accounts are designed for individuals who have had problems with overdrafts or mismanaging a checking account in the past. Second chance checking accounts may have higher fees and more restrictions. However, they can help individuals rebuild their credit and transition to a traditional checking account.
- Student checking accounts: Student checking accounts may have lower fees or minimum balance requirements since they are designed specifically for students. They may also offer additional perks, such as discounts on textbooks or other products and services.
- Senior citizen checking accounts: Senior checking accounts are tailored to the needs of senior citizens and may offer additional benefits such as waived fees, higher interest rates, and priority customer service.
- Business checking accounts: Checking accounts that are designed for businesses. They offer additional features such as the ability to accept electronic payments and issue business checks.
- Online-only checking accounts: An online-only checking account can be opened and managed entirely online and may offer higher interest rates and lower fees than traditional checking accounts. However, online banks may not offer the same level of in-person customer service or access to physical branches and ATMs.
Pros and Cons of Checking Accounts
Checking accounts offer several benefits, including easy access to cash and the option for direct deposit of paychecks. Here are some pros and cons of checking accounts:
- Convenient: A checking account allows you to easily access your money through various methods such as debit cards, checks, and online banking.
- Versatile: Checking accounts can be used for a wide range of transactions, such as paying bills, making purchases, and withdrawing cash.
- Safe: Checking accounts are typically insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) at a bank or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) at credit unions. This ensures that you are protected in the event of a bank failure, with up to $250,000 in insurance per depositor, per bank or credit union.
- Fees: Some checking accounts may charge fees for maintenance, overdrafts, or using certain services or ATMs.
- Limited interest: Checking accounts generally offer lower interest rates than other types of accounts such as savings accounts or money market accounts.
- Minimum balance requirements: A minimum balance may be required to waive fees or earn interest on certain checking accounts. If you are unable to maintain the minimum balance, you may be charged a fee.
Key Factors to Consider when Choosing a Checking Account
To find the best fit for your financial needs, there are several key factors to consider when choosing a checking account. These include:
- Fees: Look for a checking account with low or no monthly maintenance fees and minimal fees for using ATMs.
- Annual percentage yield (APY): If you intend to keep a large balance in your checking account, consider an account that offers a competitive annual percentage yield.
- Minimum balance requirements: Some checking accounts may have a minimum balance requirement to waive fees or earn interest. Make sure you are comfortable with any requirements before opening an account.
- Access to branches and ATMs: If you prefer to do your banking in person or need access to a large network of ATMs, make sure the checking account you choose has convenient branch locations and ATMs.
- Online and mobile banking features: Consider the digital banking options offered by the checking account, such as mobile check deposit and online bill pay.
- Customer service: It’s important to choose a checking account with reliable customer service in case you have any questions or issues. Look for accounts with multiple ways to contact customer service, such as by phone, email, or live chat.
How To Open a Checking Account
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to open a checking account:
- Research different banks and credit unions: Start by comparing the fees, minimum balance requirements, interest rates, and other features of different financial institutions. Consider factors such as the location of branches and ATMs, online and mobile banking options, and customer service.
- Gather the necessary documents: Most financial institutions will require some form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and proof of your current address. You may also need to provide information about your employment and financial history.
- Choose a checking account: Decide on the type of checking account that best fits your needs based on the factors you researched in step one.
- Open the account: Once you’ve chosen a checking account, you can open it either in person at a branch or online. If you open it online, you may need to provide additional documents such as a voided check or direct deposit form.
- Make a deposit: You will need to make an initial deposit to activate your checking account. This can be done in person at a branch, through an ATM, or online.
- Set up online and mobile banking: Many banks and credit unions offer online and mobile banking options, which can make it easier to manage your account and track your spending.
- Activate any additional features: If your checking account offers features such as a debit card or overdraft protection, be sure to activate them if you intend to use them.
- Review account terms and conditions: Make sure you understand any fees or restrictions associated with your checking account, and consider setting up account alerts to help you manage your balance and avoid overdrafts.
By following these steps and choosing a checking account that meets your needs, you can confidently manage your finances and make the most of your money.
Checking Account FAQs
What is a checking account?
A checking account is a banking product that offers the ability to deposit and withdraw funds, issue checks, pay bills and perform electronic transactions to manage your daily financial needs.
How do I deposit money into my checking account?
There are several methods for depositing money into a checking account, including: visiting a bank branch, using an ATM, or utilizing mobile banking to electronically deposit a check.
Are checking accounts free?
While “free” checking accounts generally don’t have a monthly fee, some banks or credit unions may require a minimum balance or charge fees for specific services, such as using out-of-network ATMs.
Consider your financial habits and review the fees associated with a checking account before opening one. A free account with no fees for out-of-network ATMs may be more suitable if you frequently use such ATMs.
How old do you have to be to open a checking account?
In the US, the minimum age for opening a checking account is 18, though some banks or credit unions may allow younger individuals with the permission of a parent or guardian.
How many checking accounts can I have?
There’s no limit to the number of checking accounts you can hold. Some people opt to open multiple accounts for various purposes such as personal or business expenses. Others want to take advantage of different fees, interest rates, or account features from multiple financial institutions.
Can you open a checking account online?
Yes, most banks and credit unions offer the option of remotely opening a checking account. The process involves submitting an online application and providing required documentation, after which the bank will review the application. Upon approval, you will receive information on accessing and using your new checking account.
Learn More About Checking Accounts
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- Checking Accounts for Bad Credit – Find the best checking accounts for bad credit. Our team has compared options from leading banks and credit unions to aid you in repairing your credit.
- Best Checking Accounts With No Overdraft Fees – Tired of high overdraft fees? Discover the best checking accounts with zero overdraft fees and save on unexpected charges.
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- Banks That Offer Early Direct Deposit – Get your paycheck early with banks that offer early direct deposit. Our team compares the top options for quick access to your funds.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC. Credit Builder card issued by Stride Bank, N.A.
1. Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply with Chime except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.
2. Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment ﬁle from the payer. Chime generally make these funds available on the day the payment ﬁle is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.