Best Free Checking Accounts of 2024


 If you’re looking for a free checking account, you have multiple options in both traditional and online banks. With more than 4,100 banks in the U.S., according to the FDIC, the choices can be downright overwhelming.

It can help if you get clear on what you want in a checking account, narrow down your options, and then read reviews like the one below to find the best free checking account to meet all your needs.

12 Best Free Checking Accounts

When you’re ready to open a new checking account, consider the no fee checking accounts on this list. We’ve evaluated the fees, minimum deposit requirements, annual percentage yield APY on those that earn interest, and more.

Most of the best checking accounts offer features like overdraft protection, mobile banking and the ability to get paid up to two days early with your direct deposit. But financial institutions that let you earn interest on your checking balance or deliver cash back also gained our favor.

1. SoFi Checking and Savings

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SoFi offers a wide range of financial services, including investments and loans.

The bank provides a combination Checking and Savings account with a high yield APY of 4.50% for balances in your savings or Vault, and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

You will need to set up direct deposit to qualify for the high interest rates and other benefits, such as 2-Day Early Paycheck and no-fee overdraft coverage. But there is no minimum balance required.

Currently, the bank is offering new customers who open a free account up to $300 in cash. To receive your bonus, simply open your account and set up direct deposit. Deposits of $1,000 to $4,999.99 qualify for $50 cash back, while a deposit greater than $5,000 will net you $300.  

There are no account fees when you bank with SoFi. Account holders with qualifying direct deposits receive fee-free overdraft protection for up to $50 per purchase.

You can even keep the money in your SoFi online savings to collect the high annual percentage yield APY of 4.60% and the bank will automatically transfer funds to checking to cover certain purchases. It will not, however, transfer money from Vaults, which are designed to help you reach specific savings goals.

Your SoFi debit card provides you with access to your money for free at more than 55,000 ATMs in the AllPoint network.

SoFi is a nationally chartered back with FDIC coverage. Thanks to a partnership with other banks, SoFi’s FDIC insurance exceeds the $250,000 maximum.

Your deposits are insured up to $2 million per account holder, per account, with SoFi. That makes SoFi an excellent choice in online banking for those with high savings, money market, or CD balances.

Best for: Money management and saving

Minimum Opening Balance: None

Monthly Service Fees: None

2. Current

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Current is making waves in the fintech scene with its user-friendly banking solutions. In partnership with Choice Financial Group, Current offers FDIC-insured banking services online, bypassing the traditional brick-and-mortar experience.

The Current Account helps you boost your credit score effortlessly. Just use your Current debit card for regular shopping—no credit checks or loans required. It’s that simple. Plus, you can access your paycheck up to two days early, which makes managing your monthly finances easier.

Another great feature is Current’s fee-free overdraft protection, which shields you from unexpected fees when you’re a bit short. You also earn points for every transaction you make with your debit card, which you can redeem for cash back. This turns every transaction into an opportunity to save a little extra. With Current, it feels like your bank is actually working for you, not against you.

In addition, Current enhances its appeal by providing access to over 40,000 fee-free ATMs across the country, making it convenient to withdraw cash without fees anywhere you go. The mobile check deposit feature further simplifies banking; you can deposit checks anytime and anywhere using just your smartphone.

With no minimum balance fees, no transfer fees, and an array of features like Current Pay for instant money transfers, Current is committed to providing a straightforward and effective banking experience.

Best for: Tech-savvy users and everyday banking

Minimum Deposit: None

Monthly Service Fees: None

2. Chime Checking

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Chime boasts truly fee-free checking and a host of advantages for those seeking an online-only banking solution.

There are no monthly service fees, no overdraft fees, no transaction fees, and no minimum daily balance fees. If you lose your debit card, you don’t even have to pay to replace it!

Chime has a few features that can help you manage cash flow. First, if you sign up for direct deposit, you can receive your paycheck up to two days earlier than you might with a conventional bank.

Second, Chime’s SpotMe program covers overdrafts up to $200 (depending on your qualifications). To take advantage, you must have a monthly direct deposit of at least $200. If your debit card purchase exceeds your overdraft limit, it will be declined, so you won’t ever pay overdraft fees.

Your Chime debit card is linked to a nationwide network of 60,000+ fee-free ATMs. The only fee you might pay is if you withdraw money from an out-of-network ATM or use your debit card to withdraw funds from your account during an over-the-counter debit card purchase.

Chime is an online financial services company, not a bank. It provides $250,000 worth of FDIC insurance per account holder, per account, through Stride Bank and The Bancorp Bank, both members FDIC.

Unlike some neobanks, Chime offers multiple means to reach their customer service representatives. You can reach out on live chat through the app or website 24/7/365.

Best for: Free Overdraft Coverage

Minimum Deposit: None

Monthly Fee: None

3. Consumers Credit Union

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The only credit union on our list of the best free checking accounts, this checking account is open to virtually all U.S. residents over the age of 18.

You’ll just need to pay a one-time, $5 membership fee to the Consumers Cooperative Association. Consumers Credit Union even reimburses this fee after you open your free checking account. Children as young as age 12 can join as the second member on a joint account.

Your Consumers Credit Union Rewards checking account offers many of the same benefits as top-rated online banks, with no monthly fees and no fees of any kind.

You will even be reimbursed for fees incurred while using out-of-network ATMs. CCU has a network of 30,000+ ATMs nationwide.

Enjoy early direct deposit, mobile banking, and even the ability to write unlimited checks with no fees. Plus, you’ll earn up to 5% APY on your balance, depending on certain actions you take. Here’s how the tiered checking account interest works for balances up to $10,000:

  • Earn 3% APY if you make at least 12 debit card purchases a month and have direct deposits, mobile check deposits, or ACH credits of at least $500 each month
  • Earn 4% APY if you meet the above requirements plus spend $500 or more on your CCU Visa credit card each month
  • Earn 5% APY if you meet the requirements to earn 3% plus make $1,000 or more in purchases on your CCU Visa card monthly

Balances of $10,000.01 to $25,000 earn 0.20% APY and balances over $25,000 earn 0.10% APY.

If you don’t meet the requirements in a given month, you will still have free checking and free online bill payments, and you will receive a 0.01% APY on all checking account balances. You also won’t qualify for ATM fee reimbursement.

You can reach Consumers Credit Union customer service online, by phone, or at CCU branches across Illinois. You can also bank at shared branches across the U.S. that are part of the CU Service Center Network, a co-op of credit unions.  

Best for: Those who prefer to bank at a credit union

Minimum Balance to Open: $5

Monthly Fees: None

4. Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking®

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Bank of America offers three Advantage checking accounts:

  • SafeBalance
  • Advantage Plus
  • Advantage Relationship

All three allow you to waive the monthly maintenance fee in a few different ways. Preferred Rewards members, who hold at least $20,000 in a Bank of America account or Merrill investment account, enjoy free checking from Bank of America.

Otherwise, to waive the fee for your Advantage Plus checking account, you’ll need a qualifying direct deposit of $250 or more per month, or maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance.

If you don’t qualify to have fees waived, your Bank of America Advantage Plus account will cost a reasonable $12 per month.

As the “middle-of-the-road” account which would fit the needs of the average customer, we chose Advantage Plus as the best free checking account from the big bank. It is also the most popular of the three.

You’ll want to be aware that your BOA account may have additional fees, including an overdraft fee of $10 for each item paid. You can avoid this fee by linking another eligible Bank of America account to your Advantage Plus checking account to cover overdraft transactions with no transfer fees.

Other Bank of America fees include a $15 replacement fee for a lost debit card, an international transaction fee equal to 3% of the transaction in U.S. dollars, and ATM fees of $2.50 for using an out-of-network ATM. With roughly 16,000 ATMs, nationwide, however, it should be easy to avoid out-of-network ATM fees.

Bank of America offers some features you won’t find at other banks. For instance, you’ll gain access to “Erica,” Bank of America’s virtual financial assistant, to easily manage your accounts.

You can also enroll in Bank of America’s Keep The Change program, which allows you to round up debit card purchases and have the extra money deposited into your BOA savings account or your child’s linked BOA account.

Keep the Change is an easy way to sneak some extra savings into your budget. Preferred Rewards members can earn more than 5% interest on money in their linked Bank of American Advantage Savings account.

Best for: Preferred Rewards members

Minimum Deposit to Open: $100

Monthly Fee: $0 or $12

5. Quontic High Interest Checking

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While it doesn’t compare to Wealthfront’s 4.55% APY for a Cash Account, Quontic offers what qualifies as a high interest checking account with a 1.10% APY.

Be aware that to earn that rate, you’ll need to make at least 10 qualifying debit card purchases of $10 or more in each statement cycle. Otherwise, your money will earn just 0.01% APY.

Quontic’s free checking account with no monthly maintenance fees, no overdraft fees, and no minimum account balance is straightforward, FDIC insured, and socially responsible. The online bank is one of fewer than 3% of all banks designated as a Community Development Financial Institution.

That means Quontic uses your money with fiscal responsibility for social good, depositing it into accounts to help serve lower income families, under-served demographics and small business owners obtain affordable mortgages.

But opening an account with Quontic doesn’t just help others. Account holders enjoy a host of benefits. You’ll gain access to online bill pay and a “roundup program” to shuffle extra “change” from your debit card purchases into your linked high yield Quontic savings account with a 4.25% APY.

You’ll also get a Quontic Pay Ring, a wearable that replaces your debit card for point-of-sale purchases.

Enjoy access to 90,000+ fee free ATMs through the AllPoint, MoneyPass, or SUM program ATMs, as well as Citibank ATMs nationwide. You’ll find these ATMs at popular stores like Target, Speedway, Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, Safeway, Winn-Dixie, and Circle K.

In addition to its High Interest Checking Account, Quontic offers a Bitcoin Rewards checking, which rewards you in cryptocurrency for debit card purchases, and a Cash Rewards checking account, which pays 1% cash back on all eligible debit card purchases.

Both accounts offer the same features as the High Interest checking account, except you’ll receive rewards instead of interest on your checking balance.

For a higher APY, you can open a Quontic Savings account with no monthly service fee and a high 4.25% APY.

Best for: Socially conscious banking

Minimum Balance to Open: $100

Monthly Fee: None

6. Wealthfront Cash Account

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Like Chime, Wealthfront is not a bank. But some would argue that, with no monthly maintenance fee, FDIC insurance of up to $5 million through partner banks, and a high 4.55% annual percentage yield APY on the Wealthfront Cash Account, it’s even better.

Your Wealthfront Cash Account offers many of the same features as a traditional or an online bank. You’ll receive a free debit card and can withdraw cash with no ATM fees at a network of 19,000 ATMs nationwide.

Most consumers will choose the Individual Cash Account, with features such as early direct deposit, online bill pay, mobile check deposit through the app, and fraud protection. Wealthfront also offers a joint account, with up to $10 million FDIC insurance, and a Trust Cash account.

Best of all, Wealthfront charges no overdraft fees, no transfer fees from external accounts, and no fees if your account dips below a minimum balance. It requires just $1 to open an account.

If you are interested in retail investing, Wealthfront makes it easy with virtually instant transfers between your Wealthfront Cash Account and linked Wealthfront Investment accounts.

As you build your portfolio, you can take advantage of Wealthfront’s vast array of financial services, including automated investing, stock investments with zero commissions, and tax loss harvesting services.   

As your Wealthfront investment portfolio grows, you can borrow up to 30% of your portfolio’s value at an interest rate as low as 7.40% APR.

For consumers looking for a one-stop shop for investments, fee-free checking, and savings with a high annual percentage yield, Wealthfront represents a solid choice in online financial service companies or neobanks.

Best for: High Annual Percentage Yield APY

Minimum Deposit to Open: $1

Monthly Fee: None

7. Capital One 360

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A Capital One 360 checking account combines the security and convenience of one of the nation’s largest banks with no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum opening deposits.

Account holders also earn 0.10% APY on all checking account balances in their Capital One 360 account.

You can open your account online or in a branch. If you want in-person assistance, you can visit a Capital One branch or Capital One Café for help.

Capital One 360 provides you with access to your money through more than 70,000 fee free ATMs in the Allpoint, MoneyPass or Capital One networks.  

Capital One 360 has no overdraft fees, but you can decide how you want the bank to handle transactions that exceed your account balance.

You can set it up so that a transaction that would cause an overdraft is declined. Or you can transfer funds from a linked savings or money market account to cover an overdraft.

Alternatively, Capital One may accept certain transactions that put your account into overdraft. You’ll need to deposit money to cover the overdraft, or additional transactions will be declined.

Capital One offers direct deposit up to two days sooner than many banks.

Capital One’s robust mobile app allows for bill payments online, mobile check deposits, and Zelle person-to-person transfers. If you want to add cash to your account, you can do it in person at a CVS store. If you have other Capital One accounts or credit cards, you can manage them all through one login.

Your Capital One 360 account has no foreign transaction fees, but keep in mind there may be fees for using out-of-network ATMs, cashier’s checks, outgoing wire transfers, or paper checkbooks.

Best for: Capital One Credit Card customers

Minimum Balance to Open: None

Monthly Fee: None

8. Ally Bank Interest Checking

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Ally is not just a robust fintech; it is a nationally chartered bank with $196 billion in assets and 11 million customers.

The online bank offers an interest earning checking account with no monthly fee and no overdraft fees, high-yield savings, money market account and CDs. Plus, it provides investment services, loans, and credit cards.

The Ally Bank free checking account lets you earn interest of 0.25% annual percentage yield APY on all balances.

You’ll pay no monthly service fees, no overdraft fees, and no ATM fees at more than 43,000 Allpoint ATMs nationwide. Ally also reimburses you up to $10 on out-of-network fees charged at other ATMs.

Your Ally checking account makes money management easy. You can put money in specific “spending” buckets allocated for different purchases. This can help you track your spending and stick to your budget. You can also get paid up to two days early with direct deposit.

Many of the best free checking accounts offer overdraft protection. Ally offers two choices to help you avoid overdraft fees. With the Overdraft Transfer Service, you can link your Ally Bank online savings or money market account to your Interest Checking account.

Ally will automatically transfer funds to your checking account to cover your purchase. If you make more than six withdrawals in a statement period, you may be charged “excessive transaction fees,” but Ally Bank reimburses those fees.

The CoverDraft service will cover purchases up to $100 as long as you have deposited at least $100 into your Interest checking account in the past 30 days. You can extend that coverage up to $250 if you receive a qualifying direct deposit of at least $250 for two months in a row.

You’ll need a direct deposit every 45 days to maintain your expanded coverage. You will have 14 days to bring your balance out of the negative.

Best for: Online only banking

Minimum Balance to Open: None

Monthly Fee: None

9. Varo Bank

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Varo Bank has the distinction of being the first financial technology company to become a nationally chartered, online only bank.

While most of the banks on our list of best free checking accounts have important features in common, Varo has a few perks that are harder to find in a free account.

First, your Varo debit card offers up to 6% cash back at select online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores. Each time your cashback balance reaches $5, you’ll see the funds deposited directly into your Varo bank account.

When you open a Varo checking account, it pays to open Varo savings at the same time. You’ll gain access to features like “Save Your Change,” which allows you to round up debit card purchases and put the difference in savings.

You can also use Save Your Pay, which deposits a portion of every paycheck you receive via ACH transfer directly into savings. You can set up these features in the mobile app.

Varo also offers a cash advance feature called “Varo Advance,” which allows you to borrow up to $250 and pay it back within 30 days.

You’ll pay nothing for advances less than $20, but there are fees up to $15 associated with borrowing larger amounts. As with many other banks, Varo also lets you get paid via direct deposit up to two days early.

Varo makes it easy to deposit cash into your account by purchasing a Green Dot MoneyPak at stores like Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, 7-11, Dollar General, and others. You can also deposit cash at the register in any of these stores. You might pay a fee of up to $4.95 for this service.

Varo has no minimum balance requirements, no overdraft fee, no monthly fee, no foreign transaction fees, and fee-free access to 55,000+ ATMs in the Allpoint network.

If you use an out-of-network ATM, you will be charged a $3 fee by Varo, plus any charges incurred from the other bank. If you withdraw money using your Varo debit card at the point-of-sale in a store, you’ll pay $2.50 for the convenience.

You can reach Varo customer support via chat on the app every day from 8 AM to 4:30 PM, Mountain Time, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Varo phone support is also available Monday through Friday during the same hours for help logging into your account, filing a dispute if you suspect fraudulent charges, or to receive help adding your Varo card to a digital wallet.

 Best for: Cashback debit

Minimum Opening Balance: None

Monthly Fee: None

10. Discover Cashback Debit

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In the world of finance, Discover is best known for offering a straightforward cashback rewards credit card. Discover’s free online checking account also offers cash back rewards of 1% for up to $3,000 worth of debit card purchases monthly.

That could equal up to $30 in free money every month. You can even choose to have that Cashback Bonus deposited directly into your Discover Online savings account, where it can earn up to 3.90% APY.

Discover has no fees for anything. This includes overdraft protection through your linked Discover savings, no insufficient funds fee, no fee for official bank checks. There is also no fee to receive expedited delivery of a new debit card, and no fees for paper checks. The only service that incurs a fee is an outgoing wire transfer. That will cost $30.

You can use your Discover debit with no fees at any of 60,000+ ATMs nationwide. Like many other financial institutions on this list, Discover allows you to receive ACH deposits from your employer up to two days early through the Discover “Early Pay” program.

Unlike many other online only banks, Discover offers 24/7 U.S.-based customer service by phone at 800-347-7000. If you prefer the convenience and cost savings of an online only bank account but want access to 24/7 phone service, Discover Bank could be the best choice for you.

 Best for: 24/7 customer service by phone

Minimum Opening Balance: None

Monthly Fee: None

11. Chase Total Checking®

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JPMorgan Chase & Co. is not just one of the “big four” banks in the U.S. It is the biggest bank in the U.S. and the world’s largest financial institution based on market cap. For that reason, many people choose Chase Bank for its convenience and 4,700 branches nationwide.

Chase Total Checking is the bank’s most popular checking account, requiring no minimum opening deposit, and a low monthly fee of $12 that’s fairly easy to waive. To waive the fee, you’ll need to do one of the following each month:

  • Have at least $500 in direct deposits
  • Maintain a beginning daily balance of $1,500 or more
  • Maintain an average beginning day balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of your Chase checking account plus other qualifying accounts  

Chase offers overdraft protection in the form of its Overdraft Assist program. You won’t pay an overdraft fee if you’re overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day.

If you are overdrawn by more than $50 but bring the account current or bring your overdraft to $50 or less by the next business day, you also won’t pay any fees.

Chase offers access to Zelle for person-to-person payments and has an intuitive and user-friendly app for online and mobile banking.

You can also take advantage of Chase Autosave features to automatically have a portion of deposits transferred into your Chase savings account, or set up automatic transfers on a schedule, such as weekly or monthly.

Set savings goals and have money deposited into specific buckets or transfer funds into your general savings account to build your emergency savings. You can even pause automatic savings if your checking account drops below an amount you set.

Chase Premier Plus Checking offers even more benefits, including free money orders and cashier’s checks, ATM fee reimbursement for out-of-network ATMs four times per statement cycle, and free checks.

Your Chase Premier Plus Checking account earns a 0.01% APY on all account balances, which is the same as a Chase Savings account.

You can avoid the fees on your Chase Premier Plus Checking account if you have an average beginning day balance of $15,000 in any combination of Chase checking, savings, and other deposit accounts.

Another option is if you have a linked qualifying Chase mortgage enrolled in automatic payments, or if you are a member of the U.S. military or a veteran.

When you are a Chase checking customer, you can refer friends to open a Chase account and receive a $50 bonus, up to $500 per year. Like most financial institutions on this list, Chase has a robust and easy to use mobile app.

Best for: 4,700 branches nationwide

Minimum Opening Balance: None

Monthly Fee: $12.95 (for Chase Total Checking) or free if you meet requirements

Methodology: How We Select the Best Free Checking Accounts

We evaluated multiple factors to find the best free checking accounts for consumers across the U.S. Whether you have large monthly direct deposits or have been “unbanked” until now, you’ll find the best free checking accounts for any need or any budget here.

ATM network or generous ATM-fee reimbursement program

You shouldn’t have to pay extra money to access your money. After all, that’s the opposite of a “free checking account,” isn’t it? You want to find a bank with a large, fee-free ATM network to conveniently withdraw cash or make deposits. If the bank reimburses out of network ATM fees, that’s a bonus.

Nationwide availability (Physical locations or mobile access)

If you’re looking for a traditional bank, you want to make sure it has branches near you. Otherwise, an online bank might be the best choice. For this list of free checking accounts, we eliminated credit unions that don’t serve customers nationwide or have strict membership requirements.

Credit unions are often a solid choice for banking, and often have low fees and high interest rates. For instance, Navy Federal Credit Union is a highly ranked financial institution backed by the National Credit Union Administration. But it’s only open to members of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. veterans, their families, and Department of Defense personnel.

We tailored this list around banks with national appeal, with means they serve customers nationwide, with no residency requirements or specific occupational requirements. The one outstanding credit union on the list, Consumers Credit Union, is open to virtually anyone in the U.S. over the age of 18.

No Monthly Maintenance Fee

When most people think of a free checking account, they think of one with no monthly maintenance fees. You’ll see a few banks with monthly maintenance fees on this list because the benefits outweigh the fees. But any monthly service fees are easy to waive by meeting direct deposit or minimum balance requirements.

Low Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements

Truly free checking accounts should be accessible to most consumers. That means having low or no minimum deposit or minimum balance requirements.

No or Low Foreign Transaction Fees

If you travel abroad or make international transactions, you don’t want to pay fees. This may not be important to everyone, but foreign transaction fees may be a point to consider.

No Account Closure Fee

This was a deal-breaker for us. If you choose to close your account, you should be allowed to do so with no account closure fee. All the banks on this list make it as easy to close your checking account as it is to open it.

No Overdraft Fees

Likewise, if you accidentally spend more money than you have in your account, you shouldn’t be punished. Sometimes we forget that an automatic payment cleared or sometimes, you just need a helping hand to make it to your next paycheck. We gave preference to checking accounts with no overdraft fees, overdraft protection, or generous overdraft forgiveness.

Benefits such as high APY, cash-back rewards, or other additional perks

From cash back debit cards to interest bearing checking accounts, generous perks can make it easy to choose one fee-free checking account over another. Other nice-to-have features include:

  • The ability to pay bills online
  • Early direct deposit
  • Mobile check deposit

These account features make it easy to manage your money. We evaluated all these aspects when compiling our list of the best free checking accounts.

Customer Service

Whether you opt for a neobank or a traditional bank with brick-and-mortar branches, you want fast and responsive customer service. We took branch hours or phone hours into consideration, as well as a responsive chat or email for those who prefer automated service without speaking directly to a person.

Other Products and Services

Many people want to use the bank that holds their primary checking account as a one-stop shop for all their financial needs. They don’t want to download another mobile app, remember another password, or keep their money in different places.

For this reason, we considered the availability of high yield savings or money market accounts, CDs and other financial services when choosing the top free checking accounts. Chase, Capital One, and a few others got bonus points from us for the ability to link a child’s account to teach money management at a young age.

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How to Choose the Best Free Checking Account

Before you choose a free account, decide what features are most important to you. Do you want a bank with brick-and-mortar branches, or are you comfortable banking online only? If you choose an online financial institution, find out if there is a way to deposit cash, since some only allow mobile deposits and ACH transfers from other accounts.

Most of the checking accounts on this list offer similar features, including an easy to use mobile app, no monthly fees, direct deposit capabilities, and overdraft protection. Some have no minimum deposit to open the account, which is convenient since you can set up the account and then fund it within a few days or when you receive your next paycheck.

If you’re looking for interest bearing checking accounts, you’ll find a few on this list. Others provide debit rewards, which isn’t a common feature in a free deposit account. These benefits can help put extra cash in your pocket to help you reach your financial goals.

Determine if you want a linked savings. If so, do you want the capability to transfer funds into multiple savings buckets to help with budgeting?

All the banks on this list are FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per account holder for each type of deposit account. CCU is insured for the same amount by the National Credit Union Administration. That means your money is safe, which is important in today’s climate of economic uncertainty.

Ultimately, your checking account becomes a hub for your financial life. Whether you’re opening your first account or thinking about switching banks to get free checking and more perks, this list provides a good place to start your search.

Frequently Asked Questions

See what people are asking about the best free checking accounts.

What are monthly maintenance fees?

Monthly maintenance fees are service charges imposed by a bank simply for holding an account. The free checking accounts on this list have fee free checking, or it is easy to waive the monthly maintenance fee by having monthly direct deposits or meeting minimum balance requirements.

Do free checking accounts have any fees?

When people think of fee-free checking, they often think of an account with no monthly maintenance fees. However, some free checking accounts may have a monthly fee that can be easily waived with a monthly direct deposit or by meeting minimum balance requirements within a statement cycle.

So-called free checking accounts may have over fees besides the monthly fee. Read the fine print closely to find truly free checking accounts.

What fees do I need to watch out for?

Some banks who advertise free checking accounts may forego a monthly maintenance fee, but charge overdraft fees, ATM fees, withdrawal fees (typically only for savings or money market accounts), fees for paper checks, fees for paper statements, foreign transaction fees, and wire transfer fees. If you lose your debit card, you might have to pay a fee to have it replaced, as well as covering mailing costs.

Can I open a free checking account without a deposit?

Some banks allow you to open a checking account with no minimum deposit required. Of course, if there are any perks, benefits, or sign-up bonuses, you’ll want to fund the account to earn interest or take advantage of special offers.

How do banks make money on free checking accounts?

Banks might make some money from monthly maintenance fees and other customer service charges. But the bulk of their revenue comes from the interest rate they earn on your money when they invest it in other securities, as well as interest collected on loans they make.

Banks don’t necessarily keep the money you deposit in your account. They hold cash withdraws to allow customers to withdraw their money. But they also invest the money and earn revenue on those funds.

They may also earn money on loan services, financial advisory services, investment services with fees, and other services they provide to customers.

These other revenue streams allow banks to offer free checking accounts without losing money.

What’s the difference between a checking and a savings account?

A checking account is where you keep cash for everyday spending. Typically, you can make debit card purchases and withdraw funds from an ATM easily, without fees. Most checking accounts don’t pay interest on your deposits, but some do.

A savings account, on the other hand, holds money you are saving either for a specific event – such as a vacation or large purchase – or for an emergency. Financial experts recommend keeping as much as three to six months of living expenses in an easy-to-access savings account.

Savings accounts pay interest ranging from .01% annual percentage yield APY up to 4% or 5% APY. Be aware that some savings accounts charge fees for monthly withdrawals exceeding a limit of six per month.

Dawn Allcot
Meet the author

Dawn Allot is a personal finance writer and content marketing expert specializing in finance, travel, real estate, and technology. In addition to her work at Crediful, Dawn regularly writes for Bankrate, GoBankingRates, and The Balance.