Best Free Checking Accounts With No Minimum Balance

It’s a good time to shop for a new checking account. Online banking has set the bar for consumer banking, and you get to enjoy the benefits.

It’s easier than ever to find checking accounts that minimize fees and boost earnings on account balances. Whether you’re looking for an online bank or a bank with local branches, the key is to shop around to find the best deal. The below list will help kick off your search.

10 Best Free Checking Accounts with No Minimum Balance

If you’re interested in opening a checking account while minimizing expense, all you’ll need to do is set aside some time to comparison shop. In addition to deals on fees, take a look at perks the bank offers, searching for amenities like the best annual percentage yield (APY), cash back on debit card purchases, and financial guidance in the app.

Here are the top 10 free checking accounts with no minimum balance requirements.

1. SoFi

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For a no-fee banking solution with high-interest rates, SoFi Checking & Savings should be your top consideration. It offers no minimum balance and no monthly fees.

Plus, for a limited time, it offers a $300 bonus for making qualifying direct deposits.

SoFi provides free access to more than 55,000 Allpoint® Network ATMs and early direct deposit, meaning your paycheck arrives up to two days sooner.

You can also earn 4.60% APY on savings and 0.50% APY on checking balances are available with direct deposit setup.

Fees:

No monthly maintenance fee

No overdraft fees

Requirements:

No minimum opening deposit

No minimum monthly balance

ATM access:

Fee-free ATM access at more than 55,000 Allpoint® Network locations

Rates:

Up to 4.60% APY on savings with direct deposit

Up to 0.50% APY on checking with direct deposit

Additional perks:

Up to $300 sign-up bonus with qualifying direct deposit

Early access to your paycheck with direct deposit

Full SoFi review

2. Chime®

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If you prefer no-fee checking accounts that take an app-first stance, a Chime checking account is worth considering. You’ll get access to cash at more than 60,000 ATMs and the ability to add cash at any Walgreens location.

While Chime isn’t one of the online banks that pays interest on checking, you can partner it with a Chime savings account and earn 2.00% APY3 on your savings balance.

Fees:

  • No monthly service fees
  • No fees for overdrafts5

Requirements:

  • No minimum opening balance
  • No minimum monthly balance

ATM access:

  • Fee-free1 ATM access at more than 60,000 locations
  • Add cash to your account at any Walgreens location

Rates:

  • Not available

Additional perks:

  • Direct deposit allows you access to your funds two days in advance of payday2
  • Lock and unlock debit card with app

Full Chime review

3. Upgrade

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Upgrade Rewards Checking offers a great deal for those looking for a free checking account with no strings attached. With Upgrade, you don’t just get free transactions with no minimum opening deposit or balance, but you’ll also earn money while you spend.

Customers who set up monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more get unlimited 1% cash back, with 2% cash back on debit card purchases at drugstores, restaurants, and even popular streaming service subscriptions.

Fees:

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No fees for overdrafts

Requirements:

  • No minimum opening balance
  • No minimum monthly balance

ATM access:

  • Reimbursement up to five times per payment period for third-party ATM fees

Rates:

  • Up to 5.07% on savings

Additional perks:

  • 2% cash back at drugstores, gas stations, restaurants, utilities, and more
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on everything else
  • Account holders in good standing can qualify for 20% lower rates on Upgrade loans and credit cards

4. Current

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Current, a rapidly growing U.S. fintech with over a million members, offers a free checking account without using ChexSystems or credit reports.

Features include $200 fee-free overdraft protection, 40,000 Allpoint ATMs, no hidden fees or minimum balance, early direct deposit, up to 15x points and cashback, and instant transfers via Current Pay.

Fees:

  • No maintenance fees
  • No overdraft fees

Requirements:

  • No minimum opening deposit
  • No minimum monthly balance

ATM access:

  • 40,000+ fee free ATMs

Rates:

  • Earn 4.00% APY on savings

Additional perks:

  • Get paid up to 2 days faster with direct deposit
  • Gas hold removals

Full Current review

5. GO2bank

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GO2bank is a mobile banking solution designed to cater to your financial needs. This option provides convenient and secure access to your funds while offering a range of features to help you manage your finances effectively.

GO2bank offers nationwide account access and management via their user-friendly mobile app.

Fees:

  • No maintenance fees
  • No overdraft fees

Requirements:

  • No minimum balance
  • No minimum opening deposit

ATM access:

  • Free access to over 19,000 in-network ATMs nationwide

Rates:

  • 4.50% APY up to $5,000

Additional perks:

  • Up to 7% cashback rewards on eGift Card purchases from over 100 popular merchants
  • Get paid up to 2 days early with direct deposit
  • Mobile check deposit and bill pay features
  • Access to credit-building options through the GO2bank Secured Visa®Credit Card, with no annual fee or credit check required

6. Axos Bank

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If you have direct deposit, Axos Rewards Checking account may be a suitable option. Not only do they have fee-free checking accounts, but direct deposit customers can also earn up to 3.30% APY through various account activities.

Axos also has an easy-to-use app that lets you monitor all your financial account balances in one place and analyze your spending behavior to stay on top of things.

Fees:

  • No maintenance fees
  • No fees for overdrafts

Requirements:

  • $50 minimum opening deposit
  • No minimum monthly balance

ATM access:

  • Unlimited domestic fee reimbursements

Rates:

  • 0.40% APY on direct deposits totaling $1,500 or more monthly
  • 0.30% APY on 10 point-of-sale debit transactions of $3 or more per transaction monthly
  • 1.00% APY on daily balances of $2,500 per month in an Axos Self-Directed Trading Invest account or an Axos Managed Portfolio Invest account
  • 0.60% APY on monthly payments to an open Axos Bank customer loan if you transfer the funds from your Rewards checking account

Additional perks:

  • $100 welcome bonus
  • 24/7 access to a virtual financial assistant

Full Axos Bank review

7. Quontic

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Quontic High-Interest Checking pays 1.10% APY on your checking account balance as long as you make at least 10 purchases per payment cycle using your debit card.

You’ll also get fee-free checking, as well as surcharge-free ATM use at AllPoint, MoneyPass, and SUM ATMs, as well as at any Citibank ATM located in a Target, Speedway, Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, Safeway, Winn Dixie, or Circle K.

Fees:

  • No maintenance fees
  • No fees for overdrafts

Requirements:

  • $100 minimum opening deposit
  • No minimum monthly balance

ATM access:

  • No fee at participating ATMs

Rates:

  • 1.10% APY for all balance tiers if you meet qualifications

Additional perks:

  • Lock and unlock debit card online
  • Quontic Pay Ring lets you easily make point-of-sale payments without your debit card

8. Capital One 360

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With a Capital One 360 Checking account, you combine the benefits of a traditional bank with the convenience of online banks.

There are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements with Capital One. But the best thing about Capital One is that you won’t pay ATM fees at over 70,000 ATMs located across the US.

Fees:

  • No maintenance fees
  • No overdraft fees or foreign transaction fees

Requirements:

  • No minimum opening balance
  • No minimum monthly balance

ATM access:

  • Fee-free ATM use at all Capital One, MoneyPass, and Allpoint ATMs.
  • Add cash to your account at any CVS location

Rates:

  • 0.10% APY

Additional perks:

  • In-person customer service at any Capitol One branch
  • Lock and unlock debit card from app
  • Early paycheck allows you access to your funds two days in advance of payday

Full Capital One 360 review

9. Ally Bank

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Ally Bank is a top online-only competitor in the banking space. With the Ally Interest Checking Account, you can earn up to 0.25% APY on your balance.

At the same time, you’ll get a free checking account with no account minimums, as well as access to more than 43,000 ATMs nationwide.

Fees:

  • No monthly service fee
  • No fees for overdrafts

Requirements:

  • No minimum opening balance
  • No minimum monthly balance

ATM access:

  • Free access to ATMs at more than 43,000 Allpoint ATMs
  • Up to $10 reimbursement for out-of-network ATMs per statement cycle

Rates:

  • Up to 0.25% annual percentage yield
  • 0.10% on balances as low as $100

Additional perks:

  • Direct deposit allows you access to your funds two days in advance of payday
  • CoverDraft forgives up to $250 in overdrafts

Full Ally Bank review

10. LendingClub

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LendingClub’s Rewards Checking account offers a range of attractive features for its users. By meeting qualification requirements, account holders can earn 1% cash back on qualified purchases made with their debit card.

The checking account provides unlimited ATM fee rebates, and direct deposit allows users to receive their paychecks up to two days early. Additionally, balances between $2,500 and $99,999.99 earn 0.10% APY, while balances of $100,000 and above earn 0.15% APY.

Fees:

  • No monthly fee
  • No incoming wire transfer fees

Requirements:

  • No minimum opening balance
  • No minimum monthly balance

ATM access:

  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates

Rates:

  • 0.10% to 0.15% APY

Additional perks:

  • Unlimited cash back
  • Get your paycheck early

About the Best No-Fee Checking Accounts

As online-only banks have made financial institutions more competitive, common checking account fees have started to disappear. As long as you meet the requirements, you’ll be able to enjoy no monthly maintenance fees, overdraft protection, and many other benefits.

But with so many options now available, a financial institution has to go a step further to stand out. For national banks, that may mean pushing the “in-person service” angle in addition to having a full suite of online banking features. For online-only banks, it might mean offering interest on your checking balance or early access to your paycheck.

The Pros of Traditional Checking Accounts

Technology has changed the face of banking, but that doesn’t eliminate the demand for physical locations. In fact, your town likely has more banks and credit unions than ever. But many of these branches offer both in-person and online services, so you can still get the best of both words.

Here are some of the pros of traditional checking.

  • Can have more stability than some online-only checking accounts
  • Local banks and credit unions may have more personalized service
  • Withdrawing and depositing cash is often easier
  • Typically has a wider range of financial products
  • May offer both in-person and online banking

The Pros of Online Checking Accounts

Online checking and savings accounts offer a modern solution to traditional banking, harnessing the power of technology to deliver unparalleled convenience and flexibility. They are designed to meet the demands of today’s fast-paced world, offering advantages that extend beyond the boundaries of brick-and-mortar banks.

In many cases, you’ll get a much better deal on interest and fees than you will with a brick-and-mortar location.

Here are some of the benefits of online checking.

  • Typically more competitive fees
  • Better rates on interest-bearing checking accounts
  • Easily transfer money
  • Customer service may have extended hours
  • Some online banks offer early access to direct deposit funds
woman using mobile phone

Best Features of No-Fee Checking Accounts

Fees aren’t the only consideration when you’re researching a new account at a bank or credit union. You can find a rewards checking account that helps you earn on every purchase or a free checking account that gives you early access to your paycheck.

But there are also negatives to watch for while you’re comparing banks and credit unions. With some financial institutions, fees are only waived if you keep a minimum average daily balance or have qualifying monthly direct deposits. You’ll also sometimes have a minimum deposit to open the account.

Here are some of the top features of free checking accounts to help you find the best checking account for you.

  • Fee-free ATM access or ATM fee reimbursement
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Overdraft protection
  • Easy transfers to and from your savings account
  • Online bill pay

If it applies, you might also research whether a bank charges foreign transaction fees or allows free use of ATMs while you’re traveling. If you opt for a bank that charges fees on your other daily activities, you might lose the benefits of not having a monthly fee.

Best Free Checking Accounts Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we’ve looked at the 9 best free checking accounts with no minimum balance, as well as some that have a minimum balance requirement, there are a few other things to consider. Here are some frequently asked questions about fee-free banking.

Which banks offer free checking accounts?

You can find a free checking account at a variety of banks and credit unions, both online and brick-and-mortar. The above list can help you get started.

How do I deposit cash with an online checking account?

One challenge of an online bank account is that you don’t have a physical location for depositing and withdrawing cash. You’ll need to rely on ATMs for your cash transactions, although some online account providers have partnerships with Walgreens or CVS locations for cash deposits.

Since you will rely heavily on ATMs, it’s important to look for a bank or credit union that offers ATM use without fees. Many online banks partner with nationwide ATM services like MoneyPass or Allpoint, while others reimburse up to so many times per month. You can find online checking options that offer unlimited domestic ATM reimbursements.

Are free checking accounts really free?

Unfortunately, nothing is completely free. Most banks and credit unions that offer free checking accounts simply don’t have the monthly service charge account holders would pay at other banks. You may still have to pay overdraft fees or other miscellaneous charges.

Some banks promise no monthly fees, but there are strings attached. You may be required to maintain a minimum balance every day of your statement period. You may also need to have a minimum amount of money going into the checking account via direct deposit each month. Failure to meet the standards could cause a fee to kick in.

What is the financial institution’s definition of a “no-fee checking account?”

A bank can set its own policies when it comes to its checking account offerings. However, consumers do have some rights. If you know those rights, it can help in negotiating account terms before you sign up for a checking account.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for a bank to mark its account as “free,” the account must meet these criteria:

  • No monthly service fees
  • No fees for exceeding a certain transaction number
  • No fees to deposit, withdraw, or transfer money
  • No fees for falling below a minimum balance

Banks are allowed to charge fees for certain activities not directly related to the checking account itself. Those include:

  • ATM fees
  • Overdraft fees
  • Bounced check fees
  • Balance inquiry fees
  • Stop payment fees
  • Inactive account fees
  • Check printing fees

Is my money safe in an online only checking account?

If you’re used to traditional banks, you may be hesitant to trust online-only banks. But checking and savings accounts operate under similar rules whether they’re online, national, or local.

Before you choose a free checking account, check to make sure it’s FDIC insured. If it is, your funds will be insured by the federal government for up to $250,000 per depositor. If you exceed that maximum, you might want to put some of your funds in a money market account, CD, or savings account with a different bank.

How do you know if a bank is FDIC insured? Typically, it will be listed on their website. You can also look for any bank’s FDIC status using the BankFind tool.

Do banks require any minimums to avoid checking account fees?

Banks can set requirements to qualify for free checking accounts. They simply can’t advertise the account as a “no-fee checking account.” The lack of fees on qualifying accounts will be mentioned in their account features.

In some cases, you’ll also see tiered pricing instead of a minimum balance requirement. A checking account will charge low or no fees at the lower balance tiers, with the higher dollar balances offered as a no fee account option.

What do I need to open a new checking account?

Whether you’re looking at a local bank or credit union or considering online checking accounts, there are some basics you’ll need to get started. You’ll need to have photo identification ready to present, and if you’re opening a joint account, that person may have to provide ID as well.

In some cases, banks require a minimum deposit to establish the account. If your pay comes through direct deposit, you’ll have to redirect your payments to your new account.

Can I earn money on my checking balance?

Traditionally, interest was reserved for savings accounts. You’d deposit money in that separate account to enjoy higher interest earnings. Some banks offer money market options that can boost your interest rates further.

But as competition has increased, checking accounts now offer competitive interest rates as well. You may need to maintain a minimum balance to qualify, or your interest may be tiered, but some digital banks can offer interest rates that rival what your savings account earns.

Can I do everything through an online bank?

Most banks today have a mobile app and online website where you can handle most of your transactions. Mobile check deposits mean you can add paper checks to your account using your smartphone camera, but that won’t help you if someone has handed you cash.

Luckily, ATMs can help with that. You can deposit and withdraw cash at any ATM, although you may have to pay fees. You can also move funds around and accept money through ACH payments and peer-to-peer apps.

But even with all those conveniences, online-only banks have their limits. You may discover the customer service isn’t quite the same through chat and phone conversations. With a traditional bank, you can get that face-to-face interaction with bank representatives if you need it. Digital banks also typically don’t have the full suite of loan options you get with a traditional bank.

Skipping the monthly maintenance fee can save you money on your checking each month. Between traditional banks, credit unions, and online banks, you should be able to shop around and find an option that not only waives monthly maintenance fees but brings plenty of perks that make it worth switching.

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.

3. The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is accurate as of May, 22, 2023. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.

5. Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each at least once every 34 days. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third-party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.

Stephanie Faris
Meet the author

Stephanie Faris is a professional finance writer with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured on a variety of top finance sites, including Money Under 30, GoBankingRates, Retirable, Sapling, and Benzinga.