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Best Checking Accounts

Best Checking Accounts
Kevin Mercadante
Updated September 4, 2022
7 Min Read

It’s virtually impossible to operate financially in the modern world without a checking account. Fortunately, checking accounts come in all shapes and sizes, and some offer more perks and benefits than others. To help you find the right one for you, we’ve prepared this list of the best checking accounts.

The table below provides a summary of the most basic information of what we believe to be the best checking account currently available:

BankMonthly FeeSign Up BonusMinimum Opening DepositBest For
Bank
Axos Rewards Checking
Monthly Fee
None
Sign Up Bonus
$100 (new accounts, $1,500 in direct deposits)
Minimum Opening Deposit
$50
Best For
Full-service online banking
Bank
Discover Cashback Debit
Monthly Fee
None
Sign Up Bonus
N/A
Minimum Opening Deposit
None
Best For
Cashback rewards
Bank
NBKC Everything Account
Monthly Fee
None
Sign Up Bonus
N/A
Minimum Opening Deposit
None
Best For
Building savings
Bank
Alliant High-Interest Checking
Monthly Fee
None
Sign Up Bonus
$100*
Minimum Opening Deposit
$5, paid by Alliant
Best For
Interest-bearing, no fee checking account
Bank
LendingClub Rewards Checking
Monthly Fee
None
Sign Up Bonus
N/A
Minimum Opening Deposit
$25
Best For
Unlimited rewards checking
Bank
Chime Checking
Monthly Fee
None
Sign Up Bonus
$100**
Minimum Opening Deposit
None
Best For
Overdraft protection

*Alliant bonus – must open an Ultimate Opportunity Savings Account, then deposit at least $100 per month for 12 consecutive months. You must also have a balance of $1,200 or more in the account.

**Chime bonus – with referral code and $200 direct deposit within 45 days of account opening.

Best checking accounts

Axos Rewards Checking

Axos Rewards Checking pays interest up to 1.25%. It’s a tiered \[APY](/article/what-is-apy) based on multiple factors. For example, if you set up direct deposit and take advantage of the free Personal Finance Manager, you’ll earn 0.70%. But if you add a loan payment and an investment account, you’ll receive an additional 0.55%, for a total of 1.25%.

The account comes with unlimited checking, a Visa debit card, mobile check deposits, and 24/7 customer service. Axos also offers investment accounts, both managed and self-directed, as well as small business banking services.

  • Checking APY: Up to 1.25% variable rate
  • Other fees: No overdraft/NSF fees, no ATM fees, returned checks $10, incoming wires free, domestic outgoing wire $35, international outgoing wire $45
  • Other products offered: Cashback Checking, savings, CDs, mortgages, auto and personal loans, self-directed trading, managed portfolios, commercial finance, and small business banking.
  • ATM network: No network, but unlimited ATM fee reimbursement at ATMs nationwide
  • Customer service: 24/7 by phone or secure messaging

Discover Cashback Debit

The Discover Cashback Debit account is in a non-interest-bearing checking account, but it enables you to earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. If you spend the maximum each month – or  $36,000 per year – using the card, you’ll earn $360 in rewards for the year, and all without needing to maintain an account balance.

You can use the Discover app for all your banking needs, take advantage of pairing your debit card with Apple Pay, enjoy overdraft protection, make mobile deposits, and send money with Zelle. There are no fees for insufficient funds or even for reordering checks.

  • Checking APY: N/A
  • Other fees: $30 for each outgoing wire transfer, otherwise none
  • Other products offered: Discover credit cards, online banking, savings and money market accounts, CDs, IRAs, personal loans, student loans, home loans
  • ATM network: 60,000+
  • Customer service: 24/7 by phone

NBKC Everything Account

NBKC calls this the Everything Account because it’s a checking account that does, well – everything. That includes building savings goals into your account. The account is designed to enable you to track your spending and progress toward your goals, while transferring money into savings.

Savings goals are like virtual piggy banks. You can set multiple goals and attach an account to each. That includes vacations, saving for a new car, emergencies, or just building a savings account. When you set the target date and amount of your goal, NBKC will let you know how much you need to save on a regular basis. You can do this by setting up automatic transfers. You can set as many as 10 savings goals, with up to $250,000 per goal.

  • Checking APY: N/A
  • Other fees: None disclosed
  • Other products offered: Home loans, money market, CDs, personal loans, auto loans, credit cards
  • ATM network: 37,000+ with MoneyPass – up to $12 per month in fees for out of network ATMs reimbursed
  • Customer service: Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Central Time, by phone or in-app messaging

Alliant High-Interest Checking

Alliant is a credit union, offering a true no-fee, interest-bearing checking account. Not only will you earn 0.25% APY, but there is no monthly fee, NSF or overdraft fees. Alliant also offers one of the largest fee-free ATM networks, with more than 80,000 locations, and up to $20 per month in rebates of fees charged by out-of-network ATMs.

The account comes with a Visa contactless debit card, and you can also use mobile wallets and people-to-people apps, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, Venmo and Cash App.

  • Checking APY: 0.25%
  • Other fees: Visa foreign transaction fee 1%, returned deposit item $15, ACH initiated by telephone $10, outgoing foreign wire transfers $10, outgoing domestic wire transfers $25
  • Other products offered: Savings accounts, credit cards, auto loans
  • ATM network: 80,000+
  • Customer service: 24/7 by phone

LendingClub Rewards Checking

Best-known for personal loans, LendingClub also offers online banking. That includes their Rewards Checking account. The account lives up to its name, too. They offer unlimited 1% cash back on debit card purchases. To qualify, you must maintain an average balance of $2,500 or more, or receive $2,500 in direct deposits. Rewards Checking is available by invitation only and requires a minimum initial deposit of $25 (otherwise no minimum account balance is required).

The account offers online banking, complete with paper checks, as well as the ability to pay bills and transfer funds from your mobile device. You can even manage your budget and track spending.

  • Checking APY: N/A
  • Other fees: Deposited item reversal $8, stop payment $25, domestic wire out $20, international wire out $40
  • Other products offered: Personal loans, business loans, auto refinancing, patient solutions, high-yield savings, CDs, business banking
  • ATM network: 37,000+ fee-free ATMs through MoneyPass and SUM
  • Customer service: Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to midnight, Saturday and Sunday 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Eastern time, by phone and live chat

Chime Checking

The Chime Checking account comes with online banking, a Visa debit card and no monthly fees or minimum account balance requirement. The account does not pay interest, but you can link a high-yield savings account with automatic savings transfers and earn 1.50% APY. You should be aware that Chime Checking does not offer paper checks.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the account is the SpotMe overdraft coverage. Chime will provide you with $200 in overdraft protection on debit card purchases, with no overdraft fees. Meanwhile, Chime is the perfect checking account for consumers with poor credit because they do not perform a credit check for qualification purposes.

  • Checking APY: N/A
  • Other fees: $2.50 for out of network ATM withdrawals, otherwise none
  • Other products offered: High-yield savings, credit builder secured credit card
  • ATM network: 60,000+ MoneyPass, Allpoint and Visa Plus Alliance
  • Customer service: 24/7 by phone

Why should you open a checking account?

A checking account will give you access to the entire financial universe. That includes the ability to receive and deposit payments, pay bills – by check or online – and better manage your money. And via an ATM, you’ll also have access to the cash in your account even with an online bank that has no brick-and-mortar branches.

How to choose the best checking account for you

When choosing the best checking account for you, be sure it provides the best combination of services for your own personal needs and preferences.

First and foremost, make sure the institution is covered by either FDIC or NCUA. Either will provide coverage for up to $250,000 for funds you have on deposit with the bank.

Next, be sure the bank has a minimum initial deposit requirement that matches your financial situation. That should be one that either has no minimum balance requirement, or a minimum balance requirement that’s very low.

Carefully examine the fee structure of the bank

Many online banks offer checking accounts with no monthly fees. But be sure to check the bank fee schedule for other charges. For example, it’s common for banks to charge fees for non-sufficient funds, overdraft or bounced checks.

The account should also offer the full range of online banking services, such as mobile deposit, bill pay, and person-to-person transfers. Also look closely into additional benefits. These can include earning interest on your balance, receiving rewards on debit card purchases, or having fees from out-of-network ATMs reimbursed.

How to open a checking account

Under federal law, financial institutions will need satisfactory personal identification. This is typically a copy of your Social Security card, driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, or other state-issued ID. You’ll also need to provide evidence of a physical residence. This can be satisfied with a copy of the lease and/or utility bills in your name at the address claimed.

Most financial institutions will also ask for additional information, such as your employer, income, and other financial accounts. And while many institutions do not require a minimum initial account deposit, there are some that do. You’ll typically need to meet the minimum deposit requirement before the account will become active.

Checking versus savings versus money market accounts

In a nutshell, a checking account is what is generally known as a “demand account.” That means funds are available as you need them, and usually immediately. They commonly come with multiple ways to access the account, including paper checks, debit cards, and the ability to make payments online.

Savings and money market accounts are primarily for storing funds that have no immediate need. Each pays interest on your account balance and will limit the number of times you can withdraw funds from the account.

FAQ

What is a checking account?

Checking accounts are accounts best used for day-to-day financial activities. That includes depositing money, making payments, and withdrawing cash. Ironically, checking accounts today increasingly come without paper checks. This is because the most popular methods of payment are either online transfers or made by a linked debit card.

Do checking accounts earn interest?

Most checking accounts are non-interest-bearing. But as you can see from the list of checking accounts in this article, some do pay interest. However, the rate of interest is usually below that for savings and money market accounts.

Is it safe to open a bank account online?

Generally speaking, yes. Banks typically employ sophisticated safety features that protect both your personal information and your financial transactions. If you’re unsure, review the bank’s security procedures which should be listed on the institution’s website.

Once your account is opened, it is important to use safe practices. For example, use more complicated passcodes – they’re harder for a hacker to decipher. Where offered, take advantage of two-factor authentication. That’s where the institution sends a code to your mobile device that must be used to access your account. And finally, never share your credentials with anyone else.

Can you open a bank account online without a deposit?

Many banks allow you to open an account with no funds whatsoever. But the account will not become active until you make a deposit. That makes sense since it won’t be possible to either withdraw cash or make payments until there are funds in the account.

How do I get a checking account bonus?

Not all banks offer a bonus for opening a checking account. When they do, there are usually qualifications you must meet. Typically, those include opening your account by a specific date, and making a minimum deposit within a certain number of days of account opening.

Will a checking account affect your credit score?

The only way a checking account can affect your credit score is if the bank pulls your credit as a precondition of opening the account. Once they do, an inquiry will appear on your credit report that may drop your credit score. Fortunately, the decrease is not significant. In most cases, your score will fall only a few points, and only temporarily at that.

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