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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Checking Accounts

A checking account is a vital money management tool. It’s perfect for handling everyday deposits and withdrawals, so it’s one of the most common products of the banking industry. In contrast with less liquid savings or investment accounts, the best free checking accounts allow multiple transactions on a daily basis.

With so much competition in the banking market, there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to find the best fit for your needs, as long as you know your options.

We've compiled this review to help you make the most educated choice and pick one of the best checking accounts on the market.

Determining the best checking option can be a daunting task. We’ve checked out fees, minimum balances and initial deposit requirements, ATM availability, online and mobile banking platforms, and customer service.

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The Best Checking Accounts — Fortunly’s Top 3 Picks

Top 3 Picks

Ally

More than 43,000 free ATMs

Competitive interest rates

Outstanding customer service

Open Account READ REVIEW

Capital One

High interest rates and low fees

Multiple overdraft protection options

Access to more than 39,000 ATMs

Open Account READ REVIEW

Simple

Built-in budgeting tools

Low/no fees

40,000 ATMs nationwide

Open Account READ REVIEW

6 Best Checking Accounts to Open in 2020

1. Ally

Ally is an online-only financial institution that offers banking services, car finance, mortgage loans, and stock brokerage. This bank offers a great checking option for those who value high APY and feel comfortable managing their finances via online and mobile platforms. READ REVIEW

More than 43,000 free ATMs

Competitive interest rates

Outstanding customer service

Open Account

show more


Minimum initial deposit:

None

Minimum account balance:

None

Monthly fees:

None

ATM fees:

None

Other fees:

$7.50 returned deposit item fee; $25 overdraft fee; $20 fee for outgoing domestic wires

APY:

0.10% on balances below $15,000; 0.50% on balances of $15,000 or more

2. Capital One

As one of the most recognizable banks in the United States, Capital One is a great choice overall. This bank offers a checking account that comes with low fees, robust customer service, a solid APY, and an all-in-one mobile banking tool.READ REVIEW

High interest rates and low fees

Multiple overdraft protection options

Access to more than 39,000 ATMs

Open Account

show more


Minimum initial deposit:

None

Minimum account balance:

None

Monthly fees:

None

ATM fees:

None

Other fees:

$35 overdraft fee, can be avoided if items are covered in one business day; up to $40 per domestic outgoing wire

APY:

0.20%

3. Simple

Founded in 2009, Simple is an online-only company that provides state-of-the-art banking solutions. Based on the idea that managing personal finances should be easy, Simple created an excellent mobile app and a set of budgeting tools for anyone with uncomplicated finances.READ REVIEW

Built-in budgeting tools

Low/no fees

40,000 ATMs nationwide

Open Account

show more


Minimum initial deposit:

None

Minimum account balance:

None

Monthly fees:

None

ATM fees:

No fees for in-network ATMs

Other fees:

$5 checkbook fee; 1% foreign transaction fee

APY:

0.01%; up to 1.90% on a linked savings account

4. Chime

Chime is an online-only bank founded in 2013 with the idea to offer fee-free, mobile-only, FDIC-insured checking and savings accounts. The lack of brick-and-mortar branches is no problem because of the bank's exceptional mobile platform.READ REVIEW

No monthly or overdraft fees

Large network of free ATMs

Payday comes early with direct deposit

Open Account

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Minimum initial deposit:

None

Minimum account balance:

None

Monthly fees:

None

ATM fees:

None for in-network ATMs; $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee

Other fees:

None

APY:

Non-interest checking account

5. Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab operates in banking, trading, investing, and wealth management. This financial institution has a physical branch in almost every state in the United States and offers a high-quality banking experience with fee-free FDIC-insured checking accounts.READ REVIEW

No monthly fees or minimums

Outstanding mobile app

Unlimited ATM reimbursements

Open Account

show more


Minimum initial deposit:

None

Minimum account balance:

None

Monthly fees:

None

ATM fees:

None; unlimited ATM reimbursements worldwide

Other fees:

$25 outgoing domestic wire fee; $10 per cashier’s check; $25 per returned check

APY:

0.15%

6. USAA

USAA Federal Savings Bank is a subsidiary of USAA, a Fortune 500 financial services company. The bank offers an exceptional set of banking services to active or former members of the military, as well as their immediate family members.READ REVIEW

Online budgeting tools

10 free withdrawals per month at over 60,000 ATMs

No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements

Open Account

show more


Minimum initial deposit:

$25

Minimum account balance:

None

Monthly fees:

None

ATM fees:

None for in-network ATMs; $2 fee per transaction after 10 out-of-network toll-free withdrawals

Other fees:

1% foreign transaction fee; $29 overdraft fee; $29 stop payment fee

APY:

0.01% on balances of $1,000

7. Alliant

With its intuitive online portal and mobile app, Alliant offers near perfect user experience to its customers. This credit union offers great high-yield savings options for customers who are looking for a checking account with no monthly or overdraft fees. READ REVIEW

Open Account

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Minimum initial deposit:

None

Minimum account balance:

None

Monthly Fees

None

ATM fees:

Surcharge-free

Other fees:

None

APY:

0.25%

8. Varo

No monthly fees, no minimum balance requirements, and no fuss — Varo checking accounts are there to make things easy for the customer. Expect a fairly high API, a sleek online banking user interface, and excellent customer support that’s ready to answer all your questions. READ REVIEW

Open Account

show more


Minimum initial deposit:

None

Minimum account balance:

None

Monthly fees:

None

ATM fees:

$2.50 for non-Allpoint ATMs

Other fees:

Transfer fees

APY:

1.41%

The Best Checking Accounts — Our Methodology

Before you open a checking account make sure that you go for the option that isn’t restrictive to your spending style and that has all the features you need. Take advantage of the extreme competitiveness of the banking market by shopping around for the most convenient option out there. Keep in mind that no one can stop you from holding multiple checking accounts, too.

Here are the factors we took into account while building this list:

Monthly fees

The number of both online and brick-and-mortar banks that have decided to scrap the maintenance-fee-charging policy keeps growing. With so many excellent checking accounts that come without the burden of monthly fees, we are not sure why anyone would settle for an account that comes with them.

ATM fees and availability

An ATM usage fee is a fee that banks charge when you use automated teller machines. Although most banks don’t charge you a fee if you use an ATM within your account provider’s network, the best banks will also reimburse the fees you get charged when using another bank’s ATM. Some banks have huge networks of own-brand ATMs, while others collaborate with other banks and third-party ATM providers.

Other fees

All the companies that got featured on our list have exceptional checking account offers that don’t come with a long list of fees. However, there are certain services that usually incur fees even with the best bank accounts. Some of the most frequent charges include:

  • Overdraft fees

An overdraft occurs when you don’t have enough funds in your account to cover a payment you’ve made. If your bank covers the difference for you, that is called overdraft protection, a service that usually incurs an average fee of $34.

  • Wire transfer fees

Wire transfers are an expensive way to move money from one bank account to another. However, they are also one of the most convenient options if you need a quick transfer. Even with the best online checking accounts, you’ll probably get charged a typical $25 fee for an outgoing wire transfer within the United States. Incoming wires, on the other hand, don’t usually bear charges.

  • Foreign transaction fees

With most banks, foreign transaction fees are added to every transaction that you make abroad. These charges apply when you make a purchase with your card or when you use an ATM to make a withdrawal. A foreign transaction fee can amount to anywhere between 1% and 3%.

  • Stop payment fees

You can direct your bank not to honor a check you have written. You do that by issuing a “stop payment” order. This will cost you up to $35. Stop payment charges are lower with some good checking accounts.

Minimum account balance

A minimum balance is an amount of money that a user must have in an account to be eligible for a certain benefit or to avoid a certain fee. There are quite a few different reasons why banks require minimum balances in checking accounts. In some cases, a minimum balance must be kept in order to keep your account open. In other circumstances, a certain balance may be required to gain interest or waive fees. In this review, we’ve also included some of the banks with the best checking accounts that come with no minimum balance requirements at all.

Minimum initial deposit

An initial deposit or a minimum deposit is the amount of money required to contribute upon opening a checking account with a bank or other financial institution. Minimum deposits can vary significantly, and higher requirements are usually correlated with premium service packages. As a result of increased competition in the banking market, the average minimum deposit requirement has dropped. For the purpose of this review, we’ve made sure to include only the banks that ask for reasonable initial deposits as well as those that allow you to open a checking account online instantly.

User experience: online and mobile banking features

All the banks that have made their way to our review let their customers manage their finances via easy-to-use online and mobile platforms.

APY

The option to earn interest on your cash is a great feature of many checking accounts. However, there are certain factors that you need to consider in relation to APY or annual percentage yield. Did you know that a high yield checking account can end up costing you more than a different bank’s non-interest-bearing option? It’s common for an interest-bearing checking account to come accompanied by a multitude of fees as a tradeoff. If you don’t feel like paying monthly service fees, ATM fees, and overdraft protection fees, or being charged for wire transfers and foreign transactions, perhaps you should opt for a non-interest-bearing checking account that comes with fewer fees.

American interest rates are at historic lows right now. A checking account with a 0.01% APY requires you to set aside $1,000 and not touch it for a whole year in order to earn 10 cents in interest. You’re better off choosing a bank whose branch is a block closer to your home or office – you’ll save a lot more than 10 cents in gasoline and wear-and-tear on your car.

Customer service

No one likes wasting their time waiting in long lines or struggling to conduct a productive conversation while solving a problem over the phone. Any respectful business will strive to provide exceptional customer service, and that’s especially true for banks. We took the time to compare checking accounts and find the best banks based on how fast and effective their customer support is when problems arise.

In-Depth Reviews

Ally is an online-only financial institution based in Detroit, Michigan. The company offers banking services, car financing, mortgage loans, and stock brokerage. Ally is considered one of the best online banks for checking accounts. It is a strong favorite among consumers who seek good rates, prompt customer service, and easy-access mobile banking with their transactional accounts. As a company that operates online-only, Ally doesn’t have any physical branches to invest in, so a bigger portion of its capital can be put towards developing state-of-the-art financial products.

Fees

If you open an account with Ally, you’ll get one of the best checking accounts with no fees. This online bank doesn’t charge its customers for monthly maintenance, ATM withdrawals, ACH transfers, copies of online statements, domestic and international incoming wires, postage-paid deposit envelopes, and checks. Another thing that you won’t need to worry about is a minimum account balance.

Ally’s website is also completely transparent when it comes to the fees for any additional services you might need. These include a $7.50 fee for a returned deposit item, a $25 overdraft fee, a $10 excessive-transaction fee, a $20 fee for outgoing domestic wires and a few more. For a full list of relevant fees, make sure to check Ally Bank’s website.

Convenience and special features

Although Ally has no physical locations to welcome its customers, Ally is still the best online bank when it comes to convenience and accessibility. An Ally checking account comes with a network of 43,000 free ATMs nationwide. As per deposits, you can opt for mobile check deposit, sending a check by mail, or setting up direct deposit or a wire transfer. The only option that isn’t available is making a cash deposit.

Ally checking accounts are marketed as one of the few accounts that reward its holders. With an APY that starts at 0.10% and reaches 0.50%, if you keep a minimum daily balance over $15,000, it is clear that Ally offers one of the best high-interest checking accounts out there.

User experience and customer service

Taking customer service seriously is a must for any reputable online-only financial institution. As one of the best online banks, Ally clearly takes great pride in making up for its lack of physical locations by providing highly-responsive customer support. Should you have any questions, there are plenty of ways to get answers – by phone, mail, email, or live chat. However, before you try to get in touch with a customer service representative, you should consult the help center section on this online bank’s website. The help center is put together remarkably well and covers anything you might want to know and more. If you prefer mobile banking, you won’t be disappointed by Ally’s mobile app.

Another feature that proves that Ally provides one of the best checking accounts out there is its app that works as an all-in-one financial tool. It lets you make payments and deposits, transfer funds, and it shows your account balance anytime, anywhere. Both iOS and Android app versions have accumulated a number of excellent reviews.

Bottom line

Most banks that operate entirely online have the same weak point – they leave their customers without the option to deposit cash. That’s exactly one of the biggest drawbacks of Ally’s checking. On the other hand, Ally imposes almost no fees and its checking account rates are among the best in the business. If you prefer managing your finances on your smartphone, Ally’s free online bank account is well worth a second look.

Overview:

Minimum initial deposit: No requirements

Minimum account balance: No requirements

Monthly fees: None

ATM fees: None

Other fees: $7.50 returned deposit item; $25 overdraft fee; $20 fee for outgoing domestic wires

APY: 0.10% for a minimum daily balance lower than $15,000; 0.50% for a minimum daily balance higher than $15,000

Ranking 98th on the Fortune 500 list, there is no doubt that Capital One Financial Corp. is one of the largest and most recognizable banks in the United States. Capital One started as a small business in 1988 and grew into a bank holding company specializing in credit cards, checking and savings accounts, auto loans, and other financial offerings.

Thanks to its wide range of financial products, Capital One has established the reputation of a convenient financial institution for those who want to hold all their accounts with one company. This financial institution is also recognized as one of the best banks for checking accounts alone.

Fees

Capital One’s checking account option called 360 Checking is marketed as fee-free and for a good reason. The bank’s website even encourages its users to read the fine print because there are no monthly fees, ATM fees or other hidden costs. Apart from that, with 360 Checking you don’t need to worry about a minimum initial deposit or a minimum account balance since there are no requirements in either of these departments.

Naturally, even the best checking account options offer a few additional services that can incur fees. When it comes to overdrafts, Capital One will charge you $35 per transaction unless you make the most of the “Next Day Grace” program and cover the overdraft amount until 12 PM ET of the following business day. As per wire transfer services, there are no fees for domestic incoming wires, while you can be charged up to $40 per transfer for a domestic outgoing wire. Make sure to consult Capital One’s website for the full list of fees.

Convenience and special features

Capital One may provide a checking account with no fees, however, it doesn’t offer many physical locations. This bank’s branches are located in less than 10 states, including New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Its ATM network, on the other hand is wide-spread, and has more than 39,000 locations.

Although the Capital One brick-and-mortar locations are scattered, the good news is that you can open and manage your checking account online, over the phone or by paying a visit to a physical branch if there is one near you. One of the most convenient features this bank offers to mobile-only users is the option to deposit a check from your phone.

Finding a checking account that pays interest is like a needle in a haystack. But, with an annual percentage yield of 0.20%, Capital One offers one of the best interest-bearing checking accounts on the market.

User experience and customer service

From our experience, Capital One’s customer service agents are nothing but prompt and helpful. Representatives can be reached even during evening hours, seven days a week. Other types of support include live chat for logged-in users and support on Twitter. Apart from physical bank branches, Capital One offers another way of reaching a representative to discuss the high-interest checking accounts. There are more than forty Capital One Cafés, unique hybrid offices, where users can learn all about banking options, open an account and even drink coffee while using the bank’s free Wi-Fi.

With an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars both on the App Store and Google Play, it is obvious that Capital One takes great pride in providing the best smartphone banking experience to its users. The bank’s mobile and online banking services also come with a few useful tools to help you manage your finances.

Bottom line

Capital One 360 offers a top-of-the-line banking experience by providing one of the best interest-earning checking accounts on the market. Apart from the lack of fees, other upsides include highly responsive customer support, online financial management tools, and flexible overdraft options. As for the downsides, the company has a limited number of physical branches.

Overview:

Minimum initial deposit: No requirements

Minimum account balance: No requirements

Monthly fees: None

ATM fees: None

Other fees: $35 per overdraft transaction, but can be avoided if items are covered in one business day; up to $40 per domestic outgoing wire transfer

APY: 0.20%

Launched in 2009 on the premise that banking should be made uncomplicated, Simple’s founders set a goal to offer one of the best free online checking accounts on the market. The company partnered with BBVA Compass Bank to provide FDIC-insured financial products. Nowadays, thanks to its state-of-the-art smartphone app and helpful mobile budgeting tools, this online bank provides a mighty checking solution for those who make easy-access banking and avoiding fees their top priorities.

Fees

It’s safe to say that Simple’s online checking option is one of the best checking accounts with no fees. This online bank bases its business model on the opinion that you should be able to access your money whenever you want to without having to pay multiple fees. Simple won’t charge you any fees to open and maintain an account. There are no minimum account balance or initial deposit requirements. Withdrawing cash from an in-network ATM won’t require any fees, either. The only amount you’ll have to pay is $5 per checkbook. As one of the top banks for checking accounts, Simple discloses that there are a few possible scenarios where other companies may charge you fees. These cases include using another bank’s ATMs and paying with your card internationally.

Convenience and special features

Simple is an online-only bank which means that the company doesn’t have any physical locations that you can go to, however, the good news is that you don’t need anything but the bank’s high-rated mobile app to manage your finances. This bank has one of the best online checking options out there. Simple’s spending account comes with a Visa debit card and some very useful mobile banking features. These include automated budgeting, real-time spending notifications, automated bill-paying, a linked savings account to help you save towards your goals, and a calculated balance of what to save after bills and goals are covered.

When it comes to money withdrawal options, Simple compensates for the complete lack of brick-and-mortar branches with more than 40,000 free ATMs.
This online bank is renowned for offering one of the best fee-free checking accounts, however, it disappoints when it comes to APY as Simple’s checking option comes with an interest rate as low as 0.01%. Other drawbacks include the fact that this online bank doesn’t offer a way to deposit cash directly, and a lack of a bill-paying service.

User experience and customer service

Simple’s high-rated mobile app isn’t just a virtual place where all your banking transactions happen, it’s also a tool that makes budgeting and tracking your money so much easier. Thanks to its unique Safe-to-Spend feature, as the best bank for checking account options, Simple helps you make the smartest financial decisions and develop healthy spending habits.

As per support, you can reach Simple’s customer service representatives via telephone Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 4 PM PT, and Saturday from 7 AM to 2 PM PT. Simple also offers customer support through its social media channels, and many customers take their questions to Facebook and Twitter.

Bottom line

Created for those who don’t mind branchless banking, and prefer to manage their finances whenever and wherever, Simple is by no means a traditional bank. If you are not bothered by the almost non-existent APY and the fact that there is no way to make cash deposits, Simple offers an exceptional free checking account without opening deposit or minimum balance requirements.

Overview:

Minimum initial deposit: No requirements

Minimum account balance: No requirements

Monthly fees: None

ATM fees: No fees for in-network ATMs

Other fees: $5 fee per checkbook; 1% of the total amount per foreign transaction

APY: 0.01%; up to 1.90% on a linked savings account

Chime is a digital bank founded in 2013 as a forward-looking alternative to traditional banking. Nowadays, thanks to its no-fee policy, Chime is considered one of the best online checking account providers. Although it’s mobile-only, Chime is still an FDIC-insured bank. When you open a bank account with this provider, you get a checking account (or a spending account, according to Chime’s nomenclature), as well as a debit card and a linked savings account.

Chime strives to provide easy-access banking for those who have uncomplicated finances and wish to manage their accounts on their smartphones, instead of going to a brick-and-mortar branch. It is clear that Chime’s target market consists mostly of millenials.

Fees

No monthly maintenance, no minimums, no overdraft charges – Chime’s checking account bears almost no fees. You don’t even need to worry if your average daily balance decreases because there is no such thing as a minimum account balance requirement with this checking account. Chime won’t charge you for using any of the in-network MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs. However, a small fee of $2.50 will apply if you decide to use an out-of-network ATM.

Convenience and special features

Not only does Chime provide a free online checking account with no deposit requirements, but is also puts your money at your disposal in a record amount of time. As a user of Chime’s spending account, you can expect deposited funds to hit your account two days earlier than it would if you were an account holder with a traditional bank. The company claims that it makes the money accessible to you as soon as your employer deposits it. While setting up direct deposits with Chime is easy, depositing cash, on the other hand, can be a pain. The only option is to go to a Green Dot cash deposit location and pay a fee of up to $4.95 per deposit.

This online checking account provider has no physical locations that you can visit, however, its ATM network consists of more than 38,000 MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance free ATMs.

Although Chime’s spending account isn’t one of those interest-bearing options, there are still ways to build up your savings with this bank. Here’s the deal – you can round up every purchase you make with your debit card to the nearest dollar to make a deposit towards your Chime savings account.

User experience and customer service

Free online checking account providers need to make mobile apps the core of their business model to keep ahead of the game. With a rating of 4.7/5 on the App Store and 4.6/5 on Google Play, there is no doubt that Chime takes customer satisfaction on its smartphone app very seriously. Some of the app’s amazing features include daily balance updates, alerts for transactions in real-time, and the option to block transactions in the case of a missing card or suspected fraud.

Chime’s no fee checking accounts come with diversified customer service channels. Any issues can be reported to the bank’s customer service via email, the Chime mobile app, or by telephone. Customer support representatives can be reached by phone Monday through Saturday from 7 AM to 7 PM CST, and Sunday from 9 AM to 5 PM CST. Based on our experience, this bank’s customer service is decent, however it’s not an area where Chime really shines.

Bottom line

If you are not bothered by the fact that Chime’s checking option is not one of those high interest checking accounts and therefore not a place to park your savings, this online bank’s fee-free, but still FDIC-insured checking can turn out to be a much better choice than anything a traditional neighborhood branch might offer.

Overview:

Minimum initial deposit: No requirements

Minimum account balance: No requirements

Monthly fees: None

ATM fees: No fees for in-network ATMs; $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee

Other fees: None

APY: Non-interest checking account

Charles Schwab is best known for offering a stellar investing platform, however, the company also operates in banking, trading, and wealth management. With its headquarters in San Francisco, Charles Schwab has at least one physical branch in almost every state as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The only exceptions are Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Fees

Schwab Bank’s FDIC-insured checking account comes with a long list of fee-free services. There are no account opening fees, monthly maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees or minimum balance requirements. ATM withdrawals are free-of-charge, and thanks to the unlimited ATM fee reimbursement program, you don’t have to worry about fees if you use an out-of-network ATM anywhere in the world. As a user of one of the best interest checking accounts provided by Schwab, you won’t be charged an overdraft fee if you happen to have enough funds on a linked brokerage or savings account to cover the difference. Other free-of-charge services include domestic incoming wires, stop payments, debit card replacements, checks, and more.

There’s a $25 outgoing domestic wire fee, a $10 fee per cashier’s check, and a $25 fee that applies when a check is returned due to insufficient funds. For a complete list of both paid and fee-free services, make sure to visit the bank’s website.

Convenience and special features

When you open a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor checking account, by default you get a Schwab One brokerage account, too. Even though you are not obligated to use the brokerage account, it certainly is a convenient feature for anyone interested in trading.

Not only does the Schwab checking option have few fees, but this bank also offers a reasonable APY rate of 0.15% which makes it one of the best APY checking accounts.

If you are a frequent traveler, note that this bank’s ATM reimbursement policy is almost unmatched as they offer unlimited rebates for any automated teller machine worldwide. Another great feature is the free bill paying service that takes no time to set up. Here’s how it works – you let Schwab know about all the details and the bank makes sure that your bills get paid on time each month.

User experience and customer service

When it comes to mobile banking, it’s safe to say that Charles Schwab bank is one of the best in the game. Both the Android and iOS app keep getting awarded with high user satisfaction rates.

Schwab bank provides multiple lines of customer support, including round-the-clock live chat support, Twitter, and phone support. Customer support over the phone is available Monday through Friday from 4 AM to 8 PM PT, and Weekends from 6 AM to 7:30 PM PT. With a physical branch in almost every state on top of the diversified customer service channels, you can rest assured that every question you may have will be matched with a prompt answer.

Bottom line

There are many reasons why Charles Schwab is considered the best bank for checking accounts. This financial institution has excellent options if you are looking to earn a decent rate on your account and don’t need to deposit cash frequently. The lack of fees and minimum account balances, as well as the many perks including unlimited ATM rebates, reassure that you’ll be able to bank without having to worry about any unexpected charges. Having multiple customer service channels is also a plus. On the other hand, one of the drawbacks that comes with applying for a checking account with Scwab is the fact that you’ll need to pass the bank’s hard inquiry on your credit to become a customer.

Overview:

Minimum initial deposit: No requirements

Minimum account balance: No requirements

Monthly fees: None

ATM fees: None; unlimited ATM reimbursements worldwide

Other fees: $25 outgoing domestic wire fee; $10 fee per cashier’s check; $25 returned check fee

APY: 0.15%

USAA Federal Savings Bank was established in 1983 as a subsidiary of USAA, a Fortune 500 financial services company based in San Antonio.

To qualify for USAA, one of the best banks for checking accounts, you have to be an active member of the military, a former part of the military personnel, or a military family member. From a non-affiliated civilian’s point of view, these requirements can be interpreted as a huge drawback. However, it is clear a limited number of eligible users help the company concentrate on developing an exceptional set of banking services that include some of the best checking and savings accounts.

When it comes to checking options, this bank has two choices – the USAA Classic checking account and the USAA Cashback rewards checking account. The biggest difference between the two options is that the first earns you interest if you keep a balance of at least $1,000, while the latter offers a reward of $0.10 cashback with every debit card purchase.

Fees

As one of the banks with free checking account offers, USAA charges no fees to open and maintain either of the two aforementioned choices. You’ll have to deposit a minimum of $25 upon opening a new checking account with this bank, but apart from that initial deposit, there are no minimum balance requirements. The bill paying service is another feature that has no charges.

Although a checking account with USAA comes with almost no fees for the most frequently used services, there are still a few charges that can’t be avoided even with the best checking accounts. You can expect a 1% fee for any debit card or ATM transaction completed in a foreign country. Unless you opt for the overdraft protection service or set up your savings account as a backup, you’ll be charged a hefty $29 overdraft fee. Other charges include a $29 stop-payment fee, and a $2 fee per transaction after the tenth toll-free use of an out-of-network ATM.

Convenience and special features

The company’s physical financial centers can be found at a limited number of locations. These include branches in the states of Colorado, New York, Maryland, and Texas. To compensate for the lack of brick-and-mortar locations, as one of the best banks in America for checking accounts, USAA offers a network of 1,200 branded free-to-use ATMs that also take deposits. Apart from that, there are more than 60,000 USAA-favored ATMs where the bank’s users can make ten fee-free withdrawals each month. The fee that applies after the tenth transaction and the fact that these ATMs can’t take deposits are the only downsides. For the situations when you have no choice but to use a non-network ATM, USAA offers a reimbursement service of $15 per cycle.

Although USAA Classic checking is an interest bearing option, an APY of 0.01% doesn’t make it one of the best high yield checking accounts on the market. However, a minimum account balance of $1,000 is not a high interest earning threshold compared to other banks’ requirements.

Excellent online and mobile banking features represent another way of compensating for the lack of physical branches, and military payday comes a day earlier if you set up direct deposit.

User experience and customer service

USAA’s smartphone app lets you make mobile deposits, send money using Zelle and locate nearby ATMs. Apart from the standard features, the bank’s mobile app comes with a digital assistant that you can turn to in case you stumble upon any issues. With a rating of 4.6 out of 5 on Google Play and a score of 4.8 out of 5 on the App Store, it’s clear that this bank provides one of the best no fee checking accounts when it comes to managing your finances on the go.

Another USAA online banking feature that deserves a closer look is the budgeting tool that helps its users classify their transactions and track expenditures. This bank’s mobile app works as a portal where you can gather all of your financial accounts. Apart from that, only the best banks for checking and savings accounts have comprehensive financial advice sections on their online platforms, and USAA is one of them.

Not only is USAA considered one of the best national banks for checking accounts, but this financial company also has an excellent reputation when it comes to customer care. Other than visiting one of the very few USAA brick-and-mortar locations, you can reach the bank’s customer care agents via telephone, live chat on the website, mobile app, fax, email, regular mail, and even social media. When it comes to phone support, the representatives are available during business hours.

Bottom line

With an abundance of top-notch financial products for the military-affiliated, USAA has positioned itself as one of the leaders in the banking market. So, is this the best bank to open a checking account with? If you can qualify for membership, and you don’t mind the lack of physical location and low APY, the no-fee checking account and exceptional online budgeting tools that come with it are definitely worthwhile.

Overview:

Minimum initial deposit: $25

Minimum account balance: No requirements

Monthly fees: None

ATM fees: No fees for in-network ATMs; $2 fee per transaction after 10 out-of-network toll-free transactions

Other fees: 1% foreign debit card or ATM transaction fee; $29 overdraft fee; $29 stop payment fee

APY: 0.01% with a minimum balance of $1,000

FAQ

What banks offer free checking accounts?

Some of the best checking account options that go largely without any fees are offered by Chime, Capital One, Ally Bank, Charles Schwab, USAA, and Simple. While shopping for a checking account, make sure that you compare not only the fees, but also the APY, ATM availability, as well as mobile app ratings.

What’s the best bank for a checking account?

The best bank to open a checking account with is the one that offers all the features that suit your needs. The banking market is very competitive and the top competitors are the ones that offer low fees, high APY, a wide network of ATMs, a stellar mobile platform, and helpful customer service. Our picks for the best bank account providers include Chime, Capital One, Ally Bank, Charles Schwab, USAA, and Simple.

How many checking accounts should you have?

There’s nothing wrong with having more than one checking account with different banks, as long as you are able to justify the multiple accounts. If you are a business owner you need one of the best business checking accounts to manage your company’s finances, however, you still have to open a separate account for your personal transactions.

Can having too many bank accounts hurt your credit?

Having more than one checking account is completely legitimate. In most cases, the number of accounts that you hold as well as the amount of money that you keep there have nothing to do with your credit score. However, be careful not to open multiple checking accounts at a few different banks within a short time frame. Here’s another piece of advice – make sure to keep your balances positive to avoid any complications.

Does a checking account earn interest?

Given that they are meant for frequent everyday transactions, most checking accounts are not interest-bearing, and even with the best checking account rates you’ll learn less than if you open a savings account at the same bank. In some cases, a higher APY comes with higher fees, so it’s important to do the math before deciding where to park your savings.

What bank has the highest interest rate on checking accounts?

If a high APY on a checking account is of the utmost importance for you, there are a few options that you should consider. When it comes to the best checking accounts that also come with a high APY, some of the best financial institutions to consider include Ally Bank and Capital One. Ally’s checking option offers an interest rate of up to 0.50%, while Capital One’s checking account comes with an APY of 0.20%.