Best Online Checking Accounts - NerdWallet
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NerdWallet’s Best Online Checking Accounts

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Online checking has come a long way since the days of its earliest adopters. Now, even many traditional banks have embraced the hallmarks of online-only institutions, including free ATM access, robust websites and mobile-friendly features such as remote check deposit.

The best online banks usually offer higher interest rates and friendlier fee structures than brick-and-mortar banks, because of the costs they save from not owning branches or ATMs. Some of our favorite online checking accounts appear below.

Best ATM options: Ally Interest Checking

For online fans who rely heavily on ATMs, Ally can’t be beat, offering customers:

  • Fee-free use of Allpoint’s tens of thousands of U.S. ATMs.
  • No Ally fees for any ATMs in the U.S.
  • Refunds of up to $10 per statement cycle for fees incurred at non-Allpoint, domestic cash machines.

Ally also offers a great digital experience, with all the basics of online banking covered in an easy-to-use package. Customers can even conduct their banking business on Amazon Kindle, a rarity among online-only banks.

Ally caters to people who want strong tech tools and fee-free ATMs.

>> MORE: How to deposit cash at an online-only bank

Best for heavy overdrafters: Capital One 360 Checking

Capital One 360’s checking offering gives you two ways to handle overdrafts:

  • You can apply for an overdraft line of credit, a short-term borrowing option with a reasonable interest rate and no transfer fees.
  • Without a line of credit, the bank will decline to pay charges that you don’t have enough cash to cover.

In other words, you keep yourself out of trouble by having either no overdraft services or an exceptionally affordable option that costs you a fraction of typical overdraft fees.

Capital One 360 also offers fee-free access to Allpoint ATMs, billed as one out of every 12 ATMs in the U.S. And as with most debit cards, you can also get cash back with no fee at many stores.

If you want to avoid overdraft fees, Capital One 360 offers a stellar checking account.

>> MORE: NerdWallet’s top high yield online savings accounts

Best customer service options: Ally Interest Checking

Not only is Ally’s ATM access top-notch, it has also made customer service a priority. Among its offerings:

  • A call center staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Real-time chat support.
  • Secure messaging in online banking.
  • Nonsecure messaging via a form on the main Ally website.
  • The option to reach out to Ally on Twitter.

Notably, Ally was the only institution to get perfect scores on the Pew Charitable Trusts’ latest annual roundup of consumer-friendly banks.

If you like being able to reach a customer service agent at any time, you’ll probably love Ally.

Best digital tools: Mobile banking from Simple

Banking startup Simple had over 100,000 checking customers by the time of its acquisition in early 2014. It built that user base by designing a top-notch set of digital tools and aiming for best-in-class customer service.

One of Simple’s most noteworthy digital innovations: Instead of focusing on your available balance, an often-misunderstood figure, Simple offers you a “safe to spend” number, an estimate of how much you can afford right now based on your balance, upcoming bills and savings goals.

Withdrawals within the massive Star ATM network are all fee-free, though total withdrawals in any 24-hour period are limited to $500, lower than some other online banks.

Simple is a good choice for people who want to combine some elements of a budgeting tool with their banking experience.

Best interest rate: MyCBB Free Checking

MyCBB boasts the highest interest rate in NerdWallet’s database of more than 1,100 checking accounts. At 0.79%, it is higher than the rates on most savings accounts. With a low minimum balance of $100 and few fees — you’ll pay no fees for overdrafts and ATM access, and no monthly fee — the account is great for savvy customers who want to keep their costs low.

Concerns about security? Not to worry: Online banks are insured through the FDIC, meaning online checking deposits at an insured bank are backed by the U.S. government.

Devan Goldstein is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: dgoldstein@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @devan. John Gower of NerdWallet contributed to this report.

Updated Nov. 3, 2015.


Image via iStock.

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  • Serge Conus

    Great article John!

  • Serge Conus

    Great article John!

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  • Brandon Walsh

    Capital One 360 does not actually have a foreign transaction fee. Capital One eliminated that when they bought ING Direct.

    • NWjohn

      Thanks for the reminder Brandon! It’s been updated.

  • Brandon Walsh

    Capital One 360 does not actually have a foreign transaction fee. Capital One eliminated that when they bought ING Direct.

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  • dave

    All of these by you “best internet check. accts” are dwarfed by “Reward checking accts” being offered by some banks & credit unions, some local only, some nation wide.
    Why don’t you mention them ?, BIASED ?

  • dave

    All of these by you “best internet check. accts” are dwarfed by “Reward checking accts” being offered by some banks & credit unions, some local only, some nation wide.
    Why don’t you mention them ?, BIASED ?

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  • http://gamingyourfinances.com/ GamingYourFinances

    Thanks! This is great!

  • http://gamingyourfinances.com/ GamingYourFinances

    Thanks! This is great!

  • melissa

    keybank is offering $200 when you open an online checking account and have $500 direct deposit w/in 60 days of opening!! code omas0613

  • melissa

    keybank is offering $200 when you open an online checking account and have $500 direct deposit w/in 60 days of opening!! code omas0613

  • Travis Klein

    bank of internet does not have a monthly fee

    • NWjohn

      Bank of Internet actually has 2 different checking accounts. Their Rewards Checking account does not have a monthly fee, but does require taking a few steps to earn interest. On the other hand, their High Interest Checking account pays interest on all balances but requires a $5,000 average daily balance to waive a $7.50 monthly fee.

  • Travis Klein

    bank of internet does not have a monthly fee

  • Jack Chambers

    The options shrink as of today: PerkStreet just notified their account holders that they were shuttering: http://www.perkstreet.com/announcement.aspx?PerkStreetCode=73100000

  • Jack Chambers

    The options shrink as of today: PerkStreet just notified their account holders that they were shuttering: http://www.perkstreet.com/announcement.aspx?PerkStreetCode=73100000

  • http://www.thewriteamy.com/ Amy Ong Nievera

    It would be helpful if this said if these banks are listed in order and why they were ranked that way. What put Capital One 360 at the top?

  • http://www.thewriteamy.com/ Amy Ong Nievera

    It would be helpful if this said if these banks are listed in order and why they were ranked that way. What put Capital One 360 at the top?

  • PS

    I have an account at Capital One (formerly ING) and when you transfer or deposit money it takes 5 days for it to become available. Are these other online banks similar in that regard? When I make a deposit with my local bank it is available the next day.

  • PS

    I have an account at Capital One (formerly ING) and when you transfer or deposit money it takes 5 days for it to become available. Are these other online banks similar in that regard? When I make a deposit with my local bank it is available the next day.

  • oblio9090

    My local credit union gives me 1.95% APY on my draft (checking) acct balance.

  • oblio9090

    My local credit union gives me 1.95% APY on my draft (checking) acct balance.

  • Michel Bron

    Capital 360 bank only allows ONE checking account per customer. I wanted to open an account to use separately for my business but I cannot do that. And their Business Savings account, is strictly for business, it does not let you make any payments. This is very unfortunate…I have never heard of a bank not letting you open more than one account….

    • Jack Harbour

      Has anyone ever found the reason Capital One 360 has the “one checking account limit”?

  • Michel Bron

    Capital 360 bank only allows ONE checking account per customer. I wanted to open an account to use separately for my business but I cannot do that. And their Business Savings account, is strictly for business, it does not let you make any payments. This is very unfortunate…I have never heard of a bank not letting you open more than one account….

  • Jim Taggart

    ING Direct was great …until Capital 360 degrees of fees took over. Now you have only 6 withdrawal “credits” per month, even if all you are doing is transferring money from one 360 account to another 360 account. I can see why they would not want real withdrawals out of their bank, but since when is an inter-bank transfer considered a “withdrawal”? And this is not a transfer from one person to another separate 360 account. This is a transfer from my account to one of my kid’s accounts that is directly linked to my account. They are crooks and I am leaving.

    • Lisa Brains

      ING was the best bank ever until Capital One took over, ING had the best rates even during the recession. The rates are just like any other national bank now.

  • Jim Taggart

    ING Direct was great …until Capital 360 degrees of fees took over. Now you have only 6 withdrawal “credits” per month, even if all you are doing is transferring money from one 360 account to another 360 account. I can see why they would not want real withdrawals out of their bank, but since when is an inter-bank transfer considered a “withdrawal”? And this is not a transfer from one person to another separate 360 account. This is a transfer from my account to one of my kid’s accounts that is directly linked to my account. They are crooks and I am leaving.

  • Freedom

    I am going to be going on Social Security within the next 2 months. Is an online bank such as those listed in this article a safe bet to have direct deposit with? Since there is no brick/mortar building, how can we be sure that the online bank we choose won’t just close up shop one day and run off, leaving us with no recourse….and no money?

    • NWjohn

      All the banks listed here are FDIC insured, just like a brick-and-mortar bank. Your savings are federally insured up to $250,000, so should the bank fail, you won’t lose any money.

  • Freedom

    I am going to be going on Social Security within the next 2 months. Is an online bank such as those listed in this article a safe bet to have direct deposit with? Since there is no brick/mortar building, how can we be sure that the online bank we choose won’t just close up shop one day and run off, leaving us with no recourse….and no money?

  • Erica Johnson

    Ally dropped their rate to 0.25% as of 1/31/2014 :(

    • NWjohn

      Oh no! Thanks for the note Erica. The rate listed above has been updated.

    • NW_Banking

      Oh no! Thanks for the note Erica. The rate listed above has been updated.

  • Erica Johnson

    Ally dropped their rate to 0.25% as of 1/31/2014 :(

  • Jennifer Watt Achey

    tried a few of them, they want you to transfer money from an existing checking account just to open one.
    IF I HAD AN EXISTING CHECKING ACCOUNT I WOULD NOT NEED THIS SERVICE!!!! duh.

    please anyone let me know if there is a checking account online I can open without having to already have one to fund it by! I have propay account for CC processing and can’t get my money out of it!

    • peez

      that’s def not a duh,, I have several checking accounts. They are all free and I use them for different purposes. For instance, I have one for bills that I never pull money from. I have a percentage of my check sent there that way I don’t even think about it. The rest of my money goes into a separate checking that isn’t an online account. many reasons to have multiple accounts, this is just one example.

    • Cody Ayers

      try ally bank… they are one of the absolute best. you will never pay an ATM fee, or pretty much any other fees. 24 hour customer service, and you don’t need an existing account to open. And on top of that there interest rates for checking and savings are extremely high. 0.99 for a savings account, and 0.65 for checking with 15k balance.

  • Jennifer Watt Achey

    tried a few of them, they want you to transfer money from an existing checking account just to open one.
    IF I HAD AN EXISTING CHECKING ACCOUNT I WOULD NOT NEED THIS SERVICE!!!! duh.

    please anyone let me know if there is a checking account online I can open without having to already have one to fund it by! I have propay account for CC processing and can’t get my money out of it!

  • Judy

    What about Flagstar?

  • Judy

    What about Flagstar?

  • Kate McCullough

    Maybe a stupid question… what sort of identification is required to open an online bank account

    • NWjohn

      Not a stupid question at all! You’ll typically need a social security number as well as a drivers license or other government ID to verify name, age and address. Don’t forget to bring a way to make your first deposit, like a check, cash, or other existing account number.

      • Well-Manicured Man

        Bring it where? This is online banking. You’re a moderator here?

      • christopherjacques

        Bring? Where? These are online banks…

    • uselesscompanyatjobfair

      Avengers Id Card

  • Kate McCullough

    Maybe a stupid question… what sort of identification is required to open an online bank account

  • JMT

    Hi! Do you have any information for Savings accounts? I currently use Capital One 360 Savings, and the current rate is 0.75%. I’m looking for other banks with higher rates, if there are any. Thanks!

  • JMT

    Hi! Do you have any information for Savings accounts? I currently use Capital One 360 Savings, and the current rate is 0.75%. I’m looking for other banks with higher rates, if there are any. Thanks!

  • AT

    I thought the question about the amount of time deposits or transfers take to become available was interesting. Is there an online checking comparison tool for that?

    • Elizabeth Slough-Mills

      I can answer for Ally. When you sign up they tell you that a portion of your funds will be available the next day, with the balance available in five business days. Once you’ve banked with them for a few months, they begin holding the full amount for five days.

  • AT

    I thought the question about the amount of time deposits or transfers take to become available was interesting. Is there an online checking comparison tool for that?

  • citymiami

    which online banking allow you to have multiple sub accounts

  • citymiami

    which online banking allow you to have multiple sub accounts

  • Travis D’Anna

    Out of curiosity, do these online banks allow for wire transfers from them to another bank outside of them?

    • Lisa Brains

      Yes. Some do it for free if the outside account belongs to you and is a linked with your account. Many require that you initially already have another deposit account at another bank before you can open an account. Capital One 360 and Ally Bank ask you to link your current account with them so you can make your initial opening deposit. In these cases they are not considered wire transfers, but ACH transfers because the funds take a few days to become available and are treated as if you were paying a bill. My bank charges $3 for 3 day ACH transfers, but $20 or more for wire transfers depending on the amount and if it is the weekend.

  • Travis D’Anna

    Out of curiosity, do these online banks allow for wire transfers from them to another bank outside of them?

  • socceruci

    I will never give money to any of these shady Banks. Credit Unions & Kasasa Cash is the way to go.

  • socceruci

    I will never give money to any of these shady Banks. Credit Unions & Kasasa Cash is the way to go.

  • MIke Corvin

    Any of these support Apple Pay?

  • MIke Corvin

    Any of these support Apple Pay?

  • Carlos Polo

    Can I make an atm deposit at any other branch bank using my nationwide echecking visa card?

  • Carlos Polo

    Can I make an atm deposit at any other branch bank using my nationwide echecking visa card?

  • Mya Self

    I would like to know whether or not any of these accounts use ChexSystems or Early Warning Services.

    • BrownTaurus

      Capital One 360 does not use chexsystems.

      • traderjim7

        Capital One DOES USE ChexSystems.

      • traderjim7

        Capital One DOES USE ChexSystems.

  • Mya Self

    I would like to know whether or not any of these accounts use ChexSystems or Early Warning Services.

  • Barry B

    I use capital one 360. It’s wkbderful. I tried to sign up for simple and at first I really liked them. But my business is in South America and the country I work out of Colombia is on there black list. Without telling me I guess I didn’t think to ask that. I went to Atm to pull out rent money and nothing came out. I called them and there like sorry Colombia is blacked out. Which is comical because I read a article that there working with BBVA which is all over Colombia.

  • Barry B

    I use capital one 360. It’s wkbderful. I tried to sign up for simple and at first I really liked them. But my business is in South America and the country I work out of Colombia is on there black list. Without telling me I guess I didn’t think to ask that. I went to Atm to pull out rent money and nothing came out. I called them and there like sorry Colombia is blacked out. Which is comical because I read a article that there working with BBVA which is all over Colombia.

  • Thomas Nichols

    Your credit union doesn’t pay taxes…

    • socceruci

      There is no “profit”, why should it?

      • Matthew Juhl

        I work for a credit union. There’s a profit. It’s called fringe benefits and a higher salary for your CEO

        • socceruci

          Yes, hence the quotes for “profit.”

          Would you say they are better than for profit banks like, let’s say Bank of America?

      • Matthew Juhl

        I work for a credit union. There’s a profit. It’s called fringe benefits and a higher salary for your CEO

    • Katystheboss

      Banks kinda don’t either, so there.

  • Thomas Nichols

    Your credit union doesn’t pay taxes…

  • George Jackson

    How do you get started with Kasasa Cash there is no sign-up button

  • George Jackson

    How do you get started with Kasasa Cash there is no sign-up button

  • Daniel Mina

    Why is Ally Bank not on the list?

    • Elizabeth Slough-Mills

      Because they changed many of their policies and now they suck.

    • christopherjacques

      I see 3 banks in 4 categories… and Ally is there twice.

  • Daniel Mina

    Why is Ally Bank not on the list?

  • Elizabeth Slough-Mills

    I’m an Ally customer who signed up in January of this year because they allow both deposits by echeck and direct deposit.

    HOWEVER, it must be noted that they changed their policy regarding echeck amount availability within the last month. Previously $200 of the funds from an echeck over that amount were available 24 hours after the echeck was approved. Now, they hold 100% of the funds for five days. They notify customers–but the way they “notify” is by sending out a copy of their entire policies document, with no notation as to which areas changed. You have to do a page by page comparison with the old policy document to find any changes that might relate to your account.

    In addition, the interval between depositing an echeck and their processing department approving the image has tripled. For my first six deposits, I had a response within hours–telling me that it was approved and would clear the next day or that the check image was illegible and needed resubmission. The last one I submitted to three days to be approved for deposit.

    Finally, their response times to emails or contact request has also increased considerably, from within a few hours in the first few months after I opened the account to a day or so now.

    I could have overlooked everything but the bait and switch with funds availability.

    Needless to say, I’m looking for a new bank that allows echeck deposits. I don’t actually care if they hold 100% of the funds for five days–just don’t state that a portion will be available the next day to reel customers in, and then change the policy after the fact.

  • Elizabeth Slough-Mills

    I’m an Ally customer who signed up in January of this year because they allow both deposits by echeck and direct deposit.

    HOWEVER, it must be noted that they changed their policy regarding echeck amount availability within the last month. Previously $200 of the funds from an echeck over that amount were available 24 hours after the echeck was approved. Now, they hold 100% of the funds for five days. They notify customers–but the way they “notify” is by sending out a copy of their entire policies document, with no notation as to which areas changed. You have to do a page by page comparison with the old policy document to find any changes that might relate to your account.

    In addition, the interval between depositing an echeck and their processing department approving the image has tripled. For my first six deposits, I had a response within hours–telling me that it was approved and would clear the next day or that the check image was illegible and needed resubmission. The last one I submitted to three days to be approved for deposit.

    Finally, their response times to emails or contact request has also increased considerably, from within a few hours in the first few months after I opened the account to a day or so now.

    I could have overlooked everything but the bait and switch with funds availability.

    Needless to say, I’m looking for a new bank that allows echeck deposits. I don’t actually care if they hold 100% of the funds for five days–just don’t state that a portion will be available the next day to reel customers in, and then change the policy after the fact.

  • Elizabeth Slough-Mills

    Ally has changed their policies as of around July 2015. They no longer refund all ATM fees if you use a non-affiliated ATM; they only refund $10 per month. They also do a bait and switch on funds availability: Initially a portion is available within 24 hours with the balance available in five days. If you’re with them long enough, they make you wait for the full five days for every penny.

  • Elizabeth Slough-Mills

    Ally has changed their policies as of around July 2015. They no longer refund all ATM fees if you use a non-affiliated ATM; they only refund $10 per month. They also do a bait and switch on funds availability: Initially a portion is available within 24 hours with the balance available in five days. If you’re with them long enough, they make you wait for the full five days for every penny.

  • christopherjacques

    It seems like Discover beats Ally in all of these points, plus they give you 10¢ for each card and online transaction. I’m deciding between the two and leaning towards Discover.

  • christopherjacques

    It seems like Discover beats Ally in all of these points, plus they give you 10¢ for each card and online transaction. I’m deciding between the two and leaning towards Discover.

  • Anonymous

    Ally and Capital One 360 are excellent banks with great service you can’t go wrong with then. Avoid Simple if you can. I’ve experienced nothing but poor customer service with representatives who are typically rude and gone so far as to hang up mid phone call. Their managers in my experience don’t tend to customers and they’re typically just as rude. This may have led to their acquisition in 2014.

    • chrisredfield31

      Ally Bank rejected my application (which doesn’t make ANY sense to me) so to me, going Ally bank IS wrong lol

  • Keith Marking

    Ally is a horrible bank with which to transact. They are slow to resolve issues with lengthy conversations and hold times (once in the conversation) to work toward resolutions.

    They have one of THE most inept Fraud Departments I’ve encountered in 35 years of banking, much of it completed online. They disrupt and freeze your access to your money WITHOUT contacting the customer to inquire as to the legitimacy of transactions, while NOT questioning obvious fraud activity such as “pinging” (a basic fraud practice).

    Their first level customer service reps apologize profusely, which doesn’t replace your wasted time or make you feel secure in your banking. Their supervisor level employees aren’t much better and go so far as to take your phone number “in case the call is disconnected” and don’t bother to call you back!

    Ally Bank is chock full of dimwitted fools.