BEST OF

11 Best Checking Accounts for July 2024

Chanelle Bessette
By Chanelle Bessette 
Edited by Sara Clarke

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Checking accounts are best for day-to-day financial tasks such as making purchases and paying bills. They come with a debit card for spending, and checking account owners can typically make mobile check deposits, ATM transactions, peer-to-peer payments and more with their account.

Checking accounts are covered by federal insurance, either through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for banks or through the National Credit Union Administration for credit unions. Federal insurance covers up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution, per account ownership category.

To get the most from your checking account, you need low fees, good customer support and free ATMs nearby. If you earn interest on your cash, even better.

APYs shown are current as of July 12, 2024. All other information is current as of July 1, 2024.

Strict editorial guidelines to ensure fairness and accuracy in our coverage to help you choose the financial accounts that work best for you. See our criteria for evaluating banks and credit unions.

More than 90 financial institutions surveyed by our team of experts.

More than 50 data points considered for each bank, credit union and banking technology firm (or neobank).

» Looking for higher rates? See our list of the best cash management accounts

Checking accounts are best for day-to-day financial tasks such as making purchases and paying bills. They come with a debit card for spending, and checking account owners can typically make mobile check deposits, ATM transactions, peer-to-peer payments and more with their account.

Checking accounts are covered by federal insurance, either through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for banks or through the National Credit Union Administration for credit unions. Federal insurance covers up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution, per account ownership category.

To get the most from your checking account, you need low fees, good customer support and free ATMs nearby. If you earn interest on your cash, even better.

APYs shown are current as of July 12, 2024. All other information is current as of July 1, 2024.

Strict editorial guidelines to ensure fairness and accuracy in our coverage to help you choose the financial accounts that work best for you. See our criteria for evaluating banks and credit unions.

More than 90 financial institutions surveyed by our team of experts.

More than 50 data points considered for each bank, credit union and banking technology firm (or neobank).

» Looking for higher rates? See our list of the best cash management accounts

🤓Nerdy Tip

When shopping for a checking account, consider factors such as monthly fees, interest rates, overdraft policies, ATM fees and access to customer service. Make sure that you’re getting the features and services you want from your bank.

Best Checking Accounts

ELIGIBLE FOR REWARD

Our pick for

Checking Accounts

ELIGIBLE FOR $100 IN REWARDS
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
SoFi Checking and Savings
Learn more

at SoFi Bank, N.A., Member FDIC

APY

0.50%

With $0 min. balance for APY

Bonus

$300

Earn up to $300 with direct deposit. Terms apply.

Monthly fee

$0

Overdraft star rating

5.0/5

Why We Like It

SoFi’s Checking and Savings account earns a 0.50% APY (variable and subject to change) on the balance in its checking portion.

Customers who set up direct deposit or who deposit at least $5,000 every 30 days into their account can also earn 4.60% APY on balances held in the savings portion of the account. Without direct deposit, savings would earn 1.20% APY.

There’s no minimum direct deposit amount to earn interest or to get your paycheck up to two days early, but you’ll need a minimum monthly direct deposit of $1,000 to qualify for overdraft coverage and protection.

If you decide to go with SoFi, you’ll want to make sure to meet the direct deposit requirements to earn the maximum interest rate and get overdraft protection. A potential drawback to banking with SoFi is that if you want to make a cash deposit, you’ll have to go to a Green Dot retail location and pay a fee of up to $4.95 for each deposit. That might not be an issue if you don’t usually handle cash, but if you want to deposit cash regularly — like if you work a tip-based job, for example — those fees could add up quickly.

SoFi is part of the Allpoint network, so customers can access more than 55,000 ATMs for cash withdrawals.

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Axos Bank® Rewards Checking
Learn more

at Axos Bank®, Member FDIC

APY

3.30%

With $0 min. balance for APY

Bonus

$500

Earn up to $500 with direct deposit. Terms apply.

Monthly fee

$0

Overdraft star rating

4.5/5

Why We Like It

Rewards Checking has no minimum balance required to open an account, and no monthly maintenance, overdraft or nonsufficient-funds fees. The account also has an annual percentage yield as high as 3.30% on up to $50,000, depending on your account activity. To earn interest, you need at least $1,500 in monthly direct deposits. That earns you 0.40%. To earn the maximum APY, you have to make 10 debit card purchases — with a minimum of $3 per transaction — or sign up for the Account Aggregation/Personal Finance Manager tool (earns 0.30%). You also need to have an average daily balance of $2,500 in a managed investment portfolio (earns 0.99%), have an average daily balance of $2,500 in a self-directed portfolio (earns 0.99%) and make a monthly Axos consumer loan payment from Rewards Checking (earns 0.60%).

Customers have to meet an unusually high number of requirements to earn the top interest rate with Axos, Other highly rated checking accounts make it easier to earn a high interest rate, or you can open a high-yield savings account.

New customers can qualify for a $500 bonus by having $1,500 or more in direct deposits and maintaining a minimum balance of $3,000 in the first six statement cycles that the new account is open.

In addition, Axos Bank offers unlimited domestic ATM reimbursements on several of its checking accounts, including this one.

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Discover® Cashback Debit
Learn more

at Discover® Bank, Member FDIC

APY

N/A

Bonus

$360

Up to $360 per year. See website for details.

Monthly fee

$0

Overdraft star rating

4.5/5

Why We Like It

Discover® Cashback Debit lets you earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in qualifying debit card purchases each month (see website for details). The account also has no monthly fee, no monthly balance requirement and access to more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs. The bank also doesn’t charge overdraft fees; if you try to initiate a transaction that will result in an overdraft, Discover will pull that money from a designated funding account if you’ve enabled overdraft protection. If you haven’t enabled it, Discover will decline the transaction and you won’t be charged a fee. Discover has solid offerings across the board, but its overdraft policy could be limiting for people who regularly rely on overdraft coverage. Some banks offer buffer programs that allow customers to overdraw up to a certain amount without triggering an overdraft fee.

Users can also get their paychecks up to two days early via direct deposit, and Discover’s mobile banking apps have high customer ratings, which is helpful because the bank only has one physical branch, in Delaware.

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
nbkc bank Everything Account
Learn more

at nbkc bank, Member FDIC

APY

1.75%

With $0 min. balance for APY

Bonus

N/A

Monthly fee

$0

Overdraft star rating

4.0/5

Why We Like It

NBKC’s free Everything Account offers a 1.75% APY with no minimum opening deposit. NBKC is part of the MoneyPass network, which gives customers free access to more than 37,000 nationwide ATMs, and it also offers up to $12 per month for reimbursement of out-of-network ATM fees. Since NBKC is an online bank, you’ll need to be comfortable with remote customer service.

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Schwab Bank Investor Checking™
APY

0.45%

With $0 min. balance for APY

Bonus

N/A

Monthly fee

$0

Overdraft star rating

4.5/5

Why We Like It

Charles Schwab’s Investor Checking account has no monthly fee or overdraft fees, and customers earn a 0.45% APY with no requirements. The interest rate on this account isn’t the highest that consumers could get — especially compared to other online banks — but through Schwab, customers also have access to unlimited ATM fee rebates and no foreign transaction fees, which makes this account great for frequent travelers.

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
American Express Rewards Checking
APY

1.00%

Bonus

N/A

Monthly fee

$0

Overdraft star rating

3.5/5

Why We Like It

American Express Rewards Checking is available to American Express customers who have had a consumer credit card for at least three months. The account has a 1.00% APY interest rate and no monthly fees or minimum deposit requirements. Notably, American Express doesn’t have any requirements for customers to earn interest, but the requirement that new banking customers be credit card customers is a rare prerequisite. Customers have access to more than 70,000 MoneyPass and Allpoint ATMs as well.

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
ZYNLO Bank More Spending Account
APY

2.00%

Bonus

N/A

Monthly fee

$0

Overdraft star rating

4.0/5

Why We Like It

Zynlo Bank customers can earn 2.00% APY on their spending account on any balance of a penny or more, which is a relatively high interest rate with no requirements to earn that rate. There’s a $10 minimum opening deposit for the account and no monthly fee. Zynlo is part of the Allpoint network, so customers can access more than 55,000 free ATMs. A large, free ATM network is a beneficial feature when you primarily bank online.

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Upgrade - Rewards Checking Plus
Learn more

at Upgrade, Deposits are FDIC Insured

APY

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Monthly fee

$0

Overdraft star rating

4.0/5

Why We Like It

Upgrade gives customers 2% cash back — up to a maximum of $500 per year — on qualified purchases as long as they make at least $1,000 in direct deposits per month. If they don’t meet the direct deposit requirement, customers will earn 1% cash back. Qualified purchases include drug stores, restaurants, gas stations and other everyday places. After customers earn $500 in rewards, they will earn 1% cash back for the rest of the year on everyday purchases. This account is great for cash back, but you’ll have to do a lot of debit card spending to optimize your rewards. You may want to analyze the kinds of rewards that you could earn with a credit card versus this debit card to ensure you’re earning the most cash back possible.

The account has no monthly fee, no overdraft fee and direct deposit up to two days early.

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Laurel Road Loyalty Checking
APY

0.01%

With $0.01 min. balance for APY

Bonus

$300

Requirements to qualify

Monthly fee

$0

Overdraft star rating

4.0/5

Why We Like It

Laurel Road’s Loyalty Checking account has no monthly fees, and customers have access to more than 40,000 fee-free ATMs. The account has a very low 0.01% APY, but customers can earn both a welcome bonus and monthly bonuses with qualifying direct deposits. The welcome bonus is $300 if a new customer makes direct deposits of at least $2,500 total in the first 60 days, and customers can earn $20 per month in the first year if they direct deposit at least $2,500 per month. After the first year, customers can earn $10 per month with the same direct deposit requirement. The welcome bonus requires quite a few timely direct deposits, so make sure you’re meeting the stipulations if you have an eye on the maximum bonus amount.

Want to compare more options? Here are our other top picks:

Our Nerds say:

"A checking account is designed to be used for all of your regular purchases and transactions, so make sure to pick one that has all of the features that matter to you.

"If you need a flexible overdraft program, pick a bank that has low or no overdraft fees or a buffer or forgiveness program. If you plan to go with an online bank, make sure it has great remote customer service options and an accessible ATM network. And lastly, even though checking accounts aren’t usually known for great interest rates, there are still plenty of accounts that offer a solid return on your money. You can also find rewards checking accounts that offer cash back on your spending."

- Chanelle Bessette, NerdWallet banking writer

Video preview image

Features of checking accounts

Do checking accounts pay interest?

Sometimes; typically minimal.

Common fees

  • Monthly maintenance fee (with ways to waive it).

  • Overdraft fee.

  • Out-of-network ATM fee.

  • Foreign transaction fee.

  • You can find some checking accounts that don't have all these fees.

Typical features

  • Debit card.

  • Paper checks.

  • Direct deposit.

  • Overdraft protection.

  • Online and mobile banking services (bill pay, balance inquiries, transfers, account alerts, mobile check deposit).

Other benefits

  • Bill pay.

  • Access to cash through ATMs.

Here is more information about checking accounts.

What's the best checking account for me?

When choosing a new checking account, take a close look at fees, branch and ATM accessibility, and interest rate. Also consider perks such as early access to direct deposits. People who do online banking should select an institution that offers a good website along with a mobile app that lets them deposit checks remotely.

As a rule, it’s a good idea to avoid checking accounts that charge — and don’t allow you to waive — fees. The rule remains true whether choosing a teen checking account, a college bank account or any checking account.

» Looking for somewhere to stash your savings? See NerdWallet's picks for best savings accounts

Should I have more than one checking account?

Usually there won’t be many downsides to keeping multiple checking accounts open as long as you can meet the requirements of those accounts to avoid fees.

The number of checking accounts you should have is based on your situation. If you’re single, for example, you may be fine with just one checking account. If you’re married, you may want to have a personal account and a joint account that you share with your spouse.

There are also several accounts that offer bonuses and promotions for opening an account, so if you’re able to juggle the requirements, you could make some extra cash by opening multiple accounts. You also may want to consider opening multiple checking accounts at different institutions for different uses, such as keeping an account at a provider that works well for international travel if you go out of the country a lot, or keeping a checking account open with the bank that handles your mortgage for faster payment transfers.

Last updated on July 12, 2024

Methodology

We took a close look at over 90 financial institutions and financial service providers, including the largest U.S. banks based on assets, internet search traffic and other factors; the nation’s largest credit unions, based on assets and membership; and other notable and/or emerging players in the industry. We rated them on criteria including annual percentage yields, minimum balances, fees, digital experience and more.

Financial institutions and providers surveyed are: Affirm, All America Bank, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, Amalgamated Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express National Bank, Andrews Federal Credit Union, Associated Bank, Axos Bank, Bank of America, Bank5 Connect, Bank7, Barclays, Bask Bank, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, BMO, BMO Alto, Boeing Employees Credit Union, Bread Savings, BrioDirect, Capital One, Carver Federal Savings Bank, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Chime, CIBC U.S., CIT Bank, Citibank, Citizens, Citizens Bank, City First Bank, Climate First Bank, Commerce Bank, Community First Credit Union of Florida, ConnectOne Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Current, Customers Bank, Delta Community Credit Union, Discover® Bank, E*TRADE, EverBank (formerly TIAA Bank), Fifth Third Bank, First Foundation, First National Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, Flagstar Bank, FNBO Direct, Global Credit Union, GO2bank, Golden 1 Credit Union, Greenwood, Hope Credit Union, Huntington Bank, Industrial Bank, Ivy Bank, Jenius Bank, KeyBank, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Laurel Road Bank, LendingClub Bank, Liberty Bank, Live Oak Bank, M&T Bank, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, NASA Federal Credit Union, Navy Federal Credit Union, NBKC, One, OneUnited Bank, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, Popular Direct, Quontic Bank, Regions Bank, Revolut, Salem Five Direct, Sallie Mae Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Securityplus Federal Credit Union, Self-Help Credit Union, Service Credit Union, SoFi, State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina, Suncoast Credit Union, Synchrony Bank, TAB Bank, TD Bank, Truist Bank, U.S. Bank, UFB Direct, Upgrade, USAA Bank, Varo, Vio Bank, Wells Fargo and Zynlo Bank.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Checking Accounts for July 2024

Frequently asked questions