Best of

9 Best Checking Accounts of August 2020

Chanelle BessetteAugust 1, 2020

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

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. NerdWallet staff analyzed, compared and rated dozens of banks and credit unions before selecting the checking accounts that offer the best combination of consumer-friendly features. (Most of these banks are NerdWallet partners, which was not a factor in our evaluations.)

Keep in mind that any banks you may be considering for a new checking account may have temporarily closed their branches or curtailed hours to help protect customers and employees from COVID-19. But many banks allow you to open new accounts and perform most necessary services online.

Summary of Best Checking Accounts of August 2020

BankNerdWallet Rating Monthly FeeAPYLearn More
Chime Spending Account

Chime Spending Account

at Chime,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

$0

N/A

at Chime,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

at Radius Bank,

Member FDIC

$0

0.10%

With $2500 minimum balance

at Radius Bank,

Member FDIC

Axos Bank™ Rewards Checking

Axos Bank™ Rewards Checking

at Axos Bank™,

Member FDIC

$0

1.25%

With $0 minimum balance

at Axos Bank™,

Member FDIC

Chase Total Checking®

Chase Total Checking®

at Chase,

Member FDIC

$12.00

Waived with direct deposit or $1500 minimum balance

N/A

at Chase,

Member FDIC

Varo Bank Account

Varo Bank Account

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

$0

N/A

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Simple Checking & Budgeting

Simple Checking & Budgeting

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

$0

1.00%

With $0 minimum balance

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

$0

2.09%

With $0 minimum balance

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

$0

0.10%

With $0 minimum balance

Read review
Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

$0

0.25%

With $0 minimum balance

Read review
Chime Spending Account

at Chime,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Chime Spending Account

Chime Spending Account

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

N/A

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Chime,

Deposits are FDIC Insured


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Chime is a mobile checking account that has no monthly fees, minimum balance requirements or overdraft fees, and you have access to more than 38,000 fee-free MoneyPass and Visa Alliance ATMs. Through Chime’s early direct deposit service, customers can get their paychecks up to two days earlier than through direct deposit at most banks.

This account works best for people who don’t write many checks or make cash deposits. If you need to write a check, Chime has an online feature that creates and mails one on your behalf. For cash deposits, you’ll need to use a third-party service.

Read Full Review
Radius Bank Rewards Checking

at Radius Bank,

Member FDIC

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.10%

With $2500 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Radius Bank,

Member FDIC


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

The Radius Rewards Checking account gives customers two cash-earning benefits: an interest rate and cash back on spending. For the interest rate, if your balance hits $2,500, a 0.10% annual percentage yield kicks in. If you have $100,000 or more, the rate becomes 0.15% APY. For the cash-back benefit, customers can earn 1% on online and signature-based “credit” purchases with their debit card and an additional 0.50% on purchases made with certain merchant categories. Through Sept. 30, 2020, Radius Rewards Checking customers can earn an additional 0.5% cash back on special bonus categories.

Radius is also part of a network of thousands of SUM and MoneyPass ATMs which customers can use for free. In addition, customers receive unlimited ATM surcharge reimbursements if they use an out-of-network ATM worldwide. Users can also get their paychecks up to two days early via direct deposit, depending on their employer.

Read Full Review
Axos Bank™ Rewards Checking

at Axos Bank™,

Member FDIC

Axos Bank™ Rewards Checking

Axos Bank™ Rewards Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

1.25%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Axos Bank™,

Member FDIC


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Rewards Checking has no minimum balance aside from a $50 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 1.25%, depending on your account activity. To earn maximum interest, you’d need to have monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more and use your debit card at least 15 times a month, with a minimum $3 purchase.

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

Read Full Review
Chase Total Checking®

at Chase,

Member FDIC

Chase Total Checking®

Chase Total Checking®

Monthly Fee

$12.00

Waived with direct deposit or $1500 minimum balance

APY

N/A

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

$200

Requirements to qualify

at Chase,

Member FDIC


Bonus

$200

Requirements to qualify

Why we like it

Chase offers new customers who set up direct deposit a welcome bonus of $200 (expires 10/14/2020). You can avoid a $12 monthly maintenance fee by receiving at least $500 in direct deposits each month, keeping a minimum daily balance of $1,500 in your new checking account or maintaining an average daily balance of at least $5,000 across eligible Chase accounts and investments.

Bonus aside, this account is a winner if you prefer a big-bank experience — Chase has nearly 4,900 branches and 16,000 ATMs — and want to have multiple types of accounts at one place. We don’t recommend choosing your primary checking account based solely on a sign-up bonus. But if you like the account and its features anyway, you can get a little something extra.

Read Full Review
Varo Bank Account

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Varo Bank Account

Varo Bank Account

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

N/A

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Varo’s checking account has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, plus it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees or fees to use its worldwide network of more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs. Varo checking customers can receive their paychecks up to two days early with direct deposit, which is faster than most banks.

Varo also has a great “No Fee Overdraft” program: It may cover you up to $50 without incurring a fee if you’re account drops negative because of a debit card purchase or a cash withdrawal. To qualify for this program, you must do both of these things per month: receive at least $1,000 in direct deposits and make at least five debit card purchases. Transactions that are not covered by Varo that would result in a negative balance are automatically declined.

Read Full Review
Simple Checking & Budgeting

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Simple Checking & Budgeting

Simple Checking & Budgeting

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

1.00%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Simple's basic online checking account earns 0.01% APY, which isn't much to write home about, but when customers open a Protected Goals subaccount, they have the opportunity to earn a much higher interest rate. This high-yield checking account requires a few additional steps to earn the high APY: Customers have to set an official savings goal in their account and transfer any balance from a Simple Checking or Shared Account. Customers then earn 1.00% APY.

Like most checking accounts, Simple’s online account lets you sign up for direct deposit. But this online-only account’s handy budgeting tool, called Safe-to-Spend, really makes it stand out. It uses your monthly bills and savings goals to calculate how much you can afford to spend on nonessential expenses. Simple also lets you automatically save toward planned, recurring expenses, or planned splurges, and gives you access to more than 40,000 fee-free ATMs.

The account doesn’t charge monthly service, overdraft or nonsufficient-funds fees, and it’s easy to use, as its name suggests.

Read Full Review
Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

2.09%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

The Free Rewards Checking account offers an exceptionally high annual percentage yield of 2.09% for balances of up to $10,000, as long as you’re able to meet a few spending and online banking requirements. Jumping through some additional hoops will land you as much as 4.09% APY on balances of up to $10,000. If you can’t qualify for these rates, your APY will be 0.01%, and you won’t get unlimited ATM fee refunds.

Consumers Credit Union is easy to join: Just pay $5 to become a member of the Consumers Cooperative Association. The credit union participates in shared branching, so you’ll have access to thousands of branches and ATMs.

Read Full Review

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.10%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Ally’s Interest Checking account holders enjoy excellent customer service. The online-only bank staffs its call center 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offers live chat. You can reach out on Facebook and Twitter for additional support. Plus, the account offers a little interest, comes with access to more than 43,000 free ATMs and doesn’t charge monthly fees.

If you want to bank online but you’d like to have your questions answered by an actual person every so often, Ally may be your best bank for checking.

Read Full Review

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.25%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

It’s easy to apply for Alliant membership. Just agree to support an Alliant-affiliated nonprofit if you don’t meet the other criteria, and Alliant will make a $5 donation on your behalf. Once you open an account, you’ll have access to Alliant’s services, including more than 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs.

You’ll qualify for an annual percentage yield of 0.25% if you opt out of paper statements and have at least one electronic deposit made to your account each month, such as a direct, ATM or mobile deposit or a transfer from another financial institution. Alliant’s digital tools are a step ahead of those offered by other credit unions. Its mobile check-deposit feature, for instance, lets members make daily deposits of up to $50,000. The account also doesn’t charge a monthly fee.

However, the credit union has very limited branch locations and doesn’t participate in shared branching.

Read Full Review

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. People who do online banking should select a financial 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.

» Looking for somewhere to stash your savings? Check out 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 are able to meet the requirements of those accounts to avoid fees.

The number of checking accounts you should have is based on your personal 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 a number of 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 banks for different uses, such as keeping an account at a bank 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.

Other top accounts

These banks also offer attractive checking choices and could be a great fit for you. Check them out if you want more options.

  • Capital One 360 Checking: Earns interest with an APY of 0.10% on all balances, plus free use of Capital One and Allpoint ATMs (read full Capital One 360 review).

  • Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking: Offers an excellent APY of 0.25% for balances of at least $100, plus up to $15 in out-of-network ATM fees reimbursed monthly (read full Bank5 Connect review).

  • FNBO Direct Online Checking: Offers a free, interest-earning checking account with access to more than 2 million ATMs (read full FNBO Direct review).

  • Connexus Credit Union Xtraordinary Checking: Earns an APY as high as 1.75% for balances of up to $25,000, if you meet certain requirements (read full Connexus review).

  • First Tech Federal Credit Union Dividend Rewards Checking: Offers an outstanding 1.50% APY for balances of $15,000 and under, if you meet certain requirements (read full First Tech review).

  • Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking: Provides unlimited fee rebates on ATM withdrawals worldwide and doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees; the account is free and comes with a brokerage account (read full Schwab Bank review).

  • Discover Bank Cashback Debit: Offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in qualifying debit card purchases each month; access to over 60,000 free ATMs (read full Discover Bank review).

Last updated on August 1, 2020

Methodology

We took a close look at over 70 financial institutions, 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 surveyed are: Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express National Bank, Associated Bank, Axos Bank, Bank5 Connect, Bank7, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Barclays, BB&T, BBVA, BMO Harris, Boeing Employees Credit Union, Capital One 360, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Chime, CIBC U.S., CIT Bank, Citibank, Citizens Access, Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Commerce Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Discover Bank, E-Trade Bank, Fifth Third Bank, First National Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, FNBO Direct, GoBank, Golden 1 Credit Union, Goldman Sachs Bank USA, HSBC Bank, Huntington Bank, KeyBank, M&T Bank, Nationwide Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, Popular Direct, PurePoint Financial, Radius Bank, Redneck Bank, Regions Bank, Salem Five Direct, Sallie Mae Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Service Credit Union, Simple, State Employees' Credit Union of North Carolina, State Farm Bank, Suncoast Credit Union, SunTrust Bank, Synchrony Bank, TCF Bank, TD Bank, TIAA Bank, U.S. Bank, UFB Direct, Union Bank, USAA, Varo, Vio Bank, Wells Fargo, Woodforest National Bank and Zions Bank.

Frequently asked questions