Best of

13 Best Checking Accounts of December 2019

NerdWalletDecember 1, 2019

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Summary of Best Checking Accounts of December 2019

BankMonthly FeeAPYLearn More
Chime Spending Account

Chime Spending Account

at Chime,

Member, FDIC

$0

N/A

at Chime,

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

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

$0

0.45%

With $0 minimum balance

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Discover Bank Cashback Debit

Discover Bank Cashback Debit

at Discover Bank,

Member, FDIC

$0

N/A

at Discover Bank,

Member, FDIC

Simple Checking & Budgeting

Simple Checking & Budgeting

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

$0

2.15%

With $10000 minimum balance

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Chase Total Checking®

Chase Total Checking®

at Chase,

Member, FDIC

$12

Waived with direct deposit or $1500 minimum balance

N/A

at Chase,

Member, FDIC

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

$0

3.09%

With $0 minimum balance

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

First Tech Federal Credit Union Dividend Rewards Checking

First Tech Federal Credit Union Dividend Rewards Checking

$0

2.00%

With $0.01 minimum balance

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

$0

0.76%

With $100 minimum balance

Connexus Credit Union Xtraordinary Checking

Connexus Credit Union Xtraordinary Checking

$0

1.75%

With $1 minimum balance

Capital One 360 Checking

Capital One 360 Checking

$0

0.20%

With $0 minimum balance

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

$0

0.10%

With $0 minimum balance

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

$0

0.15%

With $0 minimum balance

BankMonthly FeeAPYLearn More
Chime Spending Account

Chime Spending Account

at Chime,

Member, FDIC

$0

N/A

at Chime,

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

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

$0

0.45%

With $0 minimum balance

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Discover Bank Cashback Debit

Discover Bank Cashback Debit

at Discover Bank,

Member, FDIC

$0

N/A

at Discover Bank,

Member, FDIC

Simple Checking & Budgeting

Simple Checking & Budgeting

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

$0

2.15%

With $10000 minimum balance

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Chase Total Checking®

Chase Total Checking®

at Chase,

Member, FDIC

$12

Waived with direct deposit or $1500 minimum balance

N/A

at Chase,

Member, FDIC

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

$0

3.09%

With $0 minimum balance

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

First Tech Federal Credit Union Dividend Rewards Checking

First Tech Federal Credit Union Dividend Rewards Checking

$0

2.00%

With $0.01 minimum balance

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

$0

0.76%

With $100 minimum balance

Connexus Credit Union Xtraordinary Checking

Connexus Credit Union Xtraordinary Checking

$0

1.75%

With $1 minimum balance

Capital One 360 Checking

Capital One 360 Checking

$0

0.20%

With $0 minimum balance

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

$0

0.10%

With $0 minimum balance

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

$0

0.15%

With $0 minimum balance

Chime Spending Account

at Chime,

Member, FDIC

Chime Spending Account

Chime Spending Account

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

N/A

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Chime,

Member, FDIC


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Chime is a mobile bank 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 Plus Alliance ATMs. Through Chime’s early direct deposit service, customers can get their paychecks up to two days earlier than if they cashed their checks at a bank.

 

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
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 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
Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.45%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA


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, and you’ll pay minimal fees.

 

You’ll qualify for an annual percentage yield of 0.45% 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.

 

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

 

This checking account was named one of the best in NerdWallet's 2019 Best-Of Awards.

Read Full Review
Discover Bank Cashback Debit

at Discover Bank,

Member, FDIC

Discover Bank Cashback Debit

Discover Bank Cashback Debit

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

N/A

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Discover Bank,

Member, FDIC


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Discover Bank's Cashback Debit* account offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in qualifying debit card purchases each month. In addition, you’ll have access to over 60,000 free ATMs. There's also no monthly maintenance fee or minimum balance. Note that Discover customers can deposit cash only at the bank's lone branch in Delaware.

 

*The company says: "ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, peer-to-peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as Venmo® and PayPal™, which also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries."

Read Full Review
Simple Checking & Budgeting

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Simple Checking & Budgeting

Simple Checking & Budgeting

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

2.15%

With $10000 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

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
Chase Total Checking®

at Chase,

Member, FDIC

Chase Total Checking®

Chase Total Checking®

Monthly Fee

$12

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 1/21/2020). 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 5,000 branches and more than 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
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

3.09%

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 at least 3.09% 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 5.09% 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 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

First Tech Federal Credit Union Dividend Rewards Checking

First Tech Federal Credit Union Dividend Rewards Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

2.00%

With $0.01 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

First Tech Credit Union’s Dividend Rewards Checking account has some great perks for its members. The account offers an outstanding 2.00% APY for balances of $15,000 and under, to members who meet the following qualifications for each month: make 12 debit card purchases, set up direct deposit or have one recurring ACH withdrawal, and enroll in e-statements. Balances larger than $15,000 earn 0.20% APY if all other requirements are met.

 

There is no monthly fee and no monthly balance requirements. There are also unlimited domestic ATM refunds for members who meet certain qualifications.

Read Full Review

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.76%

With $100 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Bank5 Connect may not have the most attractive website, but it offers an excellent APY of 0.76% for balances of at least $100. The online-only bank belongs to the SUM network of thousands of ATMs, which are free to use, but it doesn’t charge for use of out-of-network ATMs. If another bank or ATM operator charges a fee, Bank5 reimburses customers up to $15 per month. Bank5 charges no monthly maintenance fee. Its $15 insufficient funds fee is unusually low, but it can charge this fee up to six times a day.

Read Full Review

Connexus Credit Union Xtraordinary Checking

Connexus Credit Union Xtraordinary Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

1.75%

With $1 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Xtraordinary Checking comes with access to more than 54,000 free ATMs, and it doesn’t charge a monthly fee or require a minimum deposit. The account also earns an APY as high as 1.75% for balances of up to $25,000, if you meet certain requirements. You must opt for electronic statements and have at least 15 debit card transactions or $400 in net spend purchases to qualify each month.

 

Branches are limited, so if you live outside parts of the Midwest, you’ll have to do most of your banking online.

Read Full Review

Capital One 360 Checking

Capital One 360 Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.20%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

The Capital One 360 checking account comes with some major benefits. Besides having no fees and no minimum opening deposit, this account offers 0.20% APY on balances below $50,000, 0.50% APY on balances of $50,000 to $99,999 and 0.75% APY on $100,000 or more.

 

Customers can use Capital One and Allpoint ATMs without incurring fees, and they can also deposit checks from their mobile phone and pay bills online with the option to set up automatic payments. Plus, Capital One has a variety of overdraft options that includes auto-decline, free transfers from your savings account, and a full business day’s grace period to replace the amount you’re overdrawn before being charged a fee.

 

This checking account was named one of the best in NerdWallet's 2019 Best-Of Awards.

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 service. 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

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.15%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Schwab High Yield Investor Checking provides unlimited fee rebates on ATM withdrawals worldwide. The account is free and offers online bill pay and a mobile check deposit service, and it comes with a brokerage account.

 

This checking account was named one of the best in NerdWallet's 2019 Best-Of Awards.

Read Full Review

Last updated on December 1, 2019

Methodology

We took a close look at over 70 financial institutions, including the largest U.S. banks based on assets, debit card volume, Internet search traffic and other factors; the nation’s largest credit unions, based on deposits as well as broad-based membership requirements; 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 include: Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express, Aspiration, Associated Bank, Axos Bank, Bank5 Connect, Bank7, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Barclays, BB&T, BBVA, Boeing Employees Credit Union, BMO Harris, Capital One 360, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Chime, CIT, Citibank, Citizens Access, Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Commerce Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Discover Bank, E-Trade, Fidelity, Fifth Third Bank, First National Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, GoBank, Golden 1 Credit Union, GS BankHSBC Bank USA, Huntington Bank, KeyBank, MetaBank, M&T BankMoven, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, Popular Direct, PurePoint Financial, Radius Bank, Redneck Bank, Regions Bank, 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, Union Bank, UFB Direct, USAA, U.S. Bank, Varo, Wells Fargo and Zions Bank.

How we rate banks and credit unions

 

Frequently asked questions

A checking account is an account offered by a bank or credit union that allows a customer to deposit and withdraw money as well as make transactions through electronic payment, check, money order and/or with a debit card.

Here are NerdWallet's picks for the best checking accounts.

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.

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.

Interest rates are typically very low for checking accounts. If you’re looking for a high annual percentage yield, you may want to consider one of NerdWallet’s picks for a high-yield savings account, a cash management account or a CD with a high rate instead.

Some banks offer sign-up bonuses when you open a new account. To qualify, you typically have to be a new customer and keep your checking account open for at least three months to a year. You will also have to meet other requirements, such as receiving direct deposits or using a linked debit card a certain number of times each month.

First, make a list of that account’s recurring deposits and payments. Arrange to have future scheduled deposits sent to a new account and to have recurrent bill payments or transfers drawn from that account. Wait a month or two to allow outstanding charges or payments to clear the old account and to ensure the new account arrangements have kicked in. Withdraw any remaining funds from your old bank and get a written confirmation of closure from a bank manager. Later, at your convenience, remove the bank’s app from your phone and shred any remaining paper checks from the old account.

Prepaid debit cards and checking accounts are similar in that you have an account with a certain balance to make purchases. Most prepaid debit cards, however, have no overdraft programs or related fees. Checking accounts traditionally have overdraft services that let you spend more than you have in your account in exchange for steep fees.

It’s possible that you are on the ChexSystems black list. Unpaid bank fees and bounced checks can result in a negative file on ChexSystems, a consumer reporting agency that financial institutions use to evaluate a prospective customer’s banking history. The more blemishes on your report, the less likely that a bank will approve you for a new account.

Here are some steps to take if you need to clear up your ChexSystems record.