Best of

8 Best Free Checking Accounts of 2019

Tony ArmstrongJanuary 25, 2019

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Summary of Best Free Checking Accounts of 2019

BankBest ForMonthly FeeAPYLearn More
Axos Bank™ Rewards Checking

Axos Bank™ Rewards Checking

at Axos Bank™,

Member, FDIC

Interest rate

$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

Credit union

$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

Rewards program

$0

N/A

at Discover Bank,

Member, FDIC

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Credit union

$0

5.09%

With $0 minimum balance

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Capital One 360 Checking®

Capital One 360 Checking®

Overdraft policy

$0

0.20%

With $0 minimum balance

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Digital experience

$0

0.10%

With $0 minimum balance

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

Interest rate

$0

0.76%

With $100 minimum balance

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

ATM reimbursement

$0

0.15%

With $0 minimum balance

BankBest ForMonthly FeeAPYLearn More
Axos Bank™ Rewards Checking

Axos Bank™ Rewards Checking

at Axos Bank™,

Member, FDIC

Interest rate

$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

Credit union

$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

Rewards program

$0

N/A

at Discover Bank,

Member, FDIC

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Credit union

$0

5.09%

With $0 minimum balance

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Capital One 360 Checking®

Capital One 360 Checking®

Overdraft policy

$0

0.20%

With $0 minimum balance

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Digital experience

$0

0.10%

With $0 minimum balance

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

Interest rate

$0

0.76%

With $100 minimum balance

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

ATM reimbursement

$0

0.15%

With $0 minimum balance

Our pick for

Interest rate

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

Axos Bank, formerly Bank of Internet, has an exceptional rate on its Rewards Checking.

 

Interest rate: Up to 1.25%

 

Minimum deposit to open: $0

 

Other pros: Rewards Checking has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, including opening deposits, and the bank offers unlimited domestic ATM reimbursements.

 

What you should know: To earn Rewards Checking's highest rate (1.25%), you'll have to do two things monthly: receive at least $1,000 in direct deposits and make 15 debit card transactions of at least $3 each. You can earn a lower rate for fulfilling one of those requirements, or by making only 10 transactions.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Credit union

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

With a strong online presence and easy membership requirements, Alliant has a wider reach than most credit unions. Support for an Alliant-affiliated nonprofit is all it takes to apply for membership if you don’t fulfill other requirements.

 

Interest rate: 0.45%

 

Minimum deposit to open: $0

 

Other pros: Alliant members can access more than 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs and have up to $20 reimbursed in out-of-network ATM fees a month.

 

What you should know: To qualify for the High-Rate Checking Account, members have to opt out of paper statements and have at least one electronic deposit each month, which includes direct, ATM and mobile deposits, plus transfers from other financial institutions.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Rewards program

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

Interest rate: With Discover Cashback Debit, you can get 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases monthly.

 

Minimum deposit to open: $0

 

Other pros: Customers have access to 60,000 fee-free ATMs.

 

What you should know: The only place to deposit cash is at Discover's one branch in Delaware.

 

Cashback Debit details from Discover: “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."

 

See Discover's website for more details.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Credit union

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

5.09%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Consumers Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

You can apply to join this credit union even if you don’t live near its Illinois headquarters.

 

Interest rate: Up to 5.09%

 

Minimum deposit to open: $0

 

Other pros: The checking account has no monthly fees or minimum balances. You can take advantage of thousands of branches and free ATMs nationwide thanks to the credit union's participation in the Co-op network.

 

What you should know: To apply to join, you’ll need to make a $5 payment to a sponsoring association and deposit a minimum of $5 in a savings account.

 

Consumers only has branches in Illinois, and it’s not easy to earn the highest interest rate: You have to make at least 12 signature-based debit card purchases, have one monthly electronic transaction such as direct deposit or online bill payment, receive e-statements, access online banking once monthly and meet a monthly spending minimum on a Consumers credit card. Opting out of the credit card requirements leaves you at 3.09% APY and you don't receive ATM refunds. If you don’t meet any of the requirements, you’d earn 0.01% APY.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Overdraft policy

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 account’s overdraft policy deserves some props. The bank offers an overdraft line of credit with an annual percentage rate below 15%. You also could use a Capital One 360 Performance Savings Account to cover overdrafts for free. Or, if you decide not to opt into either the line of credit or transfers, you can simply have the bank decline to pay charges that you don’t have enough cash to cover.

 

Interest rate: 0.20% on balances of less than $50,000

 

Minimum deposit to open: $0

 

Other pros: The 360 Checking account is fee-free and earns some interest. Plus, Capital One is part of the Allpoint ATM network, giving its customers access to nearly 40,000 free cash machines. You can also visit Capital One 360 Cafés in several cities around the country to speak with customer-service representatives.

 

What you should know: This is primarily an online account, so it may be challenging to receive face-to-face customer service.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Digital experience

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 customers can use more 43,000 U.S. ATMs for free.

 

Interest rate: 0.10% on balances of less than $15,000

 

Minimum deposit to open: $0

 

Other pros: Ally makes its digital experience a top priority. The online-only bank has a mobile app available on Apple, Android and Windows devices with solid ratings. For any issues, Ally has a real-time chat service and actively responds to customer inquiries on Twitter and Facebook. If you prefer the traditional method of calling your bank, Ally’s call center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

What you should know: Since Ally is an online bank, customers need to be comfortable with customer service that isn’t in person.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Interest rate

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

Along with its excellent APY, Bank5 Connect provides customers with access to thousands of free ATMs and reimburses up to $15 per month for fees racked up at other banks' cash machines.

 

Interest rate: 0.76% on balances of more than $100

 

Minimum deposit to open: $10

 

Other pros: The online bank's $15 overdraft penalty is significantly lower than the median of $34 for national banks.

 

What you should know: You'll have to put down an initial deposit of $10 when opening the account, and you'll need a balance of at least $100 to qualify for the 0.76% APY.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

ATM reimbursement

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

When opening a Charles Schwab checking account, customers also get a Schwab One brokerage account. Though the checking account’s APY isn’t the highest, customers aren’t charged any monthly fees and there’s no minimum monthly balance requirement.

 

Interest rate: 0.15%

 

Minimum deposit to open: $0

 

Other pros: Schwab has free unlimited ATM fee reimbursements both domestically and abroad, and debit cardholders aren’t charged foreign transaction fees. Deposits up to $250,000 are insured by the FDIC, and there are no overdraft fees.

 

What you should know: Charles Schwab does a hard credit check on people who apply for an account, which may slightly ding your credit score.

Read Full Review

Last updated on January 25, 2019

Methodology

To determine the best accounts, we took a close look at 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 rates, minimum balances, fees, digital experience and more.

Financial institutions surveyed are: Alaska USA Federal Credit UnionAlliant Credit UnionAlly BankAmerica First Credit Union, American Express, AspirationAssociated BankBank5 Connect, BankDirect, Bank of AmericaAxos BankBank of the WestBarclays, BB&T, BBVABoeing Employees Credit Union, BMO Harris, Capital One 360Charles Schwab BankChaseChimeCITCitibankCitizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Commerce BankConnexus Credit UnionConsumers Credit UnionDiscover BankTIAA BankFidelityFifth Third Bank, First Citizens Bank, First National Bank, First Tech Federal Credit UnionGoBankGolden 1 Credit Union, HSBC Bank USA, Huntington BankKeyBankM&T BankMarcus by Goldman Sachs, MetaBank, Navy Federal Credit UnionPentagon Federal Credit UnionPNC, PurePoint Financial, Qapital, Radius BankRegions BankSantander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Simple, Star One Credit Union, State Employees' Credit Union of North CarolinaState Farm BankSuncoast Credit Union, SunTrust Bank, Synchrony BankTCF BankTD BankUnion Bank, UFB Direct, USAAU.S. Bank, Varo, Wells Fargo, Woodforest National Bank and Zions Bank.

 

How we rate banks and credit unions

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Free Checking Accounts of 2019