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9 Best Online Checking Accounts of 2019

Tony ArmstrongDecember 20, 2018

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Summary of Best Online Checking Accounts of 2019

BankMonthly FeeAPYLearn More
Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

at Radius Bank,

Member, FDIC

$0

1.00%

With $2500 minimum balance

at Radius Bank,

Member, FDIC

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

Discover Cashback Debit

Discover Cashback Debit

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

$0

N/A

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

Varo Bank Account

Varo Bank Account

at Varo,

Member, FDIC

$0

N/A

at Varo,

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

USAA Bank Classic Checking

USAA Bank Classic Checking

$0

0.01%

With $25 minimum balance

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

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

$0

0.10%

With $0 minimum balance

BankMonthly FeeAPYLearn More
Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

at Radius Bank,

Member, FDIC

$0

1.00%

With $2500 minimum balance

at Radius Bank,

Member, FDIC

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

Discover Cashback Debit

Discover Cashback Debit

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

$0

N/A

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

Varo Bank Account

Varo Bank Account

at Varo,

Member, FDIC

$0

N/A

at Varo,

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

USAA Bank Classic Checking

USAA Bank Classic Checking

$0

0.01%

With $25 minimum balance

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

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

$0

0.10%

With $0 minimum balance

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

at Radius Bank,

Member, FDIC

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

1.00%

With $2500 minimum balance

Radius Bank is an online bank with robust mobile capabilities for customers. It shines with its ATM reimbursements and solid interest rates for checking, savings and certificates of deposits. Its new Rewards Checking offers a combo of cash back and a competitive interest rate.

 

Monthly fee: None

 

Special features: If your balance hits $2,500, you begin to earn a 1.00% annual percentage yield.

 

Other pros: Radius belongs to the surcharge-free NYCE and MoneyPass ATM networks, and it doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees. You’ll also get unlimited refunds for fees charged by other ATM owners.

 

What you should know: Because Radius has only one full-service branch, you’ll have to be comfortable banking online. The Rewards account has an annual percentage yield of 1.00% if your balance is between $2,500 and $99,999.99. You can earn 1.20% APY on balances of $100,000 or more, but if you have that much cash on hand, consider investing it instead.

Read full review
Chime Spending Account

at Chime,

Member, FDIC

Monthly Fee

$0

Chime is a mobile-only bank that offers the benefits of FDIC insurance and deposit and savings account options.

 

Monthly fee: None

 

Special features: With Chime, you can have every debit card transaction rounded up to the nearest dollar and automatically transfer the difference to your Chime Savings account.

 

Other pros: Chime doesn’t charge overdraft fees. Customers can use over 38,000 free MoneyPass ATMs and can receive their direct deposit up to two days early. If you need to write a check, Chime has an online feature that creates and mails one on your behalf.

 

What you should know: For deposits that can’t be set up electronically, you’ll need to use a third party service, such as Green Dot, to fund your account.

Read full review
Axos Bank™ Rewards Checking

at Axos Bank™,

Member, FDIC

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

1.25%

With $0 minimum balance

Axos Bank, formerly Bank of Internet, offers several checking options with great perks: no overdraft fees, no monthly fees or minimum balance, plus domestic ATM fee reimbursements.

 

Monthly fee: None

 

Special features: With Rewards Checking, you also can earn up to 1.25% APY, but you'll have to jump through a couple of hoops.

 

Other pros: Axos also has a CashBack Checking rewards program that gives you 1% cash back on debit card transactions that require your signature, if you keep at least $1,500 as the average daily balance. If your account falls below that, you earn 0.50% cash back instead.

 

What you should know: To get the special APY, the bank requires at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits, and you have to use your debit card 15 times a month on everyday purchases — with a minimum of $3 per transaction — to earn the maximum APY. 

Read full review
Discover Cashback Debit

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

Monthly Fee

$0

Discover Bank’s checking account lets you earn cash back on certain purchases, and you’ll also have access to 60,000 free ATMs.

 

Monthly fee: None

 

Special features: With Discover’s Cashback Debit account, you’ll get 1% cash back on qualifying debit card purchases of up to $3,000 a month.

 

Other pros: Discover also has a top-rated high-yield online savings account.

 

What you should know:  There is only one physical branch location, in Greenwood, Delaware, so national customers have to be OK with not having face-to-face customer service.

 

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."

 

See Discover's website for more details.

Read full review
Varo Bank Account

at Varo,

Member, FDIC

Monthly Fee

$0

Varo is a mobile banking app with a fee-free checking account and a savings account with a competitive rate.

 

Monthly fee: None

 

Special features: The Varo checking account is a particularly good deal: With no foreign transaction fees and an international ATM network (including 55,000 Allpoint ATMs in the U.S. and abroad), it’s among the best deals for international travelers.

 

Other pros: Spend most of your time stateside? Varo is still a solid deal. It doesn’t charge monthly service fees or overdraft fees and its analysis tools can make money management easy.

 

What you should know: Varo doesn’t have branches, so if you want to add cash directly to your account, you’ll have to go to a retailer that is part of the Green Dot network. Though these accepted retailers are plentiful — like CVS, 7-Eleven, Walmart or Walgreens stores — there is a fee of up to $4.95 to deposit cash at the register.

Read full review
Simple Checking & Budgeting

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

2.15%

With $10000 minimum balance

Simple is a digital banking platform that has no monthly maintenance fee, overdraft fee, inactivity fee, card replacement fee or minimum balance requirement.

 

Monthly fee: None

 

Special features: Instead of making spending decisions based on your available balance, a figure that can be misleading, Simple users can check their Safe-to-Spend number. It’s an estimate of the amount you can afford to spend based on your balance, upcoming bills and savings goals. Plus, when you open a Protected Goals Account, balances over $10,000 earn 2.15% APY; balances under $10,000 still earn a competitive 2.02% APY.

 

Other pros: Withdrawals within the massive Allpoint ATM network are fee-free.

 

What you should know: There isn’t a way to deposit cash directly into your Simple account. Also, it passes on Visa’s foreign transaction fee to customers and won’t reimburse out-of-network ATM fees charged by other banks.

Read full review
Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.01%

With $25 minimum balance

USAA is a mostly online bank, and its membership is available to active and former military personnel as well as their eligible relatives. It has no monthly fees or balance requirements and offers tools that help customers track spending.

 

Monthly fee: None

 

Special features: USAA Bank does not charge a fee for the first 10 ATM withdrawals; subsequent withdrawals will be charged $2 each except when made at any USAA Bank-owned ATM. USAA also refunds up to $15 in other banks’ ATM usage fees for transactions at ATMs in the U.S.

 

Other pros: Military payday is a day early with direct deposit, subject to when USAA receives pay information.

 

What you should know: It has only a few branches, so you’d probably wind up doing the majority of your banking on your phone.

Read full review
Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.45%

With $0 minimum balance

Unlike most other credit unions, Alliant makes it easy to apply for membership. If you don’t meet its other eligibility requirements, you can qualify by supporting an Alliant-affiliated nonprofit.

 

Monthly fee: None

 

Special features: With this checking option, you can earn a 0.45% APY. To be eligible for interest, you have to opt out of paper statements and have at least one electronic deposit made to your account each month.

 

Other pros: You’ll have access to over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs.

 

What you should know: Alliant doesn’t participate in shared branching and doesn’t have many physical locations, so you’ll probably have to take care of most tasks online. That may not be an issue, though, because Alliant’s digital tools are better than those offered by most other credit unions. (Alliant also has a great high-yield savings account.)

Read full review
Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.10%

With $0 minimum balance

Ally is an online-only bank. Its checking account has no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balances, and it has a good rate.

 

Monthly fee: None

 

Special features: Although there is only one Ally checking account to choose from, its interest rates are competitive.

 

Other pros: Ally has more than 43,000 surcharge-free Allpoint ATMs and exceptional customer service. You can contact Ally via:

  • A call center staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Real-time chat.
  • Secure messaging in online banking.
  • Twitter.

 

Ally also offers a great digital experience that includes all the online banking essentials in an easy-to-use package. You can pair your Ally checking with its savings account, which is among accounts with the highest yields.

 

What you should know: There isn’t a way to deposit cash into an Ally account. Customers either have to do a direct deposit, an online transfer, a wire transfer or buy a money order and do a mobile check deposit.

Read full review

Other top accounts

These accounts didn't make our top 10, but could still be a great fit for you. Check them out if you want more options.

  • Capital One 360 Checking: Superior overdraft policy (read full Capital One 360 review).
  • Charles Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking: Earns interest, plus unlimited ATM fee reimbursements worldwide (read full Charles Schwab Bank review).
  • Fidelity Cash Management Account: Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements with some branch access (read full Fidelity review).
  • Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking: Solid APY in a low-fee account (read full Bank5 Connect review).

Last updated on December 20, 2018

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

Online-only checking accounts offer the deposit and withdrawal features of traditional checking accounts but with primarily online customer service options.

With online banking, you can access your account securely day or night. Such accounts tend to charge fewer fees than traditional banks. Online banks typically have user-friendly websites and mobile apps for doing your banking, including tasks such as depositing checks and paying bills.

Online banks don’t have branches, which may be a deal-breaker for customers who prefer in-person assistance. Not having branches can also make it difficult to deposit cash.

Even with strong security measures, financial institutions can still be susceptible to bad actors and data breaches. Online banks have secure technology in place to protect their customers’ assets, but you should safeguard your funds and reduce the risk of having your account hacked by following some simple safety guidelines.

Options for depositing cash at an online bank usually include using a deposit-accepting ATM or putting cash into a traditional bank account and transferring that money to your online account. You could also convert the cash into a money order, which you might be able to deposit electronically using your online bank's mobile app.