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10 Best Online Checking Accounts

Chanelle BessetteJune 30, 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.

The best online banks offer checking accounts with fewer fees and higher interest rates than traditional banks do, in part because of the money they save by not operating branches. And they're secure, backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. or the National Credit Union Administration.

» Looking for savings accounts with excellent interest rates? Check out NerdWallet's list of best savings rates

Here are our favorite online checking accounts.

Summary of Best Online Checking Accounts

Chime Chime Spending Account

at Chime,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Chime Spending Account

Chime 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-only banking service that has no overdraft fees, plus a feature that lets certain customers overdraw as much as negative $100 without a fee.

Monthly fee: None.

Special features: In addition to its consumer-friendly overdraft program, Chime has two automatic savings programs. One lets you round up every debit card transaction to the nearest dollar and automatically transfer the difference to your Chime Savings account. The other allows you to choose a percentage of your paycheck that automatically gets transferred into savings.

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

What you should know: Chime charges $2.50 for ATMs outside its partner network. And for cash deposits, you’ll need to use a third-party service, such as Green Dot, to fund your account and typically pay a fee.

Read Full Review
Radius Bank Radius Bank Rewards Checking

at Radius Bank,

Member FDIC

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Radius Bank Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.10%

With $2,500 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Radius Bank,

Member FDIC


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Radius Bank is an online bank with a Rewards Checking account that combines a competitive interest rate and cash-back rewards. It also offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, a rare perk, and up to two-day early direct deposit.

Monthly fee: None.

Special features: You can earn 1% cash back on Radius debit card transactions that are either online or require a signature. Through December 31, 2020, Radius Rewards Checking customers can earn an additional 0.5% cash back on special bonus categories. And the interest rate has two tiers, 0.10% and 0.15% annual percentage yield, depending on your account balance.

Other pros: Radius belongs to the surcharge-free NYCE and MoneyPass ATM networks, and it doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees.

What you should know: You need at least $2,500 in your account to take advantage of earning interest or cash back. The cash-back perk also requires at least $2,500 in direct deposits. The interest rate of 0.10% APY applies to balances from $2,500 to $99,999; 0.15% APY applies to balances above that, but if you have that much cash on hand, consider investing it instead.

Read Full Review
Axos Bank® Axos Bank® Rewards Checking

at Axos Bank®,

Member FDIC

Axos Bank® Rewards Checking

Axos Bank® 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

Like some other Axos Bank checking accounts, the Rewards Checking has great perks: no overdraft fees and no monthly fees, 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 maximum 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. If you partially fulfill these requirements, you receive a lower rate.

Read Full Review

Varo Bank Account

Varo Varo Bank Account

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

N/A

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Varo is a mobile banking app with an online checking account that doesn’t charge monthly fees and a savings account with a competitive rate. It has no fees for eligible customers who overdraft by up to $50.

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.

What you should know: Like other mobile banking services, Varo doesn’t have branches, so adding cash takes some extra steps. You need to visit a retailer that is part of the Green Dot network, such as CVS and 7-Eleven, and pay a fee of up to $4.95 to deposit cash at the register.

Read Full Review
Simple Simple Checking & Budgeting

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Simple Checking & Budgeting

Simple Simple Checking & Budgeting

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.60%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

at Simple,

Deposits are FDIC Insured


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Simple is a digital banking account that specializes in budgeting tools, and it does away with many fees. There are no charges for monthly maintenance, overdrafts, inactivity or card replacements. There’s also a competitive interest rate for certain subaccounts.

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 within your overall Simple account, you earn 0.60% APY.

Other pros: Withdrawals within the 40,000-strong Allpoint ATM network are fee-free.

What you should know: The main Simple account doesn't earn interest. There isn’t a way to deposit cash directly into your account, but you can either put funds into an external bank account and transfer it, or buy a money order and use the mobile check deposit feature.

Read Full Review

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank 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 is an online-only bank with a no-fee checking account with a notable rate and a high-yield savings account. And Ally reimburses up to $10 in out-of-network ATM fees monthly.

Monthly fee: None.

Special features: Ally’s Interest Checking has a rate of 0.10% APY for balances below $15,000; 0.50% APY for balances of $15,000 and above.

Other pros: Ally has more than 43,000 surcharge-free Allpoint ATMs, highly rated mobile apps and exceptional customer service. You can contact Ally via phone, real-time chat, messaging and Twitter. You can pair your Ally checking with its savings account, which is among the accounts with the highest yields.

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

Read Full Review

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

Bank5 Connect Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.20%

With $100 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

The checking account at Bank5 Connect, online branch of Massachusetts-based Bank Five, has a high rate and ATM fee reimbursements of up to $15 per month.

Monthly fee: None.

Special features: The rate for High-Interest Checking is 0.20% APY and the minimum to earn interest is $100.

Other pros: Account perks include free checks and no ATM fees by the bank. Bank5 Connect also has a highly rated savings account.

What you should know: Online bank statements are free, but there’s a $1 monthly fee for paper statements.

Read Full Review

Capital One 360 Checking®

Capital One Capital One 360 Checking®

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

0.10%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Capital One’s checking account earns interest and has some of the most consumer-friendly overdraft programs.

Monthly fee: None.

Special features: The checking rate is 0.10% APY for any balance. There are four overdraft options, including free transfers from a savings account and a one-day grace period for overdrafts. The most noteworthy is a no-fee overdraft line of credit with a low APR, in which paying interest on an overdrawn amount tends to be cheaper than average bank overdraft fees.

Other pros: 360 Checking account holders have free access to over 39,000 ATMs nationwide, either branded as Allpoint or Capital One, and a handful of Capital One locations. The bank’s mobile app is highly rated as well.

What you should know: Three overdraft programs are opt-in; the default is for overdrafts to be declined for no fee.

Read Full Review

Discover Bank Cashback Debit

Discover Bank Discover Bank Cashback Debit

Monthly Fee

$0

APY

N/A

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

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

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Alliant Credit Union 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

Unlike most credit unions, Alliant makes it easy to apply for membership and take advantage of its interest checking and high-quality digital tools. If you don’t meet its other eligibility requirements, you can qualify by supporting an Alliant-affiliated nonprofit at no cost to you.

Monthly fee: None.

Special features: 0.25% APY. To be eligible for this rate, you must opt out of paper statements and make at least one electronic deposit to your account each month.

Other pros: You’ll have access to over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs and up to $20 monthly in out-of-network ATM fee refunds.

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

The pros of online checking accounts

  • 24/7 access. With online banking, you can access your account securely day or night.

  • Fewer fees. Online checking accounts tend to charge fewer fees than traditional banks since online banks have lower overhead.

  • User-friendly technology. Online banks typically have well-designed websites and mobile apps for doing your banking, including tasks such as depositing checks and paying bills.

The cons of online checking accounts

  • No in-person customer service. Online banks don’t have branches, which may be a deal-breaker for customers who prefer face-to-face assistance.

  • Cash deposits sometimes can be difficult. Some online banks work with ATM networks to allow cash deposits, but others allow only mobile check deposits, direct deposit or electronic transfer from other bank accounts.

How do I withdraw and deposit cash with an online checking account?

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.

Other top accounts

These accounts didn't make our top 10, but could still be a great fit for you.

  • FNBO Direct Online Checking: Earns interest with an APY of 0.65%, plus free access to 55,000 Allpoint ATMs worldwide (read full FNBO Direct review).

  • Charles Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking: Earns interest with an APY of 0.03%, plus unlimited ATM fee reimbursements worldwide (read full Charles Schwab Bank review).

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Last updated on June 30, 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, Moven, 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