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Charles Schwab Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions
Charles Schwab Banking Review

Charles Schwab Bank
NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5.0

Sure, it’s known primarily as an investing platform, but Charles Schwab also offers banking products, such as checking accounts, savings accounts and certificates of deposit. And here’s the thing — they’re each pretty darn good. Take a look at our Charles Schwab investing review, too.

The bottom line

  • With no fees or minimum balances, High Yield Investor checking and savings accounts offer stress-free banking.
  • Its ATM coverage is superior to most competitors, and it offers unlimited fee rebates at any ATM worldwide.
  • Interest rates on High Yield Investor checking and savings accounts are low, but they’re stellar on certificates of deposit.
  • The difficulty of depositing cash — you’ll need to convert it into a check or money order first — and lack of branch access mean Charles Schwab isn’t for everyone.
  • Be aware the bank will do a hard inquiry on your credit when you apply for an account. (Not sure what a hard inquiry is and why it matters? Find out here.)

» Traveling soon? Check out our best banks for international travel

Our Ratings
Checking account
Savings account
Certificates of deposit (CDs)
Bank experience
Overdraft fees
Overall

Read on for more information about Charles Schwab’s checking and savings products, CDs, customer experience and fees.

Checking


4.5 / 5.0

It’s not easy to deposit cash into a High Yield Investor checking account; you’ll have to convert it into a check or money order and deposit it via mobile deposit or snail mail. You’ll also find better interest rates at other institutions. But this account makes up for its blemishes with no monthly fees, no minimum opening deposits and one of the best ATM reimbursement policies in the game.

You’ll have to open a Schwab One brokerage account at the same time that you open the checking account, but you’re not under any obligation to use the brokerage account.

Transfers between any of your Schwab accounts happen in real time, but moving money to or from an outside account can take up to five business days the first time, and roughly one or two business days after that. Schwab will conduct a hard inquiry on your credit if you choose to apply for an account.

ProsCons
  • No monthly fee or minimum opening deposit.
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, domestically and abroad.
  • Free checks
  • Difficult to deposit cash: You’ll have to convert your cash into a money order or check and send it in via mail or mobile check deposit. You’ll only be able to deposit checks and money orders at Schwab bank branches.Cash deposits are only accepted at Schwab’s location in Reno, Nevada.
  • Other banks offer higher interest rates than Schwab’s 0.15%.

» Looking for other good checking accounts? Browse NerdWallet’s best checking accounts

Savings


3.5 / 5.0

The High Yield Investor savings account isn’t flashy, and low rates mean you’ll see your money grow more quickly elsewhere. But because it doesn’t charge monthly fees or require a minimum balance, it’s simple and stress-free to use.

ProsCons
  • No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Relatively low APY of 0.35%

» Looking for higher savings rates? Explore NerdWallet’s best savings accounts

Certificates of deposit


5.0 / 5.0

Charles Schwab’s certificates of deposit, whose terms range from one month to 10 years, come with top-notch interest rates. They often fluctuate, though, so call the bank to confirm them before you open a CD.

ProsCons
  • APYs range from 1.25% - 2.60% (as of September 19, 2017), outshining many competitors
  • Large range of term lengths, from one month to 10 years
  • Require minimum balance of $1,000

» Want to see the best rates in the land? Check our best CD rates tool

Bank experience


4.0 / 5.0

Charles Schwab provides customer service through multiple avenues, including Twitter and 24/7 chat support. Schwab Bank’s phone support is available between 4 a.m. and 8 p.m. PT on weekdays and between 6 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. PT on weekends — reach them at 888-403-9000. Its mobile-friendly website clearly lists fees and interest rates, and Schwab’s apps for both Android and iOS are favorably rated by customers.

If you prefer to do your banking in person though, Schwab is hard to access. It has roughly 340 brokerage branches across the country, and the banking services you can access at them are limited to basics like depositing checks and opening accounts. In-person cash deposits are only accepted at Schwab’s location in Reno, Nevada.

Overdraft fees


3.0 / 5.0

Charles Schwab’s overdraft policy is generous for card transactions but tough on non-card transactions. When you overdraft with your debit card, Schwab may pull money from funds in your linked Schwab One brokerage account or your Schwab savings account, free of charge, if you set them up as sources for funds. If you don’t have enough money in either, Schwab will generally deny your debit card transaction and won’t charge an overdraft fee. You might also qualify for an overdraft line of credit at a rate of 14.24% (as of June 30, 2017).

Beware though: If you don’t have enough money in your accounts to cover checks, ATM withdrawals or electronic transactions, you’ll be hit with a $25 nonsufficient funds fee, up to $100 a day.

» Know how much your bank charges for overdrafts? Find your bank and others 

Quality, stress-free banking

Banking with Charles Schwab is a no-brainer if you don’t pay much attention to checking and savings interest rates and don’t deposit cash too often. The lack of fees or minimum balances and the perk of unlimited ATM reimbursements mean you’ll be able to bank without constantly worrying about racking up avoidable charges. High CD rates and having multiple customer service channels also give Schwab a boost in our ratings. Be careful of nonsufficient funds fees, and Charles Schwab bank should provide a smooth banking experience.

» Want to dip your toes in investing? Learn how to invest your money

Amber Murakami-Fester is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: amufe@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @iamyams.

Updated September 20, 2017


Ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, customer experience and overdraft fees.

Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.