Advertiser Disclosure

Best Online Checking Accounts of 2017

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here's how we make money.
NerdWallet’s-Top-Online-Checking-Accounts-story

Aspiration Summit Account
Aspiration
Learn more
at Aspiration
Overall bank rating:

4.0 stars out of 5

BANK OF INTERNET USA Rewards CHECKING
Bank+of+Internet
Learn more
at Bank of Internet
Overall bank rating:

4.0 stars out of 5

SIMPLE
Simple
Learn more
at Simple
Overall bank rating:

4.5 stars out of 5

DISCOVER CASHBACK CHECKING
Discover
Learn more
at Discover
Overall bank rating:

4.5 stars out of 5

RADIUS HYBRID
Radius+Bank
Learn more
at Radius Bank
Overall bank rating:

4.0 stars out of 5

FREE USAA CLASSIC CHECKING
USAA
Learn more
at USAA
Overall bank rating:

3.5 stars out of 5

Alliant Credit Union Free High-Rate Checking
Alliant+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Overall bank rating:

4.0 stars out of 5

ALLY INTEREST CHECKING Account
Ally+Bank
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Overall bank rating:

4.5 stars out of 5

FIDELITY CASH MANAGEMENT ACCOUNT
Fidelity
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Overall bank rating:

4.0 stars out of 5

360 CHECKING BY CAPITAL ONE
Capital+One
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Overall bank rating:

4.5 stars out of 5

CHARLES SCHWAB BANK HIGH-YIELD INVESTOR CHECKING
Schwab+Bank
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Overall bank rating:

4.0 stars out of 5

BANK5 CONNECT HIGH-INTEREST CHECKING
Bank5+Connect
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Overall bank rating:

4.0 stars out of 5


The best online banks usually offer higher interest rates and friendlier fee structures than brick-and-mortar banks, in part because of the money they save by not operating branches — or, in the case of certain financial institutions on this list, by operating only a few branches. And they’re just as secure, backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. or the National Credit Union Administration.

» MORE: Switch banks in four steps


Here are our favorite online checking accounts. Take a look at our checking account tool for more options near you.

Aspiration Summit Account

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Aspiration
Learn more
at Aspiration
Although Aspiration is an investment firm, not a bank, its Summit Account functions much like a standard online checking account. Deposits are FDIC-insured, and there’s no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement.
But Aspiration’s interest rates separate it from the pack: Balances of at least $2,500 earn an annual percentage yield, or APY, of 1%, while smaller balances earn 0.25%. You’ll also get unlimited ATM fee reimbursements worldwide.

[Back to top]

Bank of Internet USA Rewards Checking

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Bank+of+Internet
Learn more
at Bank of Internet
Bank of Internet offers several checking options with great perks: no overdraft fees, no monthly fees or minimum balance, plus domestic ATM fee reimbursements. With Rewards Checking, you also can earn up to 1.25% APY, but you’ll have to jump through a couple of hoops: 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 to earn the maximum APY. If you use it 10 times, you’ll still get a rate just above 0.80%.

[Back to top]

Simple

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Simple
Learn more
at Simple
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.

Withdrawals within the massive Allpoint ATM network are fee-free, and there’s no overdraft fee.

[Back to top]

Discover Cashback Checking

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Discover
Learn more
at Discover
You’ll need to have a Discover product, like a credit card or savings account, to qualify for the Cashback Checking account, but it will probably be worth it. Discover Bank’s checking account lets you earn up to $120 per year in cash back on debit card purchases, online bill payments and cleared checks. You’ll also have access to 60,000 free ATMs.

One caveat: You won’t be able to deposit cash, except at Discover’s one branch location in Delaware.

[Back to top]

Radius Hybrid

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Radius+Bank
Learn more
at Radius Bank
Radius belongs to a network of more than 7,000 cash machines, and it doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees. You’ll also get unlimited refunds for fees charged by other ATM owners. Because Radius has only one full-service branch, you’ll have to be comfortable banking online.

[Back to top]

Free USAA Classic Checking

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
USAA
Learn more
at USAA
This account comes with 10 free withdrawals monthly from 60,000 “USAA-preferred” ATMs. USAA, which is available to active and former military personnel as well as their eligible family members, also reimburses up to $15 in other banks’ domestic ATM fees per month. It has only a few branches, so you’d probably wind up doing the majority of your banking on your phone or computer.

[Back to top]

Alliant Credit Union Free High-Rate Checking

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Alliant+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Unlike most other credit unions, Alliant makes it easy to become a member. If you don’t meet its other eligibility requirements, you just have to make a one-time donation of $10 to an Alliant-affiliated nonprofit. And with this checking option, you’ll have access to over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs and can qualify for a 0.65% APY if you opt out of paper statements and have at least one electronic deposit made to your account each month.

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.

[Back to top]

Ally Interest Checking Account

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Ally+Bank
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Checking at Ally comes with decent rates, more than 43,000 surcharge-free 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.

[Back to top]

Fidelity Cash Management Account

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Fidelity
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Strictly speaking, Fidelity’s Cash Management option is a full-service brokerage account. That said, it looks a lot like many online checking options. It has no monthly fee and comes with unlimited refunds for every ATM in the country, along with online bill pay and a mobile check-deposit service. Customers’ accounts are insured up to $1.25 million by the FDIC. Fidelity has more than 180 branches, so this isn’t technically an online-only option.

[Back to top]

360 Checking by Capital One

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Capital+One
Read full review
on NerdWallet
This Capital One checking account has a better overdraft policy than those at most banks and credit unions. It gives you several ways to handle overdrafts. The best options include:

  • Applying for an overdraft line of credit, a short-term borrowing option with a reasonable 12% interest rate and no transfer fees
  • Using a 360 Savings account to cover overdrafts for free
  • Having the bank decline charges that you don’t have enough cash to cover

Bouncing a check, however, will cost you $9, no matter which overdraft option you choose.

The 360 Checking account also offers excellent online and mobile tools and fee-free access to almost 40,000 ATMs.

[Back to top]

Charles Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Schwab+Bank
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking provides unlimited fee rebates on ATM withdrawals worldwide. The account is free, and there’s no minimum deposit requirement. It also offers online bill pay and a mobile check deposit service, and it comes with a brokerage account.

[Back to top]

Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking

NerdWallet has rated this bank:
Bank5+Connect
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Along with its outstanding APY of 0.76%, Bank5 Connect gives members access to thousands of free ATMs and reimburses up to $15 per month in fees racked up at other banks’ ATMs. It has strong mobile banking apps and low fees: There’s no monthly service fee, and the $15 overdraft penalty is well below big banks’ national median of $34.

You’ll have to put down $10 to open an account and maintain a balance of at least $100 to earn interest.

[Back to top]

» MORE: How to deposit cash at an online-only bank

» MORE: See more options with NerdWallet’s best checking accounts

Updated October 9, 2017.

Tony Armstrong is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: tony@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @tonystrongarm. Devan Goldstein of NerdWallet contributed to this report.


METHODOLOGY

To determine the best accounts, we took a close look at over 60 financial institutions: 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. For this article, we considered institutions that are primarily online.

Financial institutions surveyed include: Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, Andrews Federal Credit Union, Aspiration, Associated Bank, Bank5 Connect, BankDirect, Bank of America, Bank of Internet, Bank of the West, Barclays, BB&T, BBVA Compass, Boeing Employees Credit Union, BMO Harris, Capital One 360, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Commerce Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Discover Bank, EverBank, Fidelity, Fifth Third Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, Golden 1 Credit Union, GS Bank, HSBC Bank USA, Huntington Bank, KeyBank, MemoryBank, MetaBank, M&T Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, People’s United Bank, PNC, Radius Bank, Regions Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Simple, Star One Credit Union, State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina, State Farm Bank, Suncoast Credit Union, SunTrust Bank, Synchrony Bank, TCF Bank, TD Bank, Union Bank, UFB Direct, USAA, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Woodforest National Bank, Zero Financial and Zions Bank.

How we rate banks and credit unions