Best Checking Account for Overdraft Fee Avoidance

How we picked the companies to evaluate:

We took a close look at over 90 financial institutions, including the largest U.S. retail banks based on assets and internet search traffic; 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. Some of the providers are NerdWallet partners, but this did not influence our selection of the winner.

How we chose the winner:

Financial institutions were rated on the following factors: Overdraft coverage/nonsufficient funds fees plus availability of options that prevent overdrafts (contributed to 30% of the rating), daily limit on overdraft coverage/nonsufficient funds fees (20%), overdraft line of credit (20%), continuous negative balance fee (10%), overdraft protection transfer (20%). Also, up to 20% extra credit was given for an overdraft “spot me” program that allows customers to borrow funds to cover an overdraft with no fee or interest charges. In case of a tie, banks and credit unions were compared by category in the following order until one institution remained:
  • Checking (contributed to 45% of the rating), domestic ATMs (28.2%), interest rate (13.2%), required minimum opening deposit (3.6%) and the Overdraft category’s star rating (10%). Also, up to 15% extra credit was given for a sign-up bonus.
  • Banking experience.

How we verified our data:

NerdWallet writers and editors confirmed fees, rates, policies and other key features on each financial institution’s website. If an institution’s website was missing information, we contacted a representative directly for confirmation.