Checking account fees can be, well, sneaky. They may not seem large, but over time they can add up to staggering levels. Thankfully, with the right online checking account you can eliminate most fees – like monthly maintenance fees and some ATM fees – all while getting excellent customer service from an FDIC-insured bank. To help you find the right account for you, we’ve rounded up some of 2019’s standout online checking accounts.
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Why we like it
Chime is a mobile bank account that has no monthly fees, minimum balance requirements or overdraft fees, and you have access to more than 38,000 fee-free MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs. Through Chime’s early direct deposit service, customers can get their paychecks up to two days earlier than if they cashed their checks at a bank.
This account works best for people who don’t write many checks or make cash deposits. If you need to write a check, Chime has an online feature that creates and mails one on your behalf. For cash deposits, you’ll need to use a third-party service.
For more details on Chime, read our full review.
Waived with direct deposit or $1500 minimum balance
Why we like it
Chase offers new customers who set up direct deposit a welcome bonus of $200 (expires 10/14/19). You can avoid a $12 monthly maintenance fee by receiving at least $500 in direct deposits each month, keeping a minimum daily balance of $1,500 in your new checking account or maintaining an average daily balance of at least $5,000 across eligible Chase accounts and investments.
Bonus aside, this account is a winner if you prefer a big-bank experience — Chase has nearly 5,000 branches and more than 16,000 ATMs — and want to have multiple types of accounts at one place. We don’t recommend choosing your primary checking account based solely on a sign-up bonus. But if you like the account and its features anyway, you can get a little something extra.
For more details on Chase Bank, read our full review.
A checking account is a bank account that is typically used for everyday expenses. It tends to have a lower interest rate than a savings or money market account, but unlike those accounts, there's no limit to how often you can access your money.
Some important factors for virtually every bank-shopper are monthly fees, ATM access and interest rates (since they have the biggest impact on your bottom line). And, as it happens, online banks typically offer higher interest rates.
Bank account maintenance fees were determined by taking the median fees of the five largest commercial banks – Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi and US Bank. The median monthly checking account maintenance fee for these banks is $12 and the median savings account maintenance fee is $5.
To determine overdraft fees we took the average overdraft fee according to a 2014 report by the CFPB and multiplied it by 2.07, the number of overdrafts the average American incurs every year. In total, this represents about $34 per year.
For our lifetime calculations, we assumed a starting age for bank accounts of 18 and a starting age for investment accounts of 22. We used a life expectancy of 79 years, based on the CDC’s 2016 life expectancy of 78.6.