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December 2022's Best Checking Accounts

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We maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments. This post contains links from our advertisers, and we may receive compensation when you click these links. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone. | Advertiser Disclosure
We maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments. This post contains links from our advertisers, and we may receive compensation when you click these links. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone. | Advertiser Disclosure

Finding the Best Checking Account

For most Americans, their checking account is at the core of how they manage their money on a daily basis. As a result, having a low-fee and easy-to-use checking account can come in handy. SmartAsset set out to find the top checking accounts on the market, taking into account their fee schedules, online and mobile features, minimums, interest rates and more. Choose the account that's best suited to your needs.

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Discover Bank Discover Bank logo Read More 0% $0
  • Very low fees
  • Earn 1% cash back
Wealthfront Wealthfront logo Read More 3.30% $1
  • Easy-to-use checking account
  • Low minimum
Charles Schwab Bank Charles Schwab Bank logo Read More 0.40% $0
  • Interest-bearing
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements
Capital One Capital One logo Read More 0.10% $0
  • Wide access to free ATMs
  • No minimum deposit
LendingClub Banking LendingClub Banking logo Read More 0.10% $25
  • Receive both interest and cash back
  • No cap on ATM fee reimbursements
Axos Bank Axos Bank logo Read More 1.25% $50
  • Fantastic APY
  • Good online/mobile experience
Ally Bank Ally Bank logo Read More 0.25% $0
  • Upgradeable APY
  • No monthly fees
Chime Chime logo Read More 0% $0
  • No monthly maintenance charges or minimums
  • Large free ATM network
Varo Bank Varo Bank logo Read More 0% $0
  • No monthly fees
  • Robust overdraft protection
Aspiration Aspiration logo Read More 0.00% $10
  • Eco-conscious bank
  • Straightforward interface with multiple account options

How We Determine the Best Checking Accounts

SmartAsset analyzed around 30 checking accounts to determine which ones are the best. We considered each account's fees, deposit minimums, APY, overall customer service and more. In turn, the best accounts come from banks that score well on all those measures.

Discover Cashback Checking

The Discover Cashback checking account is one of only a few checking accounts on the market that allow you to earn cashback when using your debit card. With this account, you’ll receive 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in eligible debit card purchases every month. Note that this offer doesn’t include ATM withdrawals. This account also boasts access to over 60,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide through Discover.

This account, which is Discover’s only checking option, is known for being a largely fee-free account. There is no minimum deposit requirement, no monthly maintenance fees, no fees for insufficient funds and no fees for a handful of other things, like expedited debit card delivery and standard checks. However, you may be charged a fee for using an out-of-network ATM.

This account has no APY, as its cash back feature is the sole place where you’ll get a return. Discover also scored high for customer service, and you can contact bank representatives online or over the phone 24/7.

Wealthfront Cash Account

While you may recognize Wealthfront as a robo-advisor, the company also offers a checking account called the Wealthfront Cash Acccount. This account offers a decent interest rate, as account holders will have access to a restriction-less 3.30% APY right off the bat. There is just a $1 minimum to open an account, and you’ll encounter very few fees. More specifically, you don’t have to worry about monthly minimums, and transfers are unlimited and free. You’ll also have access to a network of over 19,000 fee-free ATMs through Wealthfront's banking partner, Green Dot Bank.

Whereas most bank accounts feature $250,000 of FDIC insurance, the Wealthfront Cash Account provides a whopping $2 million in coverage. And if you have a joint account, Cash Account deposits are now insured up to $4 million.

You may be asking if traditional banks offer $250,000 of FDIC insurance per depositor, how is Wealthfront able to offer a lot more? That's because Wealthfront isn't a bank. Wealthfront works with partner banks to broker your deposits, and every single Wealthfront partner bank is FDIC-insured. And these partnerships allow Wealthfront to offer more FDIC insurance in your Cash Account deposits. 

You can also sign up for a direct deposit and get your paycheck up to two days early, which is an added benefit only a handful of banks offer. Wealthfront is an online bank, so be sure to take advantage of its online and mobile apps.

Outside of its banking business, Wealthfront specializes in robo-advisor investment services and financial planning. So if you plan to get involved with investing or saving for retirement, Wealthfront may align with your needs more than some of the other banks on this list.

Schwab High Yield Investor Checking®

The Schwab High Yield Investor Checking® account makes hitting investment goals easier for Schwab brokerage clients. However, despite its investing-centric benefits, it’s also an objectively great checking account for those interested in a solid APY and low fees.

Schwab allows account holders to merge their new checking account with their Schwab One brokerage account. By taking advantage of this perk, you’ll be able to transfer funds quickly and easily between the two accounts, helping you avoid the processing time and potential fees that can typically come along with these types of transfers.

This account also comes with a decent 0.40% APY and a nearly nonexistent fee schedule. This fee arrangement is headlined by an unlimited out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement program, which basically grants you access to use any ATM wherever and whenever you want. There are also no monthly service fees or opening minimums with this account, making it a viable option for just about anyone.

All account holders receive a Schwab Bank Visa Platinum Debit Card and free checks. If you want to speed up your payments, you can also incorporate your Schwab debit card into the virtual wallets of your Apple and Android mobile devices.

Capital One 360 Checking

The Capital One 360 Checking Account is one of several accounts in Capital One’s suite of online banking options. For starters, you’ll earn an APY of 0.10% on all balances. While this APY is far from the best available, it’s still higher than the average rate for a savings account. This account incurs no monthly fees and your first checkbook is free as well. There is no minimum required to open a 360 Checking account either.

Capital One has physical bank locations in eight states around the country, but it also has a full suite of online and mobile banking platforms. This account grants you access to a large network of more than 70,000 fee-free ATMs. With limited fees, solid overdraft options, easy money transfers and secure banking, the Capital One 360 Checking account is a great overall choice.

LendingClub Bank Rewards Checking

LendingClub Bank Rewards Checking is a free checking account with decent APYs, especially if you have a high account balance. Although accounts with less than $2,500 won’t earn any interest, balances of $2,500 to $100,000 will earn a 0.10% APY, and accounts with more than $100,000 will earn a 0.15% APY. However, keeping that much money in a checking account typically isn’t recommended, as savings accounts usually offer better rates. You’ll need $25 to open an account.

Unlike most other checking accounts that earn either interest or cash back, this one allows you to double dip. In fact, LendingClub Bank gives its Rewards Checking account holders the ability to earn up to 1% unlimited cash back on qualifying purchases made with their LendingClub Bank debit card. 

With this account, you’ll also have access to unlimited ATM fee reimbursements. In other words, you can use any ATM around the world, and any fees you come across will be paid back to you. Online money transfers are free, and there are no monthly maintenance fees. Account holders also have the option to receive their paychecks up to two days early when they set up direct deposit.

Axos Rewards Checking Account

The Axos Bank Rewards Checking Account is one of the top-rated checking options based on our research. Not only does it offer substantially great customer service, it also features one of the highest-earning APYs on this list with up to 1.25%.

However, Axos has stipulations that you need to meet in order to receive this rate. They go as follows:

  • First, you'll need to receive at least $1,500 in direct deposits monthly to unlock a 0.40% APY and to unlock the other tiers.

Then, you can add the following tiers.

  • 0.30% - Use your Debit Card for a total of 10 transactions per month (minimum of $3 per transaction) or sign up for Personal Finance Manager “Account Aggregation”
  • 0.20% - Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in an Axos Invest Managed Portfolios Account
  • 0.20% - Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in an Axos Invest Self Directed Trading Account
  • 0.15% - Use your account to make a full monthly Axos Bank consumer loan payment

The account has no minimum balance requirement, nor are there any insufficient funds fees. When it comes to ATM withdrawals and deposits, Axos Bank affords all account holders unlimited reimbursements for all domestic ATM operator fees.

If you’re new to banking with an online-only institution, Axos Bank has a 24/7 personal banking hotline ready to answer any questions you might have about your account, ATM charges or anything else. If you’re unable to call, the bank also provides an online chat service and a robust mobile app for Apple and Android devices.

Ally Bank Interest Checking

Ally Bank’s Interest Checking Account features solid APYs, especially for a checking account. If your daily balance is less than $15,000, you’ll receive a 0.10% APY. For daily balances of $15,000 and up, that rate will jump to 0.25%. There are no monthly maintenance fees or minimums needed to hold this account.

Account holders also have access to over 43,000 Allpoint® ATMs across the U.S. In addition to this, Ally’s mobile app allows you to deposit checks remotely and transfer money in a variety of free and convenient ways. You’ll only pay certain fees with this account, such as overdraft fees and outgoing wire transfer fees. Most other things, like incoming wires, checks and ACH transfers, are all free, though.

Ally Bank is an online bank that you can access through its mobile app or on your desktop browser. You can also contact the bank online or over the phone, where it has representatives available at all times.

Chime Checking Account

The Chime Checking Account is a really good option for those who prefer online banking. Account holders get a free debit card to help you get going right away at over 60,000 fee-free ATM locations. Be aware that there are no branch locations with Chime, though the bank is able to offer customer service support during business hours.

You don’t have to worry about a required minimum deposit with Chime. When it comes to monthly account charges, you are also in the clear with the Chime Checking Account. In fact, there are no monthly maintenance fees, which allows you to save additional cash in your pocket. And if you are interested in overdraft protection with your Chime Checking Account, the bank offers a service with SpotMe. However, eligibility requirements do apply, and you may incur some fees.

Varo Bank Account

The Varo Bank Account is a great checking option for those who are looking to avoid excessive fees and minimums. For example, the Varo Bank Account doesn’t require a minimum opening deposit to get started. You also don’t have to worry about monthly maintenance fees or foreign transaction fees. The bank also provides no ATM fees at over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs associated with Varo. However, be aware that Varo has no branch locations, as it’s an entirely online financial institution.

Other features associated with the Varo Bank Account include a robust overdraft protection service called Varo Advance, as well as free customer service assistance with mobile banking and online banking. And when you sign up for the Varo account, you get a chance to use a free debit card that can even earn cash back at select retailers. A lot of these key features help give you a boost, despite the fact that the Varo Bank Account doesn’t earn interest itself. However, Varo does have an associated no-minimum savings account that customers can also take advantage of.

Aspiration Spend & Save Account

The Aspiration Spend & Save Account is a great option for those who are eco-conscious and are looking for a bank that is helping to divest from the fossil fuel industry. However, Aspiration is still a normal bank, and the Spend & Save Account is just as functional as most other simple checking accounts out there. All you'll need is $10 to get started with Aspiration. From then on, the account is mostly fee-free, so you won't need to meet any minimums or pay any monthly fees.

With the Aspiration Spend & Save Account, users will have access to a complete online and mobile banking platform. While you won't have the option to visit a branch in person, the bank has dedicated customer service available every day of the week. You'll have access to 55,000 fee-free ATMs and you can also get up to 3-5% cash back on certain socially and environmentally conscious purchases.

This Aspiration account comes in two variations, with the base version featuring a unique “choose what you pay” fee structure. These account holders will earn a 3.00% APY on balances up to $10,000 if they can manage to spend $1,000 or more with their debit card each month. If you don't spend that much, you won't earn any interest whatsoever. In addition, balances above $10,000 won't earn interest either.

If you so desire, customers can upgrade to Aspiration’s Plus plan, which will run you $7.99 a month. With this, you'll get an upgrade to a 5.00% APY on balances up to $10,000 if you spend at least $1,000 with your debit card monthly. Balances above $10,000 earn a 0.10% APY. If you fail to meet the spending requirement, your APYs would instead be 0.25% on balances up to $10,000 and a 0.10% APY thereafter. Plus members also receive a higher 10% cash back on purchases with certain companies, as well as one out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement per month.

Save more with these rates that beat the National Average
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