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.
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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.
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 0.25% 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.
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.
Aspiration Summit Account
The Aspiration Summit Account is a great option for those who are eco-conscious and are looking for a bank that is divesting from the fossil fuel industry. However, Aspiration is still a full-service bank, and the Summit account is just as functional as most other simple checking accounts out there.
All you'll need is $10 to get started. From then on, the account is mostly fee-free, so you won't need to meet any monthly minimums or pay any monthly fees. The account also has features like the ability to get your paycheck early or to fund the planting of a tree with every roundup purchase made with your debit card.
With the Aspiration Summit Account, users will have access to a great 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. Plus, account holders will earn a 1.00% APY on balances greater than $2,500.
CIBC US iCan Checking Account
The CIBC US iCan Checking Account is another checking option that earns account holders cash back instead of normal interest from an APY. When you use your debit card associated with this account, you can earn 1% cash back, for a total of up to $20 per month. This cash back then becomes available on the last day of your statement cycle each month.
CIBC US requires you to have at least $50 to deposit when opening your account. There are no monthly maintenance fees, and online and mobile banking comes free of charge. In addition, your first set of checks is free, and you can receive up to $50 in monthly ATM fee refunds.
The biggest catch of the iCan Checking account is by far the fact that it’s only available to online applicants from certain counties in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin. If you live in an eligible area, this account could be a solid option for you.
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.
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.
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 $100 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.
One American Bank Kasasa Cash Checking
The One American Bank Kasasa Cash Checking Account is a great option for anyone looking to earn interest on their checking balance, as many banks don’t offer any returns on similar accounts. With a Kasasa Cash Checking account, you’ll earn a 0.01% APY on all balances. But if you complete at least 12 debit card purchases of $5 or more in a month, enroll in online banking and agree to receive electronic statements and notices, your APY will receive a bump-up to 1.00% on balances up to $10,000. Anything above that $10,000 mark will earn interest based on an APY of 0.25%.
Although you’ll need no less than $50 to open a Kasasa Cash Checking account, you won’t be on the hook for any monthly maintenance fees. There is no minimum balance to earn rewards and you’ll even get a free Visa debit card.
One American Bank also offers refunds for up to $25 worth of nationwide ATM fees every month, giving you even more access to a fee-free ATM network. While the bank’s Apple and Android mobile apps have limited ratings, One American Bank has both an online and physical presence.
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 2.00% 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 $1 million in coverage. You can also sign up for 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.