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September 2022's Best Free 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

Finding the Best Free Checking Accounts

Free checking accounts make it extremely easy to utilize your funds on a daily basis without paying a monthly fee. Though you typically sacrifice high annual percentage yield (APY) for this level of accessibility, some of the accounts on this list break that norm.

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Charles Schwab Bank Charles Schwab Bank logo Read More 0.25% $0
  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates
  • Connect with your Schwab brokerage account
Axos Bank Axos Bank logo Read More 1.25% $50
  • Great APY and no fees
  • Strong customer experience
First Internet Bank First Internet Bank logo Read More 0% $25
  • No minimum balances
  • Highly rated mobile experience
Wealthfront Wealthfront logo Read More 2.55% $1
  • Basic, no-frills checking account
  • Low minimum
CIT Bank CIT Bank logo Read More 0.10% $100
  • No monthly fees
  • No ATM or overdraft fees
nbkc Bank nbkc Bank logo Read More 0.50% $0
  • High APY at an online bank
  • Ample ATM access
Capital One Capital One logo Read More 0.10% $0
  • No minimum deposit
  • No overdraft fees on approved transactions
Chime Chime logo Read More 0% $0
  • Virtually fee-free
  • Great online experience
Varo Bank Varo Bank logo Read More 0% $0
  • Easy-to-manage account
  • No minimum deposit to open
Ally Bank Ally Bank logo Read More 0.25% $0
  • No minimum deposit
  • No monthly fees

How We Determine the Best Free Checking Accounts

By heavily focusing on the APY, ATM network size, overdraft fee and minimum opening deposit of each offer, SmartAsset narrowed down the free checking account options out there to around 25 options. We then determined which institutions have the strongest customer service. Combining these two steps led us to this list of the best free checking accounts on the market right now.

Schwab High Yield Investor Checking®

Making money is the ultimate prize for any investor. The Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking® account makes that goal just a bit easier for Schwab investment clients. Through this benefit, you’ll be able to merge your new checking account with your Schwab One® brokerage account. This allows you to transfer funds quickly and easily between the two accounts and helps you avoid the processing time of a wire transfer from another account.

Aside from these perks, your account will also have a 0.25% APY and low fee schedule. These nearly nonexistent fees are headlined by an unlimited out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement program, granting you access to use any ATM wherever you want. Feel free to open an account with whatever money you have available, as you incur no charge for having a low balance.

All accounts 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 your virtual wallet, either with Apple, Microsoft or Samsung.

Axos Rewards Checking Account

As the highest-rated account in our study, the Axos Bank Rewards Checking account offers you great customer service. The account also features one of the highest-earning APYs on this list up to 1.25%, though there are stipulations to receive this rate. If you meet all of the criteria, you’ll receive the full 1.25% APY. These requirements go as follows:

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

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 more conditions you meet, the more you earn. You won’t have to worry about a minimum balance if you’re looking to open an account, nor are there any insufficient funds fees if you overcharge your account. When it comes to ATM withdrawals and deposits, Axos Bank affords all account holders unlimited reimbursements for all domestic ATM charges.

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 a speedy online chat service.

First Internet Bank Free Checking

First Internet Bank has been serving online clients for more than 20 years, allowing them to access their checking accounts on the go and deposit checks directly through a phone app. The bank's Free Checking account is a barebones checking option that requires just $25 to open and has no monthly fees whatsoever.

Clients can get many brick-and-mortar bank services for free, including online and mobile bill pay, electronic bank statements, incoming wires and incoming ACH transfers. When it comes to ATM access, the bank doesn't charge any extra ATM fees to its customers.

First Internet Bank’s mobile app is highly rated as well, which matches its name. In fact, the appy boasts a 4.8-star rating out of 5 on the Apple app store and 4.4-star rating out of 5 on the Android app store.

Wealthfront Cash Account

Wealthfront may be commonly known as a robo-advisor service, but it does more than just that. Wealthfront’s checking account, called the Cash Account, is a great option for anyone looking to both earn interest and avoid monthly fees. More specifically, account holders will earn a 2.55% APY on all balances. This is a mediocre checking rate given today’s economic environment, though you don’t have to meet any requirements to earn it.

You only need $1 to open a Wealthfront Cash Account, and it has no monthly services fees, no transfer fees, no overdraft fees and more. Wealthfront is also partnered with Green Dot Bank, granting account holders access to a network of 19,000 fee-free ATMs. 

Another perk of the Wealthfront Cash Account is its increased FDIC insurance, which stands out in comparison to most competitors. While other banks typically offer up to $250,000 of FDIC insurance, Wealthfront offers up to $1 million. Other perks of this account include the ability to receive your paycheck early if you enroll in direct deposit and 24/7 customer service.

CIT Bank eChecking Account

CIT Bank's eChecking Account is one of the better fee-free checking accounts on the market. The account offers no monthly fees for account holders and there are no ATM fees. This means account holders don't have to worry about fees for online transfers, incoming wire transfer fees or fees for CIT Bank to mail a check to them. You also don't have to worry about overdraft fees.

Customers also can get up to $30 in other banks' ATM fees reimbursed per month. The eChecking Account also comes with a 0.10% APY on balances below $25,000 and a 0.25% APY on balances above $25,000. This is one of the lower APYs on the market compared to similar checking accounts. To open a CIT Bank e-checking account, a $100 minimum deposit is required.

NBKC Everything Account

This nbkc account is unlike many other bank accounts on the market. While most banks split up their savings and checking products, nbkc combines the two into a single product called the Everything Account. With this account, you’ll earn a 0.50% APY on all balances. In addition, you don’t need to meet any requirements to receive this rate. So by combining your checking and savings needs into a single account, you can earn interest, manage your money and track your spending all at once.

There are almost no fees attached to the nbkc Everything Account. In fact, you won’t pay any monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, minimum balance fees or foreign transaction fees.

Account holders have free access to the MoneyPass ATM network, which boasts 37,000 ATMs around the U.S. nbkc will also reimburse you for up to $12 in out-of-network ATM fees every month. Beyond this, you’ll receive a free Mastercard debit card.

Capital One 360 Checking Account

The Capital One 360 Checking Account is a good resource for those who enjoy online banking. When you open a 360 Checking Account, you will notice the account offers no monthly fees and doesn’t require a minimum balance. You also don't have to worry about overdraft fees on approved transactions if you ever go beyond your threshold. And when you open a 360 Checking Account, you will receive a free debit card to help you make your purchases and ATM withdrawals.

The Capital One 360 Checking Account does come with a 0.10% APY. Interest is compounded and credited monthly with this checking account. If you are looking for a Capital One branch, the bank does have limited physical locations. You can find their branches in Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, and Connecticut.

Chime Spending Account

Chime’s checking account is technically called the Chime Spending Account, and you’ll get the range of features offered by most other checking accounts. The account prides itself on being almost entirely fee-free, with no overdraft fees, monthly service fees, transfer fees or foreign transaction fees. You can also receive your paycheck up to two days early when you set up direct deposit through your Chime account.

The Chime Spending Account also gives you access to a network of 60,000 ATMs around the country, all of which can be used for free. Another benefit of the entirely online Chime Spending Account is you’ll have access to a variety of financial management tools that can help you stay on top of your spending.

Where the Chime Spending Account falls a little short is its APY. In fact, it doesn’t offer one at all. However, all you’ll need to do is open a Chime Savings Account to earn an interest rate. Aside from that, this account requires no minimum to open, making it accessible for just about anyone.

Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.

Varo Bank Checking

Varo Bank’s checking account is tailor-made for you if you’re starting to earn a significant amount of money in your early professional career. Anyone experienced with mobile devices will likely find Varo’s app and financial management tools user-friendly. You can even take care of mobile check deposits and online bill pay through the app.

You’re automatically included in its early direct deposit program if you connect your paycheck deposits to your account. Varo claims that this unique offering could help you gain access to your money up to two days earlier than normal. Instead of waiting around for the typical processing times, when Varo receives your paycheck notification from the Federal Reserve, it will immediately send the funds to your available balance. Furthermore, you can take advantage of Varo’s Forecast system, which is meant to help you plan ahead for your monthly bills.

Though there is no specific amount of money you’ll need to open one of these accounts, you also will not earn any interest on your balance. Varo has managed to eliminate all monthly, overdraft, foreign transaction and debit card replacement fees, keeping what you make in your wallet.

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

If you prefer online banking, Ally Bank's Interest Checking Account is one of the better options on the market. When you open Ally Bank's Interest Checking Account, there's no minimum deposit or monthly maintenance fees attached to get started.

The Interest Checking Account has multiple tiers for its APY. The account has a 0.10% APY for users who maintain a daily balance between $0 and $14,999. And users who maintain a balance of $15,000 or more receive a higher APY at 0.25%.

Given that Ally Bank has no branch locations and offers online services, you can still gain access to your funds through over 43,000 Allpoint® ATMs free of charge. If you use an ATM outside of Ally Bank, you can be reimbursed up to $10 per payment cycle. You also have access to Ally Bank's mobile app where you can make a check deposit on your Android or iOS device.

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