Finding a checking account that fits your lifestyle all comes down to nailing down what features matter the most to you. We assessed the competition by comparing factors such as account minimums, fees, interest rates, ATM access and unique features to bring you the cream of the crop.
We replaced BBVA Online Checking with Capital One 360 Checking for the best free account slot because Capital One’s account earns interest and has no minimum opening deposit requirement. For our best account for businesses, we replaced Chase Total Business Checking with TIAA Bank’s Small Business because of its high introductory APY and no monthly maintenance fee.
Earn up to 4.09% APY on balances under $10,000. The Consumer Credit Union Rewards Checking account offers some of the highest rate tiers around. But its top APY is only accessible by meeting strict interest requirements.
Up to 4.09% APY. To access this account's highest APY tier, you'll need to meet several account criteria.
No maintenance fees. There are no monthly fees associated with this account.
Large ATM network. Consumers Credit Union offers a sprawling ATM network of more than 30,000 ATMs nationwide.
Membership required. You'll need to become a member of Consumers Credit Union and maintain a minimum of $5 in a Membership Share or Savings to apply.
Requirements for account perks. To access account perks like ATM fee reimbursements and high interest rates, you'll need to meet a number of monthly criteria.
Low APY for balances over $10,000.The account offers a high APY, but the rate dwindles to a meager 0.2% on balances over $10,000.
An interest-bearing checking account with no monthly fees. The Capital One 360 Checking account has no maintenance fees and offers flexible overdraft protection for account holders. But watch out for other miscellaneous charges.
No fees. There's no monthly fee or minimum balance requirements with this account.
Earns interest. Unlike most checking accounts, this one earns 0.1% APY.
Overdraft protection. There are four ways to protect your account from overdraft charges: auto-decline, next-day grace period, a free transfer from your savings or an overdraft line of credit.
Limited branch access. Capital One primarily operates online, but it has a few branch locations spread throughout the US.
Credit checks. Expect a hard pull on your credit if you choose an overdraft line of credit as your overdraft protection option.
Other fees. Watch out for fees for overnight check deliveries, overnight card replacements, stop payment requests and more.
An interest-bearing account with unlimited international ATM fee reimbursements. The Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account has no monthly fees, comes with free checks and offers unlimited ATM fee rebates. The downside? You'll need to submit to a hard credit check when you apply.
APY. Earn 0.03% APY on your total balance, a rate on par with the national average.
Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements. Charles Schwab Bank automatically reimburses ATM fees for cash withdrawals — both in the US and internationally.
No foreign transaction fee. When you use your debit card to withdraw foreign currency from an ATM, your account is only charged for the US dollar equivalent of the transaction.
Hard credit check. Charles Schwab will perform a hard credit check when you apply for this account.
No international wire transfers. You can only send wire transfers within the US from a Charles Schwab Bank account.
No physical branches. There are no physical locations and all applications and account support are by phone, email and live chat.
Straightforward checking with perks for students. The Chase College Checking account offers a $100 signup bonus, no monthly service fees and access to a network of more than 16,000 ATMs.
No maintenance fees. The $6 monthly maintenance fee is waived for students between the ages of 17 and 24 enrolled in college.
$100 signup bonus. If you're a new Chase customer, enroll in paperless statements and complete 10 qualifying transactions within 60 days of opening your account, you'll receive a $100 signup bonus.
Mobile banking. Chase's mobile app allows you to monitor transaction history, send payments, transfer funds, deposit checks and send and receive money through Zelle.
Limited in-person support. Chase Bank's branch network only extends to 29 states, so if you live outside its network, your customer support options are limited.
Out-of-network ATM fees. You'll pay $2.50 in service fees at non-Chase ATMs.
Limited eligibility. This account's eligibility is limited to students between the ages of 17 and 24. After you graduate, the account converts to a traditional Chase checking account.
Can the fee be waived?
Yes Have any ONE of the following:
• College enrollment for up to five years
• OR a direct deposit made to this account (Direct deposits can be an ACH credit, payroll, pension or government benefits such as Social Security)
• OR an average ending day balance of $5,000 or more in this account
When you’re shopping around, look for checking accounts that have one or more of the following features:
Monthly maintenance and overdraft fees are known to eat into your bank account balance. First, look for accounts that have little to no fees. If you have your heart set on one that does have a few fees, see if there are ways to waive them. Most banks waive fees if you meet certain direct deposit or minimum balance requirements.
Some checking accounts have high minimum deposit requirements, while others let you open an account with as low as $0. Factor in how much money you have on hand when you’re shopping around for accounts.
Checking accounts are designed for everyday spending, which means you need easy access to your money. Look for bank accounts that have large ATM networks or ones that reimburse fees for non-network ATMs.
Checking account features vary widely, so consider what you want your account to do for you. If you want it to make you money, look for a checking account that earns interest. If you want it to help you stay on top of your spending, look for checking accounts that come with budgeting tools to help you stay on track.
Checking account alternatives
If you’re thinking a checking account may not be right for you, here are a few alternatives to consider:
Money market accounts. A money market account is like a checking account. It comes with a debit card and checkwriting privileges. But it has features that encourage you to save — such as a higher interest rate and a limit on monthly withdrawals.
Digital bank accounts. Most digital banks offer all-in-one accounts designed for saving and spending. They also come with modern budgeting tools to help you track and manage your money.
Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and investments. She has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. Cassidy enjoys educating people about financial services, exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.
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