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Best checking accounts of 2020

Our top picks for high rates, minimal fees, ATM access and more.

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked

Best high-yield checking account: Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking

Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking logo

4.09%

APY

  • No monthly fees
  • No balance requirements
  • ATM fee reimbursements
Go to site
Finding the best checking account for your lifestyle 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.

5 best checking accounts

Here’s a quick snapshot of the five best checking accounts:

Checking account Finder rating Best for APY Learn more
Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking

★★★★★

Best high-yield checking account Up to 4.09% Go to site
Capital One 360 Checking

★★★★★

Best free checking account 0.1% Read review
Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking

★★★★★

Best checking account for international travel 0.03% Read review
Chase College Checking

★★★★★

Best checking account for students 0% Read review
TIAA Bank Small Business Checking

★★★★★

Best checking account for businesses Up to 0.12% Read review

Closer look at the best checking accounts

Take a deeper dive into the five best checking accounts by exploring their pros and cons here:

Best high-yield checking account

Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking

Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking logo
Finder Rating: 4 / 5

★★★★★

Apply now
at Consumers Credit Union (IL)'s secure site
Up to 4.09%
APY
None
Fees
$5
Min. opening deposit
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.
APY 4.09%
Account fees $0 monthly
Can the fee be waived? Yes
Insufficient funds fee $30
ATM transaction fee $0
Wire transfer fee $10
Overdraft fee $30

If you’re after an interest-bearing account with less stringent requirements, compare your high-yield checking account options with additional providers.

Best free checking account

Capital One 360 Checking

0.1%
APY
None
Fees
None
Min. opening deposit
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.
APY 0.1%
Account fees $0 monthly
Can the fee be waived? No
Insufficient funds fee $9
ATM transaction fee $0
Paper statement fee $5
Wire transfer fee $40
Foreign transaction fee 0%
Overdraft fee $35

If you’re looking for a checking account with more branch locations, compare your free checking account options with other providers.

Best checking account for international travel

Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking

0.03%
APY
None
Fees
$0.01
Min. opening deposit
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.
APY 0.03%
Account fees $0 monthly
Can the fee be waived? Yes
ATM transaction fee $0
Paper statement fee $0
Foreign transaction fee 0%
Overdraft fee $0

If you don’t want an account that may affect your credit score, compare the best international travel account options.

Best checking account for students

Chase College Checking

N/A
APY
$6 monthly
Fees
None
Min. opening deposit
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.
APY 0%
Account fees $6 monthly
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
Insufficient funds fee $34
ATM transaction fee $0
Paper statement fee $6
Foreign transaction fee 3%
Overdraft fee $34

If you’re looking to grow your money with an interest-bearing account, you may want to compare the best checking accounts for students.

Best checking account for businesses

TIAA Bank Small Business Checking

Up to 0.12%
APY
None
Fees
$1,500
Min. opening deposit
The TIAA Bank Small Business Checking account earns a 0.12% APY and has no monthly fees and a large national ATM network.
  • Minimal fees. There are no monthly maintenance or overdraft transfer fees.
  • Large ATM network. Withdraw cash for free at over 80,000 Allpoint and MoneyPass ATMs nationwide.
  • Decent yields. You'll earn 0.12% APY on your total balance, which is higher than the national average.
  • Other fees. Watch out for random fees for excess transactions, cashier's checks, stop payments and more.
  • No live chat. TIAA doesn't offer live chat as a customer service option, which is unusual for a bank that primarily operates online.
APY 0.12%
Account fees $0 monthly
Can the fee be waived? Yes
Insufficient funds fee $30
ATM transaction fee $0
Overdraft fee $0
If you’re looking to make more than 100 transactions a month, compare the best business banking options currently on the market.

How to find the best checking account for you

When you’re shopping around, look for checking accounts that have the following features:

  • Minimal fees. Monthly maintenance and overdraft fees are known to eat into your bank account balance. Look for accounts that have little to no fees or ones that waive fees when you meet certain direct deposit or minimum balance requirements.
  • Low minimum deposit 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.
  • Large ATM network. 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.
  • Features that fit your priorities. 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 one that earns interest. If you want to stay on top of spending, look for one that comes with budgeting tools.
  • Pays interest. If you’re lucky, you might come across a checking account that pays interest. While you’ll generally earn more interest with a savings account, some checking accounts can pay a solid APY.
  • Good customer service. Look to see if the institution is strictly online or if you have the option of calling or visiting a local branch. If you prefer to talk to a teller for your financial decisions, you may want to consider a financial institution that has a physical presence.

3 experts share advice on what makes the best checking account

We asked three experts to share their take on which features make a checking account “the best.” Here’s what they had to say:

Financial advice – Ricardo Flores – November 2020

profile pic

Ricardo Flores
Financial Advisor at The Product Analyst

Here’s my guide to clients on what makes a good checking account:

  1. Low fees. Always take a close look at the fees and whether it’s a reasonable spending. Avoid checking accounts with too much charge and those that don’t allow you to waive fees. Keep in mind that you’re choosing a checking account for convenience, and having to spend so much on fees, isn’t strategic for spending wisely.
  2. Accessibility. It’s best to find a checking account with a bank that offers a mobile app or online banking. Also check whether that bank has nearby ATMs for when you need cash. Consider your bank’s accessibility as this is a handy criteria for when errors or glitches happen. You wouldn’t want to travel miles just to fix a bank error.

Financial advice – Ben Premo – November 2020

profile pic

Ben Premo
Founder & CEO of TrueFees

There are a number of things that make a good checking account: high interest, digital features and low-cost. All checking accounts serve the same general purpose — to help manage your money while keeping it safe. In my opinion the best accounts are free of monthly fees and do not require a minimum balance.

Financial advice – Andrew Thake – November 2020

profile pic

Andrew Thake
Mortgage Broker at andrewthake.com

When evaluating what makes the “best” checking account, there are a few features that need to be considered based on your needs and other basic banking requirements.

First, you’ll want to verify what fees your financial institution charges you. Many banks will charge you a monthly fee if your balance is below a certain amount, so be sure to check the minimum balance requirements and how much they would charge if you would consider opening an account.

Then there are the ATM fees when accessing your money at an ATM that is not part of your bank. There are also overdraft fees. Many banks charge an amount of the overdraft once you’ve exceeded your limit. This is something else to be cautious about and understand your financial institution’s policy regarding this.

Finally, an essential feature that needs to be highly considered is whether the financial institution offers high-interest rates. However, most banks that have high rates will have a high minimum balance fee.

Therefore, if you would like, you can have your money split across several bank accounts. This can allow you to save in one account with high-interest rates while having regular access to your money with the other where the minimum monthly balance fee is low.

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.

Bottom line

There are thousands of providers offering checking accounts across the US. Knowing how to compare checking accounts with multiple providers can help you narrow your options and find the account that best fits your lifestyle.

Compare other checking accounts

Name Product Minimum deposit to open ATMs Out-of-network ATM fee
HSBC Premier Checking
$1
Free to use at all ATMs in the US
$0
Get a 3% cash bonus, up to $600 (max. $100 per month) during first six months after account opening. Must open HSBC Premier checking account through offer page by September 30, 2020, and set up qualifying direct deposits into the new account. Conditions apply. Deposit products are offered in the US by HSBC Bank USA, N.A. Member FDIC.
BBVA Online Checking
$25
No ATM fees nationwide at more than 64,000 AllPoint, participating 7-Eleven and BBVA USA ATMs
$3
A full-service account with convenient, surcharge-free access to two massive ATM networks.
Axos Bank Essential Checking
$0
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
No fees. Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.
Axos Bank Rewards Checking
$50
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
$0
Earn up to 1.25% APY while enjoying a suite of digital tools for smarter money management.
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
$10
55,000 free in-network ATMs
$0
Deposits are fossil fuel-free. A spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and deposits insured by the FDIC.
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