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Best free checking accounts

Explore the best free online banking options.

Checking account monthly fees often range between $5 to $25, which can quickly add up and eat into your hard-earned money. Luckily, there are free checking account options out there — often offered by online banks. The best free checking accounts come with no monthly or overdraft fees, no minimum opening minimum deposits and free bank statements.

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  • 300+ banks and credit unions reviewed
  • 190+ checking accounts analyzed and rated by our team of experts
  • Evaluated under our unbiased rating system covering 8 categories
  • 20+ years of combined experience covering financial topics

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9 best free checking accounts

Find the best no-fee checking accounts that suit your financial needs, allowing you to keep more money.

Best overall

Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus

4.3
★★★★★

Finder score

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on Upgrade's secure site
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The Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus account takes the win for Best overall with its free account. There are no overdraft or monthly maintenance fees, you get one free domestic wire transfer fee per month, and no-fee cash withdrawals with over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs nationwide. And you can earn cash back, up to 2% cash back on purchases with qualifying brands and 1% on all non-qualifying purchases. The only downsides worth noting are the $500 annual max earnings for 2% cashback rewards (1% is unlimited), and as an online bank, you can't make cash deposits. Additionally, to qualify for the highest 2% cash back rate, you're required to set up direct deposits of at least $1,000 per month. And after the free wire transfer, each transfer costs $20 each.
Upgrade is a financial technology company, not a bank.  Rewards Checking services provided by Cross River Bank, Member FDIC.  Upgrade VISA ® Debit Cards issued by Cross River Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.

Best for second-chance checking

Chime® Checking Account

4.8
★★★★★

Finder score

Refer a friend to Chime using your referral link, and if they complete a $200 direct deposit within 45 days of opening their new account, you both get $100.
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Chime features a free checking account with no minimum deposit requirements and no monthly maintenance or overdraft fees. What separates Chime from most accounts is that it doesn't use ChexSystems when you apply for the account, so if you have a rough banking history, it isn't factored into your eligibility. This makes it a good option if you're looking for a second-chance checking account. Chime also offers its overdraft service called SpotMe, offering qualified account holders the ability to overdraft up to $200 without any fees. However, if you use an ATM outside of Chime's network, you may face a $2.50 fee. Plus, like most online accounts, you can't make cash deposits through an ATM.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
ATMs: Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.
Deposit: Once the retailer accepts your cash, the funds will be transferred to your Chime Checking Account. Cash deposit fees may apply if using a retailer other than Walgreens and Duane Reade.
Mobile Deposit: Mobile Check Deposit eligibility is determined by Chime in its sole discretion and may be granted based on various factors including, but not limited to, a member's direct deposit enrollment status.
Chime Savings Account: Chime Checking Account is required to be eligible for a Savings Account.
APY: The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is accurate as of May 22, 2023. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.
Get Paid Early: Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.
Credit Builder: The secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. Please see the back of your card for its issuing bank. To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be from your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR Original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.
SpotMe: Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each at least once every 34 days. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.

Best for cashback

Varo

4.8
★★★★★

Finder score

Existing and new customers get a $25 referral bonus when signing up for a Varo Bank account. T&C apply.
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A digital bank, Varo doesn't charge monthly maintenance fees, card replacement fees or overdraft fees. It also requires no minimum opening deposit or minimum balance. Its debit card boasts a high 6% cash back with qualifying brands, beating Upgrade's 2% maximum. Like most online banks, you can also send, request or receive money with peer-to-peer money transfer app Zelle with no fees. However, Varo doesn't support wire transfers, and it has limited customer support.

Best hybrid account

SoFi Checking and Savings

4.5
★★★★★

Finder score

Get up to $300 cash bonus with qualifying direct deposit. Terms apply. This offer is available until December 31, 2024.
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on SoFi's secure site
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A checking and savings account in one, SoFi's hybrid account has barely any fees. You can earn 0.50% APY on your checking balance and up to 4.60% APY on your savings balance. To earn the highest APYs, you must deposit at least $5,000 per month, or set up direct deposits. Overdraft coverage and early paycheck arrival is also available if you set up direct deposit. Another bonus is SoFi's additional FDIC insurance up to $2 million. Unlike many other online banks, SoFi does support cash deposits at Green Dot locations, but there's a fee of $4.95.

Best for teens

Step Visa Card

4.7
★★★★★

Finder score

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A banking app and type of secured card for the next generation, Step's goal is to help teens build credit and financial literacy skills. Many banking apps offered for kids and teens charge a monthly fee, but that's what sets Step apart from the rest: There are no monthly or overdraft fees. Step also offers rewards in the form of cash back, crypto rewards and referral bonuses. With parental approval, teen account holders can also invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds and crypto. On the downside, Step doesn't offer chore tracking features and there's no customer service phone line.

Best for business checking

NBKC Business Checking

4.6
★★★★★

Finder score

Go to site
NBKC bank takes the top spot for best free business checking account for its lack of fees. There's no monthly fee and no minimum deposit to open. In addition, there are no fees for returned electronic or paper items, free e-statements, no charges for stop payments and it's free to deposit checks at a branch or online. NBKC also offers free incoming domestic wire transfers but charges $45 for outgoing international wire transfers. While NBKC has physical branches, they're only in the Kansas City area.

Best for high APY

MUST READ: New account creation paused
Juno is experiencing issues with its banking service provider, and has paused new account creation for the time being.

Finder Award Juno

4.8
★★★★★

Finder score

Spend with the Juno debit card and earn 5% back on your favorite brands. Be it shopping on Amazon or ordering with Doordash, you decide.
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Juno offers one of the highest APYs for a checking account in the current market, offering 5% on balances between $20,000 and $250,000 and 3% APY on balances below $20,000. Also, you can earn 5% cash back at select retailers — up to $500 to $6,000 in earnings, depending on your membership plan. And like other free accounts on this list, there are no monthly fees and no minimum deposit to open the account. Juno also has a large ATM network of over 85,000 nationwide, and ATM reimbursements are available, depending on your plan. But unfortunately, it doesn't support joint accounts or wire transfers.

Best for international travel

Capital One 360 Checking

4.6
★★★★★

Finder score

Read review
Capital One 360 Checking features no foreign ATM fees, no foreign transaction fees and no currency transaction fees — making it a great fit for the frequent traveler. There are no monthly fees and no minimum deposit requirements, and you'll have access to over 70,000 Capital One and Allpoint ATMs with no fees. You can also choose different overdraft options, including an auto-decline or a free transfer that sends funds from another account into your checking to prevent overdrafts. Capital One is also integrated with the Zelle app and offers checkbooks. However, there are some fees for things like outgoing wire transfers or getting a checkbook, as well as a possible nonsufficient funds fee of $9.

Best for ATM reimbursements

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

4.2
★★★★★

Finder score

Alliant Credit Union offers up to $20 in monthly ATM reimbursements when you use an out-of-network ATM with your debit card for deposits, withdrawals, international withdrawals, transfers or balance inquiries. There are also no monthly maintenance or overdraft fees and no minimum opening requirements. You can earn 0.25% APY if you opt for e-statements and do at least one electronic deposit per month — pretty reasonable requirements. While the ATM reimbursements cover most transactions, international ATM withdrawals still incur an 1% foreign transaction fee. Your first box of checks is free, but you'll pay $15 per box after that. Also, you must join Alliant's membership to join, which requires a one-time $5 membership fee to Foster Care to Success, which Alliant pays on your behalf.

Methodology

Finder’s banking experts analyze over 150 checking accounts before narrowing down to the best accounts. We regularly update this list to reflect the top bank accounts in the current market.

Factors weighed in our methodology are:

  • $0 monthly fee
  • $0 minimum opening deposits
  • $0 overdraft fees or $0 with overdraft protection
  • $0 paper statement or ways to avoid it by signing up for electronic statements

Best free bank account runner ups

Out of the 150+ bank accounts we consider, only nine made the final cut for the 2023 Best Free Checking Accounts. However, there were a few banks that offer free checking accounts that came close:

  • Oxygen. A fintech company, Oxygen offers cashback rewards, no monthly fees and additional travel perks. However, the best perks and APYs offered require a paid account.
  • One Cash. Another fintech, One Cash offers a free digital checking account and allows deposits at Walmart locations.
  • Ally Bank. A full-service online bank that offers a free interest-bearing checking account that offers 0.25% APY for balances at and over $15,000, and 0.1% on all balances under $15,000. Although its APY is higher than the national average, it’s lower than top competitors.
  • Discover. The Discover® Cashback Debit account is a strong competitor, with no monthly fees, no opening deposit, and offers 1% cash back on everyday purchases. There are also no foreign transaction fees, and it has a large ATM network. While a good account, Varo’s cash back program is slightly better, beating out Discover.

Which free banks work with Zelle?

Most of the banks that made our list of the best free checking accounts support Zelle money transfers, including:

  • Alliant Credit Union
  • Capital One
  • Chime
  • Discover
  • Juno
  • Varo

While Zelle is not available directly through the SoFi mobile app, SoFi customers can link their debit card to their Zelle account.

What is a free checking account?

Free checking accounts don’t charge a monthly fee to maintain your account, don’t have any minimum balance requirements and often don’t require an opening deposit.

But this doesn’t mean the account is completely free. Outside of the monthly fee, the bank may charge you for other fees like overdrafts, wire transfers or ATM withdrawals.

Pros and cons of free checking accounts

Pros

  • No monthly fees. Avoiding monthly fees saves you money and allows you to allocate those savings to other important areas.
  • No opening deposit. Most free accounts don’t require a minimum opening deposit.
  • ATM access. Some give you access to reimbursements when you make an ATM transaction at an out-of-network ATM.

Cons

  • Not completely free. Most banks still charge for certain activities, like foreign transactions, out-of-network ATMs, going into overdraft or sending and receiving wire transfers.
  • Limited eligibility. Most aren’t available to consumers with a poor financial history. If you need a second-chance account, you will most likely have to pay a monthly fee.

How to choose the best free checking account

Consider these six factors when comparing accounts:

  1. Monthly fee requirements. Some banks impose fees that can only be avoided by meeting conditions like balance requirements, direct deposits or electronic statements, whereas a truly free account has no conditions.
  2. Overdraft fees. Most won’t charge you overdraft fees, and often, it’s because the account won’t allow you to overdraft by declining a charge that would put your account in the negative.
  3. ATM network and fees. Look for a bank with a large, free ATM network to avoid ATM charges. If you make a lot of withdrawals, consider a bank that offers out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements.
  4. Signup bonus. Some accounts offer a cash bonus for opening the account and meeting certain requirements. Make sure the account is solid, too — once the signup bonus is over, you’ll be stuck with the account.
  5. Paper statement fees. Most offer the ability to get e-statements to waive a paper statement fee.
  6. Rewards and interest. If you want to earn more for your money, look for free interest-bearing accounts or ones that come with cashback rewards.

Should I choose an online or brick-and-mortar bank?

Online banks have lower overhead costs compared to larger banks, such as Wells Fargo or Bank of America, as they operate without physical branches. With fewer costs, they can pass on those savings to customers in the form of free accounts and higher interest. But they typically don’t accept cash deposits — so there’s a give and take.

How to open a free checking account online

Many of the best free checking accounts are online accounts, and most follow the same application process. Here are the basic steps to open a checking account:

  1. Gather documents. You’ll need a valid government ID, Social Security Number or ITIN and proof of address.
  2. Review terms and set up account. If your chosen account requires an opening deposit, you’ll have to fund the account. Most free accounts don’t require an opening deposit, but some have conditions to waive the monthly maintenance fees, such as setting up direct deposit or electing for e-statements over physical ones.
  3. Receive debit card. You’ll receive your debit card between seven to 10 days. Once you receive it, activate the card and set up a pin number over the phone or at a branch.

What if I’m denied a checking account?

The bank must tell you why you’re denied a checking account. In many cases, a denial is due to a poor banking history, such as late payments, multiple nonsufficent funds incidents or too many past overdrafts — as reported on your ChexSystems report. If you struggle to qualify for traditional checking accounts, consider second-chance accounts that skip the ChexSystems review.

Compare more banks with free checking accounts

Narrow down free checking options by fees, APY and more. Select Compare on up to four accounts to see their features side by side.

1 - 5 of 57
Name Product Fee Minimum deposit to open Annual Percentage Yield (APY) Offer
Cash Card by Cash App
Finder Score: 4.4 / 5: ★★★★★
Cash Card by Cash App
$0 per month
$0
N/A
Axos Bank Rewards Checking
Finder Score: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
Axos Bank Rewards Checking
$0 per month
$0
3.30% on balances of $0 to $50,000
Use promo code AXOS300 and apply by June 30th, 2024, to earn up to Up to $300 bonus, $50 each month you meet requirements: Make direct deposits of $5,000+ each month for the first 7 months and maintain an average balance of $7,000.
Chime® Checking Account
Finder Score: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
Chime® Checking Account
$0 per month
$0
N/A
Refer a friend to Chime using your referral link, and if they complete a $200 direct deposit within 45 days of opening their new account, you both get $100.
SoFi Checking and Savings
Finder Score: 4.5 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
SoFi Checking and Savings
$0 per month
$0
4.60% on balances of $0+
0.50% on balances of $0+
1.20% on balances of $0+
Get up to $300 cash bonus with qualifying direct deposit. Terms apply. This offer is available until December 31, 2024.
One Cash
Finder Score: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
One Cash
$0 per month
$0
5.00% on balances of $0 to $250,000
1.00% on balances of $250,000.01+
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Bottom line

Free checking accounts are a great way to cut down on your monthly expenses without sacrificing convenience. And while a handful of free checking accounts are available, you can also find plenty that will waive the monthly fee when certain conditions are met. You can compare checking accounts to find one that fits your financial situation.

Written by

Bethany Hickey

Bethany Hickey is the banking editor and personal finance expert at Finder, specializing in banking, lending, insurance, and crypto. Bethany’s expertise in personal finance has garnered recognition from esteemed media outlets, such as Nasdaq, MSN, Yahoo Finance, GOBankingRates, SuperMoney, AOL and Newsweek. Her articles offer practical financial strategies to Americans, empowering them to make decisions that meet their financial goals. Her past work includes articles on generational spending and saving habits, lending, budgeting and managing debt. Before joining Finder, she was a content manager where she wrote hundreds of articles and news pieces on auto financing and credit repair for CarsDirect, Auto Credit Express and The Car Connection, among others. Bethany holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan-Flint, and was poetry editor for the university’s Qua Literary and Fine Arts Magazine. See full profile

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    CandyDecember 9, 2018

    Does bank of America have a fee free checking account if so where do I apply

      Default Gravatar
      nikkiangcoDecember 12, 2018

      Hi Candy,

      Thanks for reaching out! Upon checking, Bank of America doesn’t have a fee free checking account. Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      Best,
      Nikki

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