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Compare the best free checking accounts

Save more money with fee-free bank accounts.

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Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Axos Bank Rewards Checking logo

Up to 1.25%

APY

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
  • No monthly minimum balance requirements
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Banks charge fees for a number of things — not meeting minimum balance requirements, using out-of-network ATMs, monthly maintenance fees and more. Finding a checking account that doesn’t charge you fees can be tricky, but they do exist. Explore the best six free checking accounts available today and learn how to compare your options and avoid fees.

How we chose the best free checking accounts

The best checking accounts are the ones that don’t charge obnoxious monthly fees that eat into your balance and help you reach your goals — whether it’s earning interest, getting cash back, or not paying international ATM fees. For our research, we evaluated several factors including ATM access, interest, fees, balance requirements and account features to bring you our top six picks.

What’s changed in 2020

For 2020, we focused on free checking accounts that strike a balance between minimal fees and reaching your spending goals. Most of those accounts were offered by online-only banks that offered the best features along with minimal fees.

6 best free checking accounts

Best for high interest

Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Axos Bank Rewards Checking logo
Finder Rating: 5 / 5

★★★★★

Apply now
at Axos Bank's secure site
Up to 1.25%
APY
None
Fees
$50
Min. opening deposit
  • High APY. This account earns up to 1.25% APY if you meet a few requirements.
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements. Axos reimburses all domestic ATM fees within one business day.
  • No fees. On top of having no monthly fees, Axos doesn't charge you for overdrafts or insufficient funds
  • Opening deposit requirements. You need at least $50 to open this account.
  • APY requirements. Earn 0.42% APY for each of these three conditions you meet, up to a total of 1.25% APY: Receive at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits, use your debit card at least 10 times a month at a minimum of $3 per transaction, use your debit card at least 15 times a month at a minimum of $3 per transaction.
APY 1.25%
Account fees $0 monthly
Can the fee be waived? Yes
Insufficient funds fee $0
ATM transaction fee $0
Foreign transaction fee 1%
Overdraft fee $0

Best for cash back

Discover Cashback Debit

N/A
APY
None
Fees
None
Min. opening deposit
  • Earn rewards. Discover rewards you with 1% cash back on up to $3,000 eligible debit card purchases a month — meaning you could earn up to $360 a year.
  • No monthly fees. There's no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. Plus, you won't pay for incoming wire transfers.
  • Fee forgiveness. Each year, Discover reimburses one insufficient fund or stop payment fee charged to your account.
  • No cash deposits. But you can still deposit checks through your mobile phone, set up direct deposits and make online transfers.
  • Withdrawal limits. You can't withdraw more than $510 a day at ATMs.
  • Limited in-person support. Discover operates almost entirely online and only has one branch location in Greenwood, Delaware.
APY 0%
Account fees $0 monthly
Can the fee be waived? Yes
Insufficient funds fee $0
ATM transaction fee $0
Wire transfer fee $30
Overdraft fee $0
Accout closure fee $0

Best for travel

Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking

0.03%
APY
None
Fees
$0.01
Min. opening deposit
  • Worldwide ATM reimbursements. Take advantage of free in-network ATMs and unlimited reimbursements at non-network ATMs worldwide.
  • No foreign transaction fees. You'll never pay fees for foreign transactions, checks, stop payments and more.
  • Earns interest. Although lower than other accounts, the 0.03% APY is on par with the national average.
  • Brokerage account requirements. To open this account, you must have a Charles Schwab brokerage account.
  • No foreign wire transfers. While this account has a lot of international features, you can't send or receive wire transfers from outside the US.
  • Hard pull. Charles Schwab does a hard pull on your credit when you open this account.
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

Best for overdraft protection

Capital One 360 Checking

0.1%
APY
None
Fees
None
Min. opening deposit
  • 0.1% APY. While most checking accounts don't earn any interest, this one earns 0.1% on your balance. You'll never pay fees for foreign transactions, checks, stop payments and more.
  • Overdraft protection. This account has four overdraft protection options to choose from: auto-decline, next-day grace period, a free transfer from your savings or an overdraft line of credit.
  • Free credit monitoring.Monitor your credit score through the CreditWise app, which gives you tips on how to improve your score and alerts you when it changes.
  • Limited branch access. Capital One operates primarily online, so don't expect to find a branch location on every corner.
  • Credit checks. There's a hard pull on your credit if you choose an overdraft line of credit as your overdraft protection option.
  • Other fees. Capital One doesn't charge monthly fees, but there are other miscellaneous fees for overnight check deliveries, overnight card replacements and stop payment requests.
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

Best for budgeting

Simple

1%
APY
None
Fees
None
Min. opening deposit
  • Zero fees. You'll never pay fees for monthly maintenance, overdrafts, transfers, card replacements or insufficient minimum balance requirements.
  • Budgeting tools. Simple analyzes your transactions and automatically sets aside money for recurring bills and savings goals. Plus, it rounds up purchases to the nearest whole dollar and saves the spare change.
  • Competitive APYs. Earn 1% APY when you open a Protected Goals Account with any balance.
  • No cash deposits. Simple doesn't accept cash deposits.
  • No physical branches. This bank is fully online, so support is limited to phone, email and live chat.
  • Requirements for high APY. All balances earn 0.01% APY. But you must open a Protected Goals Account to qualify for the 1% interest rate.
APY 1%
Account fees $0 monthly
Can the fee be waived? Yes
Insufficient funds fee $0
ATM transaction fee $0
Wire transfer fee $0
Overdraft fee $0
Accout closure fee $0

Best overall

Ally Bank Interest Checking

Up to 0.5%
APY
None
Fees
None
Min. opening deposit
  • Variable interest. Earn 0.1% on balances up to $14,999 and 0.5% on balances of $15,000 or more.
  • No minimum balance. On top of having no fees, you also never have to worry about keeping a certain amount of money in your account.
  • 24/7 customer support. Ally Bank is always available by phone or email.
  • No branch locations. Ally Bank is 100% online, so you can't visit a branch for in-person support.
  • No cash deposits. The only way to deposit cash is to buy a money order and mail it to Ally.
APY 0.5%
Account fees $0 monthly
Can the fee be waived? Yes
ATM transaction fee $0
Foreign transaction fee 1%
Overdraft fee $25

How do I compare free checking accounts?

Read the fee-free conditions

Some bank accounts will waive monthly fees when you meet conditions like balance requirements or making qualifying direct deposits each month. Requirements and conditions may vary, so you should read the terms and conditions to ensure that you won’t be charged.

Determine if your salary can cover the direct deposit

If an account requires a direct deposit each month, your paychecks may be enough to waive the monthly fee. Find out what the requirements are, then sign up for direct deposit with your employer.

Look at the other fees that apply

Free checking accounts will often waive the monthly service fee, but other fees could still apply. You may be charged for using your bank account overseas, sending or receiving wire transfers, ordering checks and more. Read the terms and conditions or fee schedule for a full breakdown of fees.

Linked debit card access

Many financial institutions will give you a debit card with a Visa or Mastercard logo, meaning you can use it at an ATM or for purchases. Beyond that, find out if you can link your debit card to other accounts.

ATM network and fees

Most banks charge a fee when you make an ATM withdrawal from an out of network ATM. You can save money by going with the financial institution with the largest ATM network, but you can also find banks that don’t charge ATM fees.

Other products offerings

Find out if the institution offers other products so that you can do all of your banking in one place and make instant transfers between your accounts.

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Compare free checking accounts

Use the table to sort free checking accounts by ATM fees, overdraft fees, foreign transaction fees and more. View your top picks side-by-side by clicking the “Compare” box next to each.

Name Product Fee ATM transaction fee Overdraft fee Nonsufficient funds fee Foreign transaction fee
BBVA Online Checking
$0
$0
$38
$38
3%
A full-service account with convenient, surcharge-free access to two massive ATM networks, plus a $200 signup bonus when you meet deposit requirements
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
$0
$0
$0
$0
1%
A spend and save combo account with no monthly service fees, free access to every ATM in the world, unlimited cash back rewards and deposits insured by the FDIC. The Aspiration Spend & Save Account is a cash management account offering of Aspiration Financial, LLC, an SEC-registered broker-dealer. Aspiration is not a chartered bank.
BBVA Free Checking
$0
$0
$32
$38
3%
Pay a $0 monthly service charge and get free access to BBVA ATMs.
Radius Bank Rewards Checking
$0
$0
$25
Earn cash back with this high-interest checking account, plus get free ATM access worldwide.
Chime Spending account
$0
$0
$0
0%
Get rid of fees with this mobile-first bank offering consumer-friendly accounts. Chime can also help you save easily and access your paycheck faster.
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What are the pros and cons of free checking accounts?

Free checking accounts have a few features and drawbacks worth noting:

Pros

  • There are no monthly fees. By choosing a free bank account, you can save money every month.
  • You get ATM access. Some give you deals on ATM transactions while others don’t charge for transactions at non-partner ATMs.
  • Other benefits. Waiving the monthly service fee is the least you should expect. Some bank accounts give you other incentives like cash back or free checks.

Cons

  • You still get charged other fees. Unfortunately, truly free checking accounts aren’t common. Banks will still charge for certain activities, like foreign transactions, going into overdraft or sending wire transfers. However, it’s possible to get by without incurring any of these fees.
  • You could give up perks. Free checking accounts are a low-cost option designed for people looking to save. By choosing this account, you might be giving up valuable features that might be worth paying a small monthly fee for.

How to avoid checking account fees

Whether you open a free checking account or find an account that will waive the monthly service charge, there are still other fees to watch out for. Here’s how you can avoid paying fees on your checking account:

  • Ensure you meet the conditions. If your bank will waive fees when certain conditions are met, ensure that you always meet the requirements.
  • Get cash back from purchases. Instead of visiting an ATM, consider getting cash back when you make a purchase to avoid ATM fees.
  • Avoid foreign transactions. Using your card abroad could rack up foreign transaction charges. Consider taking out cash before you travel, using a prepaid card or explore other types of travel money.
  • Don’t overcharge your account. You’ll likely be charged about $35 every time you make a transaction that brings your balance below zero. While overdraft protection can ensure that these purchases are covered, you could rack up multiple charges in one day. Instead, consider setting up overdraft transfers, which uses money from a linked account to cover purchases when you have insufficient funds.
  • Use in-network ATMs. Try to avoid using out of network ATMs, as you’ll be charged by the ATM owner and again by your bank.
  • Make sure your deposits go through. Returned item fees can eat into your monthly budget even though you did nothing wrong. Try to avoid depositing checks that might bounce, as you’ll be on the hook for this fee.
  • Pass on paper statements. Instead of getting a monthly statement in the mail, opt for online or e-statements and you could save a few dollars per month.
  • Keep an eye on your transactions. Find out if your account has a transaction limit and make sure to stay below it to avoid unnecessary fees. On the contrary, make sure to make at least one transaction per month to avoid inactivity fees.
  • Minimize wire transfers. Most banks charge for outgoing wire transfers, while some will even charge for incoming ones. If possible, try to use ACH or online transfers to avoid wire fees.

How do free checking accounts work?

A truly free checking account will waive the monthly fee no matter how much you deposit into the account. Here’s how some popular checking accounts compare on monthly fees.

Bank accountMonthly fee
Ally BankNo monthly fee.
Bank of America Core Checking$12, avoidable if you make at least one qualifying Direct Deposit of $250 or more or maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more, or meet other conditions.
BBVA Free CheckingNo monthly fee.
Capital One 360 CheckingNo monthly account fee or ATM fee.
Chase Premier Plus Checking$25, avoidable if an average beginning day balance of $15,000 or more in any combination of this account and linked qualifying deposits Footnote/investments or have a linked qualifying Chase first mortgage enrolled in automatic payments Footnote from your Chase account.
Chase Total Checking$12, avoidable if Direct deposits totaling $500 or more made to this account or a balance at the beginning of each day of $1,500 or more in this account or an average beginning day balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of this account and linked qualifying deposits/investments.
Citibank Simple Checking$12, avoidable if you make one direct deposit per month and one bill payment per month, or maintain a $1,500 or higher monthly balance.
HSBC Basic Banking$3, Regardless of balance, $0.35 for each check/withdrawal slip over 8, You may make an unlimited number of deposits without any additional charge.
US Bank Easy Checking$6.95, avoidable if Combined monthly direct deposits totaling $1,000+ or an average account balance of $1,500+
Wells Fargo Everyday Checking$10, avoidable if you make 10 monthly purchases/payments, make two direct deposits totaling $500 or more, hold a $1,500 minimum daily balance, or meet other qualifications.

Banks that avoid fees

Other free bank accounts may waive ATM fees, lost card fees and other fees or could offer cash back rewards. Most free checking accounts still have backend fees for certain transactions, like overseas withdrawals and international transaction fees.

What fee do you want to avoid?Bank accounts that avoid this fee
Monthly fees
  • Ally Bank
  • BBVA Free Checking
  • Capital One 360 Checking
Domestic ATM withdrawal fees
  • Ally Bank
  • Bank of America Core Checking
  • BBVA Free Checking
  • Capital One 360 Checking
  • Chase Premier Plus Checking
  • Chase Total Checking
  • Citibank Full-Feature Relationship Checking
  • HSBC Basic Banking
  • US Bank Easy Checking
  • Wells Fargo Everyday Checking
Overdraft fees
  • Citibank Affordable Access Banking
International money transfer fees
  • Capital One 360 Checking

Extra fees to avoid with a free checking account

Free checking accounts don’t have a monthly fee, but there are 30 other fees your bank could charge you. Here are some common ones to watch out for:

  • ATM fees. Use an ATM outside of your bank’s network, and you could pay around $2.50 plus any fees charged by the ATM operator.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Your bank could charge you a fee of around 3% for using your debit card overseas or at a foreign store online.
  • Overdraft fees. Make a purchase that brings your checking account balance below $0, and you could pay an overdraft fee of up to $35 each time.
  • Wire transfer fees. You could pay anywhere from $10 to $40 if you want to instantly send money to someone else via a wire transfer.
  • Paper statement fees. Most banks encourage customers to go electronic, so you could pay around $3 a month if you want to receive your bank statements the old fashioned way.

Bottom line

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

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Common questions about free checking accounts

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    CandyDecember 9, 2018

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

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoDecember 12, 2018Staff

      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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