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6 best online checking accounts for 2021

We researched 160+ checking accounts to help you quickly compare the top six.

This article was reviewed by Marguerita Cheng, a member of the Finder Editorial Review Board and award-winning advocate for ethical financial planning for over 20 years.

The best online checking account gives you complete control over your day-to-day transactions without ever having to enter the bank — usually with lower fees. We researched over 160 checking accounts and dug into factors like ATM access, fees, balance requirements to determine your six best options.

What’s changed in 2021?

We added Bluevine to our list as the best online checking account for businesses because it has no transaction limits, no monthly fees, a 1% APY and it accepts cash deposits. We replaced Simple with Chime as it’s being discontinued in the near future.

A closer look at the best online checking accounts

Take a closer look at the best online checking accounts by exploring their pros, cons and features.

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. Earn up to 1.25% APY on your account balance.
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements. Get all domestic ATM fees reimbursed within one business day.
  • Minimal fees. Axos doesn't charge any fees for overdrafts, insufficient funds or monthly maintenance.
  • Opening deposit requirements. You need at least $50 to open this account.
  • APY requirements. You earn 0.42% APY for each of these three conditions you meet, up to 1.25% APY total: 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 five more 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 no fees

Chime Spending account

Chime Spending account logo
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5

★★★★★

Apply now
at Chime's secure site
N/A
APY
None
Fees
None
Min. opening deposit
  • No hidden fees. You won't pay anything for overdrafts, monthly maintenance, foreign transactions, minimum deposits and more.
  • Free overdraft protection. Chime will cover you for free if you overdraw your account up to $100. But you have at least $500 in qualifying direct deposits to be eligible.
  • Optional savings account. This checking account gives you access to Chime Savings &mdash
  • a linked account that earns 0.5% interest and comes with automation tools.
  • No 24/7 support. Whereas digital banks offer longer support hours, Chime doesn't have 'round the clock support.
  • Limited product selection. Chime only offers one checking and savings account, so it's not ideal for those looking to do all their banking with one institution.
  • No joint accounts or secondary cards. You can't open this account jointly with a spouse or family member. You also can't request secondary cards for other people.
APY 0%
Account fees $0 monthly
Can the fee be waived? No
ATM transaction fee $0
Foreign transaction fee 0%
Overdraft fee $0
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.

Best online business checking account

BlueVine Business Checking

Up to 1%
APY
None
Fees
None
Min. opening deposit
  • Unlimited transactions. Make as many deposits and withdrawals as you'd like without worrying about being charged fees.
  • No hidden fees. You won't pay anything for monthly maintenance, incoming wires, non-sufficient funds and more. Plus, there's no opening deposit to get started.
  • Earns interest. You'll earn 1% interest on balances up to $100,000 &mdash
  • a rate higher than most savings accounts.
  • Accepts cash deposits. Unlike most online accounts, this one accepts cash deposits at over 90,000 Green Dot locations nationwide.
  • Fee for cash deposits. Expect to pay $4.95 each time you deposit cash through Green Dot.
  • No savings account options. This is the only account offered by BlueVine. You won't find any other banking products.
APY 1%
Account fees $0 monthly
Can the fee be waived? Yes
Insufficient funds fee $0
ATM transaction fee $0
Overdraft fee $0

Best for cash back

Discover Cashback Debit

N/A
APY
None
Fees
None
Min. opening deposit
  • Earn rewards. Get 1% cash back on up to $3,000 eligible debit card purchases each month.
  • Minimal fees. This free account has no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. Plus, you won't pay for incoming wire transfers.
  • Fee forgiveness. Discover reimburses one insufficient fund or stop payment fee a year.
  • No cash deposits. Discover doesn't accept cash deposits or traveler's checks. But you can still deposit checks through your mobile phone, direct deposit, mail or make an online transfer.
  • $510 withdrawal limit. Although it falls within the average withdrawal limit, there are other accounts that have much higher limits.
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. Use any Charles Schwab ATM for free and get unlimited reimbursements at non-network ATMs worldwide.
  • No foreign transaction fees. Charles Schwab doesn't charge any fees for foreign transactions, checks, stop payments and more.
  • Earns interest. While most checking accounts don't earn interest, this one pays 0.03% on your balance.
  • Brokerage account requirements. You must have a brokerage account with Charles Schwab to qualify for this account.
  • No foreign wire transfers. You can't send or receive wire transfers from outside the US with this account.
  • Hard pull. Some banks perform soft pulls on your credit during account opening, but Charles Schwab does a hard pull.
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 overall

Capital One 360 Checking

0.1%
APY
None
Fees
None
Min. opening deposit
  • Early paydays. If your employer pays you via direct deposit, your paycheck could arrive in your account up to two days early.
  • 0.1% APY. Most no-fee checking accounts don't earn any interest, but this one earns 0.1% on your balance.
  • Overdraft protection. Choose from four overdraft protection options: auto-decline, next-day grace period, a free transfer from your savings or an overdraft line of credit.
  • Credit checks. If you choose an overdraft line of credit as your overdraft protection option, Capital One makes a hard pull on your credit.
  • Other fees. Be on the lookout 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

How can I find the best online checking account for me?

Consider these factors when trying to find the best online checking account for you:

  • Customer service. You can’t walk into a branch to get help, so check what methods you have to get ahold of a customer service agent. Find out if help is available 24/7 or only during certain hours, or if you can use online chat to get answers. If the bank has a phone number to call for help, try calling it and seeing how long it takes to get through to someone.
  • Fees. This includes monthly maintenance, ATM, foreign transaction and overdraft fees.
  • Access. Check what functions are available in the bank’s app or on its website. Can you easily transfer money to another account or another bank? And if it comes with a mobile app, check to see if you can make mobile check deposits.
  • Maintenance. How often is the bank’s site down? If the site is down, this will prevent you from accessing your money.
  • ATM network. Compare how large the bank’s ATM network is and if you can easily access cash when you need it.

How does an online checking account work?

An online checking account is an everyday bank product that you open and maintain entirely online. You can pay for purchases and access cash with a debit card and manage your funds online or with a mobile app.

Some online checking accounts are operated by completely digital banks or new challenger banks, while others are operated by major banks and credit unions.

Can I withdraw money from an online checking account?

Yes. Online banks operate like brick-and-mortar banks and allow you to withdraw cash from ATMs. Many digital banks partner with ATM networks, including Allpoint and MoneyPass, to let you access your cash at surcharge-free ATMs nationwide. Some online checking accounts will also reimburse you for ATM fees every month so you can withdraw money at any ATM that’s convenient for you.

You can also withdraw money from an online checking account by getting cash back at a store when you use a debit card, using money transfer services and requesting your bank to send you a check.

Pros and cons of an online checking account

Here are a few benefits and disadvantages of an online checking account:

Pros

  • Convenience. An online transaction account provides you with a convenient way to manage your daily spending and account deposits without visiting a local branch.
  • No or low fees. Online checking accounts usually have lower fees thanks to lower overhead costs.
  • Overseas accessibility. Because your bank isn’t tied to a location, you can continue to pay bills and manage your finances while you’re traveling.
  • Mobile banking. Most online checking accounts come with mobile apps that allow you to manage your money from wherever you are.

Cons

  • No branch access. If you have a problem, you can’t walk into a branch to get help in person. If you want to maintain that ability, look at traditional checking accounts that offer online access instead.
  • Check fees. If you want a checkbook for purchases you can’t make online, you may have to order them from your bank and pay a fee.
Back to top

Are online checking accounts safe?

Yes, as long as you use an FDIC-insured bank. When you keep your money in an FDIC-insured bank, your funds are backed by the US government for up to $250,000. But to keep your account and personal information secure, be aware of:

  • Security. When you log in to your account online, make sure that the lock symbol appears in your browser. It’s also important to use a secure password for your account and not give it away to anyone or write it down and leave it in an unsecure location.
  • Bank features. Some online banks won’t offer all the features of a traditional bank, such as mortgages, car loans and business accounts. If you need these financial products in the future, you won’t be able to bundle them together with your checking account, and you could miss out on loyalty bonuses.

Compare online checking accounts

Sort this table by minimum deposit to open, ATMs and ATM fees to find an account that’s right for you. Click the “Compare” box next to your top choices to view them side-by-side.

Name Product APY Minimum deposit to open ATMs Out-of-network ATM fee
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Up to 1.00%
$10
55,000 free in-network ATMs
$0
Deposits are fossil fuel-free and insured by the FDIC. Enjoy a spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and a $100 bonus when you spend $1,000 in your first 60 days.
Chase Total Checking®
Finder Rating: 3 / 5: ★★★★★
Chase Total Checking®
N/A
$0
Access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches nationwide
$2.50
Chase Total Checking is easy to use and gives you access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches. It offers a $225 signup bonus to new Chase customers
Chime Spending account
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
Chime Spending account
N/A
$0
60,000+ fee-free ATMs
$2.50
Get rid of fees with this financial app offering consumer-friendly accounts. Chime can also help you save easily and access your paycheck faster.
Axos Bank Essential Checking
Finder Rating: 5 / 5: ★★★★★
Axos Bank Essential Checking
N/A
$0
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
No fees. Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.
OnJuno
Finder Rating: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
OnJuno
Up to 2.15%
$0
more than 85,000 ATMs nationwide
$0
OnJuno embraces an open banking system for everyone, regardless of their age, location, or income.
N26
Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5: ★★★★★
N26
N/A
$0
Fee-free ATM withdrawals at Allpoint ATMs
$0
A digital bank account with no hidden fees, no minimum account balance and no maintenance charges.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

If you’re tech savvy and prefer to manage your finances independently, an online checking account can offer convenience and low fees. But if you regularly get help at your local bank branch, the tradeoff might not be worth it. To make sure you’re choosing an account that’s the right fit for you, compare other checking accounts before making a decision.

Frequently asked questions

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