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In the past decade, we’ve seen a major transformation in the banking sector. As the world continues to digitize, the financial landscape has shifted in response, giving birth to a plethora of online banking services. One such innovation that has garnered widespread adoption is online checking accounts.
As a key financial tool, a checking account serves as a lifeline for day-to-day transactions, paying bills, and generally managing one’s finances. But with online checking accounts, convenience, accessibility, and often better rates and lower fees have made them an attractive alternative to traditional banks.
10 Best Online Checking Accounts
These best online checking accounts offer a range of features, from high annual percentage yield (APY) to robust mobile apps, all designed to meet the varying financial needs of users. Here are our top 10 picks for 2023.
1. Chime Checking Account
Chime, a financial technology company that offers online banking services, is revolutionizing the banking industry with its online checking account that pairs both convenience and value into a single offering.
With Chime, you can access banking services without the constraints of physical branches and enjoy a plethora of services, from direct deposits to earning savings interest and more.
It’s essential to note that Chime isn’t a bank but rather a financial technology company providing banking services through Bancorp Bank, N.A., and Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.
No monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance: The Chime Checking Account comes with no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements, making it a cost-effective option for those looking to maximize their financial resources.
Early direct deposit: With Chime, you can receive your direct deposits up to two days early, providing you with quicker access to your funds compared to many traditional banks.
SpotMe® feature: This innovative feature allows you to overdraw your account up to $200 on debit card purchases without a fee, provided that you have $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits each month. The SpotMe® limit can be increased based on account history, direct deposit amounts and frequency, spending activity, and other factors.
Automated savings features: Chime allows you to save effortlessly with its Round Ups feature. Each time you use your Chime Visa® Debit Card, the transaction is rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the difference is transferred to your savings account. The Save When I Get Paid feature lets you set up a recurring transfer of 10% of your direct deposit paycheck of $500 or more from your checking account to your savings account each time you get paid.
Extensive ATM network: With Chime, you get access to over 60,000+ fee-free ATMs nationwide, giving you the flexibility to withdraw cash without worrying about ATM fees.
The Chime Checking Account is a stellar example of how online banks are providing value-packed offerings that rival traditional banks.
The account is particularly beneficial for those who receive direct deposits and don’t need to deposit cash often.
2. Axos Bank Rewards Checking
Axos Bank is an online-based bank that’s shaking up the banking industry with its online Rewards Checking account, a unique blend of convenience and value.
Axos allows you to utilize banking services without the constraints of physical branches and offers numerous benefits, from earning high APY to ATM fee reimbursements and more.
It’s important to note that Axos Bank is a completely online bank without in-person customer service options.
High APY: The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account can earn an APY of up to 3.30% on balances up to $50,000, given certain conditions are met. You can earn this high APY by fulfilling certain requirements. These include maintaining a monthly direct deposit totaling at least $1,500 or making qualifying debit card purchases. Additionally, maintaining certain balances in Axos investment accounts, or making a monthly Axos consumer loan payment using Rewards Checking.
No Overdraft Fees: Rewards Checking doesn’t charge overdraft or nonsufficient funds fees. Transactions are simply declined unless you enroll in one of the bank’s overdraft programs, which include the option to set up free automatic transfers from a savings account to your checking account if your balance goes negative.
ATM Fee Reimbursement: Axos Bank offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from any ATM without worrying about the fees.
Cash Deposits: Axos Bank uses a third-party service, Green Dot, to let customers add cash to their accounts or reload debit cards at retailers such as 7-Eleven and CVS Pharmacy. However, it costs up to $4.95 per deposit. You can also make deposits at some of Axos Bank’s 91,000 in-network ATMs.
Remote Customer Service Options: Axos Bank offers a variety of remote customer service options, including a 24/7 phone line, automated online chat, secure online messaging, and Twitter support.
The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account is a prime example of how online banks are delivering offerings that compete with traditional banks.
The account is particularly beneficial for those who can meet the requirements to earn the high APY and are comfortable with online-only customer service.
3. Current Account
Current, a pioneering financial technology company, delivers cutting-edge banking solutions with its Current Account.
While not a traditional bank, Current collaborates with Choice Financial Group to provide banking services, assuring member FDIC protections up to $250,000.
Up to 2-day early direct deposit: With Current, customers can receive their paycheck up to two days earlier with direct deposit, offering superior control over their finances.
Fee-free overdraft protection: Current Account users can take advantage of fee-free overdraft protection, a feature that can safeguard against unexpected charges.
Points earned on debit card swipes for cash back: The Current Account provides added incentives for daily spending, as customers can earn points on debit card swipes that can be redeemed for cash back.
Access to over 40,000 fee-free ATMs: Ensuring easy access to cash nationwide, Current provides its users with over 40,000 fee-free ATMs.
Mobile check deposit: The innovative mobile check deposit feature from Current allows for effortless banking directly from a smartphone.
Current doesn’t just stop at basic features, it goes beyond by offering a range of options that simplify and amplify the banking experience.
Free from minimum balance fees, overdraft fees, bank transfer fees, and in-network ATM withdrawal fees, Current is committed to delivering an uncomplicated and seamless banking experience.
The “Current Pay” feature further enhances the user experience by facilitating instant money transfers among friends and family, simplifying payments or reimbursements.
4. SoFi Checking and Savings Account
SoFi, a modern financial platform offering a suite of financial services, is setting new standards in the world of banking with its online bank account that combines remarkable earning potential and considerable convenience.
Remember that SoFi isn’t a traditional bank but a financial technology company that provides banking services in association with a network of participating banks, all of which are FDIC insured.
No account or overdraft fees and no minimum balance: The SoFi Online Bank Account is cost-friendly, with no account fees, overdraft fees, or minimum balance requirements. This makes it an excellent choice for those who want to keep their banking expenses to a minimum.
Potential 2-day early direct deposit: If you set up a direct deposit, SoFi provides the possibility of getting your paycheck up to two days earlier, offering faster access to your money compared to traditional banking establishments.
High-interest earnings: As a SoFi member, you have the opportunity to earn up to 4.20% APY on your savings and Vaults balances, and 1.20% APY on your checking balances. This earning rate is significantly higher than the national average, making your money work harder for you.
No-fee overdraft coverage: SoFi introduces a user-friendly feature covering accidental overspending up to $50 with no fees, given that you have qualifying direct deposits.
Cash back at local establishments: SoFi users can enjoy up to 15% cash back at local establishments when they pay with their SoFi debit card, combining savings with everyday spending.
Increased FDIC insurance: SoFi deposits are insured up to $2M, a feature that provides extra peace of mind when it comes to the security of your funds.
The SoFi Checking and Savings Account is an excellent example of how FinTech firms are providing robust banking solutions that rival and even surpass traditional banks.
The account is particularly attractive to those who frequently use direct deposits and prefer banking digitally, offering superior returns on their balances and protection from various fees.
5. Ally Bank Interest Checking Account
Ally Bank, renowned for its customer-centric digital banking services, provides a comprehensive offering through its Ally Bank Interest Checking Account.
While being an entirely online institution, Ally Bank ensures FDIC insurances up to the maximum allowed by law, bolstering financial security for its customers.
Fee-free banking: Ally Bank champions transparency and affordability with no monthly maintenance or overdraft fees, supporting customers in maximizing their financial resources.
Access to 43,000+ no-fee Allpoint® ATMs: With a network of over 43,000 no-fee Allpoint® ATMs, customers enjoy widespread cash access. Plus, Ally reimburses up to $10 per statement cycle for fees charged at other ATMs nationwide.
Spending buckets: This innovative feature helps customers manage their money effectively by setting funds aside for ongoing expenses such as rent and groceries, much like digital envelopes. This encourages better spending habits and gives a clearer picture of personal finances.
Up to 2-day early direct deposit: Offering greater financial flexibility, Ally Bank allows customers to receive their paycheck up to two days sooner with early direct deposit.
Overdraft protection: With the Overdraft Transfer Service and CoverDraft℠ service, Ally provides a dual protection mechanism against accidental overspending, adding to its customer-friendly features.
Manage your debit card: Within Ally’s mobile app, customers can lock their card, set notifications, and limit spending, offering enhanced control over their banking.
Remote check deposit: With Ally eCheck DepositSM, depositing checks is as simple as snapping a photo with your smartphone.
Send and receive money: Through Zelle®, customers can send and receive money quickly, securely, and without the need for an extra app.
The Ally Bank Interest Checking Account provides a robust banking experience, packed with unique features that suit the needs of today’s digitally savvy customers.
It combines the convenience of online banking with the benefits of a comprehensive checking account, delivering unparalleled value.
Furthermore, Ally Bank’s commitment to keeping fees minimal, coupled with its transparent approach, ensures customers can bank confidently and efficiently.
6. Consumers Credit Union Serious Interest Checking
Consumers Credit Union, committed to enhancing its members’ financial prosperity, offers an appealing solution with its Serious Interest Checking®, a high yield checking account.
Despite being a credit union, it combines the benefits of a checking account with an attractive interest rate, making banking rewarding for its members.
High-yield earnings: This checking account stands out by offering a whopping 4.00% APY on balances up to $15,000. To qualify for this interest rate, account holders must have 12 posted debit card transactions per month, maintain a $1,000 average daily balance, and establish a minimum recurring monthly direct deposit of $1,000, along with eStatements.
Instant-issue debit card: With the Serious Interest Checking® account, members receive an instant-issue debit card, providing immediate access to their funds.
No debit card usage fees or check deposit fees: In alignment with its member-friendly approach, Consumers Credit Union does not charge fees for debit card usage or for each check deposited.
24-hour online banking and mobile banking app: Offering a seamless digital banking experience, account holders have 24-hour access to online banking and a convenient mobile banking app.
Free online check copies and unlimited check writing: As part of its comprehensive offering, Consumers Credit Union provides free online check copies and allows unlimited check writing, adding to its array of cost-effective features.
Access to 30,000+ fee-free ATMs nationwide: Customers can withdraw cash from over 30,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide, ensuring easy access to their funds.
Competitive interest rates and custom alerts: Apart from competitive interest rates, the account also offers custom alerts for balance and activity, promoting active financial management.
Free eStatements and mobile check deposit: This high yield checking account also features free eStatements and mobile check deposit, further simplifying the banking experience for customers.
The Consumers Credit Union Serious Interest Checking® account blends the convenience of a checking account with the high-yield earnings usually associated with a savings account.
Its feature-rich, value-packed offering makes it a compelling choice for those seeking to elevate their banking experience and maximize their earnings.
7. Quontic High Interest Checking
Quontic Bank, committed to maximizing customer earnings and supporting financial inclusivity, offers a high interest checking account that combines convenience, high-yield potential, and an innovative digital banking experience.
Highly rated by multiple platforms, this account is perfect for those seeking to earn more from their deposits.
Earn up to 1.10% APY: The Quontic High Interest Checking account allows you to earn up to 1.10% APY on all balance tiers. To qualify, make at least 10 qualifying debit card point of sale transactions of $10 or more per statement cycle. Failure to meet these requirements results in a 0.01% interest and APY. A minimum opening deposit of $100 is required.
Quontic Pay Ring: In a bid to revolutionize banking, Quontic offers a payment wearable called the Quontic Pay Ring. This innovative feature allows you to make payments effortlessly without needing to carry your debit card.
Access to 90,000+ ATMs nationwide: Enjoy surcharge-free withdrawals at any participating AllPoint® Network ATMs, MoneyPass® Network ATMs, SUM® program ATMs, or Citibank® ATMs located in various retailers across the nation.
Fully mobile & online banking: Quontic offers a dynamic online banking platform and mobile app equipped with features like remote check deposit, bill pay, account transfers, and receipt tracking, providing a seamless banking experience on your terms.
Wide range of pay options: With compatibility for Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Zelle, Quontic ensures you have plenty of options to facilitate your payments.
No monthly or overdraft fees: Quontic is committed to transparency and affordability, promising no hidden monthly or overdraft fees.
Member FDIC and advanced security monitoring: As a FDIC-insured institution, Quontic offers robust security features including the ability to lock and unlock your debit card online and protection against unauthorized transactions.
Banking with a purpose: Quontic stands apart by being a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), striving to bring the dream of homeownership to low-income families, immigrants, people of color, small business owners, and others who are unable to obtain mortgage financing through traditional lenders.
The Quontic High Interest Checking account combines innovative features, high yield potential, and an inclusive mission, making it a compelling choice for socially conscious individuals seeking to earn more on their deposits.
8. Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking
Simplicity and high yields are the cornerstone of Alliant Credit Union’s High-Rate Checking account, a solution tailored to meet the needs of modern-day banking customers, whether they’re on-the-go or prefer traditional banking methods.
Recognized by multiple platforms for its service excellence, this account is designed for customers who desire a seamless and rewarding banking experience.
No monthly fee or minimum balance requirement: Alliant Credit Union ensures hassle-free banking with no monthly service fee or monthly minimum balance requirement.
No overdraft fees: Mistakes happen, and Alliant understands this by not charging its customers overdraft fees. However, some standard fees such as stop payment do apply.
Access to 80,000+ fee-free ATMs: Get access to more than 80,000 fee-free ATMs, eliminating the need for ATM hunting. Plus, enjoy up to $20/month in ATM fee rebates for out-of-network ATMs.
Contactless payments and digital wallet compatibility: Pay quickly and securely with your free Visa® contactless debit card or through digital wallets such as Apple Pay™, Samsung Pay™, and Google Pay™, and other payment apps like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App.
Mobile banking and remote deposit: Manage your finances anywhere, anytime with the Alliant Mobile Banking app, which also allows you to deposit checks remotely.
Free overdraft protection and courtesy pay: Avoid accidental overdrafts with free overdraft protection, and opt-in for Courtesy Pay to cover checks, electronic payments, and transfers beyond your overdraft protection.
Account alerts and card management: Receive alerts for large transactions or unusual account activity, and manage your debit card on-the-go with options to activate or replace a lost/stolen card via Alliant online or mobile banking.
Federally insured and $0 liability on fraudulent charges: Rest assured knowing your deposits are federally insured up to $250,000 by the NCUA, and enjoy Visa’s $0 fraud liability feature, offering protection against unauthorized charges.
To earn interest on your checking account, simply opt for free eStatements and ensure at least one monthly electronic deposit to your Alliant High-Rate Checking account.
The Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking account offers simplicity, flexibility, and competitive interest rates, making it a smart choice for your everyday banking needs.
9. Schwab Bank Investor Checking
Charles Schwab brings its robust reputation in the investment sector to banking with its Schwab Bank Investor Checking account, designed for those seeking seamless integration of banking and investing.
This account ensures that your financial management is hassle-free and efficient, encouraging more financial freedom and effective investment.
No fees or minimums: Experience the freedom of no maintenance fees or account minimums. This account enables you to focus more on your finances without the worry of hidden charges or minimum balance requirements.
Competitive APY: Enjoy a competitive 0.45% APY on your checking account balance, providing an added benefit of earning interest on your deposited funds.
Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide: Travel or live abroad without worrying about ATM fees. Charles Schwab offers unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide, making accessing your money easier and more affordable.
No foreign transaction fees: Schwab’s account is designed with the international traveler in mind, eliminating foreign transaction fees and making it more convenient and cost-effective for you to use your debit card abroad.
Security and peace of mind: Feel secure with features like card lock/unlock, bank and transaction alerts, and travel notices. These features, combined with the Schwab Security Guarantee, ensure maximum security and control over your financial transactions.
Robust mobile app: Manage all your Schwab banking needs from one place with a feature-rich mobile app. Make deposits, transfer money, and more, with just a few taps on your smartphone.
Mobile payments: Enjoy a secure, convenient, and easy way to pay with your mobile wallet or contactless debit card. This allows for quick and hassle-free transactions, whether you’re shopping online or in-store.
The Schwab Bank Investor Checking account integrates banking and investing, offering convenience, ease, and attractive benefits for the modern user.
Whether you’re an avid traveler or looking for a no-fee, high-yield checking account that also offers excellent digital banking capabilities, this account could be a great fit.
10. Navy Federal Credit Union Free EveryDay Checking
Navy Federal Credit Union’s Free EveryDay Checking is an easy-to-use, accessible banking solution for everyone.
It is ideally suited for those seeking a basic, straightforward account for everyday banking needs, particularly individuals with lower account balances.
No monthly service fee or minimums: This account demands no monthly service fees, no opening deposit requirement, and no minimum balance requirement, offering a flexible, low-maintenance banking experience for all users.
Interest-earning: With a 0.01% APY and Dividend Rate, your balance isn’t just sitting—it’s working for you, accumulating dividends over time.
Free debit card with zero liability protection: Your account includes a Navy Federal Debit Card, which is accepted at millions of locations worldwide and comes with zero liability protection for added security.
Digital banking: Navy Federal’s account offers a wide range of digital banking capabilities. This includes Mobile Deposits and Bill Pay, enabling you to manage your finances on the go, securely, and conveniently.
Checking protection options: Protect your checking account from overdrafts and denied transactions with Navy Federal’s Checking Protection Options, ensuring peace of mind and financial stability.
Additional benefits: The Free EveryDay Checking Account also offers free traditional name-only checks, an easy-to-use online ordering system, and automatic notifications to track account activity.
Highly rated: With a 4.7 out of 5 rating based on 142 reviews, Navy Federal’s checking account is highly rated by its customers for its user-friendly features and excellent service.
In addition to these standard features, Navy Federal Credit Union offers comprehensive digital banking tools like mobile banking apps, bill pay services, and convenient transfer and deposit options.
Plus, all members enjoy access to 24/7 customer service and more than 350 branches worldwide. The Free EveryDay Checking Account is a simple, straightforward, and user-friendly option that makes everyday banking a breeze.
What is an online checking account?
An online checking account operates much like the checking accounts you’re accustomed to at traditional brick and mortar banks, with the primary difference being that it’s mostly or entirely digital. They are provided by online banks, credit unions, and even financial technology companies that are not banks themselves.
Online checking accounts have surged in popularity for a variety of reasons. Their major draw is the convenience and flexibility they offer. With these accounts, you can deposit cash, pay bills, transfer money, make debit card purchases, and even deposit checks digitally using the bank’s mobile app. This means that all your transactions can be completed without visiting a physical branch location.
Additionally, online only banks typically offer higher annual percentage yields (APY) than traditional banks, meaning your money grows faster. The absence of physical branches translates into reduced overhead costs for these financial institutions, enabling them to pass on the savings to customers in the form of higher interest rates and lower fees. These accounts also often have lower minimum balance requirements and monthly maintenance fees compared to their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
Lastly, many online banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), providing the same level of safety for your deposits as traditional banks.
Criteria for Evaluation
Selecting the best online checking accounts was not a task taken lightly. We’ve considered a variety of factors in our analysis to ensure that our picks provide a mix of the most advantageous features for diverse financial needs. Here are the key criteria we used in our evaluation:
Annual percentage yield (APY): We considered the APY offered on the checking accounts. Higher APY means your money grows faster, making it a key feature to look for in an account.
Monthly fees and other costs: Monthly maintenance fees can eat into your savings. We favored accounts with low or no monthly fees. We also looked at other potential costs like overdraft fees, out of network ATM fees, and foreign transaction fees.
ATM access: Easy and wide-ranging access to ATMs is crucial. We considered online banks with large ATM networks and those that offer ATM fee reimbursements.
Customer service: Exceptional customer service is important, especially for an online only bank where in-person assistance is not an option. We assessed the quality of customer service provided by each bank.
Mobile app experience: A great mobile app can make managing your money a breeze. We evaluated the usability, functionality, and reliability of each bank’s mobile app.
Additional features: Other features like early direct deposit, mobile check deposits, cash back rewards, and savings tools can add value to online checking accounts. We considered these additional features in our review.
How to Choose the Right Online Checking Account for You
Choosing the right online checking account is crucial. It can simplify your financial management, enhance your monetary gains, and align with your lifestyle needs. Below are key factors to consider in making an informed decision:
- Financial Habits: Evaluate your typical financial behaviors. Do you frequently use ATMs, and will you need access to an extensive, fee-free ATM network? If you regularly maintain a high balance in your checking account, an interest-earning account could be beneficial. Conversely, if you tend to keep a low balance, consider an account with no minimum balance requirement to avoid potential fees.
- Goals: What are your financial goals? If you’re aiming to save, consider an account that earns interest. If you’re focused on investing, select an institution that offers seamless integration between checking and investment accounts.
- Lifestyle: Assess your lifestyle and daily needs. Do you travel often and need an account that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees? If you prefer digital banking, look for accounts with robust online platforms and mobile apps that allow for easy money management on the go.
- Fees: Examine the fee structure carefully. Consider potential monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, and ATM fees. Look for accounts offering fee waivers or reimbursements.
- Customer Service: Exceptional customer service is crucial, particularly for an online bank. Look for 24/7 customer support, availability of live chat, and timely response to queries.
- Security: Ensure that the bank employs stringent security measures to protect your account from fraud or unauthorized transactions. Features like two-factor authentication, alerts for suspicious activity, and FDIC insurance are vital.
In today’s fast-paced, digital age, online checking accounts provide a convenient, accessible, and often more financially rewarding alternative to traditional banking. However, the key to making the most of these benefits is to choose the right account based on your individual needs, lifestyle, and financial goals.
By carefully considering factors like your financial habits, goals, lifestyle, potential fees, customer service, and security measures, you can find an online checking account that not only meets but exceeds your expectations. Remember, your checking account is at the heart of your financial life – choose wisely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are online checking accounts safe?
Yes, online checking accounts are safe as long as they’re offered by a reputable bank or credit union that has FDIC or NCUA insurance. This insurance protects your money up to $250,000 per depositor.
Can I deposit cash into an online checking account?
Depositing cash into an online checking account can be more challenging than with a traditional bank. Some online banks have agreements with certain ATM networks or retail outlets where you can deposit cash. You can also deposit cash into a traditional bank account and then transfer it to your online account.
What should I do if I need to write a check?
Many online banks offer free or low-cost checkbooks. However, if you seldom write checks, you may not need a physical checkbook. Instead, you can use the bank’s online bill pay service, which sends a check or electronic payment to the recipient on your behalf.
Do online banks offer customer service?
Yes, most online banks offer robust customer service options, including phone support, live chat, email, and often extensive FAQ sections on their websites. Some even offer 24/7 support.