7 Best Free Checking Accounts in November 2022 - MagnifyMoney
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7 Best Free Checking Accounts in November 2022

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A free checking account is a safe and convenient place to store your money for everyday financial transactions, allowing you to withdraw funds to make purchases or to get cash from ATMs whenever you’d like.

Many checking accounts have different types of fees, but some financial institutions provide checking accounts that try to keep costs as low as possible. While each best free checking account chosen by MagnifyMoney may have some fees (such as those for out-of-network ATM use), they have no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements that trigger fees.

Best free checking accounts in November 2022

Free checking accountWhy it stands out
Ally Bank Interest Checking AccountOver 43,000Solid 0.25% APY offered on balances over $15,000, earns 0.10% APY otherwise
Capital One 360 CheckingOver 70,000Offers branch access for banking despite being a credit card company
Alliant Credit Union High Interest CheckingOver 80,000Credit union featuring 0.25% APY on all checking balances
Axos Bank Rewards CheckingUnlimited rebatesUp to 1.25% APY with certain conditions, has $50 minimum to open
nbkc Bank Everything AccountOver 37,000Incorporates savings goals into a checking account, pays 1.26% APY on all balances
Varo Bank AccountOver 55,000Simple, streamlined online checking account with no monthly fees
LendingClub Rewards CheckingUnlimited rebatesUnlimited 1% cash back on eligible debit card purchases

1. Ally Bank Interest Checking

SEE DETAILS

on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Fee-free ATMs: Over 43,000
  • ATM fee rebates: Yes (up to $10 per statement cycle)
  • Earns interest: 0.10% APY on balances under $15,000; 0.25% APY on balances $15,000 and above
  • Potential fees: Returned deposit items, outgoing wire transfers, expedited delivery

What to know: Ally’s out-of-network ATM fee rebates are helpful, given that there are no branch locations. Even though interest rates across the board are low, Ally Bank offers a decent 0.25% APY on balances of $15,000 and above. Ally is a prominent online bank that doesn’t operate any branch locations but has over 43,000 fee-free ATMs through the All point network and provides up to $10 per month in out-of-network ATM fee rebates. There are some standard fees, like those for outgoing wire transfers. Like the other accounts on this list, there are no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements.

As far as free checking accounts go, Ally offers a strong rate. Even low balances can earn 0.10% APY, and balances over $15,000 — which may be more than most customers might keep in their account — earn 0.25% APY. Since this is a variable rate account, those rates may change in the future.

2. Capital One 360 Checking

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on Capital One’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0, but first deposit must be made within 60 days or the account will be closed
  • Fee-free ATMs: Over 70,000
  • ATM fee rebates: No
  • Earns interest: 0.10% on all balances
  • Potential fees: Overnight check delivery, overnight replacement card delivery, stop payments

What to know: Capital One 360 Checking is a solid account all-around. It bears a little bit of interest, has strong online and mobile banking platforms and offers branch access.Another credit card company that’s expanded into banking services, Capital One offers 360 Checking, a solid, free checking account with a couple of noteworthy features. The account earns interest at 0.10% APY for all balances, offers early paychecks with regular direct deposit setup and provides a few options in case you overdraft your account.

Capital One is the only brick and mortar bank on our list, plus they have a vast ATM presence. This account doesn’t charge you for out-of-network ATM use, but it also doesn’t offer rebates for fees levied by other financial institutions.

3. Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

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on Alliant Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Fee-free ATMs: Over 80,000
  • ATM fee rebates: Yes (up to $20 per month)
  • Earns interest: 0.25% APY on all balances with required account activity
  • Potential fees: Stop payments, returned deposit items, paper account statement, inactivity, outgoing wire transfers

What to know: Alliant Credit Union offers a solid 0.25% APY on all balances, and the $20 out-of-network ATM fee rebate each month is better than most banks offer. Make sure to complete account activity requirements to avoid fees.Alliant Credit Union is the only credit union on our list. They offer membership eligibility nationwide for those who join Foster Care to Success, and Alliant will pay the $5 membership fee on your behalf. Once you’re a member, you have access to the High Interest Checking account, which offers one of the better available interest rates for a free online checking account (0.25% APY). You need to elect eStatements and complete one required qualifying direct deposit per month to earn interest.

Alliant offers access to over 80,000 ATMs and even provides rebates for out-of-network ATM fees up to $20 a month. Likewise, while Alliant limits common fees (including overdraft protection), there are various types of fees that can apply to this account. Not only are there more common fees like those for stop payments or wire transfers, there are inactivity and dormant account fees as well.

4. Axos Bank Rewards Checking

SEE DETAILS

on Axos Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • Minimum opening deposit: $50
  • Fee-free ATMs: Unlimited ATM rebates
  • ATM fee rebates: Yes (unlimited)
  • Earns interest: Up to 1.25% APY on some balances with certain conditions
  • Potential fees: Stop payments, outgoing wire transfers, check orders, paper account statements

What to know: This account offers unlimited ATM fee rebates for cash withdrawals, but it’s the only account on our list with a minimum opening deposit ($50). But by meeting certain requirements, you can earn at least 0.70% APY with this account (the best rate on our list). Axos Bank is an online-only bank that has some of the most competitive rates on their deposit accounts, including up to 1.25% APY on Rewards Checking balances based on account activity. To unlock any interest-earning options, you must start by receiving monthly direct deposits totaling at least $1,500 — this earns you 2.01% APY. You can earn additional interest with each extra requirement you meet:

  • Make at least 10 monthly debit card transactions or sign up for the Axos Personal Finance Manager
  • Maintain $2,500 in a Managed Portfolio Account
  • Maintain $2,500 in a Self Directed Trading Account
  • Use the Rewards Checking account to pay Axos consumer loans

Axos doesn’t operate bank branches or its own ATMs, but there are unlimited ATM fee rebates for cash withdrawals — a nice perk.

Looking for an Axos option that doesn’t require a $50 opening deposit? The bank’s Essential Checking account also has no monthly fees but has no required opening deposit.

5. nbkc Bank Everything Account

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on nbkc bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Fee-free ATMs: Over 37,000
  • ATM fee rebates: Yes (up to $12 per month)
  • Earns interest: 1.26% APY on all balances
  • Potential fees: Outgoing wire transfers

What to know: Between the ability to earn interest on the account, the rebates for out-of-network ATM use and the features that help build better savings habits, the nbkc Everything Account is a quality all-around choice.nbkc is a bank with an online presence, along with branches in the Kansas City area, and its Everything Account has some valuable features as far as free checking accounts go, especially the $12 per month rebate on out-of-network ATM fees. The account also earns interest.

As part of the Everything Account, there are some features more commonly associated with savings accounts, namely the ability to set goals for saving money. Unlike savings accounts, there are no transaction limits for the Everything Account. nbkc also does a better job of keeping miscellaneous fees for special services down relative to other banks.

6. Varo Bank Account

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Fee-free ATMs: Over 55,000
  • ATM fee rebates: No
  • Earns interest: No
  • Potential fees: Out-of-network ATM use, cash deposits

What to know: Varo keeps fees low in general and is a decent option for basic online banking.Varo Bank specializes in simple, free online bank accounts, including the Varo Bank Account — a checking account with no minimum balance requirements or monthly maintenance fees. It’s free to open an account, but there are some hidden charges: You’ll have to pay a fee to deposit cash or use an out-of-network ATM. Varo has some advantages, including early access to paychecks and instant ACH transfers.

7. LendingClub Rewards Checking

SEE DETAILS

on LendingClub’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Fee-free ATMs: Unlimited ATM rebates
  • ATM fee rebates: Yes (unlimited)
  • Earns interest: 0.10% APY on balances at least $2,500 and under $100,000; 0.15% APY on balances $100,000 and above
  • Potential fees: Wire transfers, stop payments

What to know: With this account, you can use ATMs around the world for free, avoid overdraft fees and even get cash back on eligible debit card purchases.LendingClub is a fintech marketplace bank. With its Rewards Checking account, you’ll earn a little bit of interest and receive unlimited worldwide ATM fee rebates (one of the most generous ATM policies of accounts on our list). There are also no overdraft, monthly maintenance or incoming wire transfer fees.

You can also get cash back on eligible debit card purchases if you meet a few requirements (have an account that’s at least 30 days old and receive $2,500 or more in direct deposits or maintain an average balance of $2,500 or more).

Is a free checking account truly free to use?

Chances are that you’ll be able to avoid fees for those services, but keep in mind that checking accounts aren’t truly free. Even if a checking account claims to have no fees, they might just be referring to monthly maintenance fees or some other common types of fees, but you may have to pay for a stop payment order, for example. The accounts chosen by MagnifyMoney as a best free checking account still have some types of fees in the fine print.

Common checking account fees

Financial institutions typically levy some fees for their bank accounts. Some are standard monthly fees that can often be waived by maintaining a certain account balance or completing certain direct deposit requirements. The accounts listed above don’t have any of those fees, nor do they have any minimum balance requirements. With that said, other fees may apply.

  • Overdraft fees: If you try to withdraw money or make a purchase for more funds than you currently have in your checking account, you could incur overdraft fees. Some financial institutions let you cover those overdrafts with funds from another account or turn on other protections to help you avoid fees. Some banks have cut overdraft fees entirely.
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: If you use an account from a bank that isn’t partnered with the ATM you’re withdrawing money from, you’ll likely run into some ATM fees: You can pay a fee from the company who operates those ATMs and a fee from your bank. Some banks waive that fee, and others provide ATM fee reimbursements.
  • Stop payment order fees: If you need to stop a payment from processing or cancel a check, you may need to submit a request to your financial institution to complete a stop payment order — an action that usually costs a modest fee.
  • Outgoing wire transfer fees: A wire transfer is a way to complete a transfer of funds from one bank account to another, and often incurs fees — those fees tend to be higher for outgoing and international wire transfers.
  • Paper statement fees: In an effort to eliminate the costs associated with sending physical paper copies of bank statements and other documents, some banks have started charging small fees for those copies.

Choosing the best free checking account

There are some things to consider when deciding which financial institution you want to open an account with. In addition to whether the account has monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements, you should check the bank’s fee schedule in the account terms and conditions to see if there are other types of fees and whether you’re likely to pay them. Other account features, like ATM rebates, are another consideration.

Beyond fees, it’s important to see if the checking account bears interest. In an environment of low interest rates, it probably won’t add up to much, but rates could be subject to change in the future and it’s nice to earn a little bit of extra money just by keeping funds in your account. If earning interest on your checking account is a priority to you, we’ve compiled the best high-yield checking accounts available now.

You should also think about whether the bank offering an account is a good fit for you. Some banks have a strong branch presence, which may be an advantage if you like to use in-person banking services — but that might not matter much if you prefer to bank online or make mobile deposits. Likewise, you should check to see where the nearest in-network ATMs are located if you plan to withdraw cash. Consider all products and services by the financial institutions, too.

Methodology: How we chose the best free checking accounts

MagnifyMoney reviewed checking accounts from dozens of financial institutions using information sourced from our sister site DepositAccounts. While it’s possible to incur some fees with the accounts on this list in some cases, there are no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements to maintain these accounts. There are also no fees for normal account use, including ATM transactions from in-network ATMs. The accounts chosen for this list must be nationally available.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, you can open a checking account without an opening deposit. Several financial institutions don’t require a deposit after the account opens.

Yes, several free checking accounts earn interest. Alliant Credit Union offers 0.25% APY on all balances, and Axos Bank offers up to 1.25% APY with certain conditions.

Yes, it’s easy to open a checking account online. In some cases, like at online banks, it’s the only way you can open a new account.

Fees can add up with a checking account. With some accounts, if you don’t meet certain requirements each month or maintain a certain balance, you’ll incur ongoing fees. Each best free checking account on our list has no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements that trigger penalties.