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Eliminating Fees

Do You Have the Right Overdraft Protection?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Unless you keep your money in a tin can underneath your bed – which we don’t advise – you’re subjected to the fine print policies of whatever financial institution you trust with your assets. Unfortunately, the banks sometimes come off as something more akin to Tony Soprano than a knight guarding your wealth.

The restructuring of transactions (or “high to low processing” as the banks call it) is one way to force you into paying more fees if and when you go overdraft.

Be sure to read What are Overdraft Fees?

I thought the government passed a law to protect me?

Yes, the government did pass Regulation E, but most of the old tricks remain in place and high to low ordering is legal. Some of the biggest banks stopped the practice in an attempt to appease regulators, but ironically smaller banks are the ones most likely to still be reordering your transactions.

The protection of Regulation E is related to debit and ATM transactions.  You have the right to opt out of overdraft for debit and ATM.  If you opt out, then your transaction would be declined and you would not be paying the overdraft fee for going into negative numbers. But remember that some banks still charge you a NSF (non-sufficient fund) fee. But for checks, electronic transactions (which include using your debit card as a credit card) and bank fees, the practice remains exactly as it was.

Can I enroll in protection?

Yes, you can.

Protection means that you link an account (usually a savings account, credit card or line of credit).  If your checking account does not have enough money, then money is transferred from your savings, credit card or line of credit.

This doesn’t save you from fees though. Banks will typically charge a transfer fee to the checking account. The fee is usually somewhere between $10 to $12 per day that you have an overdraft.

If you link your savings account, then it is very straightforward. You pay the bank to transfer money from your savings account to your checking account. You’re still forking over $10 to $12 for something that costs the bank fractions of a cent.

If you link a credit card, the story is more complex. Most credit cards will charge you a cash advance fee, and will start charging interest at the cash advance rate from Day 1. That rate is usually close to 30%.

Linking a line of credit is usually the cheapest way to borrow. Typically there is no fee on the line of credit, and the interest rates tend to be lower. Not surprisingly, lots of credit unions offer a line of credit. Of the Big 4 banks, only Citibank offer a line of credit.

Overdraft protection doesn’t protect from fees

Back to the Tony Soprano reference, buying protection doesn’t entirely protect you. Even if you enroll in overdraft protection, you can still be charged an Overdraft or NSF fee. If you link your savings account, and there is not enough money in the savings account, then you would be charged an NSF or Overdraft fee.

Is this fair?

We don’t think so. But our job is to help you understand the rules and find the best way to avoid fees.

Find out how certain banks are starting help consumers

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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The Best Checking Accounts for May 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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The best checking accounts can provide a competitive interest rate, ATM fee reimbursements and even cashback rewards. If your current account doesn’t offer any of these features, it may be time to switch.

Check out our best checking account picks for April 2020 and click on the links to read about why we picked each bank.

Summary of the Best Checking Accounts for May 2020

Best Overall Checking Account

Simple Checking Account

Simple Review

Best High-Yield Checking Account

Consumer Credit Union Rewards Checking

Consumer Credit Union Review

Best Free Checking Account

Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Axos Bank Review

Best No-Fee Checking Account

BBVA Free Checking

BBVA Compass Review

Best Checking Account Bonus

Wells Fargo Everyday Checking

Wells Fargo Review

Best Rewards Checking Account

Discover Cashback Debit

Discover Bank Review

Best No-ATM Fee Checking Account

TD Bank Beyond Checking

TD Bank Review

Best Business Checking Account

Axos Bank Business Interest Checking

Axos Bank Review

Best Checking Account for Students

Chase College Checking

Chase Bank Review

Best Joint Checking Account

Ally Bank Interest Checking

Ally Bank Review

Why Trust Us?

At MagnifyMoney, it is our mission to inform our readers about the best financial opportunities out there. Our insights have been cited by top financial publications including Marketwatch, CNBC and the Wall Street Journal.

Our dedicated team of financial experts spent dozens of hours grading each checking account on its features, including fees, minimum balance requirements, ATM and branch network availability, APYs and customer satisfaction. We distilled our picks from a list that included hundreds of banks, credit unions and online institutions nationwide.

We ensure our list is updated every month as new banks are added to our database, and we update information as banks change their terms.

Please note: While this list is up-to-date as of this writing, many banks have cut back on or even halted their hours temporarily in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to protect their customers and employees. Many banks continue to offer standard services online and over the phone as well as through automated ATMs.

Best Checking Accounts of April 2020

Best Overall Checking Account – Simple

Simple

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on Simple’s secure website

Highlights:

  • Free access to 40,000 Allpoint ATMs
  • No overdraft fees
  • Access to tools that allow you to automate your budgeting and savings
  • APY: 1.40% on balances in Protected Goals
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: Through a partnership with BBVA, Simple offers a great checking account with attractive budgeting features and a competitive APY. This account is great for those looking for a traditional checking account without unnecessary fees and stocked with benefits like interest and free ATM access.

What to watch out for: While you can earn a decent APY on the funds in your Protected Goals account, Simple doles out a dismal 0.01% APY on funds that are not in your Protected Goals account, a sub-account designed for money you set aside for savings. It’s also worth noting that fees may apply to ATMs outside of its Allpoint ATM network, and there is a Visa fee of up to 1% if the card is used internationally.

Best High Yield Checking Account – Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking

Consumers Credit Union (IL)

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on Consumers Credit Union (IL)’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Highlights:

  • Access to over 30,000 ATMs
  • Most lucrative rates require minimum direct deposits or spend on CCU Visa credit card
  • APY: up to 2.09%
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: The Consumers Credit Union has routinely offered sky-high rates, even in a plummeting rate environment, earning this account the title of Best High-Yield Checking account.

While this is a tiered rate account, the lower tiers — which can be earned with fewer requirements — still offer attractive rates that are well above those offered by other banks and credit unions.

What to watch out for: While balances between $10,000 and $25,000 — regardless of your tier — earn an APY of 0.20%, it’s worth noting that balances over $25,000 earn an APY of just 0.10%.

Additionally, if you don’t meet the monthly activity requirements, you’ll earn an APY of just 0.01% and won’t receive ATM refunds. The account also has an overdraft fee of $30.

Best Free Checking Account – Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Axos Bank

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on Axos Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • No overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees
  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
  • APY: up to 1.25%
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: We have crowned the Axos Bank Rewards Checking account as the Best Free Checking account not only for its attractive features, but for its consistency, too.

The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account has consistently offered competitive APYs — even as earning rates drop at other banks. This account also offers all of the bells and whistles that the best standard checking accounts have been known to include, like ATM fee reimbursements and no overdraft fees.

What to watch out for: The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account is a tiered, interest-earning variable rate account. So, in order to earn the 1.25% APY, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Receive monthly direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more
  • Use your debit card for a total of 15 transactions per month minimum of $3 per transaction)

If you don’t meet those requirements, you will receive a reduced APY from what is advertised. There is also a $50 minimum balance required to open this account.

Best No-Fee Checking Account – BBVA Free Checking

BBVA

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on BBVA’s secure website

Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • Free ATM access at BBVA ATMs
  • For $5 per month, you can receive up to four rebates per statement cycle for ATM fees charged by other banks, as well as no BBVA fees at non-BBVA ATMs
  • APY: None
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: If you’re looking for a basic checking account that gets the job with no fees or frills, the BBVA Free Checking account is a product worth exploring.

This checking account provides you with the basic checking necessities, with no monthly fees. Additionally, it gives you the ability to customize your account further for additional charges. For example, an extra fee of $2 a month will give you unlimited cashier’s checks.

What to watch out for: With the BBVA Free Checking account, there is a $25 minimum balance required to open an account and a potential overdraft fee of $38.

Best Checking Account Bonus – Wells Fargo Everyday Checking

Wells Fargo Bank

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on Wells Fargo Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • Access to over 13,000 Wells Fargo ATMs
  • Features budgeting, cash flow and spending tools
  • $10 monthly service is waived if you meet any one of their requirements
  • APY: None
  • Maintenance Fee: $10
  • Current Promotions: $400 bonus with $4,000 in direct deposits

Read the full review

Why we picked it: Wells Fargo’s Everyday Checking account is currently offering an attractive bonus offer, expiring July 31, 2020. Upon opening a new Wells Fargo Everyday Checking account and depositing a minimum of $4,000 in qualifying direct deposits within 90 days of opening, you’ll receive a $400 bonus.

This offer is only available to new Wells Fargo checking and savings customers in Denver, Houston, Miami, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix and Seattle. You also must not have received a bonus for opening a Wells Fargo consumer checking or savings account within the past 12 months.

What to watch out for: This account requires a $25 initial deposit to open. You should also be aware of the not-so-obvious fees associated with this account, which include a $2.50 fee for cash withdrawals at non-Wells Fargo ATMs in the U.S ($5 outside of the U.S.) and a $35 overdraft fee.

Best Rewards Checking Account – Discover Cashback Debit

Discover Bank

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Discover Bank's website is secure

Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • 1% cash back on up to $3,000 of debit card purchases per month
  • No insufficient funds fee
  • Access to over 60,000 no-fee ATMs
  • APY: None
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: The Discover Cashback Debit checking account is a standout account, with no fees and access to over 60,000 ATMs.

What really earns this account the title of Best Rewards Checking account, though, is the fact that it offers 1% cash back on all debit card purchases, up to $3,000 per month. This is a unique perk among checking accounts, and if you prefer cash back to earning interest, this could be the account for you.

What to watch out for: There aren’t too many surprises with this account, just be aware that fees for non-Discover ATMs may apply.

Best No-ATM Fee Checking Account – TD Bank Beyond Checking

TD Bank

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Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • No fees at TD Bank ATMs, and reimbursed fees for out-of-network ATMs for accounts that maintain a daily balance of at least $2,500
  • No required minimum opening deposit
  • Overdraft fees reimbursement offered up to two times per year
  • APY: Up to 0.01%
  • Maintenance Fee: $25
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: TD Bank’s Beyond Checking account is a great option for those who prioritize fee-free access to ATMs.

With this account, not only do you receive fee-free ATM access to TD Bank’s network of ATMS, but if you maintain a minimum daily balance of at least $2,500, TD Bank will reimburse you for any fees incurred at out-of-network ATMs. As the cherry on top, this account also doles out a little bit of interest.

What to watch out for: Be aware that the 0.05% APY is available only to accounts with a minimum daily balance of $50,000. Accounts with balances between $10,000 and $49,999 receive an APY of just 0.03%, while balances under $10,000 receive an APY of just 0.01%. There is also a $35 overdraft fee associated with this account.

Best Business Checking Account – Axos Bank Business Interest Checking

Axos Bank

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on Axos Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursement
  • Up to 50 free transaction items per month
  • Monthly service fee can be waived if you maintain an average, daily minimum balance of $5,000
  • APY: Up to 0.80%
  • Maintenance Fee: $10
  • Current Promotions: New business owners eligible for a $50 Welcome Bonus

Read the full review

Why we picked it: Axos Bank’s Business Interest Checking account stands out among other business checking account products for a myriad of reasons, most notably its surprisingly low fees.

Additionally, Axos Bank throws in a number of freebies with its Business Interest Checking account, from ATM fee reimbursements to free checks, making it our pick for the Best Business Checking Account.

What to watch out for:Transactions are $0.50 each after the first 50, and there is a $100 minimum opening deposit required for this account.

Best Checking Account for Students – Chase College Checking

Chase Bank

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on Chase Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • $6 monthly service fee waived for up to five years if you are 17 to 24 years old, have proof of student status and are enrolled in college, or if you meet any one of Chase’s monthly requirements
  • No monthly service fee on a Chase Savings account linked to this account for overdraft protection
  • APY: None
  • Maintenance Fee: $6
  • Current Promotions: $100 bonus for new Chase customers with qualifying activities

Read the full review

Why we picked it: The Chase College Checking account is a great option for students, as it waives its monthly service fee for those between the ages of 17 and 24 who have proof of a student status, for up to five years while in college.

With widespread ATM access, the ability to pay friends with QuickPay or Zelle and a robust mobile app, this account checks all the boxes for college students.

What to watch out for: For this account, you’ll need to show proof of student status. Also, there’s a $2.50 non-Chase ATM fee and $34 overdraft fee associated with this account.

Best Joint Checking Account – Ally Bank Interest Checking

Ally Bank

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Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • Free access to Allpoint ATMs and up to $10 in ATM fee reimbursements per statement cycle
  • No required minimum opening deposit
  • 0.10% APY on balances less than $15,000; 0.50% APY on accounts with a minimum daily balance of $15,000
  • APY: Up to 0.50%
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: Ally Bank’s Interest Checking account features minimal fees, variable interest and added perks like up to $10 in ATM fee reimbursements every month.

All of Ally Bank’s banking products support joint ownership, and you are allowed up to four owners on the account without any additional fees, making this an easy pick for our Best Joint Checking account.

What to watch out for: There’s not much to watch out for with this account, just be aware of the $25 overdraft fee.

Other Honorable Mentions

Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking: This account from investment firm Charles Schwab offers a few attractive perks like unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide, no monthly fees or minimums and no foreign transaction fees. However, the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account falls flat with its paltry 0% APY, which can’t quite compete with the Best High Yield Checking Account, the Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking account, which earns up to 2.09% APY.

Aspiration Spend and Save: The Aspiration Spend and Save cash management account is one of the most fee-friendly accounts out there, even allowing you to pay a monthly fee in an amount that you think is fair. Aspiration comes with the added bonus of access to over 55,000 ATMs, cash back rewards — especially at conscience-minded businesses — and up to up to 1.00% APY. The interest rate applies only to your Save balance, however, which makes for a more disjointed money management process.

Betterment Everyday: Another cash management account, the Betterment Everyday maximizes your FDIC insurance up to $1 million and provides unlimited transfers in and out of your account. It also earns interest at 0.40% APY. However, without a debit card, the Betterment Everyday account leaves a gap for those looking for a traditional free checking account.

Chase Premier Checking: A step up from Chase’s basic checking account, the Chase Premier Checking account earns interest (although at a paltry 0.01% APY) and waives select fees, including on the first four non-Chase ATM transactions per month. However, its features don’t quite justify the $25 monthly service fee, which you can only waive by meeting certain requirements.

PNC Performance Checking: PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend is unique in that it comes with a checking account and two savings accounts. The Performance Spend checking account comes with handy budgeting tools. You can only access 9,000 PNC-branded ATMs and the account charges $15 per month, which is why we ended up picking its rival for the Best No-ATM Fee Checking Account.

Chime: The mobile-first Chime account is great for individuals who have trouble with traditional checking accounts. It allows you to receive direct deposit up to a couple days early, grow savings automatically and even overdraw your account for free if you meet certain eligibility requirements. Chime also provides free access to over 38,000 ATMs, which you can access with the account’s linked debit card. Despite all these perks, Chime doesn’t earn any interest on account balances.

TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking: Despite TIAA Bank’s Yield Pledge promise, which ensures their rate will always remain among the top 5% of competitive accounts, the Yield Pledge Checking account earns a pretty low 0.20% APY, with even lower rates for smaller balances. Luckily, there is no monthly service fee, nor fees for out-of-network ATM usage. Plus, you can get reimbursed for ATM surcharges. This made it a strong contender for our Best Overall Checking Account.

Varo Money: Pioneering fintech company Varo offers a pretty much fee-free, checking-like cash management account, where customers who meet certain requirements can overdraft up to $50 at no cost. Varo also can get you your paycheck up to two days early with direct deposit, offers fee-free access at over 55,000 Allpoint® ATMs and provides a free Varo Visa® Debit Card, which you can lock in the app at any time. Though all of these perks are nice, the checking account doesn’t earn interest; you’ll have to open the Varo Savings Account for that.

Capital One 360 Checking: The Capital One 360 Checking account is easily accessible via its debit card, mobile and online. There’s no fee or minimum balance to worry about. You also get access to over 39,000 Capital One or Allpoint ATMs for free. However, it can’t quite keep up with its competitors with its low 0.10% APY.

Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking: Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking account isn’t always so high-yield, as it earns 0.25% APY. Still, the account is relatively customer friendly as it doesn’t charge any monthly maintenance fees and offers free access to thousands of ATMs nationwide in addition to up to $15 in surcharge reimbursements.

How we chose the best checking accounts

We took a look at hundreds of financial institutions and reviews. We considered the following factors:

  1. Checking account rates: We heavily weighted the APYs offered by each institution on their checking accounts, paying attention to both high interest rates and consistent rates. Higher and more consistently competitive interest rates were prioritized over others, respectively.
  2. Minimum deposit and balance requirements: We also controlled for accessibility by looking at minimum deposit and balance requirements, prioritizing banks and accounts that have low requirements or none at all.
  3. Bank account fees: The best bank accounts are the ones that don’t cut into your hard-earned money. We favored checking accounts that don’t charge monthly service fees or ATM fees, as well as those that offer ATM-fee reimbursements.
  4. Special offers: As an added bonus to their checking accounts, some institutions offer cash bonus offers for new customers or even cash-back rewards for debit card usage. We made sure to include these special accounts and offers so you can get more from your account.
  5. Specialized accounts: Checking accounts aren’t one-size-fits-all — nor should they be. We looked for specialized accounts that have specific features made for certain groups, like students to joint account holders.

What are the best banks for checking accounts?

In summary, these are our picks for the best checking accounts:

What should I look for in a checking account?

When shopping for a checking account, keep in mind that their main purpose is to provide a convenient and safe place to stash the cash you use for your daily spending. With that in mind, factors such as safety, ease of use and minimal costs should be top-of-mind. When looking for checking accounts, that means finding accounts with zero fees, a wide ATM network, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance and overdraft protection. Accounts with these features, alongside earned interest or rewards, are your best bet.

Understand what you want from a checking account

A great first step to finding the right checking account is first understanding what you want from a checking account. Of course, you’ll want an account that’s easily accessible. But only you can decide whether that means prioritizing brick-and-mortar branches, mobile app access or worldwide ATMs. As debit cards are a big part of accessibility, also make sure you’re getting a debit card that’s protected.

Figure out what kind of fees — if any — you want to pay for your checking account. No fee checking accounts exist, and they’re some of the best checking accounts on the market.

If you’re a senior citizen, a student or perhaps a couple looking for joint account ownership, these are things to consider when making your checking account wishlist. There are several specialized accounts out there that offer special deals and features for members of these groups.

Then determine whether you want your checking account to earn interest or other rewards. Often these rewards only add to the checking account experience, rewarding you for owning the account rather than you paying to own it. Rewards on some accounts may also offset any fees you face.

If you don’t know where to start, it helps to check out high-yield checking accounts first. These accounts are most often free, easily accessible, provided by reputable institutions and, as an added bonus, can earn you money.

Also consider that perhaps it’s not a checking account you need at all, but rather a prepaid debit card account. You deposit money into prepaid cards as you would with a checking account, but you cannot use more than what’s in the account. This allows you to avoid overdrafting your account and paying the exorbitant fees that often come with that. Just watch out: prepaid debit cards are also known for their multiple fees for reloading the card, monthly service, ATM usage and more.

Find an account with few or zero fees

There are many checking accounts that charge little to no fees. Online banks, in particular, offer checking accounts with zero fees, as they are able to save on the operational costs that burden brick-and-mortar banks. Some checking accounts even offer unlimited ATM-reimbursements or a monthly allowance for reimbursable ATM surcharges.

Since many checking accounts offer little to no interest, it’s even more critical to opt for an account with minimal fees. Common checking account fees include:

  • Maintenance fees
  • Minimum balance fees
  • ATM fees
  • Overdraft fees

Even if you’re using a high-yield checking account, why pay your bank fees for access to your own cash? It’s a good idea to check for bank fees when shopping for a checking account. If your checking account has any monthly balance or spending requirements, make sure you stay within those limits to avoid any unnecessary fees.

Check for widespread ATM access

There’s nothing worse than needing cash in a pinch and not having any way to get some. Then even when you find an ATM, it’s out of your bank’s network so to add insult to injury, you’re charged a fee (or two) for using the ATM.

Avoid this situation by finding a checking account that offers widespread ATM access. Often, this isn’t even brick-and-mortar banks which may offer free access to a few thousand branded ATMs across the country. Online banks tend to go above and beyond, offering free access to tens of thousands of ATMs, often worldwide, through ATM networks like AllPoint and MoneyPass.

Look for FDIC Insurance

You want to make sure your money is protected no matter what. FDIC insurance — and National Credit Union Administration insurance for credit unions — insures your money up to legal limits, which for an individual’s checking account would amount to $250,000. This means that up to $250,000 in your checking account will be recovered if your bank or credit union fails.

In the event of institution failure, you’ll either get a check for the amount that was in your checking account, or set up with a new account for the same amount at another insured institution.

Look for Overdraft Protection

Overdraft protection is a crucial feature, especially if you’re often at risk of overextending your funds. This feature works in a few different ways, depending on the institution and the account. Often, a bank’s overdraft protection will link your checking and savings accounts, drawing on your savings account when you overdraft from your checking account. Other iterations may simply not allow you to overdraft the account at all.

Typically, you have to enroll in overdraft protection. Some accounts charge an extra fee for overdraft protection, but many of the best no-fee checking accounts offer this feature for free.

Look for a checking account that pairs with a high-yield savings account

You might want to pair your checking account with a high-yield savings account if you’d like to maintain your day-to-day spending but stash away a portion of your cash to earn a higher rate of return in longer-term savings.
This is also a great option for those who don’t want to be tempted with the ability to easily spend their savings on everyday needs.

If this is what you’re looking for, start by finding a checking account that fits your daily spending needs, is easily accessible and FDIC-insured. You can then track your spending and set up regular deposits into a separate, high-yield savings account for any excess cash you don’t spend. Keep in mind that not all savings accounts are created the same, and it’s worth shopping around for the best rates when it comes to your savings account.

If you want your money to do more for you with less maintenance, online checking is the way to go.

FAQs: What should I know about checking accounts?

A checking account is a bank account for your day-to-day spending needs. They typically come with a debit card, which allows you to make purchases and provides quick and easy access to cash, making it a safer option than carrying cash. Many checking accounts are also offered with paper checks.

Unlike savings accounts, checking accounts typically have no transaction limits, making them the most liquid option for your money aside from holding large amounts of cash. Checking accounts are also FDIC-insured which adds peace of mind.

Checking accounts are used for your everyday spending needs and generally don’t carry interest (however high-interest checking accounts do exist); by contrast, savings accounts usually carry higher interest rates and are meant for you to save money over the long-run.

Keep in mind that savings accounts will typically restrict access to your cash to around six withdrawals per month while checking accounts allow you almost unrestricted access to any cash you hold in the account.

It’s a good idea to maintain a free or no-fee checking account for day-to-day use. Generally speaking, the best checking accounts allow unfettered access to cash and carry no monthly fees, ATM-fees, or other account surcharges.

It’s generally better to keep just enough in your checking account to cover your daily needs, meet any minimum balance requirements and avoid any possible overdraft charges.

Despite their everyday usefulness, checking accounts aren’t the best places to stash your cash long-term. Savings accounts usually offer higher interest rates, making them a better place to store cash.

There are many free checking account options out there. Some options — especially those offered by online banks — are free accounts that even offer extra features like interest and rewards. Keep in mind that many banks will still feature things like inactivity fees, minimum balance requirements or paper statement charges for their “free checking” accounts.

If you’re paying monthly maintenance fees, minimum balances fees or even third-party ATM fees, it’s worth it to do some research, as there are other accounts out there that will give you more bang for your buck and won’t nickel and dime you for it either. Shop around to find the best free checking account for you.

Yes, many checking accounts earn interest, although the amount offered is typically far less than rates offered by savings accounts or money market accounts.

If you’re looking for the best high-yield checking account, many smaller banks and credit unions offer Kasasa checking accounts, which are essentially free checking accounts that offer higher interest rates, so long as you meet a few monthly requirements.

Checking account interest is taxed if you earned $10 or more in interest in a year. For all your interest-earning deposit accounts, your bank should send you a copy of Form 1099-INT, which they will also send to the IRS. This form will help you report the interest income on your tax return. If you don’t receive this form from your institution, but still earned $10 or more in interest, you will still have to report the interest on your taxes.

If you were lucky enough to earn $1,500 or more in interest, you will have to detail the sources of that income on Schedule B of Form 1040.

Almost every checking account offered by major banking institutions is insured by the FDIC, which provides an account holder with up to $250,000 in federal deposit insurance in the event the underlying bank runs into trouble.

As with any other deposit account, it’s easy to find out whether your checking account has FDIC coverage. You can check to see if your financial institution has FDIC insurance by looking for the “Member FDIC” tag that often appears at the bottom of the bank’s marketing materials.

FDIC insurance covers deposits in checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs and money market accounts, up to $250,000 per ownership category per person within a single financial institution. Credit unions receive deposit insurance from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), up to $250,000 per owner, per insured credit union, per account category.

One checking account should suffice for most shoppers. However, there may be instances where you’d want to open multiple checking accounts to help keep your finances organized or separated for different purposes.

For example, many small business owners have their own business checking account to segregate their professional finances from their personal finances.

Some parents may even want to open separate student checking accounts to help teach their kids or budding college students financial responsibility and keep track of their finances.

Keep in mind that you can also open joint checking accounts, which make it easier for couples and those who share their lives to also share finances and track spending. With a joint account, two or more people share ownership, and can deposit and withdraw funds from the same checking account.

Every checking account will feature a routing number and an account number. These two numbers are associated with your bank account and serve as unique identifiers for your account.

The routing number associated with your checking account is a nine-digit string of numbers that identifies the institution that manages your checking account.

Your bank account number identifies your personal account and is the unique identifier that your bank uses to direct cash or wire transfers, track your balance, and rout payments as needed.

If you were rejected after trying to open a checking account, it’s probably because you have a rocky past with previous accounts. When you apply for new bank accounts, most institutions run your information through ChexSystems, which keeps a record of your banking history when institutions report it. This means any history of overdrafts, negative account balances, account closures and the like will be available for ChexSystems users to see.
If you were rejected from opening a new checking account, take a look at your ChexSystems report. It may help to figure out what bad marks on there you may be able to change. There may even be errors on the report that you can dispute and have removed.

A second-chance checking account is a type of checking account available to those who might not otherwise qualify for a traditional checking account due to their credit or ChexSystems history.

It may be worth exploring a second-chance checking account if your banking history might have been blemished by closing an account with a negative balance or outstanding fees.

Typically, second-chance checking accounts have lower spending limits, fewer features and may charge monthly maintenance fees. However they exist mainly to assist people who are determined to get their financial lives back on track. Once you’ve had the chance to rebuild your credit history, you may be able to trade back up for a standard checking account.

Deposit accounts, including checking and savings accounts, are not included in your credit report, since you’re not borrowing money from these kinds of accounts. So the way you use your checking account or even when you close a checking account doesn’t affect your credit.

If you overdraft your checking account and don’t pay back what you owe to your institution, however, that can land in your credit report if the institution sends it to collections. That’s because it’s become more about your debt, which is reported in credit reports, than simply your checking account.

Overdraft protection works a lot like it sounds: it protects you when you overdraft your account. Often, overdraft protection links your checking account to a savings account. Any time you overdraft your checking account, funds are automatically pulled from the savings account to cover the purchase.

Other institutions may offer overdraft protection that simply doesn’t allow you to overdraft the account. This prevents the transaction from going through, but also prevents you from facing an overdraft fee and recovering the extra cost.

Depending on the type of overdraft protection and the institution, overdraft protection can come at an extra fee, or it could be free.

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Earning Interest, Eliminating Fees, Reviews

Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account Review

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The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account offered by Charles Schwab Bank isn’t your average checking account. It’s an interest-bearing checking account that offers an added benefit for investors by automatically linking to their brokerage account. If you want the convenience of having your idle cash and invested assets all under one roof and are comfortable with not having any brick-and-mortar branches to visit, this product could be for you.

What is the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account?

The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account is an interest-bearing checking account that is linked to your Schwab One brokerage account, making it easy and convenient to invest otherwise idle cash.

When you open your High Yield Investor Checking account, a Schwab One brokerage account will also be opened for you. The accounts will have separate account numbers, but both can be viewed online with a single login. If you’re in the market for just a checking account to stash the cash you use for your everyday spending needs, opening a brokerage account alongside your checking account can seem like an unnecessary step, as the brokerage account’s main function is to trade stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and other financial products.

This product comes with attractive features that many traditional checking accounts offer — including no minimum balance requirements, no monthly service or ATM fees and a variable interest rate — as well as the unique feature of easy transfers to and from your linked brokerage account.

Here’s what you can expect to receive upon opening and funding a Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account:

  • 0.03% APY
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance
  • Free transfers to and from your linked brokerage account
  • Schwab Bank Visa Platinum debit card
  • Complimentary checks, deposit slips, mailing labels and pre-addressed, postage-paid envelopes

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account fees and minimums

The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account features the following fees and minimums:

Monthly service fee

$0

Minimum balance fee

$0

ATM fee

Unlimited ATM fee rebates

Foreign transaction fee

$0

While the Schwab One brokerage account also does not have any minimum balance requirements or monthly maintenance fees, other account fees may apply. For example, trades placed through a broker come with a service charge of $25.

Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account pros and cons

Pros

  • Unlimited ATM rebates: Where this account really shines is with its unlimited ATM fee rebates feature. While Schwab does not have its own network of ATMs, it allows its High Yield Investor customers to access any ATM and issues an unlimited number of ATM fee rebates for cash withdrawals — no matter how hefty the ATM fee is. ATM fees for cash withdrawals made worldwide are rebated at the end of the month.
  • Easy to invest idle cash: By having your checking account linked to your brokerage account, it makes it much more convenient to invest any idle cash.
  • Minimal fees: Schwab’s High Yield Investor Checking account boasts minimal fees compared to other checking accounts, specifically ones offered by other big banks.

Cons

  • Low interest rate: The account’s 0.03% APY pales in comparison to other high-yield checking accounts, some of which have rates that climb to over 5.00% APY.
  • No brick-and-mortar locations: For consumers who prefer having a physical location to visit, this account might not be for you. With no brick-and-mortar locations for Schwab Bank, your banking will be conducted solely online, which could be cumbersome for people who feel more comfortable depositing checks and cash in person.
  • Hard credit inquiry: When applying for a new account, Schwab Bank makes a hard credit inquiry. For people concerned about the effect this will have on their credit score, this could be a deterrent.

Who is the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account good for?

If you’re just looking for a liquid checking account that you can use for your everyday spending needs, the Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account is likely not for you. There are other checking accounts offering much higher interest rates without requiring you to link a brokerage account in order to open the account. Additionally, if your strategy is to let your extra cash sit in the Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account without initiating regular transfers to your Schwab One brokerage account, your money would grow at a considerably faster rate in a high-yield savings account, money market account or CD.

If you already are an investor and have a Schwab One brokerage account — or are looking for a checking account that provides easy and instant transfers to and from your brokerage account — the Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account is certainly worth exploring. It has many of the same, standout features that the best traditional checking accounts have, while also being one of the few checking accounts out there that provides instant access to your invested assets.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.