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The humble checking account may not offer rewards, cash back or many of the other perks offered by ritzy credit cards, but it remains the cornerstone of your financial life. Nobody likes paying monthly maintenance fees, so why not pick a free checking account that does away with them altogether?
Below, we’ve selected nine of the best free checking accounts (presented in no particular order) by scouring our database for products meeting the following criteria:
- No monthly maintenance fee
- A low initial deposit amount (between $0-$25) needed to open the account
- No minimum daily balance requirement
- Minimal third-party ATM fees
- Available nationwide
Minimum needed to open
|Consumers Credit Union (IL) Free Rewards Checking||$0||5.09%|
|One American Bank Kasasa Cash Account||$50||3.50%|
|Evansville Teachers FCU Vertical Checking||$30 ($25 if you're already a member of this credit union)||3.00% (if you meet monthly requirements)|
|Aspiration Spend and Save||$10||2.00%|
|nbkc personal account||$5||1.01%|
|Alliant Credit Union High-Yield Checking||$5 (to become a member of this credit union, none for opening the account itself)||0.45%|
|Discover Cashback Credit||$0||None, but customers receive 1% cash back each month on certain spending with a limit of $3,000|
|Ally Bank Interest Checking||$0||0.60%|
Great free checking accounts
Consumers Credit Union (IL) Free Rewards Checking
The Consumers Credit Union provides an online-only checking account to anyone in the nation who becomes a member. You can qualify for membership with a one-time $5 payment to Consumers Cooperative Association. Some of the perks of the Free Rewards Checking account include:
- No monthly maintenance fee
- No minimum balance required
- Unlimited check writing
- Unlimited ATM fee refunds
However you do have to meet some requirements in order to get all of the benefits of the account (including the high APY). The APY for this account is divided into three tiers, with the lowest earning 3.09% on balances up to $10,000, the middle 4.09% and the highest tier 5.09%. The requirements for each of these tiers are:
To earn 3.09%
- Receive eStatements
- Make at least 12 debit card purchases a month
- Post direct deposits or ACH payments of at least $500 each month
To earn 4.09%
- Meet all the requirements of the previous tier
- Have a Consumers Credit Union Visa credit card and spend at least $500 a month on it
To earn 5.09%
- Meet all the requirements of the previous tier
- Spend at least $1,000 a month on your Consumers Credit Union Visa credit card
Keep in mind these high APYs only apply to balances up to $10,000. The portion of any balance between $10,000.01 and $25,000 earn 0.20% APY, and balances greater than $25,000 earn an APY of 0.10%.
One American Bank Kasasa Cash Account
This small community bank, based in Sioux Falls, SD, offers a nationally available Kasasa Cash checking account that earns a decent 3.50% APY on balances up to $10,000. You need a minimum of $50 to open the account, but after that all you need to do to earn the very competitive APY of 3.50% is:
- Make at least 12 debit card purchase transactions a month of at least $5.00 each
- Receive electronic bank statements, account notices and disclosures
- Log in to online banking at least one time a month
Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union Vertical Checking
Credit unions such as Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union might not command the same name recognition as nationwide banks, but they can offer rates and services for customers that are every bit as competitive as the big banks. Don’t let the name of this credit union fool you—anyone can become a member if they open a $5 savings account, which then allows you to open a Vertical Checking account with a minimum balance of $25.
This free checking account doesn’t charge a monthly service fee or require you to maintain a minimum balance, and in return gives you an APY of as high as 3.00% on balances up to $20,000, provided you fulfill the below requirements:
- Make at least 15 debit purchases each month
- Make at least one direct deposit into the account each month
- Login to your mobile or online banking at least once each month
- Opt in to receive eStatements
- In addition to the high APY, meeting these requirements entitles you to $15 a month for reimbursing third-party ATM fees.
In addition to the high APY, meeting these requirements entitles you to $15 a month for reimbursing third-party ATM fees.
Another online-only account, Simple is owned and backed by regional bank BBVA Compass and offers customers a checking account that’s intertwined with the app’s Protected Goals savings account, and additional budgeting tools. Simple doesn’t charge any fees, meaning users enjoy:
- No monthly maintenance fee
- No minimum balance needed
- No account closing fee
- No stop payment fees
- No debit card replacement fee
- No ATM fee if using Simple’s network, but users can be charged a fee by other banks if using a non-network ATM
One fee you do have to pay is a foreign transaction fee when using your Simple card internationally, which can be up to 1% of the transaction.
As a cash management product, the Simple Account automatically comes with a savings account feature. While the checking balance in a Simple Account earns a token 0.01% APY, Simple’s Protected Goals savings balances earn an APY of 2.02%.
Aspiration Spend and Save Account
The Aspiration Spend and Save account is online cash management account, which combines the high APY of a savings account with the accessibility of a traditional checking account. After paying an initial $10 to open this account, you gain access to a completely fee-free account — if that’s what you choose.
One of the most eye-catching (and marketable) aspects of this account is that Aspiration tells its customers they can pay whatever fees they wish, even if that amount is zero. The online bank does heavily advertise the fact that 10% of whatever fee customers pay them will be donated to charity.
Other benefits this account gives without any fees include:
- Unlimited ATM fee reimbursement
- $600 in cellphone damage insurance
- Scheduled bill payments
Technically, the Spend and Save account operates as two separate linked accounts — a savings account, where your money earns an APY of 2.00% each month (provided you deposit at least $1 in the account), and a spend account you draw on with your Aspiration ATM card. Transfers of funds between the spending and saving sides of the account happen instantly and without any limitations, so it’s easy for customers to think of it as one product.
It’s important to note that the 2.00% APY only applies to funds in the save portion of the account, not the money you have in the spend portion (which earns no APY). But with the instant and limitless transactions you can make between the two sides, there’s no reason to leave money parked in the spend portion of the account that you aren’t planning to utilize in the short term.
Empower Checking Account
This online-only checking account is backed by Evolve Bank and Trust, an FDIC-protected bank that ensures the money you place in your Empower account stays safe. Empower requires no minimum deposit or balance, doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance fee, and each month will waive the third-party fees you incur from a single use of an out-of-network ATM.
In addition to the 1.90% APY, Empower gives you cashback rewards of 1% on up to $1,000 of debit purchases each month. However, this account can only be managed through its app so users will have to be comfortable with banking via mobile device.
nbkc personal account
nbkc bank may be based in Kansas and Missouri, but customers anywhere in the nation can sign up for its personal account, which provides a whole bevy of benefits with only minimum fees — all while providing a very competitive APY.
Customers can open this free checking account with a $5 deposit, and so long as they maintain an average daily balance of $0.01, earn 1.01% APY. They also can use more than 32,000 ATMs without any fees, and nbkc will rebate up to $12 a month any non-network ATM fees customers accrue.
Account holders will have to pay a $5 fee to wire money domestically, and $45 if they are receiving or sending an international wire transfer.
Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking
Alliant Credit Union offers a free checking account with a very decent yield and great features. You must become an Alliant member before opening an account, which anyone in the country can do by making a $10 donation to Foster Care to Success during your application process. However, there’s no minimum deposit needed to open this free checking account, no minimum daily balance and no monthly maintenance fee.
Alliant’s account also grants customers access to roughly 80,000 ATMs they can use without any fees. If you have to use an ATM outside of this network, Alliant will reimburse fees up to $20 each month.
Finally, this free checking account is called “high-rate” because it gives 0.45% APY—so long as you opt to receive electronic statements instead of paper statements, and make one electronic deposit into the account each month. Examples of deposits include:
- Direct deposits
- Payroll deposits
- ATM deposits
- Mobile deposits
- Transfer from another financial institution
Discover Cashback Debit
You might be more likely to think of credit cards when it comes to this brand, but Discover also functions as an FDIC-insured, online only bank that offers a suite of personal banking products including one of the best free checking accounts currently on the market. The Discover Cashback Debit account features a smorgasboard of perks and goodies for customers, including:
- No monthly maintenance fees, minimum balance to open or minimum daily balance
- A nationwide network of more than 60,000 ATMs customers can use fee-free
- Free replacement debit cards
- Free online bill pay
Living up to its name, the Cashback Debit account grants 1% cash back each month on qualifying spending up to $3,000. What kind of spending counts? Just about everything, with the exception of ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders, loan payments or account funding, and peer-to-peer transactions. In addition, some purchases made over a third-party app or service (such as Venmo) may not qualify.
Ally Bank Interest Checking Account
The Ally Bank Interest Checking Account may not offer a high APY (unless you can maintain at least a $15,000 balance), but the free online banking, bill pay, and checks — both standard and cashier — along with no monthly maintenance fee, required minimum balance or minimum deposit to open make it a great option for customers looking for a free checking account.
While no minimum balance is required to earn 0.10% APY, customers can earn 0.60% if they maintain a daily balance of at least $15,000.
Customers can use any of the 55,000 ATMs in the Allpoint® network for free, and Ally will reimburse up to $10 of non-network ATM fees each billing cycle. Other fees to watch out for include:
- $15 stop payment fee
- $25 per-day maximum overdraft fee
- $20 outgoing domestic wire fee