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 seven 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
- No third-party ATM fees
- Available nationwide
Great free checking accounts
Another online-only account, Simple is owned and backed by regional bank BBVA Compass and offers customers a free checking account that’s intertwined with the app’s 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.
If you maintain a balance of $2,000 or more, you can earn an APY of 2.02% — however anything less than $2,000 earns an APY of 0.01%, which is lower than most of the accounts listed here.
Aspiration Spend and Save Account
The recently rebranded Aspiration Spend and Save account is online-only and technically is a cash management account (according to the company), combining 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.
nbkc personal account
This 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 0.65% 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
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
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.
Bay State Savings Bank Kasasa Cash
This free checking account offers one of the highest APY rates around — up to 0.25%, provided you meet some qualifications — and coupled with its minimal fees, make it a great option for customers looking for free checking.
There’s no minimum amount needed to open the free checking account and, like the other accounts on the list, you don’t need to maintain a minimum balance or pay a monthly maintenance fee. That’s already good news, but where this account really shines is when you fulfill the following criteria each month:
- Have at least 12 PIN-based debit card purchases
- Receive electronic statements
- Enroll — and log in at least once per cycle — to online banking (which is free)
For every month you meet the above qualifications, your balance up to $20,000 earns 0.25% APY. The other big bonus you receive is unlimited refunds on ATM fees that you pay when using a machine out of the bank’s network. If you don’t meet the criteria, you still don’t pay any fees on your account. However, you earn a much lower APY and will have to pay fees on out-of-network ATMs.