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These Are the Best U.S. Cities for Working Women in 2019

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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Women made history in the 2018 midterm elections, running for and winning offices by record numbers, making it the “Year of the Woman” according to Brookings. The number of state legislature offices held by women rose from 25% in 2018 to 29% in 2019, per the Center for American Women and Politics, an encouraging sign for the future of working women. With more women in office, it’s more likely that issues centering on women in the workforce will get the attention they deserve.

And they do deserve attention. Despite women’s higher educational attainment, the rate at which  women are participating in the workforce has plateaued, as have their wages. Women’s average earnings were still almost 82% of men’s in 2017, the most recent year available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But the picture for working women can look brighter (or bleaker) depending on where they live. For the second year in a row, to find the best places to be a working woman, MagnifyMoney analyzed and ranked the 50 largest U.S. metros.

Key takeaways

  • Washington, D.C., once again holds the top spot with an overall score of 74.
  • Seattle jumped from sixth place to second, with an overall score of 66.2.  This is because the state of Washington created a family leave insurance plan that allows workers to receive at least partial pay when they use their Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time starting in 2020. FMLA is used as a stand-in for maternity leave by many American women. Under federal law, employers can’t fire workers for taking up to 12 weeks off for qualifying events, but employers do not have to pay workers for that time.
  • Charlotte, N.C., dropped to the lowest spot on our list, with an overall score of 32.1. Women are underrepresented in leadership roles there, both in business and in government.
  • Detroit came in second to last, with a final score of 33.5, thanks mostly to high unemployment and a wide gender pay gap.
  • Twenty-seven states offer no protections to workers who are pregnant or who have children. This is unchanged from last year, although some states with existing protection — such as Massachusetts, Washington and New York — as well as the District of Columbia expanded their benefits. Only 22 states have some kind of pregnancy accommodation laws, and some of those are scant.
  • These protections are nonexistent in six of the bottom-ranking 10 cities: Detroit, Memphis, Birmingham, Miami, New Orleans and Cleveland.

The 10 best U.S. metros for working women

The map and table above show the 10 cities that offer working women have the most equitable compensations and most opportunities for career advancement. Four of these cities are located on the Pacific Coast, with three of those in California. Neighboring cities Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and Boston and Providence have spots in the top 10.

Here’s a closer look at how these cities rank on different factors.

The nation’s capital is tops again.

Washington, D.C. is the best place overall for working women. It has the highest percentage of managerial positions in its workforce filled by women, at 43.9%, of any city. Boston, Providence, R.I., and Sacramento, Calif. were the other top 10 cities with high rates of women leadership in management positions, at just over 43% each.

D.C. also has some of the strongest parental and pregnancy leave policies of the 50 cities surveyed, second only to Boston. Of the top 10 cities, Washington is where child care is the most affordable, costing an average 19.9% of women’s median earnings.

Seattle is friendly to female entrepreneurs, as the U.S. city with the highest number of women-owned business, at 39.7%. San Diego is the other top 10 city with a high 35.8% rate of businesses owned by women. The West Coast, in general, is a place where women entrepreneurs are succeeding.

Western states welcome new legislators.

While Las Vegas had the highest number of female legislators of any city surveyed — Nevada is the only state where women hold a slightly majority in the state legislature (50.8%) — it didn’t crack the top 10 due to relatively high unemployment and low parental protection rates. Of the cities that did, Denver and Seattle have the highest numbers of women holding state legislative positions, at 46% and 40.8% respectively. Women in Colorado hold a majority in the state’s lower house.

The 2018 midterm election brought more women into statewide office, an encouraging sign for the future of working women. Across the country, the share of women who hold state office rose from just 25% in 2018 to 29% in 2019 — the highest in history. Mississippi had the lowest representation rate in the country at just under 14%, but none of its cities are big enough to make it on our list. That distinction falls to Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., where only 15% of state lawmakers are women.

Minneapolis has the lowest unemployment rate

No. 4 Minneapolis has a 3.6% unemployment rate, the lowest among all 50 cities surveyed and well below the U.S. average of 4% in January. Denver, where just 4.2% of women in the labor force are unemployed, is the other top 10 city scoring well on this factor.

L.A. once again has the lowest wage gap.

Then there’s the earnings gap between men and women, which is the lowest in
Los Angeles at just 11.2%. However, LA was not one of the top 10 cities — it came in at No. 21 overall. Two other California cities had the smallest gap in earnings by gender. San Diego women earn just 12.4% less than men, and Sacramento women earn 13.7% less.

Child care is costliest in Boston.

Despite landing in the top 10 cities for working women, Boston is where child care is the most costly with day care costs equal to 27.4% of median earnings among women.

But on the brighter side, Boston and Minneapolis are the two cities where more women receive employer-sponsored health insurance benefits. In Minneapolis, 71.4% of working women received health insurance coverage through an employer, as do 70.5% of women in Boston.

The 10 worst U.S. metros for working women

Of the 10 cities that offer women the least favorable economic conditions, public policies, and leadership opportunities, most are concentrated in the South. Specifically, seven of the 10 are in Southern states:

  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Memphis, Tenn.
  • Birmingham, Ala.
  • Miami
  • New Orleans
  • Oklahoma City
  • Houston

Of the remaining worst cities for working women, Detroit and Cleveland are located in the Midwest. Salt Lake City, Utah is the sole western city among these 10.

Here are some details on how these cities ranked on specific factors.

Tennessee lags in female representation.

Tennessee has one of the lowest percentage of state legislative offices filled by women, at 15.2% — affecting Memphis’ rank among the 10 worst cities. New Orleans and Birmingham also had low rates of female representation in their state legislatures. One bright spot for Birmingham:  Of all 50 cities surveyed, the lowest child care costs relative to women’s median earnings were in Birmingham, Ala.

Houston has the lowest percentage of women in management positions of all 50 cities surveyed, at just 35.9%. It’s followed closely by Salt Lake City, where just 36.2% of managers are women, and Oklahoma City at 38.1%.

Women are least likely to own business in Buffalo, N.Y. It’s not among the 10 worst cities for working women, but in Buffalo just 23.7% of business have female owners. Birmingham is a bottom 10 city that’s nearly as bad on this measure, with just 23.9% of businesses owned by women.

Unemployment rates soar in southern California.

Riverside, Calif., near Los Angeles, had the highest unemployment rate among female workers, at 9.5%. Of the 10 bottom-ranked cities, Memphis and Detroit are close behind with respective unemployment rates of 7.9% and 7.5% among women.

Wage gaps span the map.

New Orleans has the widest gap in earnings between men and women of all 50 cities (tied with San Jose). In both cities, women’s median earnings are 26.6% lower than men’s earnings, but the Big Easy is also weighed down by low rates of female representation in the state legislature and parental protections. Salt Lake City nearly matches New Orleans and San Jose with a pay gap of 26.5% between men and women working there. Detroit also has wide gender pay gap that means female workers earn 25.9% less than their male peers.

Women working in Miami are the least likely to receive health coverage through their employers. Less than half (49%) of Miami’s women have employer-based health insurance.

Charlotte drops three spots.

Already in the No. 47 spot last year, Charlotte, N.C. drops to last place in this year’s rankings. Women have nearly nonexistent parental protections here and among the 10 worst cities, Charlotte women pay the most in child care. They see 26.5% of their paychecks eaten up by child care costs, on average.

Full rankings: Where the largest 50 U.S. metros fit in

The map and list above provides a full overview of where each of the 50 largest U.S. cities rank. Check to see if your city is among the place friendly for working women, or a spot where they’ll have the hardest time getting ahead.

4 tips for modern working women

The results of our rankings show that while working women are doing better in some places than others, they’re still far from achieving parity with working men.

While it’s more difficult for women to change the working conditions and equality in their cities (or lack of it), they can still take steps to make sure they’re getting ahead at the office. Here’s how women can stand out at work and advance their career — and pay — more quickly.

  • Seek assignments that will get you noticed. Women are more likely to be assigned “office housework,” administrative tasks that keep a workplace running smoothly but won’t get them noticed. To position yourself for a raise or promotion, volunteer and ask for more high-profile assignments tied to important business or revenue goals. And don’t be shy about pushing back if you’re assigned mundane duties and tasks; it’s reasonable to request that these be fairly shared among all workers.
  • Find a mentor or ally at work. Look around your workplace to find the people who are in the positions you’d like to move into as you advance your career. See if these people are willing to mentor you — this can be especially beneficial if they are also women. Women can also seek mentorship, feedback and support for your professional growth from your direct manager. Lastly, you can ask for help and give support to your female peers, making sure your workplace is somewhere that women’s contributions are noticed, recognized and rewarded.
  • Balance work with personal responsibilities. The expectations often put on women outside the office can affect performance at work, especially for working mothers. While having children tends to have minimal effect on men’s careers, it might even give their paychecks a boost. For women, motherhood is often a professional setback. Society tells women they can “have it all,” but maybe the message should include “just not all at once”. Get clear on your priorities in life and how your job fits into that, and you can more easily identify when it makes sense to go full-steam at work and when to back off.
  • Manage your finances carefully. Although they have lower earnings compared to men, working women can help compensate for this by making wise money choices. Women have more student loans than men, for instance, so prioritizing paying down this and other debt is a first step to start catching up. Women also tend to have lower retirement savings than men, so make this a focus as well. Take full advantage of any employer match you get for retirement contributions. After that, continue to slowly increase contributions and use raises to boost your retirement savings rates.

Building a career and financial foundation that works for you won’t happen overnight. But following these tips, working on your professional skills, and developing solid money habits can go a long way.

Methodology

Each of the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas (“MSAs”) was ranked against each other, on a 100-point scale, based on eight factors relevant to women’s ability to achieve financial and professional success. The final score for each MSA is the average of points assigned for each metric, and those points are assigned based on where the metro falls between the highest and lowest values for all metros.

The eight factors are:

  • Employment. The percent of women who are unemployed, as reported in the American Community Survey 2017 (five-year estimate) from the U.S. Census Bureau (“2017 ACS”).
  • Health care. The percent of women between the ages of 18 and 64 (inclusive) who have employer-based health insurance, as reported by the 2017 ACS.
  • Business ownership. Percent of businesses with employees that are owned, either wholly or equally, by women, derived from the 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs from the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Management positions. Percent of people in management occupations who are women, derived from the 2017 ACS.
  • Wage gap. Gap, as a percent, between median earnings of men and women, derived from the 2017 ACS.
  • Child care. The average cost of in-center child care, as a percent of median earnings for women. Day care costs were reported in The Care Index from New America and Care.com, and median earnings were reported by the 2017 ACS.
  • Representation. The percent of elected state (or district) legislators who are women, as reported by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics.
  • Workplace protections. State pregnancy and parental workplace protections were scored on the following bases. The highest possible score was 100 points and the lowest was zero. The highest actual score was 57 and the lowest actual score was zero.
    • Paid leave: The number of paid parental leave weeks covered by the state, divided by a maximum of 12 weeks, up to 50 points.  Data was reported by the National Partnership for Women & Families.
    • Pregnancy accommodation protections: Each MSA was granted points based on six factors reported by the National Partnership for Women & Families, for a possible total of 30 points, for the following:
      • The existence of such a law
      • If the law covers both public and private employees
      • If the law covers all employers, regardless of employer size
      • If the law doesn’t specify medical documentation for accommodations
      • If the law doesn’t include an “undue hardship” exemption for employers
      • If the law expressly extends protections for issues related to breastfeeding
    • Allowable time off to attend school events: The number of hours spent at a child’s school, per year, for which a parent cannot be fired, divided by a maximum of 40 hours, up to 20 points.  Data was reported by workplacefairness.org.

For the sake of clarity, each metro name is the first city and state listed in the MSA title, which we understand to be the most populous component of each MSA. The Care Index (child care costs) refers to Norfolk, Va., which we associate with the Virginia Beach MSA.

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.

Elyssa Kirkham
Elyssa Kirkham |

Elyssa Kirkham is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Elyssa here

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Financial Therapy: What It Is and How to Know if You Need It

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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Whether you’re stressing over paying bills or spending money to make yourself feel better, anxiety and money often go hand in hand. Still, financial advice tends to emphasize numbers and strategies, not the root cause of money concerns.

Financial therapy is a holistic process that enlists both therapeutic and financial methods to help you transform your relationship with money. Here’s how to tell whether or not it might be the right move for you.

What is financial therapy?

The Financial Therapy Association was born out of the 2008 financial crisis, which left many Americans feeling totally hopeless and out of control with their money — a kind of trauma that went deeper than traditional financial counseling could heal. Researchers and practitioners from both the mental health and business fields teamed up shortly after the crash to create a unique, new practice that combines the best aspects of both disciplines.

By late 2009, the Financial Therapy Association, or FTA, was officially recognized as a nonprofit corporation, and the group held its first annual conference in September of 2010. Today, the association offers a variety of tools for both consumers and professionals looking to participate in this unique practice, and also offers a searchable database for finding financial therapists by state.

The association defines financial therapy as “a process informed by both therapeutic and financial competencies that helps people think, feel and behave differently with money to improve overall wellbeing through evidence-based practices and interventions.”

In short, just like regular therapy, it helps you get your head on straight — except in this case, it’s particularly concerned with financial matters. Many financial therapists are also licensed family or marriage counselors, so you can take it on solo or with a partner.

5 signs you need a financial therapist

So, how can you tell if financial therapy is right for you?

Chances are, almost anyone could benefit from professional coaching… but if these scenarios sound familiar, you might want to take finding professional help more seriously.

1. Your relationships are strained, and money’s always the reason. If you’re constantly fighting with your spouse (or other relatives or family members) about money matters, a financial therapist can help you find productive ways to navigate your relationships.

2. You’re depressed or anxious about your money in a way that’s impacting your wellbeing. While money can be a stressful topic for anyone from time to time, if it’s ruling your life, a therapist can help you find new behavioral patterns. Whether it’s the emotional toll of debt or the stress of saving a workable nest egg, a financial therapist can offer both mental and monetary tactics to help you tackle the problem.

3. You know the steps you need to take, but can’t quite seem to make them happen. Whether it’s balancing your budget or paying down debt, if you can’t make your behavior match your financial plan, a financial therapist could have the answer.

4. You find yourself lying about money and hiding your excessive or emotional spending. These kinds of behaviors can wreak havoc on your wallet, not to mention your relationships, and may be based in compulsion. A financial therapist can help you develop alternative relaxation tactics so you can overcome your emotional splurges without doing damage to your nest egg.

5. Thinking about your financial future is leading to unexpected emotions or creating family tension. As important as estate planning may be, it can also be a difficult and emotional experience. After all, it means thinking seriously about the reality of your own death. And divvying up your stuff can lead to difficult conversations, particularly if you have a blended family or strained relationships. A financial therapist can help you work through all that emotional baggage and offer helpful communication tactics.

Do you need a financial therapist and a financial advisor?

There’s no specific set of certifications or degrees a professional must have to be a member of the Financial Therapy Association — so each individual counselor is just that: an individual. He or she may lean more heavily toward one side of the professional aisle or the other, and finding the right fit could take some trial and error.

For instance, if you’re mostly concerned with the how-to part of financial advisement, like figuring out the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA or the best way to tackle credit card debt, a plain-old financial advisor can probably help you, but so could a financial therapist who works primarily as an advisor or wealth management professional.

On the other hand, if you’re really digging into the emotional side of your financial landscape, finding a financial therapist who is a mental health professional first can help you tackle those struggles, while also laying the framework for solid monetary planning and behavior down the line. A financial therapist who identifies more strongly with the clinical counselling part of their job title may also be able to help you in other aspects of your mental health, if you’re struggling with matters beyond your money.

The bottom line is, there’s no one approach that’s right for everyone — and, just like dating, you’ll definitely want to shop around. Whether you hire a financial therapist, a financial advisor or both, when you’re talking about people who are going to advise you on matters as important as your financial future, getting along well is key. It’s worth making several calls and sitting through a few introductory interviews to make sure you’ve found a good fit.

How to find a financial therapist

If financial therapy sounds like it might be a fit for you, there are some wonderful resources available from the Financial Therapy Association to help you find and hire a professional. For instance, it offers a great database of financial therapists that’s searchable by both name and state.

Of course, since it’s such a new field, financial therapists are relatively few and far between — and you may find there’s not one in your area. Several states on the list have zero names listed beneath them (so far, anyway).

Fortunately, the internet makes it possible to do financial therapy work at a distance, and many professionals do just that. If you find someone whose credentials, focus and basic methodologies you like, you can reach out to them directly to see if they’d be able to perform therapy via Skype or phone call. You can also check out the specific “at a distance” list available via the FTA database. The association also offers monthly online webinars and other educational tools to start the process on your own if you’re not quite ready to hire a professional.

The bottom line

Financial therapy can be a great way to help alleviate your anxieties and fears about financial matters, or to help you find ways to break money-related habits you just can’t seem to knock out on your own. And as with any type of therapy, seeking out professional help is anything but a sign of weakness. Money touches all of our lives and has a huge impact on our lifestyles, so it makes sense that it’s a wildly emotional topic. So if financial therapy sounds like it might be a fit for you, don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach out. If anything, recognizing you need help makes you that much stronger — and both your brain and your bank account will thank you for it.

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.

Jamie Cattanach
Jamie Cattanach |

Jamie Cattanach is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jamie here

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9 Great Free Checking Accounts

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 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

Account Name

Minimum needed to open

APY

Consumers Credit Union (IL) Free Rewards Checking$05.09%
Simple Account$02.02%
Aspiration Spend and Save$102.00%
nbkc personal account$51.01%
Alliant Credit Union High-Yield Checking$5 (to become a member of this credit union, none for opening the account itself)0.65%
Discover Cashback Credit$0None, but customers receive 1% cash back each month on certain spending with a limit of $3,000
Ally Bank Interest Checking$00.60%
Evansville Teachers FCU Vertical Checking$30 ($25 if you're already a member of this credit union)3.30% (if you meet monthly requirements)
Bay State Savings Bank Kasasa Cash$02.01% (if you meet monthly requirements)

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%.

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on Consumers Credit Union (IL)’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Simple Account

Simple is owned and backed by regional bank BBVA 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 $0.01 or more, you can earn an APY of 2.02%.

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on Simple’s secure website

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.

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on Aspiration’s secure website

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.

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on nbkc bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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

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on Alliant Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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

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on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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 3.30% 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Bay State Savings Bank Kasasa Cash

This free checking account offers one of the highest APY rates around — up to 2.01%, 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 2.01% 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Bay State Savings Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here