January 13, 2020

Free Online Checking Account

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Say goodbye to service fees. Many online banks offer free checking with no minimum balance requirements. Read on for the best free online checking accounts.

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A checking account is essential for your day-to-day money management needs. And you shouldn't have to pay fees to use your own money. But these days, fee-free traditional banking seems like a long-gone thing.

If you're ready to make a change, consider an online bank instead. Many online banks offer free checking with no minimum balance requirements. Some even offer a better interest rate as well as free ATM access. You can control your account anywhere through mobile banking.

Best Free Online Checking of 2020

Read on the best bank account to open online for different checking needs. These accounts all have no monthly service fees and no minimum balance requirements.

Note that "free" doesn't mean there are NO banking fees at all. Banks may still charge some fees, such as for wire transfers, overdrafts, and stop payments. We have listed the activities that have no fees for each bank.

Capital One: Best Overall Free Online Checking

    Capital One 360 Checking - $25 Refer a Friend Offer

    Get $25 when you open an account with an initial deposit of at least $250 AND do one of the following: make 3 debit card purchases or Zelle payments within 45 days of account opening. The $25 bonus will be deposited into your account on Day 50. Only available for new Capital One 360 customers using the unique link sent from their friend. Terms apply.

Though the APY isn't high, we picked Capital One 360 Checking as the best overall choice based on its many features and high customer satisfaction. Online banking can seem impersonal, but Capital One makes it human with its great customer service by phone, live chat, and cafes.

Besides having a highly-rated mobile app, a very unique feature is the Capital One 360 cafes. You can get help, meet with financial advisors, and engage with the community in a relaxed cafe setting. In fact, you don't even need to be a Capital One customer.

Top features:

  • Free Mastercard debit card

  • No-fee withdrawals at any Capital One or Allpoint ATM

  • Mobile check deposits and online bill pay

  • 4 overdraft protection options to prevent accidental overdraft charges

  • No foreign transaction fee

  • Free first set of checks

  • Send and receive money with Zelle

  • Monitor your credit with CreditWise

  • Extended customer service hours from 8am–11pm ET

Capital One also often offers bonuses for opening a new account. See the latest Capital One promotions.

Discover: Best Checking With No Fees

Discover, though most known for its popular credit cards, also offers great banking products. Its Cashback Debit account comes as pretty darn close to "no-fee" checking as you can get.

It also offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. This is a great way to earn some rewards on your everyday purchases.

Top features:

  • No-fee withdrawals at 60,000+ ATMs nationwide
  • Free standard checks
  • Online bill pay and mobile check deposits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No foreign ATM fees (though the owner may charge a fee)
  • No stop payment order fee
  • No insufficient funds or deposited item returned fee
  • No fee for official bank checks
  • Overdraft protection if linked to a savings account
  • 24/7 customer support by phone

The only fee you may encounter is $30 for outgoing wire transfers.

Chase: Best Online Checking From a Big Bank

    Chase

    Chase Total Checking®

    • Enjoy a $200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit
    • Access to 16,000 Chase ATMs and nearly 4,900 branches
    • Chase Mobile® app - Manage your accounts, deposit checks, transfer money and more -- all from your device.
    • Open your account online now.
    • Available online nationwide except in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. For branch locations, visit locator.chase.com.

If you're not sure about going completely digital, a good compromise is opening an online checking account with a traditional bank. You get the conveniences of web banking along with the ability to get help in a physical branch.

Chase is one of the best options if you're looking for a bank with a wider presence, lots of features, and easy on-the-go mobile banking. Chase Total Checking makes it pretty easy to waive the monthly fees as long as you have a direct deposit.

Top features:

  • Free Visa debit card
  • Access to 16,000 ATMs and nearly 4,900 branches
  • No minimum deposit requirement
  • Online bill pay and mobile check deposits
  • Overdraft protection with a linked savings account
  • Account alerts
  • Highly rated mobile app

You can waive the $12 monthly service fee when you:
  • Have over $500 of direct deposits into the account each month, OR
  • Maintain a daily balance of at least $1,500

Chase frequently offers cash bonuses for opening a new account. See current Chase promotions.

Ally: Best for No Opening Deposit

    Interest Checking

    • 0.10% APY for daily balances less than $15,000
    • 0.50% APY for daily balance over $15,000
    • Be reimbursed $10/month for ATMs outside of Ally Network
    • $0 Minimum Opening Deposit
    • No Fees to Open or Maintain Account
    • FDIC insured
    • Daily Compounding Interest

Ally Bank is another highly rated web-based bank. It's a full-service bank offering checking, savings, IRAs, investment services, and even home and auto loans. All of Ally's banking products have no opening deposit requirements.

Ally Bank also receives very high satisfaction ratings for its 24/7 customer service and user-friendly mobile app.

Top features:

  • No-fee withdrawals at 55,000+ Allpoint ATMs

  • Refund up to $10 in ATM fees every month

  • Transfer money with your voice through Ally Skill™ for Amazon Alexa

  • Send and receive money with Zelle

  • Online bill pay and mobile check deposits

  • No fees for incoming wires and cashier's checks

  • 24/7 customer service by calling and live chat

Chime: Best for No Credit Check

Banks will usually run a credit check through the ChexSystem when you apply for an account. This report provides a history of any previous banking issues, such as overdrafts and bounced checks.

Chime, a popular app-based bank, allows anyone to open an account without running any credit checks or reports. It makes Chime a great choice for those looking for a second-chance bank account. Chime will accept you even with bad credit or poor banking history.

Top features:

  • Free Chime Visa debit card
  • Get paid up to 2 days early with direct deposit
  • No-fee withdrawals at 38,000+ MoneyPass ATM
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Daily balance push notifications
  • Overdraft up to $100 without a fee
  • Automatic savings option with round-up rules

NBKC: Best Checking With Interest

NBKC (National Bank of Kansas City) offers a high annual percentage yield for all balances, with no additional requirements to earn it. Most checking accounts don't offer a lot of interest (if any at all), so this is a good option to grow your money a little.

Top features:

  • 1.00% APY. $5 to open, no monthly service fees

  • Free NBKC Debit Mastercard

  • No-fee withdrawals at 32,000+ MoneyPass® ATMs nationwide

  • Up to $12 in ATM fee refunds per month

  • Online bill pay and check deposits

  • No overdraft fees

  • Free set of starter checks

  • No fee for incoming wires and cashier's checks

Azlo: Best Online Checking for Small Business

Azlo is a digital business bank partnered with BBVA. It only offers internet checking for small business owners. Its features can be ideal for businesses from freelancing to e-commerce to retail shops. There are no monthly fees and no minimum balance required.

Top features:

  • Unlimited number of transactions at no cost
  • Free bank transfers and payments
  • Free debit card
  • No-fee access at 55,000+ ATMs across the country
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Send digital invoices directly from your account
  • No fee for incoming wires
  • Pay others with digital checks
  • Square and Stripe integrations

Online banks offer a lot of benefits over traditional banks. However, there are downsides too. Before you make the switch to online banking, consider if it's right for you.

Pros:

  • Higher interest rates than traditional banks

  • Often no (or very low) opening deposit

  • Often no monthly service fees or account balance requirements

  • Wider nationwide ATM access

  • Fewer and lower fees for common banking activities

  • Convenience—manage your account 24/7 anywhere

  • Easy-to-open banking account online

Cons:

  • No physical branches
  • No personal relationships with your banker
  • Limited services available
  • More hassle to deposit cash

An online checking account may not be the best option for those who get paid mostly in cash (like restaurant servers, makeup artists, cleaners, etc.) since it's hard to make cash deposits.

What to Look for in an Online Checking Account

A checking account is meant for managing your day-to-day expenses. So you need to make sure the bank offers the features and services you need.

Before choosing an online bank account, compare features like:

  • Monthly Service Fees and Minimum Balance
    The accounts on our list all have no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements. There's no reason to have restrictions to use your own money.

  • ATM Accessibility and Fee Reimbursement
    Is the bank's ATM network easily accessible to you? If you do need to go out-of-network, see if the bank reimburses ATM fees.

  • Checks
    If you still need to write checks (like for rent), note if the bank includes a set of checks.

  • Deposit and Withdrawal Restrictions
    Understand the bank's deposit and withdrawal policy. Pay special attention to any waiting period to access deposited funds or receive a withdrawal.

  • Overdraft Protection
    Accidental overdrafts happen. The fees can really add up. See what kind of overdraft protection the bank offers. For example, Chime can spot you up to $100 at no cost.

  • Interest Rates
    Since checking accounts are for managing daily money needs, the interest rate isn't much of a priority (more like an added perk). But see if the bank also offers a high-yield savings account.

  • Customer Service
    Without the ability to walk into a local branch, you need to be able to get a hold of a rep when you have problems. Note the customer service options and hours.

  • FDIC Insurance
    This protects your funds in case the bank fails (up to $250,000). The banks on our list are all FDIC insured.

  • Security
    Online banks protect your information with strong encryption and other security measures like 2-factor authentication.

Bottom Line

The rise of online banks has brought plenty of free checking options. These days, there's no reason for you to have to pay fees to maintain a bank account.

Online banks don't have as many balance requirements, charge fewer fees, and even offer higher interest rates. Compare your options carefully to see which one will meet your needs.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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