April 6, 2020

Banks With Free Checking and No Minimum Balance

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Monthly service fees stink. Take a look at which banks offer totally free checking accounts. (Even with no opening deposit.)

Here are the top 10 banks with free checking and no minimum balance:

What Is Free Checking, Really?

Many banks advertise free checking when they really aren't free. They often have conditions you must meet in order to get truly free services. Free checking should mean:

  • No monthly service fees
  • No minimum balance requirements

But note that a bank may still have other fees, such as fees for ATM transactions, overdrafts, checks, etc. Many checking accounts cost users hundreds of dollars each year, yet they don't realize it. If you want "as free as possible" checking, it's best to look to online banks because they typically charge fewer fees.

Read on for some of the best free checking options.

Can you open a bank account with no money?
Some banks allow you to open an account with no initial deposit. Ally, Discover, Chase, and Capital One are just a few of the banks where you can open a new checking account with no money.

But a checking account with no money essentially defeats the purpose. Eventually, you'll need to put money in the account to do things like make purchases, pay bills, etc.

Best Free Checking With No Minimum Balance

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Read on for some of the best free checking options. For each account, we have listed what is offered for free, and what kind of fees you may encounter.

Discover Cashback Debit: Best Fee-Free Checking

    Discover Bank

    Online Checking Account - Earn Cash Back

    • 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month
    • No fees
    • Access to over 60,000 no-fee ATMs in the U.S.

How do no fees and 1% cash back sound for a checking account? Discover Bank's Cashback Debit checking account is as close to fee-free checking as you can get while giving you rewards at the same time.

The Discover Bank Cashback Debit account offers:

  • 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in Discover debit card purchases each month
  • Free standard checks
  • Free access at over 60,000 ATMs nationwide
  • $0 for stop payments
  • $0 for insufficient funds
  • $0 for incoming wires
  • $0 for official bank checks
  • $0 for replacement debit card

The only fees you may encounter are out-of-network ATM fees and outgoing wire transfers.

You can manage your account for free online or on the mobile app, including online bill pay, mobile check deposits, money transfers with Zelle, and freezing your debit card on the spot.

Discover Bank is online-only, but it provides 24/7 customer service, making it easy to get the answers you need any time of day or night.

Ally Bank: Best Checking With Full-Service Bank

    Ally Bank

    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 an online bank that offers a free checking account with no minimum balance or monthly maintenance fees.

The Ally Interest Checking account offers:

  • $0 to open or maintain the account
  • 0.10% APY under $15,000; 0.50% APY $15,000 or more
  • Free access at 55,000+ Allpoint ATMs
  • Up to $10 ATM fee reimbursement per month
  • Mobile phone deposit
  • Fast transfers to family and friends with Zelle

Ally does charge fees for things like returned deposit items, overdrafts (one maximum fee per day), expedited delivery, outgoing wires, and account research fees (hourly fee).

How can you avoid ATM Fees?
ATM fees can eat away at your paycheck. Always find out the network the bank operates in so that you choose the right locations. If you need to use a non-network ATM, know if your bank reimburses non-network ATM fees.

Another way to avoid ATM fees is to get cash back when you make debit card purchases. This way, you can get cash without even visiting an ATM.

Radius Bank: Best Checking for $2,500+

    Radius Bank

    Rewards Checking

    • Earn 1.00% cash back on purchases when you use your Radius debit card.
    • Earn 0.15% APY on balances of $100,000 & up.
    • Earn 0.10% APY on balances of $2,500–$99,999.99.

Radius Bank, an online bank headquartered in Boston, offers one of the best rewards checking accounts on the market (with some conditions).

Though there's no balance requirement, the Radius Rewards Checking is best for those who can keep at least a $2,500 balance in their account. You only earn interest for balances of $2,500 and higher. And you can only earn 1% cash back on your debit card if you receive $2,500 worth of direct deposits each month OR keep an average balance of $2,500 or more.

The Radius Rewards Checking account offers:

  • $100 to open; $0 to maintain
  • Free ATMs worldwide
  • $0 for first order of checks
  • Up to 2 days early access to direct deposit funds
  • Free online bill pay and mobile deposits

Radius Bank also offers free integrated personal finance tools. You can link external accounts, set a budget, track your spending, and make a debt payoff plan.

Axos Rewards Checking: Best Interest Checking

Axos Bank is one of the top online banks available today. Their Rewards Checking offers the opportunity to earn up to 1.25% APY if you meet certain monthly direct deposit and debit card use requirements.

There is a $50 minimum deposit to open the account, but after that, there's no balance requirement.

Axos Bank isn't part of a national ATM network, but they provide unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements per month, allowing you to use any ATM that is convenient for you.

The Axos Bank Essentials Checking Account offers:

  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee refunds
  • $0 for overdrafts of non-sufficient funds
  • $0 for incoming wires and outgoing wires online
  • Free mobile deposits and online bill pay
  • Free overdraft protection transfer from a linked Axos savings account

You will pay for things like stop payments, returned checks, outgoing wires, and debit card replacement.

Capital One 360: Best Customer Experience

Capital One 360 offers a free checking account that charges no monthly fees and has no minimum balance requirements.

With good customer service, a top-of-the-line mobile app, and cafes, Capital One 360 ranks high in user satisfaction.

The Capital One 360 Checking account offers:

  • $0 to open or maintain the account
  • Mobile deposit for fast and easy deposits
  • Online bill pay
  • Free access at 39,000+ Capital One or Allpoint ATMs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Four options to cover overdrafts
  • Text alerts and balance notifications

One thing that makes this bank a standout is the Capital One 360 cafes. You can get help opening an account, meet with financial advisers, and attend events, all for free. This makes an online bank feel more personal.

The Capital One 360 account is virtually fee-free except for things like wire transfers, overdraft line of credit, stop payments, overnight checks, and bounced checks.

Varo Bank Account: Best Checking with Savings

Varo Bank offers a couple of unique features. You can get access to your direct deposits up to two days early. The No Fee Overdraft feature allows you to overdraft your account by up to $50 and Varo will cover it for free with no interest charges. Just repay the overdraft within 30 days (must qualify and opt into this service).

The Varo Bank Account offers:

  • $0 to open or maintain
  • Free Varo Visa Debit Card
  • Free access at 55,000+ Allpoint ATMs
  • Free mobile check deposit and bill pay
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No debit card replacement fees
  • Free over-the-counter cash withdrawals
  • Instantly transfer money to other Varo users
  • Free push notification alerts

Note: Varo does not allow paper check writing or wire transfers.

The checking account itself doesn't offer interest, but pairing it with the Varo savings account gives you the opportunity to earn a very high APY (on savings balances up to $50,000). To get this rate, you must make at least 5 debit card purchases each month AND receive monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more.

Depositing Cash at Varo Bank
If you want to deposit cash in your Varo Bank account, you have two options:
  1. Deposit it in a local checking account and transfer the funds to your Varo account
  2. Visit a retailer that uses Green Dot Reload and deposit the cash (for a fee)

Simple: Best Checking with Budgeting

Simple, an app-based bank, offers more than just a checking account. It also has built-in budgeting tools to help you stay on top of your finances.

Simple will help you automatically set aside money for your recurring expenses, so you know your bills are covered. You can also save for your goals in protected accounts, where you'll earn a competitive APY. The unique Safe to Spend tool will tell you exactly how much you have left after your bills and budgets.

The Simple Checking account offers:

  • $0 to open or maintain account
  • Free access to 40,000+ Allpoint ATMs
  • Free Simple Visa debit card
  • $0 for overdrafts
  • $0 for over-the-counter cash withdrawal
  • $0 for expedited debit card replacement
  • Mobile check deposits
  • Transfer funds instantly to other Simple customers
  • Free budgeting tools and spending analytics

One downside is that Simple removed its online bill pay feature, which may be an inconvenience.

Simple does charge $5 for each book of checks. And using an out-of-network ATM could incur fees from the owner.

BBVA Free Checking: Best Second-Chance Checking

BBVA Bank offers several second-chance products to those who've made some banking mistakes in the past. It gives you the opportunity to recover and rebuild your credit.

BBVA's Free Checking requires just $25 to open the account with no balance requirements after opening. There's no monthly service fee.

It also offers a free Simple Cash Back program that lets you earn cash-back rewards through special merchant offers.

The BBVA Free Checking account includes:

  • Free online and mobile banking
  • Free mobile deposit and bill pay
  • Free Visa debit card
  • No ATM fees at BBVA USA ATMs
  • Free unlimited check writing
  • Free customizable alerts

If you choose to, you can add custom features for small monthly fees, including unlimited non-network ATM use or unlimited supplies of checks.

Chase Total Checking: Best Brick-and-Mortar Checking

    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.

Chase Total Checking isn't exactly free, but it's pretty easy to waive the monthly service fee. All you have to do is have at least $500 in direct deposits each month.

We love Chase Bank because it's a nationwide bank with 16,000 ATMs and close to 5,000 branches throughout the country. It's also known for exceptional customer service and a full range of banking services.

Chase also often offers a cash bonus for opening a new account. See the current promotions.

The Chase Total Checking Account offers:

  • $0 to open
  • Free Chase debit card with chip technology
  • Remote check deposit
  • Online bill pay
  • Chase QuickPay with Zelle to quickly pay family and friends
  • Text banking and account alerts
  • Free overdraft protection transfer if you have a linked Chase Savings account

However, this account does have plenty of banking fees, so you'll want to be aware of those. There are fees for wires, overdrafts, and insufficient funds. And checks are not free either.

Alliant High-Rate Checking: Best Credit Union

Alliant offers a great High-Rate Checking account if you want to consider a credit union. Credit unions often offer better personalized service than traditional banks.

Alliant's checking offers a decent interest rate on all balances. To earn that interest, you must opt for eStatements and have a recurring monthly electronic deposit.

Anyone is eligible to join Alliant Credit Union by becoming a member of Foster Care to Success. Alliant will even pay a $5 membership fee to FC2S on the member's behalf.

Alliant High-Rate Checking other features include:

  • $0 to open or maintain account
  • $0 for the first box of standard checks
  • $0 for replacement debit card
  • $0 for incoming wires
  • Access to over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs
  • Up to $20 in ATM fee refunds per month
  • Free overdraft protection when you have an Alliant savings account linked

You will encounter fees for things like outgoing wires, insufficient funds, and stop payments. There is also an inactivity fee if the account has no activities for a year.

What Should You Look For?

Don't fall for the term "free" and think you'll get a checking account with absolutely no fees. Banks have a way of tacking on other service fees that can quickly add up. Make sure a bank is completely transparent about their fees.

The most common fees to watch out for include:

  • Overdraft fees
  • Returned item fees
  • Out-of-network ATM fees
  • Check writing fees
  • Paper statement fees
  • Use of a teller fees
  • Direct deposit fees

Bottom Line

There are plenty of options for free checking with no minimum balance requirements. Your best bet is to look to online banks; they don't have the overhead that brick-and-mortar banks have, so they're able to have fewer fees and requirements.

Make sure you read the fine print and truly know what you're getting from a checking account before making a choice.

Note: This website 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. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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