Best Online Checking Accounts

The Best Online Checking Accounts in 2021

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Last updated on August 15, 2022 Comments: 35

Consumers have grown increasingly frustrated by the checking account options offered by traditional banks. Large banks are continuing to add fees and are not concerned with scaring the less profitable customers away. This is part of a larger plan to increase profitability.

Enter online banks. Banking customers are seeking out the best online checking accounts for better interest rates, service, and lower fees. The key is to is find the best checking account that meets your needs at that particular time.

7 Best Online Checking Accounts

Here are my picks for stable, convenient online checking accounts.

Radius Bank

Radius Bank

Radius offers checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees and only $100 to open either one. However, their rates aren’t exactly considered competitive among other online banks, but it offers some great features such as no ATM fees (though no fee reimbursements), a free debit card, and cash back on purchases when using your debit card.

Plus, if you use ATMs from the MoneyPass® and SUM ATMs, you won’t be charged a fee. In other words, you can save money and the cash back feature for the checking account is a nice touch and may make up for the lower APY.

  • No ATM fees (even internationally)
  • No monthly fees

Read more about Radius bank features on our full Radius bank review.

Read more here.

Ally Bank

ally.com_210x100

Ally offers a checking account with no monthly fees and no minimum balance. The no-fee, no-minimum accounts are becoming increasingly rare. Very few banks offer interest on a checking account, as Ally Bank does.

While they offer free checking, customers will suffer with a low APY.  For accounts with less than $15,000, the APY is 0.10% and for balances greater than $15,000, the APY is 0.60%.  Perhaps the biggest benefit is that Ally reimburses up to $10 in ATM fees each statement cycle.  That can go a long way in saving money when you need to withdraw funds from non-Allpoint ATM’s.

  • $10 per cycle ATM fee reimbursement
  • No monthly fees

Read more here.

Empower

Empower Logo 210x100

Empower is an app that has an interest checking account which comes with the Empower Card. The Empower Card has features that will give you access to Cash Advance of up to $250^ when you need it most, and will help you save for your future. There’s no account minimums, no overdraft or insufficient funds fees.

Although you do need to pay a monthly fee after your 14-day trial, the features could be worth it. You get access to intuitive budgeting tools, AutoSave features, and fast cash when unexpected expenses come up.

  • $8 monthly fee (includes other money management tools) after a 14-day free trial. 

Read our full Empower review for more information.

Read more here.

Empower is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC.

^ Eligibility requirements apply.

Chime

Chime logo 210x100

Chime offers users a lot of convenience since it uses a mobile app to help you do your banking. There are no monthly fees and the rate for their savings account is 1.00% APY. In addition to being FDIC-insured, Chime offers some extremely enticing features that you probably want to take a second look at.

For one, you may be able to access your direct deposit up to two days earlier compared to other banks. Chime also doesn’t charge foreign transaction or overdraft fees. Plus, you can opt into a savings plan where the app will round up your purchases automatically to the next dollar and put it in a separate savings account.

  • No ATM fees
  • No monthly fees

Read our full chime review, for more useful information and features.

Read more here.

Chime Disclosure - Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
1Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your Checking Account into your savings account.
^Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer the round up from your Chime Checking Account to your savings account.

 

Chime APY Disclosure - The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of July 13, 2022. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.

 

Chime ATM Disclosure - Get fee-free transactions at any Moneypass ATM in a 7-Eleven location and at any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM. Otherwise, out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply.

 

Axos

axos Bank

Axos Bank offers online banking with minimal fees, competitive rates, no minimum balances for most accounts and no overdraft fees.

Some bank accounts like their Rewards Checking account offer no ATM fees and unlimited ATM reimbursements. Account holders can earn up to 1.25% depending on the account.

  • No ATM fees
  • No monthly maintenance fees

Read more on Axos Bank in our full Axos bank review.

Read more here. 

BBVA

 

BBVA Member FDIC offers the Free Checking Account. As the name suggests, there is no monthly Service Charge. BBVA offers free online and mobile banking as well as unlimited free check writing (but not free checks). You also get free mobile and online bill pay. And there are no fees at any of BBVA’s ATMs.

But that doesn’t mean there are no ATM fees.  If you use an ATM outside of the BBVA network, you are charged their fee; and while BBVA will not reimburse you for that fee, they do offer a unique ATM fee rebate program.  If you agree to a $5 monthly charge, you can be reimbursed for up to 4 ATM fees per month.  A typical ATM fee is about $3, but if you’ve ever withdrawn money from an airport or casino, you know that fee is bigger.  The $5 monthly charge will save you money if you’re a habitual ATM user, but if not, you should pass.

The biggest drawback to the Free Checking Account is that it is not accompanied by an interest rate.  The minimum to open an account is just $25.

  • No ATM fee reimbursement (unless you pay a $5 monthly charge)
  • No monthly service charge

Read more here.

Capital One 360

capitalone.com_210x100

Capital One 360 combines every good checking account feature into one package.  This is a no-fee account with a top-rated mobile app platform that allows you to transfer money, deposit checks and manage your account free of charge. It also offers mobile check deposits and the security of SureSwipe to see all transaction details.

Cap One currently provides a tiered APY structure.  For balances less than $50,000, the APY is 0.20%, balances between $50,000 and $100,000 the APY is 0.75% and for balances greater than $100,000 the APY is 0.90%.  Their ATM fee structure is very straightforward; charging nothing for using a Capital One ATM (on the AllPoint network) and reimbursing up to $15 in ATM fees per month from other banks.  From their website:

For certain banking products we offer, fees assessed at any ATM within the United States and at some ATMs located outside the United States will be reimbursed within 5 business days, up to $15 per statement period.

  • $15 per cycle ATM fee reimbursement
  • No monthly fees

Read more here.

 

Article comments

35 comments
Lauren says:

10 Best Checking Accounts of 2019 The top checking accounts have no fees and generous interest.

Anonymous says:

How does one get a checking account with USAA as a member of the general public? I just tried online and was told I was not eligible since I am not military or spouse. Color me confused.

Thanks,
Jody

Anonymous says:

Does anyone have any info on the best checking accounts if you are doing business in Europe? I am getting another checking account because of problems I had with my local credit union, one of which was that my partner (in Denmark) had no way of sending me money. Apparently my credit union had a Swift number at one time, but now they no longer do & have no way of transferring money between my partner’s account & mine. I just called Capital One to ask about the 360 checking & they said they don’t allow for transferring money outside the US, but they do have a Swift number, so I take it that perhaps I could receive payment, but can’t send payment to Europe. USAA’s website states that it has no Swift number, so they are out. I called Ally & it seems they have a Swift number, but made no mention of transferring money between accounts and he said they don’t add any additional fees to ATM withdrawls, but do charge 1% conversion fee.

Anonymous says:

DISASTER – describes my experience switching to Ally. First of all adding my wife to the account so far has taken 7 days (and counting). Then I tried to wire money from an existing checking account that had been verified previously by Ally to my Ally checking, 6 days (and counting) all the while they have returned my ACH credit card payments making those payments late which as we all know adversely effects my credit!! I have finally seen where cash is no good………Ally Bank!

Anonymous says:

I’d encourage anyone looking for a new bank to check the Bankrate and Bauer Financial star ratings for all the institutions which interest you. If you’re willing to go up a step, you can pay a modest fee and get a complete analysis of the bank’s condition from either of these rating organizations. Make an exploratory phone call to the bank’s toll free customer service line, and pay close attention to wait times, electronic menus, and how professional and polite the representative is. All banks like to tout their supposed advantages, but nothing takes the place of a bit of digging, and gathering your own personal impressions. Be like a fox walking on new ice: Circumspect and cautious.

Anonymous says:

WATCH OUT FOR USAA.
The online and cell phone deposits are not available to non-miitary members. You have to have a USAA credit card or a USAA auto insurance policy.
If you deposit your money using the Quick Deposit via UPS store USAA wlll hold on to all but $100.00 of your money for FIVE BUSINESS DAYS (that’a week).
(It’s faster to deposit the money in a local bank and wire transfer it to USAA).
If you depsiting money and don’t need it right away that’s fine, but if you live pay check to pay check and need your funds as soon as you deposit them THIS IS NOT THE BANK FOR YOU.!!!!

Anonymous says:

No mention Fidelity Cash Management. Just curious to what you think!

Anonymous says:

ING now offers a feature that enables you to use your mobile app or your computer to deposit checks from anywhere with CheckMateSM. A very cool feature to save you time. No more trips to the bank to deposit checks. So cool.

Anonymous says:

How long til the funds are available, with Ally it is at least a week?

Anonymous says:

Hi Will, I want to say that it takes 5 business days if I remember correctly. It’s a ridiculously long time to wait. ING is now owned by Capital One 360.

Anonymous says:

You really want to do business with a bank that can’t pay back TARP money? Granted your funds are FDIC insured (paid into by the bank), but I wouldn’t do business with them because 1) they can’t pay back money they owe, 2) they are not financially stable internally to do business with.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ally_Financial

As of January, 2012, TARP had about $12 billion invested in Ally.[16] The government stake represented a 74% ownership interest in Ally. In March, 2012, Ally failed the Federal Reserve’s so-called financial “stress test” for capital adequacy. The company said in a statement that the Fed’s “analysis dramatically overstates potential contingent mortgage risk”. A possible outcome would be a requirement to raise additional capital.[17]

Anonymous says:

My mistake, I thought we were discussing what different online banks offer, not having a political discussion. By the way, I would be hesitant in using Wikipedia for any citation.

Anonymous says:

Ally Bank is great but unfortunately not much info is given on them here. In addition to having no minimum balance, no monthly fees, and giving interest regardless of balance, they also provide free checks, charge NO atm fees, and reimburse other bank’s atm fees. They also have AllyPerks, which is a program that gives you money for using your debit card at certain retailers, both in-store and online. For example, you get $5 back for spending $50 at Target or $3 for spending $25 at Walgreens (including prescriptions). You don’t even need to do anything, they automatically deposit the cash into your account.

You can also transfer money between Ally accounts, between your Ally account and an account you hold elsewhere (with cash going either to the Ally account or the other account), and via Popmoney (where you can transfer money to whoever you want). Again, at no charge.

Deposits can be made via transfer from another account, by scanning checks and uploading online, or via mail. I deposit checks online all the time and have never had a problem.

Anonymous says:

Ally Bank and Bank of Internet have minimum credit score requirements. If you have qustionable credit, they will deny you.

Anonymous says:

All that is true, but the part you did not mention was the long (above industry standards by far) time frame it takes for your funds to be available, ridiculous!!

Anonymous says:

ING is not the same – I would not recommend them. They are sneaky and non-communicative. I recently made a deposit, had a popup tell me that 200 of it would be available the following day, and the rest in 2 business days. I sent a $150 check out for the following day. They drew the check the night before and then showed me in arrears. When I asked if there were fees associated that, or whether my Overdraft protection had kicked in, they wrote back some drivel about how creative, fun people like myself would appreciate their thoughtfulness. When I wrote back again, asking for clarification on whether fees or penalties had been assessed, they wrote back and told me to call them. Very evasive, sneaky, and basically dishonest. Their website popups should match their actions, and they don’t. I would advise to approach with a LOT of caution.

Anonymous says:

How can you not list Charles Schwab Bank? Free checking with interest, free checks, reimbursement fro using any ATM anywhere.

Anonymous says:

I’ve been having problems over the past few months with USAA’s checking. I have to send paper checks via USAA’s pre-paid envelopes. Deposits are taking a over a week now to occur, as opposed to ~three days in the past. One deposit this month has been lost, I even tracked it. USAA is taking their sweet time getting back to me. I’d appreciate it if they’d simply tell me that they can’t find it. I’m looking to take my business elsewhere, after ten years with them. I like their product, but c’mon. I’m not sure I want to take out insurance to qualify for [email protected], etc.

Anonymous says:

Great roundup. I’m actually planning to switch to PerkStreet by the end of the week. I’ve been using ING for a few years, but the lack of cash back is enough to switch. I’ll probably keep my ING checking open, though, just in case they decide to bring it out.

Anonymous says:

Allen,

Did you have problems using the free Allpoint network of ATM’s with ING? They seem to be located in every CVS, Walgreens, Target and 7-11. Also any free ATMs like Wawa in PA/NJ are free for ING customers too.

My problem with INGdirect is just prior to their sale to Capitol One they changed their customer service, raised interest charges on overdrafts and dropped interest rates paid on savings accounts. I may switch to TIAAdirect.com (paying 1.25% APY on savings and 0.05% to 0.15% on checking). But remain on the fence for now.

Anonymous says:

I recently closed all my accounts at USAA after being with them for over 25 years; once they were personal and helpful – now they are the opposite. My credit rating is just over 700 but that did not stop them from raising my credit card rate after telling me their review did not let them lower it. Federal funds wires credited my account days after it was sent and they would charge me an overdraft fee for money that was sitting there but not credited to my account. I have sent money to even larger institutions and had it credit within hours of that transaction. Phone services became endless lines of automation – all these things disappeared when I moved to Navy Federal Credit Union.

Anonymous says:

St Martin Bank checking is the best of them all. 3.51% APR up to 10K.

Anonymous says:

Am I just an old fogie because I want to see my money and access it when I want to???? I get the creepies when people talk about online banks.

Anonymous says:

Thanks. Great timing. Between this article and the Plutus Awards it looks like i might be moving to ING Direct. I just hope they get the remote deposit setup soon.

Anonymous says:

Do your research first. I was a faithful member of ING Direct and am in the process of leaving them to bank with another company. Since their transition of ownership to Capitol One their services and customer service has seriously changed. Please research in depth before finalizing your decision to move to this bank. Also, their APY has went down significantly since 2010.

Anonymous says:

Agreed. ING Direct is now changing their name to “Capital One 360” by Feb. 2013. Capital One is an inept company, so I will be switching (which is why I’m on this website).

Anonymous says:

thanks for the reply, i dont mean local credit union, i mean other online financial institutions that could be opened online, like usaa, perkstreet, where u just pay and they send u an atm, no need to go into the bank…can i get any help??…

Anonymous says:

Recently, I changed from Wells Fargo Bank to a local credit union; which I am delighted with. My credit union treats me like family. After banking with Wells Fargo for several years; their attitude changed. They became very unhelpful; when I needed to see a banker they would keep me waiting for no reason 45 minutes to an hour before they would acknowledge that I was there. I spoke to the manager several times and nothing changed. A few months ago I changed to my current credit union before the banks started charging all these fees; and I would not go back to any commercial bank again.

Anonymous says:

Apart from the above banks, is there any other online bank i can link my local bank account with??

Anonymous says:

I’ve been a loyal and satisfied USAA customer for over thirty years and plan on many more.

Anonymous says:

But can you transfer money into these online accounts without having a local checking account to deposit the money into first? This has been the problem for me with some of the accounts I’ve looked at.

Luke Landes says:

Having a local checking account makes everything a lot easier, but it’s not necessary. You can send in a check when opening any of these accounts, which slows down the opening process. If you have paper checks for deposit, you can send them to the bank or use an ATM that accepts deposits.

Anonymous says:

Most offer deposit through mail or online deposit with a scanner or sometimes your smartphone. I’ve had USAA for over a decade, and have depended on deposit through the mail (and now with my smartphone), and have never had an issue.

Anonymous says:

Do you have insurance through them to qualify for smartphone deposits? I was told I had to, in order to meet their requirements.

Anonymous says:

If you take PerkStreet as an example, new accounts can fund via their current checking account, or up to $500 via credit card. Once you have a checking account, you can go to any UPS Store and deposit your checks via UPS Overnight for free. The cut off for Overnight is around 5pm for most UPS Stores.