14 Best Checking Accounts (Reviewed and Compared)

Banking
Updated: 2nd Sep 2020
Written by Drew Cheneler
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Banking
June 21, 2020
Written by Drew Cheneler

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At the intersection of your finances, a checking account serves as the underlying foundation. Often, your checking account acts as a repository for your monthly income and expenses, which makes it crucial to find the best checking account. In today’s digital world, there is a wide selection of banks that offer great checking accounts.

However, the best checking account will offer you low fees, rewards, and a user-friendly application, so you can easily monitor your finances. Backed by hours of extensive research, we compiled a list of the 14 Best Checking Accounts, so you can make a simple yet vital financial decision.

But first…

What Is A Checking Account?

Plain and simple, a checking account is a financial account that allows you to pay bills, spend money, and write checks. As we like to say here at SimpleMoneyLyfe, a checking account is the jack of all trades.

This account makes it easy for you to set up direct deposits with your employer, pay your utility bills, or even pay off your loans. Traditionally, a checking account supports your everyday spending.

What Is the Best Bank to Open A Checking Account? 

The best bank to open a checking account is one that will be by your side the entire time. You want a financial institution that values customer service, offers low fees, a competitive APY, and has the technological infrastructure needed to support your lifestyle and financial needs.

14 Best Checking Accounts

Below we compiled a list of the 14 Best Checking Accounts. Read along as we dive into the nitty gritty details of each checking account. Ultimately, we will help you find the best bank to open a checking account.

Axos Bank Reward Checking

Still looking for a checking account that offers rewards? Look no further, Axos Bank offers a low fee rewards checking account. It is important to note, that this bank is entirely online, so if you are looking for a bank with physical locations, then look elsewhere.

Axos bank is the best checking account.

However, if this does not concern (it shouldn’t), then this reward checking account is worth looking at. Axos Bank offers 5 Flagship Checking Accounts: Essential, CashBack, Rewards, Golden, and First Checking. This review is covering the Rewards and Cashback Checking Accounts, but the other ones offered are tailored for elders and teenagers.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

$50 Initial Opening Account Fee

Rewards Rate: 

  • Axos Reward Checking will allow you to earn a 1.25% APY if you receive $1,000 worth of Monthly Direct Deposits and if you use your Axos Visa® Debit Card 15 times per month.
  • Axos Cashback Rewards allows you to earn 1.0% on all debit purchases that require a signature.

Standout Benefits: 

  • All Domestic ATM Fees are Reimbursed
  • No Monthly Fees or Minimum Opening Balance Requirement (besides the $50 Opening Fee)
  • No Overdraft Fees or Non-sufficient fund fees. Rest easy, they are in the business of providing no hidden fees.
  • Earn up to 1.25% APY. Make sure to follow their minimal restrictions.
  • Potentially Earn 1.0% on qualified cashback purchases.

Axos Bank offers the best checking account today.

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

At the forefront of digital banking, Ally Bank provides you with the best online checking account that is interest bearing. Enjoy earning an estimated $125 with an account balance greater than $25,000. Simply put, you will earn money. Though there are no physical locations, this bank offers some of the lowest fees and best rates currently on the market. Acclaimed as “A Checking Account that Gives Your More,” they offer great rewards, protection, and services.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Annual Percent Yield (APY): 

0.1% with a $0 minimum balance

0.1% with a $0 minimum balance

Standout Benefits:

  • No Minimum Deposit
  • Free Access to 43,000+ ATMs
  • Reimbursed $10 per statement cycle for fees charged on an ATM that does not support Ally
  • 24/7 Customer Service (Phone Support Line & Online Representatives)
  • Transfer cash quickly between accounts with Zelle
  • Member FDIC – Insured. Your Money is Protected.
  • Ally eCheck Deposit℠ allows you to deposit cash instantly – right from your phone

Want to Learn More? Check Out our Ally Bank Review.

Chime Spending Account

As another online bank, Chime provides you with an all-inclusive digital experience. Paired with their nifty automatic savings feature, Chime Spending is certainly one of the best checking accounts if you are ready to elevate your financial future. Their award-winning platform makes it simple to use, easy to monitor, safe and free to apply.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Standout Benefits: 

  • No Minimum Balance Required
  • Enjoy your paycheck 2-Days early with Chime Direct Deposit
  • 30,000+ Fee Free ATM Network & 30,000+ Cash-back Locations
  • Nifty Automatic Savings Platform included with your spending account
  • Take advantage of the Chime Visa Debit Card
  • No Monthly, Foreign, or Overdraft Fees
  • Member FDIC-Insured
  • Enjoy Visa’s Zero-Liability Protection Policy for all unauthorized purchases.

Are you Interested? Read our Chime Bank Review.

Capital One 360

Touted as one of the best online checking accounts, the Capital One 360 provides you with an interest-bearing checking account. With some of the best technology, Capital One allows you to access and control your checking account entirely from your mobile device or personal computer. Better yet, this checking account offers low fees and no minimum opening balance, so you can start earning money – immediately.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Annual Percent Yield (APY): 

  • For balances up to $49,999 you will earn 0.20%
  • Balances between $50,000 – $99,999 will earn 0.20%
  • Balances exceeding $100,000 will also earn a quick 0.20%

Standout Benefits: 

  • Access to over 39,000 Fee-Free ATM’s provided by Capital One or Allpoint
  • Of course – No Monthly Fee
  • Member FDIC – Insured
  • No Minimum Opening Account Balance
  • Easily pay your bills Online with their mobile platform
  • Finally, a checking account that allows you to deposit your checks instantly from your phone
  • Exclusive access to Capital Ones Credit Wise application, which provides you with a free credit score update

Simple High-Yield Checking

Struggling to follow a strict financial budget? Try out this digital only mobile bank – Simple. This financial institution pairs budgeting and checking into one seamless account, leaving you in complete control of your financial situation. Launching in 2012, Simple is a relatively new bank, but has come a long way. In fact, they offer one of the best checking accounts currently available. With no monthly fees or minimum opening balances, the Simple High Yield Checking Account has attracted a legion of fans.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Annual Percent Yield (APY): 1.90% with their Protected Goals Account

Standout Benefits: 

  • Member FDIC – Insured, so your money is protected up the legal limit.
  • Easily create an Emergency Fund and establish Savings Goals
  • Seamless yet awesome Automated Round-Up Savings Built in feature
  • Features to provide you with good ole’ fashioned paper checks
  • Access to a 40,000+ ATM Network
  • Easily transfer funds between accounts
  • 24/7 Customer Service Support
  • Zero Overdraft Fees
  • A free Visa Debit Card is provided to all account owners

Chase Total Checking

Of course, JP Morgan Chase is going to provide us with a stellar checking account. As one of the largest and most reputable financial institutions in the world, this bank offers the infrastructure needed if you prefer in-person banking. Even with a minimal monthly fee and a low interest rate, Chase Total Checking is best for individuals who prefer human interaction (speaking to real representatives) when it comes to managing their money.

Monthly Fee: $12 or $0

No monthly fee if you have $500 direct deposits a month, a daily balance of $1,500, or a balance of $5,000 between your checking account and other qualifying linked accounts (think savings).

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Sign-up Bonus: Up to $350

Standout Benefits: 

  • 16,000+ ATMs Nationwide & 5,000 Branch Locations
  • Mange all of your accounts from their easy-to-use Mobile Application
  • Low Monthly Fee & No Minimum Balance
  • Generous Sign-Up Bonus (up to $350)
  • Member FDIC – Insured
  • Easily sign-up for a High Yield Savings Account

Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking

Predominately a powerhouse investment company, Charles Schwab has fielded a checking account that is well respected in the financial industry. Some have even hailed it as the best overall checking account. With a competitive APY, low fees, and a generous ATM fee rebate policy, Charles Schwab provides their cherished clients with an excellent option.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Annual Percent Yield (APY): 0.15%

Standout Benefits: 

  • Unlimited ATM Fee Rebates – Both at home and abroad.
  • Member FDIC – Insured
  • Set up Autopay so you never miss a payment
  • Enjoy a complimentary Schwab One Brokerage Account (Not Required to Use)
  • No Monthly Fees or Minimum Opening Balances
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Easily link Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay from your paired mobile device

Discover Cashback Credit

As a leading financial institution, Discover Bank offers a robust checking account that offers cashback rewards on select purchases. With low fees, a vast ATM network, and a generous 1.0% cashback rewards on qualifying purchases, this checking account warrants serious consideration.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Annual Percent Yield (APY): Earn 1.0% (up to $3,000 per month)

Standout Benefits: 

  • Access to 60,000+ ATMs Nationwide
  • Earn 1.0% Cashback Rewards on Qualifying Purchases
  • Member FDIC – Insured
  • Apply for a High Yield Savings Account to compliment your sweet checking account
  • No Monthly Fees or Minimum Opening Balance
  • Robust Customer Service Support. Their representatives are eager to answer any questions you may have.
  • Easily pay all your bills online with their Autopay Feature
  • Transfer your money easily between accounts with Zelle

USAA Classic Checking

As a premiere financial institution, USAA is only available for active duty/reserve military members, their families, and veterans. Fret not, as a military member constantly on the move to your next tour of duty, this bank has rolled out a suite of online features making it easy to monitor your checking and associated accounts. USAA Classic Checking offers low fees, a massive ATM network, and will even reimburse you up to $15 per month for other banks ATM fees.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

$25 Initial Opening Account Fee – It is small, but well worth it if you qualify for this Bank.

Annual Percent Yield (APY): 0.01%

Standout Benefits:

  • No Monthly Fee
  • Access to 60,000+ ATMs Nationwide
  • Reimbursed up to $15 for other Banks ATM Fees
  • Robust Overdraft Protection
  • Easily sign-up for Saving Accounts, Investment Accounts, or Credit Cards through USAA
  • Monitory and Pay bills entirely online from your mobile device. Enroll in Autopay so you never miss a payment.
  • Easily transfer money between banks with Zelle
  • A wide suite of tools to help monitor and track your daily, weekly, and monthly spending habits.

US Bank Easy Checking

This is a straightforward and basic checking account. The US Bank Easy Checking Account is a great option for individuals looking for an easy-to-use platform that is accompanied with a myriad of exclusive benefits and perks. To make it more appealing, US Bank gives all account owners access to their industry leading tools which help you monitor your spending, pay bills, and transfer money between accounts.

Monthly Fee: $6.95

This fee is waived ($0) if you have $1,000 worth of monthly direct deposits, an account balance of $1,500, or are over the age of 65.

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Standout Benefits: 

  • Complete access to their online and mobile banking platform. This is where you can utilize their cool tools to help you live a smarter financial life.
  • Enjoy their complimentary U.S. Bank Visa® Debit Card
  • Deposit Checks online from your Phone
  • Easily transfer money between associated accounts and pay your bills – on time
  • Member FDIC – Insured

Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking

Bank5 Connect has made a name for themselves amongst consumers due to their affordable High-Interest Checking Account. To start earning – today – all you need to do is deposit $100. With low fees, convenience, competitive interest rate, rewards, and a vast ATM network, Bank5 Connect offers a top-notch checking account that is worth noting.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Annual Percent Yield (APY): 0.76%

Bank5 Connect also offers cashback rewards on qualifying purchases.

Standout Benefits: 

  • Purchase Rewards – Start Earning cashback today on qualified purchases.
  • Access to large ATM Network. They will reimburse you up to $15 per month on other Banks ATM surcharges.
  • Member FDIC – Insured
  • Free External Transfers – Easily transfer money between various banks
  • Easily pay your bills online through their website or mobile application
  • Enjoy sending money to your friends and family with ease with their Pay People feature
  • Free Monthly eStatements so you know exactly what is being charged
  • Free Checks – they will cover the cost of your first order of basic checks

Alliant Credit Union

As one of the few Credit Union’s making our annual list, Alliant Credit Union is an award-winning institution that offers a high interest checking account that is second to none. With minimal membership restrictions, no minimum opening balance, no monthly service fee, and a competitive APY, Alliant Credit Union is ready to serve as your home for a premiere checking account.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Annual Percent Yield (APY): 0.45%

Standout Benefits: 

  • No monthly service fees or minimum opening account balance
  • Insured up to $250,000 by the NCUA
  • 80,000+ ATM’s you can use for free. $20 Monthly reimbursement for other banks ATMs Fees.
  • Enjoy their Online and Mobile Banking Applications – allowing you to Bank anywhere, anytime.
  • Complimentary Visa® debit card and First Box of Checks
  • Competitive CD Rates
  • Easily deposit checks on their mobile application – all you have to do is take a quick picture from your device
  • Sign-up for Free Overdraft Protection and Courtesy Pay

Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking

The only other credit union making our annual list is Consumers Credit Union. This powerhouse financial institutions offers one of the highest APY’s through their award-winning Rewards Checking Account. At the intersection of convenience and rewards, Consumers Credit Union puts forth a checking account that earns up to 5.09% APY, offers low fees, and complimented by a vast network of ATMs and physical branch locations.

Monthly Fee: $0

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Annual Percent Yield (APY): Earn up to 5.09%

Standout Benefits: 

  • 30,000+ ATMs and 5,000+ Shared Branches
  • Reimbursed for all ATM Fees you may encounter from other Banks
  • No Monthly Maintenance Fees or Minimum Opening Balance
  • Federally Insured by the NCUA
  • Complimentary Visa Debit Card and Write Unlimited Free Checks
  • Easily transfer money between accounts
  • Robust Online and Mobile Device Applications making it easier than ever to Bank

TD Bank

Touted as “America’s Most Convenient Bank,” TD Bank offers a Beyond & Convenience Checking Account which offers current students sweet perks. Even better, this checking account is accompanied with a potential $300 sign-up bonus. With low fees, a robust user-interface, and generous perks, this is the best checking account for Students.

Monthly Fee: $0

This fee is easily avoidable if you maintain a daily $100 account balance or if you the account holder is between the age 17 – 23.

Minimum Opening Balance: $0

Sign-up Bonus: $300 (Beyond) or $150 (Convenience)

Standout Benefits: 

  • Get a 0.25% Discount on Personal Loans
  • Easily sign-up for Savings Overdraft Protection
  • No Monthly Fee or Minimum Opening Balance
  • Access to over 1,300+ Branch Locations and Thousands of ATMs
  • Sign-Up for an Award-Winning Online Investment Brokerage Account
  • Member FDIC – Insured

Quick Review: Top Checking Accounts

It may seem daunting at first opening a checking account; however, we have compiled a series of questions to make the process quick, smooth, and easy. Believe me, whether you are on the market for a new checking account or this is your first one, you want an account that is reliable, offers generous benefits, and has a suite of tools to help you responsibly manage your money. Our narrowed down list of the best checking accounts is a great place to choose from. Our team has put in countless hours researching and analyzing each option. Each checking account has their pros and cons, but they are reliable, safe, and the best on the market.

How Do I Open A Checking Account? 

Fortunately, it has never been easier to open a checking account. All you need to do is visit one of the top banks we listed above on their secure website to apply for a checking account, or you can visit in-person to a physical location. Make sure you check your surrounding area for branch locations; however, I encourage you to apply online. Trust me, it will save you time, money, and the hassle of everyday traffic.

What Documents Are Required to Open A Checking Account? 

To speed up your application process, make sure you have your driver’s license or state issued ID, Social Security Number, Contact Information (Name, Address, Phone #, Email), and Money to fund your account. These documents are crucial to the application process, so avoid the trouble early on and make sure you have them nearby before you apply online.

Common Checking Account Fees

Before you apply, make sure your checking account identifies these common fees. To protect your hard-earned money, you want to avoid checking accounts that charge fees at all costs. Our team has identified the most common fees, so you know exactly where to look.

Monthly Maintenance or Service Fee

This fee is applied monthly by the financial institution. They charge this fee for holding your account open and allow you to use it without any restrictions.

Opening Account Fee

Many Banks or Credit Unions will charge a one-time fee for opening a checking account with them.

Overdraft Fee

This fee is incurred when your checking account drops below zero and you still charge a transaction on your card. Banks charge a high fee for this penalty; however, some banks offer overdraft protection or waive this fee. Make sure you choose the right bank to avoid this costly penalty.

Is My Money Protected in A Checking Account?

Yes, per guidance and regulation, the checking accounts we reviewed are all FDIC or NCUA (Credit Unions) Insured up to $250,000. However, it is not recommended that you keep $250,000 in a checking account. Your best bet is to put that money in a investment account or a high-yield saving account, where you will earn a higher rate of return on your capital.

How Do I Use A Checking Account?

Remember, a checking account is where you can set up direct deposits with your employer, pay bills, and spend money. It is important that you keep a running balance, so you avoid potential overdraft fees. However, it is crucial that you understand your banks rules and regulations pertaining to your checking account. Often, a deposit needs to endure a brief ‘waiting period’ before it can be used freely. This usually is not a concern, but it is still important you know which restrictions apply.

Choosing the Best Checking Account

Believe it or not, choosing the best checking account is quite easy. You – more than anyone – knows your financial situation and the lifestyle you hope to lead. The right checking account will tailor towards these needs, by offering low fees, a competitive APY, robust customer service (24/7), and will provide you with the necessary Online and Mobile Applications to bank anywhere, anytime.

Summary: 14 Best Checking Accounts 

By now, you should have a clear idea of which checking account fits your financial needs and goals. However, if you are still not sure, I urge you to review the options we have listed, speak to your friends, and review other online sources to find the best checking account for you. Remember, you want a checking account that offers low fees, rewards, and has reliable customer service.

Drew Cheneler
Drew Cheneler
Drew is a recognized Credit, Small Business, and Personal Finance Expert. He has been quoted in CNBC, The Huffington Post, Business.com, Moneyunder30, and more. He is known for breaking down complex personal finance topics into action-oriented advice, so you can make the most of your hard-earned money.