13 Best Online Banks of 2021

Banking
Updated: 21st Jul 2021
Written by Kim Pinnelli
Share this article
Stripe vs. Square: What Are the Differences? And Which is Better?
Square Credit Card Processing Review: Is It a Good Option?
Banking
June 14, 2021
Written by Kim Pinnelli

Disclaimer: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation (at no cost to you) when you click on links to those products. Read our Disclaimer Policy for more information.

Online banking, it’s the banking of the future, except it’s here now. If you haven’t taken advantage of online banking yet, it’s time.

The interest rates are higher and the fees lower. You can make your money work harder for you. Moreover, online banks offer various financial products, all designed to help you successfully manage your money.

The best online banks offer:

Here’s everything you need to know about the best online banks of 2021.

Quick Overview: Top Online Banks 

  • Chime Bank: Best Overall Online Bank
  • Axos BankBest Online Bank for Generous Rewards 
  • CIT BankTop Online Bank for Low-Fee Checking Accounts
  • Current BankBest for Teenagers and Families 
  • Marcus: Best for Customer Service
  • Varo Online Bank: Best for High Yield Savings 
  • Discover Bank: Best for Low Fees 
  • Alliant Credit Union: Best Online Credit Union
  • Capital One 360: Best Online Bank for Students 
  • Ally Bank: Best Online Bank for Loans 
  • American Express: Top Online Bank for CDs & Savings Accounts 
  • Barclays Bank: Best for High Yield Savings Accounts
  • USAA: Best for Military Members

The Best Online Banks (Ranked & Reviewed)

#1. Chime

Chime Bank makes managing your money online easy and inexpensive. With 38,000+ fee-free ATMs, competitive interest rates on savings accounts, and FDIC insurance, it’s a great online bank, especially for beginners.

Chime Online Banking

If you set up direct deposit, you can receive your funds 2 days early, and they don’t have any hidden fees.

Pros:

  • No minimum balance required
  • Large ATM network
  • Access to a secured credit card to build credit

Cons:

  • Out-of-network ATMs cost $2.50 per transaction
  • You can only deposit cash online (electronic transfers), or it may cost money at a Green Dot location

What We Like

We like Chime Bank because they don’t charge a monthly maintenance fee. There’s no stress to keep a minimum balance, and you don’t waste money on bank fees.

We also like the Automatic Savings feature that rounds up your purchases made with the Chime Visa Debit card, transferring the funds to your savings account automatically.

>> Learn More: Chime Bank Review

Chime is a financial technology company. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. 

#2. Axos Bank

Axos Bank has been in digital banking since the 2000s, giving them plenty of time to perfect their services.

With no fees, high APYs, automatic bill pay, and account alerts, it’s easy to see why millions use Axos Bank for their banking needs.

Axos Online Banking. The Top Online Banks

Pros:

  • 24/7 customer service
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Convenient mobile app for easy banking

Cons:

  • You need at least $250 deposited to earn the ‘higher’ APYs
  • ATM transactions are free for a limited number of transactions per month

What We Like

Axos Bank has a highly-rated mobile app and offers easy access to your funds with its 91,000 ATM network.

If you meet the deposit requirements, they offer high APYs for a standard checking or savings account.

>> Learn More: Axos Bank Review

#3. CIT Bank

CIT Bank has several online bank accounts with no monthly fees and online or mobile access 24/7. CIT bank has a large ATM network, and they reimburse out-of-network ATM fees up to $15 per month.

You don’t need a minimum opening balance. CIT makes it easy to pay bills online or use mobile deposit, so you’ll never miss a physical bank.

CIT Online Banking

Pros:

  • Low opening deposit requirements
  • High APYs on checking and savings with at least $100 monthly deposit
  • Access to a high-yield Money Market account with no minimum deposit requirements

Cons:

  • No access to physical locations
  • No access to a traditional checkbook

What We Like

CIT Bank offers many account options making it easy to solve all your banking needs whether you need a checking, savings, or Money Market account.

You won’t miss the physical bank because CIT makes it easy to bank online with 24/7 access and plenty of features, including Zelle, online bill pay, and FDIC insurance.

>> Learn More: CIT Bank Review

#4. Current Bank

Current Bank is new to the online banking industry, but they are a fierce competitor to Chime. They are a neobank, which means they work with a larger bank that backs the funds and does the banking.

Current offers some unique opportunities, including a teen debit card with controls for parents to help their teens learn about money management.

Current Online Banking

Pros:

  • Has 55,000+ free ATMs
  • Get paid faster with direct deposit
  • No hidden fees or required minimum balance

Cons:

  • Pays low APYs
  • Has a lot of fees

What We Like

Current has a lot to offer despite its fees and low-interest rates. We especially like their ‘savings pods’ that allow you to set up savings goals for specific things like buying a car or house.

You can also earn up to 15x back on purchases made with your Current Visa debit card. Helping you make the most of your money and the teen debit card helps give your teens’ real-life’ money management experience.

>> Learn More: Current Bank Review

#5. Marcus by Goldman Sachs

If you’re looking for an online savings account and aren’t worried about checking, Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers great interest rates and plenty of features.

Its mobile app is highly rated, and it’s easy to move money electronically. Marcus makes it easy to move money around, and you can even link another institution’s bank account to it to easily access your cash when needed.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs Best Online Banks

Pros:

  • No minimum deposit required
  • High APY
  • Easily connect exterior bank accounts

Cons:

  • No checking account
  • No ATM access

What We Like

Even though Marcus has only a few online offerings and savings accounts only, they offer impressive interest rates and features.

While you don’t get access to ATMs, it’s the perfect account for money you’re setting aside to reach goals.

You’ll earn more interest on the accounts and have less access to them, so there’s less temptation to spend.

>> Learn More: Marcus by Goldman Sachs Review

#6. Varo Bank

Varo Bank has the least amount of barriers to entry out of any bank available today. There’s no minimum balance required, no credit check, and they charge no fees.

With access to 55,000+ ATMs, it’s also easy to access your cash when needed.

Varo Online Banking

Pros:

  • No monthly fees
  • Competitive APYs
  • Early access to direct deposit funds

Cons:

  • It may cost money to deposit cash at a Green Dot Reload location
  • You can’t transfer funds directly to a Varo Savings Account, they must come from a Varo’ bank’ account first

What We Like

We like that Varo Bank has no minimum deposit requirements. It’s easy for anyone to bank here, and if you set up direct deposit, you get early access to your funds.

Their APYs are attractive, and it’s easy to move money around or even set up automatic savings from your direct deposit.

#7. Discover Bank

Discover Bank offers an online bank with none of the ‘hard stuff’ like high minimum deposit requirements or hefty fees.

They don’t charge monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, or even Zelle fees. It’s easy to deposit and access your money whether you’re saving for a large goal or want somewhere safe to keep your ‘spending’ money, allowing it to learn a little interest when not in use.

Pros:

  • Minimal fees charged compared to other banks
  • Earn up to 1% cash back on purchases up to $3,000 per month
  • Access to a large ATM network

Cons:

  • Checking account balances don’t earn interest
  • Some online banking products have high minimum balance requirements of $2,500

What We Like

We like the versatility of Discover’s online banking products. You can open checking, savings, and even money market accounts to cover all your banking needs.

If you choose the Discover Checking account, you can earn cashback on your purchases (that’s a rare find) and earn great APYs on your deposit products.

Discover is a one-stop shop for all banking needs if you prefer to have all your money in one place.

>> Learn More: Discover Bank Review

#8. Alliant Credit Union

Once you join Alliant Credit Union, you have access to their amazing selection of online bank accounts, including both savings and checking accounts.

Alliant offers interest on both their High-Rate Savings and Checking accounts and makes it easy to access your money by electronically transferring to other accounts.

Alliant Credit Union Best Online Banks

Pros:

  • Free online bill pay
  • High-interest rates even on checking accounts
  • Anyone can qualify for the credit union by becoming a member of their partner charity

Cons:

  • Limited branch locations, but if you’re banking online, it may not matter
  • High overdraft fees

What We Like

Alliant has a large 80,000+ ATM network, they pay high-interest rates on balances, and their fees are low.

Anyone can belong to Alliant, making it more accessible, giving anyone access to the credit union’s benefits.

Once you develop a banking relationship there, it becomes easier to secure other financing tools, such as auto loans or mortgages.

>> Learn More: Alliant Credit Union Review

#9. Capital One 360

You know Capital One for its credit cards, but they have great online banking products too. You can open a checking, saving account, CD, or retirement account with Capital One 360.

All accounts have low fees and have a low barrier to entry.

Capital One 360 Online Banking

Pros:

  • No monthly fees
  • No required minimum balances
  • Access to 70,000+ ATMs plus Capital One Cafes for in-person banking

Cons:

  • You’ll deal with a lot of ‘upselling’ to other Capital One products
  • Average APYs

What We Like

We like how easy it is to manage your money using Capital One 360. The mobile app is available 24/7, and they offer many in-person opportunities to access your cash, including 70,000+ ATMs.

Mobile deposit makes it easy to deposit funds from anywhere, and Capital One 360 works with Zelle to easily transfer funds to friends, family, and even some retailers.

>> Learn More: Capital One Bank Review

#10. Ally Bank

Ally Bank has been a leader in online banking for many years, and it’s easy to see why. They pay competitive interest rates, have no minimum deposit requirements, and they offer unique opportunities to save in ‘buckets’ for separate goals.

Ally also offers the largest selection of account types.

Ally Online Banking

Pros:

  • No minimum deposit requirement
  • Pays high-interest rates
  • User-friendly mobile app

Cons:

  • No cash deposits, only electronic transfers, mobile deposits, or mailed in deposits
  • No physical branches

What We Like

We love the robust number of bank accounts you can open at Ally Bank.

Whether you need a spend account, are saving for a short-term goal, or for retirement, they offer the largest selection of accounts for users.

With over 40,000 ATMs, it’s easy to access your cash, and their interest rates are a force to be reckoned with compared to other online or physical banks.

>> Learn More: Ally Bank Review

#11. American Express Bank

American Express Bank offers only savings accounts and CDs, so don’t use it for your spending account.

But, if you need a safe place to keep your funds, you’ll enjoy higher than average APYs and access to other high-quality personal finance services, including loans and credit cards.

AMEX Online Banking

Pros:

  • High-interest rates on savings and CDs
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No monthly fees

Cons:

  • No checking account
  • You can only deposit funds electronically (no cash)

What We Like

We like American Express Bank for its unique opportunities. If you’re looking for a safe place to put funds for a special goal and you’re worried about spending them with easy access connected to your checking account, American Express is a great option.

You’ll earn high-interest rates, and your money will be ‘out of sight, out of mind’ so you don’t spend it.

>> Learn More: American Express National Bank Review

#12. Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank is another online bank with only a savings and CD option, but with its high-interest rates and no minimum balance requirement, it’s an attractive option.

Barclays Bank offers mobile check deposits and makes it easy to save your funds for that large goal you set for yourself.

Pros:

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance required
  • Competitive interest rates

Cons:

  • No checking account option
  • No option to deposit cash

What We Like

We like having an account with our ‘savings’ separate from the rest. It’s easier to let funds grow when you don’t have easy access to them.

The high interest rates and no minimum balance requirement make it an easy account for anyone to open.

>> Learn More: Barclays Bank Review

#13. USAA

USAA is a military bank offering those who served our country an attractive option for savings and checking accounts.

The online option makes it easy to manage your money no matter where duty takes you, and its no-fee checking account is a great benefit for military members.

USAA Online Banking

Pros:

  • Free ATM access, including out-of-network ATMs (up to 10 a month)
  • No monthly fees for basic accounts
  • Access to a powerful budgeting tool

Cons:

  • May find higher APYs elsewhere
  • Few physical branches available

What We Like

We love that USAA offers banking products specifically for military members. Their mobile app is user-friendly, making it easy to budget, spend, and save money.

We also enjoy the budgeting tool that helps busy military members stay on track with their budgets.

>> Learn More: USAA Bank Review

A Guide to the Best Online Banks

What Is Online Banking?

Online banking means you bank online but can do the same transactions you’d do in person. When you bank online, you often pay fewer fees, and banks require lower deposits or balances.

You can electronically transfer your funds to in-person bank accounts or withdraw funds at ATMs for some banks, but not all.

>> Learn More: What Is Online Banking? And How Does It Work?

Is My Money Safe in an Online Bank?

Your money is as safe in an online bank as it is a physical bank IF it’s FDIC insured. Always read the fine print and make sure that insurance exists.

If a bank account is FDIC insured, it means that your money is insured for up to $250,000 per depositor if the bank closes.

What Are the Best Online Banks?

The best online banks are the banks that offer the services you need. Discover Bank, for example, provides just about any type of account you could need – checking, savings, CDs, and retirement accounts.

Other banks, like Current Bank, only offer savings accounts and no checking accounts. Determine what you need – do you need constant access to your funds, or are you saving for a goal?

Don’t make the mistake of opening a savings account and think you can access the funds often – you get only six transactions per month.

How Do I Access My Money in an Online Bank Account?

Each bank differs, but in general, you can access your funds by transferring them to an external account at your local bank, using the bank’s ATM, or wiring the funds.

Not all banks offer ATM access, so if access to cash is important to you, make sure you understand how to access it before opening an account.

Do Online Banks Charge Fees?

Online banks have lower overhead, so they often charge lower fees, and some don’t charge any fees.

Find out the requirements for the no-fee banks before signing up, as sometimes they require a minimum balance to waive the fees.

>> Learn More: Best Checking Accounts with No Overdraft Fees

Do Online Banks Offer Free ATM Withdrawals?

Online banks with an ATM network offer free ATM withdrawals, and some offer a few fees reimbursement for non-network ATMs.

Ask a bank about its ATM fees before signing up if you’ll use the ATM often.

How to Compare & Choose the Best Online Banks

#1. Figure Out What Services You Need

Not all online banks are created equal. Some have only savings accounts; others offer all accounts. Even banks that offer ‘everything’ don’t always offer ATM access.

Figure out how you’ll use your online bank before shopping around.

If you’re looking for a savings account, for example, ATM access may not be as important to you as it would be if you wanted a checking account with constant access to your funds.

#2. Consider Interest Rates & Fees

The whole point in using online banks is to get lower fees and higher interest rates. Look at several banks, comparing your options based on the money you’ll deposit and the way you’ll use the account.

There’s no reason to overpay for an account when you don’t use its services.

Many banks offer fee-free services, allowing you to keep more of your money, and of course, higher interest rates help your money grow faster.

Before you take the bank with the highest APY, make sure you can cover its minimum balance requirements.

#3. Make Sure It is FDIC Insured

Never put your money in a bank account that’s not FDIC insured. Without it, you won’t have access to your funds if the bank closes and could lose it all.

#4. Ensure Online Bank Follows Best Security Practices

Since you’re banking online, security is even more important. Make sure the bank uses bank-level security, including high-quality encryption, to lower the risk of hackers getting access to your account.

#5. Great Mobile App Experience

Since you’re giving up the convenience of an in-person branch, you need an app that’s user-friendly and offers all the services you need.

Mobile deposit, checking balances, and chatting with an agent online are all features you should look for in an online bank.

#6. Customer Service Availability

Without an in-person bank, you give up the personal service tellers provide. That doesn’t mean you don’t need access to representatives, though.

Make sure the bank you choose offers frequent customer service hours or even 24/7 online customer service.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Online Banks Safe?

Online banks are safe IF they use bank-level security, encryption and have FDIC insurance. Make sure the bank you choose checks all three boxes.

How Do I Deposit and Withdraw Money with My Online Bank Account?

The easiest way to deposit and withdraw money from your online account is through electronic transfer. Link up your physical bank account to your online account and transfer funds that way.

When you need to withdraw funds, you send them to your physical bank and then withdraw using your ATM card or visiting the bank.

Deposits have a few more options too. You can set up direct deposit, automatic transfer on a pre-determined schedule, or mobile deposit using the bank’s app.

How Do I Open a Bank Account Online?

It’s easy to open a bank account online. Just head to the bank’s website you want to open the account and click ‘apply now.’ It takes just a few seconds to open an online bank account at most banks.

Can I Switch Banks Online?

You can switch banks online just like you switch bank accounts in person. If you’re closing an account at one bank and opening at another, ask the bank if they offer bank transfer services – many will do the work for you to make the transfer seamless.

Are Online Banks FDIC Insured?

Not all banks are insured – always ask if a bank has FDIC insurance, never assume.

Bottom Line: Best Online Banks

Online banks are a great way to earn more interest, pay fewer fees, and have convenient access to your funds without leaving home.

Do your research, know what a bank offers, and know what the account will cost you, so you get the most out of your account.

Kim Pinnelli
Kim Pinnelli
Kim is a personal finance expert with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been freelance writing for 13 years for a number of large publications. Kim thoroughly enjoys helping people take charge of their personal finances.