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Published: Jun 01, 2023 20 min read

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  • No minimum balance, no monthly fees and no overdraft fees
  • Over 60,000 fee-free ATM locations
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A free checking account is one that doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance fee and has a zero minimum balance requirement. There is also no fee charged for things such as overdrafts, ATM withdrawals and wire transfers.

A good free checking account will offer you added value in the form of low initial minimum deposits, great cash back offers, competitive yields and other benefits.

Read on to learn about the best free checking accounts on the market today.

Our Top Picks for Best Free Checking Accounts

The companies listed below are in alphabetical order.

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Best Free Checking Accounts Reviews

Pros
  • Low to zero fees
  • Provides great savings tools
  • Customer service is accessible 24/7
  • Out-of-network fee reimbursement
Cons
  • No provision for depositing cash directly
  • Low interest rates

Highlights

Balance to open account APY Bonus Monthly fees
$0 0.25% $0 $0

Why we chose it: A full-service online bank, Ally Bank offers all its clients access to a wide range of innovative saving tools. As an account holder, you can create “buckets” which allow you to have several savings goals within one account. The bank also has a “surprise savings” feature that transfers money from your Ally checking account to your savings account automatically.

Ally Bank’s checking account has no minimum balance requirement and a zero monthly maintenance fee. There’s also no fee charged for overdraft items, expedited or standard transfers, cashier’s checks or incoming wires.

With customer service accessible 24/7 by phone, the bank has a high customer satisfaction score. You can also make inquiries via regular mail, email or live chat. Ally’s mobile app is available on both Google Play and Apple Store.

Pros
  • No insufficient fees, overdraft or monthly fees
  • Attractive tiered interest rate structure
  • No limit on domestic ATM reimbursements
Cons
  • No physical branches
  • Strict rules to earn higher interest
  • Zero interest on balances exceeding $50,000

Highlights

Balance to open account APY Bonus Monthly fees
$50 3.30% $100 $0

Why we chose it: Axos is among the best online banks and Axos Bank® Rewards Checking is one of the best online checking accounts on the market. This account has no monthly fees, no insufficient funds fees, no minimum balance requirements and no overdraft fees. However, you need to have a clean banking history to get approval.

Besides being monthly fee-free, the Axos Bank® Rewards Checking account also pays an attractive interest. The interest rate structure is tiered, with the highest annual percentage yield (APY) being 3.30%. However, balances exceeding $50,000 don’t earn any interest.

The rewards checking account comes with great features such as account alerts, peer-to-peer payments, biometric authentication, debit card management and bill automation. It also boasts top-notch security features like SSL encryption, 2-step authentication, account monitoring and malware protection.

Pros
  • Parental controls
  • No balance requirement or monthly fee
  • Limits on certain spending categories
Cons
  • No live chat feature
  • No 24/7 customer service

Highlights

Balance to open account APY Bonus Monthly fees
$0 0.10% $0 $0

Why we chose it: This is the ideal checking account for children ages 8 and above. With the teen-friendly Capital One mobile app, minors can set savings goals, check their balance, deposit checks, set aside cash for spending and get text notifications and alerts. The app is available on the App Store and Google Play.

Capital One MONEY Teen Checking has no balance requirement and no monthly service fee. Teens receive a free debit card which can be used at over 70,000 AllPoint, MoneyPass and Capital One ATMs nationwide. Guardians and parents receive alerts whenever there’s activity and can choose to lock or unlock the card. When a child turns 18, they can transfer their balance to a Capital One 360 checking account.

It is important to note that this account restricts teens from spending in places like liquor stores, bars and cigar stores.

Pros
  • $100 sign up bonus
  • No minimum deposit requirement
  • Surcharge-free ATMs
Cons
  • Smaller ATM network compared to other banks
  • Fees for cashier's check and statement copies
  • No monthly service fee for five years

Highlights

Balance to open account APY Bonus Monthly fees
$0 $0 $100 $0

Why we chose it: When you open a Chase College CheckingSM Account, you’ll be paid $100. To receive this bonus, all you need to do is complete 10 qualifying transactions such as direct deposits or debit card purchases within 60 days.

This account will also save you lots of money on fees. As long as you’re in college, the bank will waive the monthly service charges for up to five years. After that, there will be a $6 monthly service fee which can be waived if you satisfy certain requirements.

Students between 18 and 24 years of age can choose to open an account at a branch or online. If you’re 17, you’ll have to visit your local branch to open an account.

Chase has over 4,700 branches and over 16,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. Using their highly ranked mobile app, students can pay bills, view accounts, request money or transfer money. The app also offers account alerts via email or text.

Pros
  • Mobile and online banking access
  • Minimal fees
  • Hybrid checking and savings account
Cons
  • Fee charged for wire transfers
  • No brick-and-mortar branches outside Missouri and Kansas

Highlights

Balance to open account APY Bonus Monthly fees
$0 1.50% $0 $0

Why we chose it: Most banks require their customers to open separate savings and checking accounts. If you want to keep your savings and spending cash all in one account, consider the NBKC Everything Account. Previously known as the NBKC Personal Account, this is a two-in-one savings and checking account. With its A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the NBKC Everything Account is the leading savings and checking hybrid account.

The account has no maintenance fees, no minimum balance fees, no overdraft fees and no foreign transaction fees. In addition, no minimum deposit is required to open an account. However, there’s a fee charged for sending or receiving wire transfers.

The NBKC Everything Account offers great features which allow you to manage your money with ease. These include savings goal trackers, online bill payments and the ability to link external accounts. The checking account offers an APY of 1.50% on all balances.

Pros
  • Minimal fees
  • Refundable ATM fees
  • Integrates with well-known tools like QuickBooks, Shopify and Stripe
Cons
  • No cash deposits
  • Overdraft fees
  • No APY

Highlights

Balance to open account APY Bonus Monthly fees
$0 $0 $0 $0

Why we chose it: Novo is a banking platform designed to offer services to US-based freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners.

With Novo’s dashboards, integrations and built-in tools, you spend less time managing your enterprise and more time scaling it. Novo integrates with popular business tools like Shopify, Stripe, QuickBooks, Slack and Zapier, thus making it easier to manage finances. It also comes with an inbuilt invoicing tool that allows you to create and send invoices for free. Payment options include PayPal, Google Pay and Apple Pay.

The Novo Business Checking Account is ranked as one of the best business checking accounts in the nation. It has no minimum balance requirement and no monthly service fee. There is no charge for stop payments, ACH transfers, debit card replacement, foreign or domestic wire transfers, paper statements and bill payments. In addition, there is no minimum deposit required to open an account.

Pros
  • Over 90,000 surcharge-free ATMs
  • Attractive tiered interest rate structure
  • Earn interest regardless of the account balance
Cons
  • To earn interest, you must satisfy the monthly transaction qualification
  • Requires $100 minimum opening deposit

Highlights

Balance to open account APY Bonus Monthly fees
$100 1.10% $0 $0

Why we chose it: Despite being an online bank, Quontic boasts a network of over 90,000 ATMs nationwide, including ones at retail stores like Walgreens and Target. The bank also has a physical location in New York City.

To open an account, you'll need a minimum deposit of $100. The good news is that there is no monthly maintenance fee, no overdraft fees and no minimum balance requirement. In addition, there’s no fee charged for cashier’s checks and money orders. However, you may still incur banking fees for stop payments and outgoing wire transfers.

Quontic High-Interest Checking has three tiers of interest, with the possibility of earning an APY of up to 1.10%.

When it comes to banking technology, Quontic is on the cutting edge. Instead of a debit card, Quontic checking account customers can opt for a free wearable pay ring. This ring allows you to make a payment simply with a tap of your hand.

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Other free checking accounts we considered

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Pros
  • Minimal fees
  • Pays interest
  • Contactless Visa debit card
Cons
  • Membership is required
  • No brick-and-mortar locations

This checking account has no balance requirements, no monthly maintenance fees and no overdraft fees. Account holders have access to over 80,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. Whenever you use an out-of-network ATM, this checking account will give you a $20 fee reimbursement each month.

Why it didn’t make the cut: Alliant only offers accounts to its members, so we ruled this one out in favor of more universally available options.

Connexus Credit Union Xtraordinary Checking

Pros
  • No minimum deposit needed to open an account
  • Monthly refunds for ATM fees
Cons
  • Dividends compounded and credited each month
  • To get a checking account, you must open a savings account first

Account holders at Connexus earn an APY of 1.75% on balances of $25,000 or less, and any amount above $25,000 yields an APY of 0.25%.

Connexus doesn’t charge any fee for in-network ATM transactions. For out-of-network ATM transactions, there’s a reimbursement of up to $25 per month.

Why it didn’t make the cut: While there’s no minimum deposit required to open an account with Connexus, you must have a savings account in order to get a checking account.

Varo Bank Account

Pros
  • Few fees
  • Early direct deposit feature
  • Contactless Visa debit card
Cons
  • No APY
  • $2.50 fee for out-of-network transactions

Varo Bank Account has no transfer fees, no monthly maintenance fee and no foreign transaction fees. With this checking account, you can receive a direct deposit up to two days early. Upon opening an account, you will receive a contactless Visa debit card. Using this card to buy select brands will earn you a cash back reward of up to 6%.

Why it didn’t make the cut: We focused on truly fee-free checking accounts, and while Varo boasts a network of over 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs, it charges users of third-party ATM a fee of $2.50.

Free Checking Accounts Guide

Main things to know before choosing a free checking account

There are numerous credit unions, physical banks and online banks that offer checking accounts. With all the options available, choosing one can be overwhelming.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting a free checking account:

Type of checking account

There are three main types of checking accounts:

  • Individual checking account: With this type of account, you are the sole account holder.
  • Joint checking account: This is an account shared by two or more individuals – usually by partners, or parents and children.
  • Business checking account: This is specifically designed for a business – whether it’s a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability company (LLC).

Location and access to ATMs

If you prefer brick-and-mortar banks or credit unions, find out how many branches the institution has in your city, state and across the country. You should also check how widely their ATMs are distributed. Choose a checking account that will make it easy for you to deposit and withdraw money, as well as access other banking services.

However, if you are ok with doing everything online, most banks offer mobile apps and online tools which you can use for most if not all of your banking needs.

Minimum balance requirements

Besides having a minimum opening deposit, some checking accounts also have a minimum monthly balance requirement. If you fail to satisfy the balance requirements, you'll be slapped with a monthly maintenance fee.

Therefore, before opening a checking account, read the fine print to understand their balance requirements. A "no cost" or "free" checking account should not have a monthly maintenance fee or minimum balance requirements.

Interest rate

An interest-bearing checking account allows you to earn interest on your money. Interest rates vary widely from one institution to another. If you want to earn interest on your deposits, shop around for a credit union or bank that will offer you the best rate. The typical APY for a free interest-bearing checking account ranges from 0.10% to 3.30%.

Rewards or cash back

Some banks and credit unions offer different incentive programs like cash back options and loyalty rewards. To make the most of your checking account, find an institution that offers these kinds of incentives. However, be sure to read the fine print to find out if there are any requirements or fees to activate these rewards.

Mobile app features

The idea of a mobile banking app is to enable you to carry out all banking transactions from your smartphone. Here are some of the must-have features to look out for:

  • General bank account management (depositing cash, checking balances, transferring funds, monitoring credit cards and viewing transaction histories)
  • Advanced fraud alerts and security
  • Mobile check deposits
  • QR code payments
  • Bill payments
  • Peer-to-peer payments
  • ATM locator
  • Intelligent chatbots

What are the average fees in a free checking account?

Truly free checking accounts don’t have monthly maintenance fees. However, they might charge other fees for things like ATM usage, foreign transactions, overdrafts and check reorders. Since these fees are always evolving, check with your bank about their specific policies and keep an eye out for changes.

What are the requirements to open a free checking account?

Opening a free checking account is a very simple and straightforward process:

1. Get together your personal information

The financial institution will require you to submit the following documents:

  • Driver’s license or photo ID: Proof of identity is required for security reasons. Besides a state-issued driver’s license or photo ID, you could also submit a federal government ID, a US passport or a military ID. Non-U.S. citizens can use a U.S. non-immigrant visa or a foreign passport.
  • Physical address: The bank will want to know the street address where you work or live.
  • Proof of residential address: Quite often banks will ask for proof of residency. You'll be required to submit a vehicle or deed registration, lease agreement or current utility bills. Some institutions will accept an employer pay stub.
  • ITIN or SSN: The financial institution will ask for your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or your Social Security Number. In some instances, an alien identification number, passport number or government-issued ID will be acceptable.

2. Apply for an account

If you want to open a checking account at a physical bank, visit a local branch and talk to an employee before submitting an application. To open an online account, visit the bank’s website and find the online application form. Follow the instructions provided and open your checking account.

3. Make your first deposit

If you have the cash, deposit it into the account immediately. Where no minimum deposit is needed, you could choose to wait until later when you have the money.

Why is it important to have a free checking account?

If you don’t have a free checking account already, consider opening one for the following benefits:

Lower/fewer fees

The average basic monthly maintenance fee at U.S. banks is $9.60. To waive these fees, customers are required to maintain a specific minimum balance.

With a free checking account, you don’t have to worry about having a minimum balance or paying monthly service fees. Some free checking accounts even don’t have transfer or withdrawal fees.

Insured money

Your money is safe as long as your credit union or bank is NCUA (National Credit Union Association)- or FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)-insured. These bodies will protect your money up to $250,000 per account.

Mobile/online banking

If you have access to a tablet, laptop or smartphone, you can carry out most financial transactions online or using mobile banking. This includes managing online bill pay, transferring funds and viewing your account statements.

Direct deposit

Waiting for a physical check can be a long and annoying process. A checking account gives you access to your IRS tax refunds, payments from retirement accounts, investment redemptions or paycheck funds automatically and safely. The money is simply deposited securely into your checking account.

Easy payment

Making payments using a free checking account is easy. You can simply make a payment using your checking account number and routing number. Alternatively, you could automate your monthly payments using a service like Online Bill.

Review spending

A checking account will provide you with a record of your purchases. This way, you can track your spending and find strategies for improving your money habits.

Earn rewards

As mentioned earlier, many checking accounts offer their customers sign-up bonuses, cash back rewards and even high interest rates. Others even offer rewards like iTunes credits, ATM refunds, cellphone insurance, shopping discounts and airline miles.

Free Checking Accounts FAQs

Does a free checking account have hidden fees?

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Many banks are not upfront and transparent when it comes to their pricing and costs. They might disclose ATM fees, wire transfer charges and other common fees charged by banks. However, there could be many other additional fees you might be required to pay.

Common hidden fees to be aware of include credit/debit card replacement fees, inactivity fees, stop payment fees, early closure fees, paper statement fees, bank notary fees, returned item fees and incorrect information fees.

Do free checking accounts have overdraft options?

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Yes, free checking accounts have overdraft options. Many banks even offer overdraft protection on checking accounts. Without this protection, you may have debit card transactions declined, automatic bill payment (ACH) transfers not clearing or checks bouncing. This could result in late fees, cancellation of accounts, merchant fees and cancellation of coverage (for insurance).

What are the age requirements for a free checking account?

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In most places in the U.S., you must be at least 18 years old to open a checking account by yourself. However, many banks allow legal guardians or parents to open a joint account with a minor. In such cases, it's only the adult who can deposit, transfer and withdraw funds before the minor turns 18. This can be a great way to teach kids and teens about money and banking.

How do I earn interest with a free checking account?

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The main role of a checking account is to allow customers to manage daily transactions fast and conveniently. This is why most free checking accounts don't earn any interest. However, if you look around, you might find a few that offer an annual percentage yield (APY). This is usually very low, with the average being about 0.06%.

Do I get a free debit card with my checking account?

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When opening a checking account, you can ask for a debit card that is connected to the account. With most banks, you'll get access to your debit card within one day. In a few cases, you might have to wait for up to 10 business days before you receive your card in the mail.

How we found the best free checking accounts

We chose the best free checking accounts based on the following factors:

  • Fees: Low or zero transaction fees is the main attraction of free checking account banks. We looked at checking accounts that have no monthly maintenance fees, no overdraft fees, no minimum balance requirement, no transfer fees and no ATM fees.
  • APY: Any account holder would want to make a return on their deposits. We looked for checking accounts that offer account holders some interest on their deposits.
  • Mobile app: A good mobile app can greatly enhance your banking experience. We chose checking accounts that have user-friendly apps which are available on the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
  • ATM distribution: The ability to access cash fast is a critical consideration for any account holder. Our picks were checking accounts that have widespread distribution of ATMs nationwide.

Summary of the Best Free Checking Accounts

The companies listed below are in alphabetical order.

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