Opening a free online checking account could be the solution to waiting in long bank lines or dealing with too many fees and minimum requirements.
Today, almost every bank offers online banking options, but did you know that there are banks that operate either solely online or with a very limited branch network? Yet, these banks offer most of the products you find at traditional banks – checking, savings, CDs, and money market accounts. A few even offer mortgage products!
Without the overhead of a large branch operation, they can offer a variety of banking products while passing the savings to their customers, who will enjoy lower fees and added benefits, including protection from bank fraud.
The Best Free Online Checking Accounts: Our Selection Process
We reviewed over 1,000 checking accounts found at banks and credit unions across the country and found five that top our list of The Best Free Online Checking Accounts.
We wanted full featured checking accounts with all the bells and whistles and without ANY limitations. Importantly, our finalists all offered checking accounts that are truly free: no hidden fees or monthly charges. Our search included banks that required no account balance minimums and all of them had to have an outstanding customer reputation for their online and mobile apps as well as human customer service availability.
8 Features Your Online Bank Should Include
Your checking account should be safe, simple, and full of the features you need. We found most banks had confusing offers, monthly balance or usage minimums, gimmicks to get you to use your account, and a host of other nonsensical add-ons. Instead we chose institutions that help you keep your finances simple and understandable. Most of all, these banks don’t charge fees or engage in silly promotions. The best free online checking accounts offer:
- Free debit card and unlimited check writing
- No monthly or annual fees
- No account minimums
- Free use of ATMs
- Powerful mobile tools
- Free online banking and bill pay
- Strong customer service
- Low overdraft fees
Our Top Pick
The BBVA Online Checking Account is our winner for the Best Free Online Checking Account. Unknown to some, BBVA is owned by a multi-billion dollar international bank and has won several awards for their leading products and online services. Simply stated, the BBVA Online Checking account has a combination of features no other bank can match. Features include:
- NO monthly fees or service charges
- NO monthly account balance minimums
- NO fees at over 64,000 Allpoint® and BBVA ATMs worldwide
- FREE award-winning mobile app (one of the best we’ve reviewed)
- FREE Visa® debit card you can personalize with your favorite photo
- FREE online banking, bill pay, and mobile deposits
- FREE money transfer to and from any email or mobile phone in the U.S. via Popmoney®, Venmo®, and other instant transfer services
- FREE dedicated team of mobile bankers you can contact via text, email, or phone
- FREE cash back rewards for everyday debit card purchases with Simple CashBackSM
- FREE unlimited check writing
- FREE Visa Zero Liability protects you against fraudulent purchases made on your debit card
- Open with as little as $25
Applying is simple. The BBVA website is easy to interact with and takes about 3 minutes from start to finish. With all these great digital tools, no monthly service charge, and no ATM fees at 64,000 ATMs worldwide, what more could you want from your checking account?
The Runners Up
Ally is a great all-around online bank with no monthly fees and no minimum balance or direct deposit requirement. Ally charges no ATM fees at any Allpoint® ATM in the U.S., plus they reimburse up to $10 per statement cycle for fees charged at other ATMs nationwide
Banking with Ally also gives you 24/7 access to customer service, which is just a phone call or chat session away. They also use 21st century technology like remote deposit through their mobile banking app and Zelle®, which allows you to securely send and receive money from friends and family. And, Ally has a strong mobile app to support your banking needs.
Capital One 360 is one of the market’s premier no-fee checking accounts. There are no monthly recurring charges, no maintenance fees, and you can open an account with no minimum balance. Even your first book of checks is free, as is your MasterCard® debit card. Capital One 360 offers fee-free ATMs across the country through the AllPoint ATM network.
In addition to its low fee structure and free ATM use, you get everything you would expect from an online bank, including bill pay and mobile banking. In fact, their mobile banking app is ranked by many financial review sites as the best available.
Charles Schwab Bank’s High Yield Investor Checking account is automatically linked with a Schwab brokerage account, but that’s not what makes it special, nor should it be a reason to dismiss the offer offhand. The checking account is open to all; neither account has a minimum balance requirement; and there are no monthly fees.
What makes this account truly unique is the fact that Schwab does not charge a foreign-transaction fee and will reimburse ALL ATM surcharges worldwide. In other words, you can use any ATM around the world for free.
This account pays a small amount of interest on your balance, but still shines when paired with a high-yield savings account and used for basic cash management by international travelers.
The Radius Hybrid Checking ticks all the boxes for what makes a great no fee checking account. There’s no monthly fee and no minimum balance requirement after the $10 to open an account.
The Radius ATM fee policy also stands out. Radius is part of a network of thousands of SUM-branded ATMs, and the bank doesn’t charge fees for using non-network ATMs. On top of that, Radius Bank issues monthly refunds, with no cap, of fees charged by non-network ATM owners. Cash deposits aren’t as big a problem as they are at some online banks, since Radius is part of the NYCE ATM network, which has ATMs that accept cash.
If you’re satisfied with banking online or on the go, Radius offers a mobile app with convenient features such as mobile check deposit, in addition to online chat support and an easy-to-understand website.