The Best Free Checking Accounts For Your Banking Needs

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Today we’re checking out the best free checking accounts for consumers.

Depending on where you bank, what you do, or what you’re comfortable with, there is likely a free checking account that will work for you. 

Too many people fall for the myth that banking is expensive and that the only options for a checking account involve fees, or maintaining outrageously high balances to keep the fees waived.

But today, we’re fighting this myth.

We’re going to show you our favorite options depending on your situation, as well as a full round-up of free checking account options that might work for you.

10 Best Free Checking Accounts

The Best Free Checking Account Options​

Based on that criteria above, here are our choices for the best free checking accounts available. 

1. Chase Total Checking®

The Chase Total Checking® isn’t truly free unless you meet the minimum monthly requirements to make it so, but we list it as our favorite checking account because it’s available nationwide, has branches nearly everywhere, and is one of the most robust banking products out there currently. Plus, the minimum requirements are super easy to meet – check it out.

And right now, you can get up to a $200 bonus when you open an account and setup direct deposit! That’s awesome!

Chase Total Checking® has a $12 per month fee that’s easily waived if you simply do ONE of the following:

  • Keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more in your account
  • Have monthly direct deposits totaling $500 or more into your account
  • Keep an average daily balance of $5,000 across qualifying Chase accounts

Why I Like It: A great account opening bonus, with one of the largest, most well known banks in the United States.

Learn more about Chase Total Checking® here.

$12* (waived when requirements met)

AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV

Chase Free Checking

2. BBVA ClearConnect Checking

BBVA ClearConnect Checking is a lesser known bank nationwide, but they do offer nationwide free checking! However, where BBVA really shines is in it’s access to ATMs. 

Furthermore, there is no real requirements to maintain free checking at BBVA. They do charge for paper statements (and it’s opt-out), but once you opt-out, you don’t have to worry about making enough direct deposits or having a minimum balance. 

Why I Like It: Easy online banking without worrying about minimums.

Learn more about BBVA ClearConnect Checking here.

BBVA ClearConnect Checking

BBVA Compass

3. Chime Free Checking

Chime was one of the original free mobile banking apps that revolutionized mobile banking. They started with a mobile-first mindset, and also wanted to keep fees as low as possible.

As such, they have a top notching free checking account if you’re okay with a mobile only platform. Chime has no physical locations, and all of their banking is done online – in the app. 

Why I Like It: Free mobile banking.

Learn more about Chime Free Checking here. Check out our Chime Bank Review here. 

BBVA Compass

4. TIAA YieldPledge Checking

TIAA Bank (formerly Everbank) offers the TIAA YieldPledge Checking Account. This is one of the few checking accounts that earns a solid interest rate on your money in the account.

They are very mobile friendly, with ATM reimbursements if you maintain a $5,000 balance, and mobile check deposits. They also guarantee that their interest rate will always be in the top 5% of all rates.

Why I Like It: Interest-bearing checking.

Learn more about TIAA YieldPledge Checking here.

TIAA YieldPledge Checking

Up to 1.21% APY as of December 18, 2018

Unlimited via ATM fee reimbursement

TIAA Bank Logo

5. Aspiration Summit Checking

Aspiration is an online bank that has been making headlines for not only paying a good interest rate on your money, but also by offering free ATM withdrawals as well.

The Aspiration Summit Checking Account has no fees, and not ATM fees (even overseas). They also pay a solid interest on your money.

Why I Like It: Interest bearing and no ATM fees.

Learn more about Aspiration Summit Checking here.

Aspiration Summit Checking

Up to 1.00% APY as of December 18, 2018

Unlimited via ATM fee reimbursement

Aspiration Summit Checking

6. Ally Bank Checking

Ally Bank is one of the most well-known internet only banks around, and they have a great free checking account that matches their brand. 

They are known for solid customer service and great banking products. They have no monthly fee free checking, and a great mobile app that allows mobile check deposit.

Why I Like It: Well known free checking brand.

Learn more about Ally Bank Checking here.

Up to 0.60% APY as of December 18, 2018

43,000 Free ATMs, Up To $10 In Reimbursement/Mo

7. Capital One 360 Checking

Capital One 360 Checking is another online banking giant that has been around for a long time. This is another long time free checking account that has a lot of popularity.

Capital One 360 Checking has several innovative features that you don’t see at other banks. First, they have no foreign transaction fees if you use your ATM card overseas. Second, they have an overdraft option where you can basically opt for a personal loan instead. 

Why I Like It: Solid online bank with innovative features.

Learn more about Capital One 360 Checking here.

Up to 1.00% APY as of December 18, 2018

8. Fidelity Cash Management Account

The Fidelity Cash Management Account isn’t technically a checking account – it’s a brokerage cash management account. However, it functions in a very similar way, and has a lot of the perks you’d expect from a free checking account.

Furthermore, if you already have all your investments at Fidelity, this is an easy tie-in to access your money and manage all your finances from one page.

This account has online banking, BillPay, free checks, free mobile deposit, free ATM fees (reimbursed nationwide), and no minimums or fees!

Why I Like It: Interest bearing, free ATM fees, connects to your Fidelity accounts easily.

Learn more about the Fidelity Cash Management Account here.

Fidelity Cash Management Account

Up to 0.66% APY as of December 18, 2018

Unlimited via Reimbursment

Fidelity Logo

9. Schwab High Yield Investor Checking

The Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account is very similar to the Fidelity account mentioned above, except its offered by Charles Schwab. 

This account has no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirements, and it provides unlimited ATM fee reimbursement worldwide. The kicker is you have to have a brokerage account at Schwab (which is free and you don’t have to use), but it’s another account to maintain.

Why I Like It: Free checking connected to your Schwab account.

Learn more about the Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account here.

Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account

Up to 0.35% APY as of December 18, 2018

Unlimited via Reimbursment

Charles Schwab Checking

10. USAA Classic Checking

USAA Classic Checking is a great choice for free checking if you qualify to have a USAA Account. USAA limits membership to servicemembers and DOD employees and their families, so that could be a bar to entry for some.

If you do qualify for USAA, then their USAA Classic Checking is a great product, with no fee checking, free checks, online BillPay, and ATM free reimbursements.

Why I Like It: Free checking, free checks, great mobile app for those that qualify for USAA.

Learn more about USAA Classic Checking here.

Up to 0.01% APY as of December 18, 2018

Up To 10 Free ATM Withdrawals

Nationwide for USAA Members

USAA Logo

Fighting The Myth Of Free Checking Accounts

​We talked about it slightly above, but there is a long standing myth in America that checking accounts are expensive. As a result, too many people go without this tool, and end up using expensive tools like check cashing, money orders, and more.

According to a NerdWallet study, the average checking account charge $10-12 in monthly maintenance fees. That’s crazy!​ There is no reason than anyone should pay these fees when opening a checking account.

Furthermore, to waive these fees, many “big banks” require you to open other products with them (such as a savings account), or maintain a monthly minimum (say $5,000 at all times, or pay the fee), or they require you to have direct deposit setup.

Some banks even have a transaction requirement to waive the fee – for example, you must have 25 debit cards transactions per month, or you get charged a fee. All of these fees and requirements are wrong.

What You Need In A Checking Account

Students (and other people) typically maintain lower balances than older Americans. They also might not have a job yet (for direct deposit), or have other accounts at the bank.

As such, they have unique requirements that we wanted to share, so that you can see how we based our criteria for the best free checking account options.

In order to be one of the best free checking accounts, we put the following criteria in place:

  • No Monthly Maintenance Fees: This is a big one. All of the accounts we consider must not charge a monthly maintenance fee, today, or ever. We hate gimmicks, and some banks waive the fee for a certain amount of time, and that’s still not okay with us.
  • No Or Low Monthly Balance Required: You shouldn’t have to have huge amounts of money to waive fees or qualify for a free checking account. We only look for banks that don’t have a monthly minimum balance requirement or if they do, it’s incredibly low.
  • No Direct Deposit Requirement: Many students don’t have jobs yet, so it can be hard or impossible to get direct deposit. As such, we don’t want banks to require direct deposit for free checking.
  • Awesome Online Access: The best free checking accounts will also have awesome online access, a great app or mobile site, and be accessible anywhere.
  • No ATM Fees: College students are on the move. They should be able to access their money for free, where ever they are.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you can see that there are good options for free checking.

 You don’t have to pay fees to have a checking account – you just need to open your account at a good bank. 

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