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Writing a cheque

11 best checking accounts of May 2024

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Updated: May 01, 2024

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Opening a checking account is essential for money management and accessing banking services. With so many options, finding the proper checking account to meet your needs can be challenging. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk through the key features and components of checking accounts so you can make an informed decision.

We've researched the best national banks and credit unions to provide reviews of the best checking accounts available today based on factors like fees, interest rates, overdraft policies, ATM access, mobile features, and bonuses. We'll also cover essential checking account basics like how they work, standard fees to watch for, and what's generally required to open an account. Let's dive in to find the ideal checking account for you!

Best checking accounts

Axos Bank Rewards Checking Account

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: Up to 3.30%

Minimum deposit: $50

Monthly maintenance fee: Free

Bonus offer: $300

Why we like Axos Bank Rewards Checking Account

Best checking account for no fees

The Rewards Checking Account from Axos Bank is an online checking account with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. It also offers a competitive interest rate of up to 3.30% while cutting overdraft and NSF fees. Since the bank doesn’t have physical branches, you’ll be reimbursed for domestic ATM fees. 

The primary downside is the struggle to achieve the maximum 3.30% APY. Initially, you’ll only receive 0.40% APY by setting up a minimum $1,500 monthly direct deposit. You can boost your rate to another 0.30% APY by using your card ten times monthly. Linking Axos investment and loan accounts can earn you another 2.60% APY. Likewise, the $300 bonus requires many steps. 

Overall, the Axos Rewards Checking Account stands out for paying a high interest rate on a checking account. It's a solid option if you can meet the APY requirements and want to earn significantly more than traditional bank checking accounts pay. The lack of common fees rounds out the offer. 

More: Read our Axos Bank review

Chime Checking Account

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: 0%

Minimum deposit: None

Monthly maintenance fee: Free

Bonus offer: None

Why we like Chime Checking Account

Best checking account for overdraft coverage

The Checking Account from Chime is online without monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. A key benefit is overdraft coverage up to $200 through Chime's SpotMe program, which requires at least $200 in monthly direct deposits. There are no overdraft fees when using SpotMe, making it an excellent option for those who typically exceed their account balance.

Chime members have access to a network of over 60,000 fee-free ATMs that can be located through the Chime app. Cash deposits can be made at any Walgreens store or participating merchants. 

While the account doesn't earn interest, the overdraft protection, security features, and extensive fee-free ATM access make it an attractive option for those looking for a flexible, low-barrier checking account. The downsides are lack of physical branch access and inability to deposit cash without a fee unless you go to Walgreens.

Discover Cash-back Debit Account

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: 0%

Minimum deposit: None

Monthly maintenance fee: Free

Bonus offer: 1% cash-back

Why we like Discover Cash-back Debit Account

Best checking account for students

The Cash-back Debit Account from Discover Bank is a no-fee checking account offering cashback perks. You’ll receive 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in monthly debit card purchases. This allows users to earn up to $30 per month and $360 per year on everyday spending.

Additional perks include 60,000+ fee-free ATMs, Zelle transfers, and access to direct deposits up to two days early. However, as an online bank, there is a lack of physical branches.

Overall, the Discover Cash-back Debit Account is an excellent option for students or anyone who wants to earn rewards on debit card transactions without opening a credit card. The lack of fees and early direct deposit access add to the appeal.

More: Read our Discover Bank review

American Express Rewards Checking Account

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: 1%

Minimum deposit: None

Monthly maintenance fee: Free

Bonus offer: 0.5% Membership Rewards points

Why we like Amex Rewards Checking Account

Best checking account for rewards points

The Rewards Checking account from American Express Bank offers a strong 1% APY with no minimum balance requirements. However, customers also have the unique opportunity to earn 0.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent. While a lower earn rate than Amex credit cards, there is no cap on the points you can earn.

Additional redemption options are available for customers with eligible credit cards, like travel and gift cards. A key benefit is 24/7 customer service and purchase protection from Amex. There are no monthly fees or minimums to open the account.

The downsides are the lack of physical branches and a smaller fee-free ATM network. But overall, the Amex Rewards Checking stands out for its high yield, points-earning potential, and robust customer service.

More: Read our American Express Bank review

Connexus Credit Union Teen Account

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: Up to 2%

Minimum deposit: $5

Monthly maintenance fee: Free

Bonus offer: None

Why we like Connexus Credit Union Teen Account

Best checking account for teens

The Connexus Credit Union Teen Checking account is available for teens ages 10-17 and offers an attractive 2% APY on balances up to $1,000 (0.25% on balances above). There are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements to earn this high yield. 

The low fees and high interest rates make this account ideal for teaching financial responsibility. One downside is that Connexus Credit Union only has branches in a few Midwest states. However, their ATM network compensates, offering access to 67,000+ fee-free ATMs through the Co-op and MoneyPass networks.

Overall, the Connexus Teen Checking stands out for paying an above-average yield to help teens earn more as they learn to manage their money independently. However, it’s offered by a credit union, so it’s worthwhile to understand how credit unions and banks compare

Alliant High-Rate Checking Account

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: 0.25%

Minimum deposit: $25

Monthly maintenance fee: Free

Bonus offer: None

Why we like Alliant High-Rate Checking Account

Best checking account for ATM access

Although the Alliant High-Rate Checking Account only offers a 0.25% APY, it’s one of the few options to offer ATM fee rebates. The network offers fee-free access to over 80,000 ATMs but will rebate you up to $20 monthly on out-of-network options. This makes it an excellent account for heavy ATM users.

Furthermore, what the account lacks in interest rates it makes up for in fees. There are no overdraft, monthly service, and minimum balance fees. The primary downside is the lack of physical branches.

But with its extensive ATM network, and lack of fees, the Alliant High-Rate Checking Account is a top choice for those seeking an online checking account with solid benefits.

Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: Up to 5.07%

Minimum deposit: N/A

Monthly maintenance fee: Free

Bonus offer: 2% cash-back

Why we like Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus

Best checking account for families

The Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus account offers up to 2% cash back on everyday family expenses like gas, groceries, subscriptions, and restaurants, up to $500 annually. It also provides 1% unlimited cash back on other purchases when you have at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits. Getting paid up to two days early with direct deposit helps families access funds quicker to pay bills.

The account has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, allowing families flexibility. While the account promotes a 5.07% APY, you must fund an additional Performance Savings account to qualify. As with other online accounts, the main drawback is the need for physical bank branches since Upgrade is an online-only account.

FitnessBank Elite Checking Account

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: 6%

Minimum deposit: $100

Monthly maintenance fee: $10 (waived with $10 balance)

Bonus offer: Maximum APY in first month

Why we like FitnessBank Elite Checking Account

Best checking account for athletes

The FitnessBank Elite Checking Account offers a heart-pumping APY to fitness enthusiasts. Members who exceed 10,000 average daily steps (7,500 for those 65+) receive a 6% APY. Furthermore, to qualify, you must use the card for 15 purchases each statement period.

Steps are tracked through the FitnessBank Step Tracker app, and you’ll only receive a 0.10% APY for months you don’t meet requirements. To further gamify, the app offers leaderboards. On the financial frontier, the checking account also offers a $10 monthly ATM fee rebate, FDIC insurance, and a waived monthly fee for maintaining a $10 minimum balance.

The primary downside is that FitnessBank imposes slightly higher requirements than alternatives. For example, you’ll need a $100 minimum deposit and maintain a minimum $10 balance to waive the monthly fee. Likewise, you’ll need technical abilities to manage the tracking app and sync data monthly.

OnPath Federal Credit Union High Yield Checking

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: Up to 7%

Minimum deposit: $25

Monthly maintenance fee: $6.95 (waived with $500 balance)

Bonus offer: None

Why we like OnPath Federal Credit Union High Yield Checking

Best checking account for a high interest rate

The OnPath Rewards High-Yield Checking Account offers a market-leading 7.00% APY when you meet monthly requirements. You'll need to log in to mobile or online banking once per statement cycle, make at least 15 debit card purchases, and enroll in electronic statements. Your rate drops to 0.50% APY for balances over $10,000 and months you don’t meet requirements. 

There are also the lovely perks of getting reimbursed up to $10 monthly for out-of-network ATM fees. Overall, this checking account maximizes your interest rate if you consistently meet the monthly requirements.

T-Mobile MONEY Checking Account

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: Up to 4%

Minimum deposit: N/A

Monthly maintenance fee: Free

Bonus offer: None

Why we like T-Mobile MONEY Checking Account

Best checking account for T-Mobile members

The T-Mobile Money Checking Account maximizes benefits to existing customers. Initially, the account offers 4% APY on balances up to $3,000, dropping to 2.50% afterward. To qualify for the maximum APY, you must have a T-mobile plan and exceed ten monthly card transactions. Establishing AutoPay for your T-Mobile account also saves you $5 monthly. 

Additional nice perks include no monthly or overdraft fees. You’ll also benefit from over 55,000 no-fee ATMs and the ability to receive your paycheck up to two days early. For tech-savvy bankers, this high-yield account offers many features that make it an attractive online checking account.

SoFi Checking and Savings

Quick Facts

Annual percentage yield: Up to 0.50%

Minimum deposit: None

Monthly maintenance fee: Free

Bonus offer: Up to $250

Why we like SoFi Checking and Savings

Best Checking Account for supporting local businesses

Though the SoFi Checking and Savings Account offers a low interest rate, customers can earn up to 15% cash-back while supporting local businesses. You can also receive a $250 cash bonus through a direct deposit exceeding $5,000 within 25 days of account opening. Direct deposits from $1,000 to $4,999 are eligible for a $50 bonus. 

Other perks include no account fees and overdraft coverage up to $50. You can also get paid up to two days early and use a roundup savings feature. With 55,000+ no-fee ATMs, you'll have convenient access to cash. However, as an online-only account, SoFi lacks physical branches.

Overall, the SoFi Checking and Savings Account caters to digital banking users who make frequent debit purchases, especially at local establishments. 

More: Read our SoFi Checking and Savings Account review

How do checking accounts work?

A checking account allows you to store money securely while maintaining easy access. Checking accounts offer features like debit cards, paper checks, and mobile/online banking, making it simple to manage finances and make purchases. 

The money comes directly from your checking account when you write a check or complete a debit card transaction. Spending more money than is available in your account is known as overdrafting. This tends to charge various fees, although some options on our list have overdraft protection. 

Checking accounts typically earn little to no interest but provide flexible access to your funds. Eligible accounts are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 in case of bank failure. A checking account enables easy bill paying, cash withdrawals, and everyday spending.

Choosing the best checking account

When selecting a checking account, you'll want to compare features across different options to find the best fit for your needs. Here are some of the main factors to consider:

Traditional vs. online banks

If you value in-person banking and assistance, traditional banks may be better. Online banks tend to offer higher interest rates but lack brick-and-mortar locations. Consequently, you’ll want to ensure an online bank has good mobile app ratings. 

Fees

Avoid accounts with high minimum balance requirements to avoid monthly fees. Seek accounts with low or no monthly maintenance fees. Look for a large ATM network with extensive fee reimbursements to avoid ATM charges.

Interest earnings

Online banks tend to offer the highest interest rates on checking accounts. However, ensure an understanding of requirements as the top rates often require certain monthly activities. For example, you may need to make direct deposits and exceed a monthly card usage. 

Overdraft policies

Opt for checking accounts with low overdraft fees or overdraft protection features. This avoids costly overdraft charges if you accidentally overspend. Some options on our list include $50 to $200 overdraft coverage to prevent fees if you accidentally overspend. 

Bonus offers

Some checking accounts provide cash bonuses when opening an account. These can give your new account an extra boost. However, bonus offers require meeting various requirements and can be tough to understand. In many cases, the promotional bonus offer may not be worthwhile. Always review the requirements before deciding if you should open the account. 

Specific benefits

Certain accounts cater to specific groups like students, teens, families, and small businesses. Meanwhile, other options include cash-back or reward points. Make sure to see if there are checking accounts tailored to your needs.

Deposit Insurance

Verify accounts are insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000. This protects your money in case of bank failure. In most cases, you can see if a bank is FDIC-insured by scrolling to the bottom of their website and looking at the footer.

Common checking account fee

Fee Type
Cost
Monthly maintenance fees
$10-$15
Monthly transaction fees
Varies
Non-sufficient funds fees
$20 average
ATM fees
Varies
Paper statement fees
Up to $5 per statement
Foreign transaction fees
1% to 3% per transaction
Account closure fees
$5 to $50

Monthly maintenance fees

Banks often charge a monthly fee to maintain a checking account, typically ranging from $10-$15 per month. This helps cover costs for the bank. Many banks waive the fee if you meet specific requirements like a minimum balance or direct deposit.

Monthly transaction fees

Although this is generally reserved for savings accounts, some banks limit the monthly transactions you can make in a checking account. If you exceed the limit, you may be charged a fee per transaction over the limit. This helps the bank cover costs for processing numerous transactions.

Overdraft fees

If you overdraw your account, meaning the balance goes negative, banks will charge you an overdraft fee. This is usually around $35 per overdraft transaction. Overdraft fees help deter customers from spending more than they have in their accounts. Some banks offer overdraft insurance, which avoids the fee if you exceed the balance up to a certain amount.

Non-sufficient funds fees

If you write a check or schedule an automatic payment and insufficient funds are in your account, you'll be charged an NSF fee. This is similar to overdraft but applies specifically to bounced checks or failed payments. The average fee is around $20 per failed payment. 

ATM fees

Using an ATM outside your bank's network often incurs two sets of fees. Your bank and ATM provider will both charge you an out-of-network fee. However, some options on our list will reimburse you up to $10-$20 monthly. This covers the ATM provider's fees. Using a bank with a large ATM network is best. 

Paper statement fees

Receiving paper statements and notices may incur fees of around $5 per statement. This covers the costs of printing and mailing. Opting for free paperless/electronic statements avoids the fee and is usually the default option.

Foreign transaction fees

Using your debit card for purchases abroad results in fees of around 1% to 3% per transaction. This is to compensate the bank for currency conversion and cross-border transaction costs.

While some merchants may enable you to pay in USD abroad, the option should be declined. This is known as dynamic currency conversion (DCC), which generally charges a much higher interest rate. A credit card with no foreign exchange fees is the best option abroad.

Account closure fees

Closing your checking account within the first few months can incur account closure fees of around $5 to $50. This discourages opening and quickly closing accounts.

Requirements to open a checking account

You can open a bank account online or in person. To open a checking account and start banking, you'll typically need:

  • Government identification such as a driver's license or passport
  • Proof of address through documents like utility bills
  • Potential minimum opening deposit, often $25-$100
  • To be over age 18 (or open a teen checking account)
  • Social Security number

If you are under 18, you’ll likely need a legal guardian to help you open the account.

Checking account FAQs

  • What is the best checking account?

    +

    The best checking account depends on your needs, but top options include no fees, high interest rates, extensive ATM access, overdraft protection, and cash signup bonuses. Leading choices are Axos Bank Rewards Checking, Chime, Discover Cashback Debit, and Amex Rewards Checking based on their fee structures, interest rates, ATM access, and bonuses.

  • Can I have more than one checking account?

    +

    Yes, you can open multiple checking accounts with different banks. It allows the separation of funds but requires managing various accounts.

  • How do I switch checking accounts?

    +

    To switch bank accounts, open the new account, update your direct deposits and automatic payments, transfer any remaining balance, and close the old account. Alternatively, you can keep the old account open, but may incur fees.

  • Can I open a checking account online?

    +

    Yes, many banks let you apply online. You provide personal information and ID scans before remotely signing documents.

  • Do checking accounts earn interest?

    +

    Yes, some checking accounts earn interest, but rates are generally lower than savings accounts. Furthermore, you’ll typically need to meet specific monthly transaction requirements.

Daniel Schoester Freelance Writer

Daniel is an expert on travel, finance, and SEO. He received an Honours BBA (Finance) from Wilfrid Laurier University, then started his career with WOWA. Here, he learned various SEO tactics that were instrumental in quadrupling monthly traffic to one million views. Now the founder of Croton Content, Daniel helps financial companies scale through evergreen content. Aside from Money Wise, notable clients include Forbes Advisor, WealthRocket, and Hardbacon. Daniel loves to travel when not working. Although based out of Lisbon, Portugal, some of his most adventurous destinations include Rio, Cairo, and Istanbul.

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