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Best Free Checking Accounts of 2022

Katie Stiner

Free checking accounts charge no monthly maintenance fees and have a low or no minimum balance and activity requirements. The best accounts offer perks, such as a high interest rate, out-of-network ATM reimbursement, and free bank checks. To help you with this process, we’ve evaluated the top options on fees, minimums, APY, customer service, digital experience, and overall quality.

Get paid up to 2 days earlier with direct deposit*

$0

Monthly Fee

0%

Est. APY

Overview

Chime will not charge you a monthly fee and does not require a minimum balance to avoid maintenance fees.

What we like

  • No maintenance fees
  • Receive deposits up to 2 days earlier with direct deposit*
  • Easy eligibility and quick application process
  • Send paper checks from mobile app
  • Fee-free overdraft up to $200 for eligible members1

What we don't

  • No physical branches
  • No interest on balance

Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.

1Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member's Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime's discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won't cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.

*Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.

Easy to use mobile app

$0

Monthly Fee

0%

Est. APY

Overview

Current is a financial technology company that provides banking services through Choice Financial Group, a member of the FDIC.

What we like

  • Free overdraft up to $200
  • No hidden fees
  • Fast direct deposits
  • Cashback rewards
  • Easy to use mobile app
  • Get paid up to 2 days earlier

What we don't

  • Savings account APY limited to first $6,000
  • No physical branches

Current is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by and Visa® Debit Card issued by Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc and can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

Teen accounts do not earn points

The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for Current Interest is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of April 1, 2022. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in Savings Pods to earn Current Interest on up to $2000 in deposits per Savings Pod up to $6000 total. Please refer to Current Interest Terms and Conditions

Out of network cash withdrawal fees, third-party, and adding cash fees may apply.

Faster access to funds is based on comparison of traditional banking policies and deposit of paper checks from employers and government agencies versus deposits made electronically. Direct deposit and earlier availability of funds is subject to timing of payer’s submission of deposits.

Please refer to Overdrive™ Features Terms and Conditions.

Extensive branch and ATM access throughout the nation

$0 - $12

Monthly Fee

0%

Est. APY

Overview

Chase provides you with an easy-to-use online banking and mobile app service to help you manage your account day-to-day. In addition, with branches across the U.S., you can receive personalized support at a location convenient for you.

What we like

  • Extensive branch and ATM network
  • Online banking and mobile app services
  • $0 minimum deposit requirement
  • $12 monthly fee can be waived
  • Send and receive money with Zelle

What we don't

  • No ATM fee reimbursements
  • Overdraft and insufficient funds fee

Full service online banking

$0

Monthly Fee

1.25%

Est. APY

Overview

This checking account is great because you won't have to worry about paying monthly fees if your balance goes to $0. Not only that, Axos Bank reimburses fees charged by domestics ATMs. When opening an account, you only need to deposit $50 to open it but it can be removed without any issues and fees. To get the high APY, you need to deposit $1000+ monthly and make 15 debit card transactions a month.

What we like

  • No monthly service fee
  • No minimum deposit for no fee
  • Competitive interest rate
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements
  • Full service online banking

What we don't

  • No physical branches
  • Conditions to qualify for higher APY

Socially-conscious and sustainable financial services

$0 - $7.99

Monthly Fee

3.00%

Est. APY

Overview

Aspiration guarantees that none of the funds is ever used to fund fossil fuel projects or non-environmentally friendly projects. Aspiration’s acute focus on environmentally friendly practices will align with your views if you are environmentally conscious.

What we like

  • Funds socially responsible projects
  • No hidden fees
  • Up to 5% cashback on select merchants
  • User friendly mobile app
  • High APY

What we don't

  • $1000/m spend required to get APY
  • Cashback limited to few merchants

No monthly service and maintenance fees

$0

Monthly Fee

1.10%

Est. APY

Overview

Quontic helps maximize your savings, while managing everyday finances, by paying a high rate on your entire account balance. To qualify for the interest rate, you have to make a minimum of 10 qualifying point of sale debit card transactions that are at least $10 each, per statement cycle

What we like

  • No monthly service fee
  • No minimum deposit for no fee
  • High interest rate
  • Expansive no-fee ATM network
  • Full service online banking

What we don't

  • Minimum deposit of $100 to open account
  • Condition to qualify for interest

Who should open a free checking account?

A free checking account is ideal for people who:

  • Keep a low balance: This is important because many banks charge a monthly fee unless you maintain a certain minimum balance in your account.
  • Don’t want to pay a fee: Most free checking accounts don’t require any deposit — they’re just free. If you’re getting paid by direct deposit or have money coming in from somewhere, you can put it into the account and have it available.
  • Build banking history: This will create a record in the ChexSystems database that other banks may use when evaluating whether to open an account for you.
  • Pay bills online or with a debit card: You won’t need paper checks if you plan to pay bills electronically.
  • Don’t want to write paper checks: Many people dislike writing paper checks and prefer debit cards or online bill-pay options.

What fees are waived in a free checking account?

There are various fees that are waived, including:

  • Monthly maintenance fee: Free checking accounts usually don’t require a monthly minimum balance, so you won’t pay a fee for coming up short. However, some free checking accounts charge other fees — an excessive withdrawal fee, which can add more than a monthly maintenance fee.
  • Minimum opening deposit requirement: This is the amount of money you have to put into the account when you open it. With free accounts, there usually isn’t one. For example, most online banks don’t require any opening deposit to open their free checking accounts.
  • ATM withdrawal fees: Some banks will reimburse you for ATM fees when using out of network. Others don’t allow you to use other banks’ ATMs without paying fees. Both options can be difficult if your bank doesn’t have many ATMs near where you live or work.
  • Free online bill pay: Free online bill pay is a service that lets you pay anyone or any company electronically through your bank’s website. Bill pay is convenient because you can send money to anyone with an email address or phone number. You don’t have to worry about writing out a check and mailing it on time to avoid late fees.
  • Free check writing: In a free checking account, there is usually no fee for using the debit card or writing checks. If there is no fee now, the bank may charge you one in the future if you write a large number of checks each month. So keep an eye on your account to ensure that you aren’t charged more than $3 per month for this service.

What are some common checking account fees to beware of?

Each bank and credit union has different rules for checking accounts, but there are a few fees that tend to show up in many places, such as:

  • Nonsufficient funds (NSF): If you overdraw on your checking account, you’ll be charged a fee for each transaction that overdrew your account. To avoid this fee, make sure there are enough funds in your checking account before making a withdrawal. You can also avoid this fee by signing up for overdraft protection that links your checking and savings accounts or line of credit.
  • Withdrawal limits: Withdrawal limits may apply if you withdraw from your checking account using ATMs, online banking transfers, or teller transactions. There are two types of withdrawal limits: the number of times you can withdraw money from your checking account and the dollar amount of each withdrawal. For example, let’s say you have a checking account that has a limit of six withdrawals per month and a $500 maximum limit per transaction. Once you hit either one of these limits, your bank will charge a fee to your account. This fee varies by a financial institution and could be anywhere between $5 and $30 per transaction, depending on the bank.
  • Overdraft fees: An overdraft occurs when you write a check for an amount more significant than what is in your checking account balance. When this happens, most banks will apply an overdraft fee to your account and may allow the debit to go through with insufficient funds (sometimes called “overdraft coverage”). Depending on the bank, overdraft fees can range between $20 and $35 per transaction. f you’re worried about overdrawing your account, try to find one that offers overdraft protection or has low fees.

What do you need to open a free checking account?

To open a checking account, you need to:

  • Choose the type of account: The first thing you have to do is decide what type of checking account you want. Some accounts are designed for students or require a minimum amount of money to open. Others will charge you fees if your balance dips below specific amounts. You must choose the proper account for your needs.
  • Provide identification: You need to show proof of your date of birth, such as your birth certificate, and other documents to prove your Social Security number. Additional documentation may be required depending on the type of account you want to open and the financial institution where you’re opening it.
  • Find out how much money you need to open an account: Most banks require a minimum deposit when opening an account, but it can vary from bank to bank and even from account type to account type at the same institution. Make sure you know what amount is required before visiting the bank, so that you don’t waste time and effort if it turns out you don’t have enough money on hand to meet the minimum requirements.

How to choose the best free checking account

Here are some important features to watch for as you’re shopping around for a free checking account:

  • Monthly maintenance fees: The best free checking accounts don’t charge a monthly fee, but there are other fees you might pay. ATM charges, foreign transaction fees, and overdraft fees can all add up.
  • Minimum balance requirements: Some free checking accounts may require you to maintain a minimum balance to avoid paying a monthly fee.
  • ATM access: If you’re likely to use your debit card often or need to withdraw money from an ATM frequently, you should choose an account with easy access to ATMs wherever you live, work, and travel.
  • Mobile banking app: Many people manage their finances on the go with mobile devices, so you should evaluate which banks have the best mobile banking apps based on ratings from users in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
  • Free online bill pay: Many banks now allow customers to set up automatic payments from their checking accounts, which will be sent directly to payees. Some banks charge for this service; others do not. It may not seem like a big deal, but once you’re used to online bill pay, going back to writing checks and putting stamps on envelopes will not be comfortable.