Best Checking Accounts of October 2021

Katie Stiner

Checking accounts provide a safe location to keep your money, which you can subsequently use to make purchases or pay bills. We’ve evaluated the best checking accounts on fees, minimums, APY, customer service, digital experience, and overall quality.

Axos Bank Rewards Checking Account

axos bank logo
5

$0

Monthly Fee

$50

Min. To Open

1.00%

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, up to 1.25%, you need to deposit $1000+ monthly and make 15 debit card transactions a month.

What we like

  • No monthly fee or minimum deposit to avoid fee
  • No domestic ATM fees
  • Available in all states

What we don't

  • No physical branch
  • No sign up bonus
  • Balances above $150,000 earn no interest

APY ranges

Range APY
$1 - $150,000 1.25%
$150,001+ 0%

Account Fees & Information

  • Monthly Fee$0
  • Min. To Open$50
  • Min. Deposit For No Fee$0
  • Other Ways For No FeeN/A
  • Paper Statement Fee$5
  • Overdraft Fee$0
  • Negative Balance FeeUnknown
  • RewardsNone
  • State RestrictionsNone

ATM & Debit Card

  • In-Network Domestic ATM Fee$0
  • Out-Network Domestic ATM Fee$0
  • ATM Owner Surcharge RebateOffered
  • Foregin ATM Fee1%
  • Debit Card Foregin Fee1%
  • Debit CardVisa

CIT Bank eChecking

cit bank logo
4.5

$0

Monthly Fee

$100

Min. To Open

0.10%

Est. APY

Overview

This checking account pays a 0.10% APY on balances under $25,000 and offers $30 per month in reimbursements from out of network ATM fees and no fees for in network.

There is no monthly fees for the checking account, and you need to deposit $100 to open an account, which can be removed after with no monthly charges.

What we like

  • No monthly fees
  • $30 monthly owner surcharge rebate
  • No charges on incoming wire transfer

What we don't

  • No sign up bonuses
  • No physical branch locations
  • To earn higher APY, need $25,000+ balance

APY ranges

Range APY
$1 - $24,999.99 0.10%
$25,000+ 0.25%

Account Fees & Information

  • Monthly Fee$0
  • Min. To Open$100
  • Min. Deposit For No Fee$0
  • Other Ways For No FeeN/A
  • Paper Statement FeeNot Offered
  • Overdraft Fee$30
  • Negative Balance FeeUnknown
  • RewardsNone
  • State RestrictionsNone

ATM & Debit Card

  • In-Network Domestic ATM Fee$0
  • Out-Network Domestic ATM Fee$0
  • ATM Owner Surcharge Rebate$30 month
  • Foregin ATM Fee1%
  • Debit Card Foregin Fee1%
  • Debit CardMastercard

Empower Finance

empower finance logo
4.5

$8

Monthly Fee

$0

Min. To Open

0.01%

Est. APY

Overview

Empower is a personal finance app that helps you to take control of your money. It allows you to track your spending, find savings in your budget and provides a flexible interest checking account. It has been recommended by Forbes, Time Magazine, and Apple as ‘Best Tech Apps to help you Save, Invest and Manage Finances,’ and ‘New Apps We Love.’

Empower’s checking account does not have minimum balance requirements or minimum first deposit. It offers an estimated APY of 0.20%, which is fairly competitive and comes with a Visa debit card, 24/7 notifications, and unlimited transfers. Also, Empower will float a cash advance of up to $250 when you need it with no interest, late fees, or credit checks.

There are no overdraft fees, insufficient funds fees, and it will reimburse up to three ATM fees per month, up to $10 each time. There is an $8 monthly fee, but access to the budgeting tools and Autosave features might be worth it.

What we like

  • No minimum to open
  • User-friendly app
  • Track spending and auto save feature
  • Offers budgeting tools

What we don't

  • Limited ATM network
  • High monthly fees
  • No mobile check deposit

APY ranges

Range APY
$1+ 0.20%

Account Fees & Information

  • Monthly Fee$
  • Min. To Open$0
  • Min. Deposit For No Fee$0
  • Other Ways For No FeeN/A
  • Paper Statement FeeNone
  • Overdraft FeeNone
  • Negative Balance FeeNone
  • Rewards1% Cashback
  • State RestrictionsNone

ATM & Debit Card

  • In-Network Domestic ATM Fee$0
  • Out-Network Domestic ATM Fee$0
  • ATM Owner Surcharge RebateOne per month
  • Foregin ATM FeeN/A
  • Debit Card Foregin Fee1%
  • Debit CardVisa Debit Card

What to consider before opening a checking account?

There are several factors to consider before opening a checking account. The first is to consider if a checking account suits you better than a savings account. To do this, see if you are looking to save money or need an account to make purchases.

The next thing to consider is the fees that banks charge for having a checking account. Different banks have different rates and different ways of charging for running a checking account. For example, some banks charge a standard monthly rate for each transaction, while others charge a fee for every check processed through your account.

It is also important for you to look past the promotions on offer by the banks. These promotions are often meant to entice customers but are usually only on for specific periods. Check out the bank’s general practices, conditions and limitations, because these will matter more when the promotions are over.

Finally, check out the other features that each bank offers for their checking account, like debit cards or ATM cards and online banking. This will help you decide which bank to choose.

Why should you have a checking account?

A checking account has so many benefits, the obvious being that it allows you to keep your money safe. Keeping large amounts of cash at home poses a risk of loss from several factors, like robberies, floods, fires, or disasters. Banks have insurance that protects them against any loss.

Another benefit of using a checking account is that you have access to your money anywhere you are. With different options like an ATM card and online banking, besides the cheques issued by the banks, you have various options to access your money from anywhere and at any time.

A checking account also allows you to track your expenses and bill payments. In case of discrepancies in payments, you can easily keep track because every transaction done on your account registers on transaction ledgers, and you get statements. So you have a paper trail for every transaction you make as proof of transaction.

Also, a checking account does not have limits on transactions. While savings accounts limit withdrawals, transfers, or payments, there are no such limits with a checking account.

What are the common checking account fees?

A checking account holder incurs some fees a month on the account. These fees vary in amount and types four different Banks. Here is a list of some common checking account fees.

  • Monthly service fee: this is the most common Bank charge attached to a checking account. It is a fee charged monthly to maintain your account.
  • Overdraft fee: this is the thing you pay if you spend more than you have in your account. Whenever you spend more than you have in your account, it results in a negative balance, and you pay a fee for that. Overdraft fees at the most expensive and common type of fees you can incur on your checking account.
  • Non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee: you incur this fee when you write a check that bounces because you don’t have sufficient money in your bank account. A bounced check simply means a check returned to you. When this happens, you’ll likely be charged an NSF fee.
  • ATM fee: banks charge a fee for every time you use their ATM. However, if you use an ATM not affiliated with your bank, the ATM operator also charges a fee for using their ATM. This fee is usually higher than that charged by your bank.

How many checking accounts should I have?

There is no limit to the number of checking accounts you can have, and there are several reasons people have multiple checking accounts. However, unless you have a good reason, one checking account is good enough.

One reason you might consider opening multiple checking accounts is the FDIC insurance. This insurance only covers $250,000 per depositor for a bank. That means if you want to deposit an amount of money above this threshold, consider opening another checking account with another bank.

Email also consider opening another checking account if you wish to keep some transactions separate from others. Keeping separate accounts may qualify you for specific parts like loan discounts or higher interest rates on your deposits.

How to choose the best checking account?

Each bank has unique features that they offer as part of their package for opening a checking account. Below is a list of what to consider as you choose the best checking account for you.

  • Fees: This is very important because you will use your checking account for transactions. That means you should expect fees like maintenance fees, out-of-network ATM fees, and overdraft fees. You can, however, look out for banks with the least amounts of charges.
  • Minimums: Some banks require that you open your checking account with a minimum deposit. Some also require that your balance meet a certain minimum to be eligible to earn the APY or avoid paying a monthly maintenance fee. Make sure you can meet the required minimum before you open an account with the bank. You can also choose a bank that operates with no minimum requirements.
  • APY: Some banks do not pay interest on checking accounts. So if you wish to earn interest on your money, lookout for Banks that offer APY on deposits.
  • Customer service: this is very essential for a smooth banking experience. The ease of getting in touch with a customer service representative should an issue pop up is something you should consider when choosing a bank.
  • Digital experience: if you are someone who banks online or via mobile apps often, then it becomes important that you consider a bank with an excellent online presence. Their online and mobile banking technology should be innovative and user-friendly.