The best no-fee checking accounts of October 2021

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A good checking account is a necessity. It’s a temporary home for the money you earn and soon spend on your needs, wants, and future goals – and it shouldn’t cost you anything.

The best no-fee checking accounts of October 2021

Checking accountAPYNext steps

0.10% APYCapital One Capital One 360 Checking®

NoneDiscover Discover Cashback Debit Account

0.03% APYCharles Schwab Bank Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account

0.10% – 0.15% APYRadius Bank Radius Rewards Checking Account

Up to 1.25% APYAxos Axos Bank Rewards Checking

NoneChime Chime Spending Account

0.25% APYAlliant Credit Union Alliant High-Interest Checking Account

0.35% APYWealthfront Wealthfront Cash Account

*Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.

These days, most (if not all) banks offer conditional no-fee checking accounts. That is to say, your monthly service fee can be waived if you meet minimum balance or recurring deposit requirements.

In this list, we want to highlight the checking accounts that charge zero monthly maintenance fees, no matter where your balance lies. You might notice this list is similar to our list of best checking accounts – that’s because we value no-fee products and have mentioned many of the best already.

Below you’ll find our picks for the best no-fee checking accounts available right now. Each of these accounts comes with a debit card, FDIC insurance, and mobile app access.

Our expert panel for this guide

We consulted banking and financial planning experts to inform these picks and provide their advice on finding the best checking accounts for your needs. You can read their insights at the bottom of this post.

We’re focusing on checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fees, but we’re also taking fees for foreign transactions, out-of-network ATMs, and more into consideration.

Read more about our favorite no-fee checking accounts

Capital One 360 Checking®

Why it stands out: With no monthly service fees, no foreign transaction fees, and a variety of overdraft protection options, Capital One is one of the cheapest checking accounts out there. It also offers access to over 39,000 Capital One and AllPoint ATMs and connects to Zelle for digital money transfers. All balances earn 0.10% APY. Plus, Capital One ranks No. 1 on J.D. Power’s US National Banking Satisfaction Study.

What to look out for: Minimal branch locations. Though Capital One Cafés are popping up in big cities around the US, the bank only operates about 470 branches in nine states.

Discover Cashback Debit Account

Why it stands out: Discover doesn’t charge monthly fees, and you can enroll in free overdraft protection. You’ll earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases every month, and we’ve chosen Discover as one of our favorite rewards checking accounts.

What to look out for: Location restrictions. You can only use your Discover debit card in the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account

Why it stands out: Charles Schwab doesn’t charge ATM fees, and the bank offers unlimited refunds worldwide when an ATM provider charges you a fee. Charles Schwab also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and it has free overdraft protection.

What to look out for: Brokerage account. You must open a brokerage account with Charles Schwab before opening a checking account.

LendingClub Rewards Checking Account

Why it stands out: Free access to over 325,000 ATMs nationwide. This account gives you the opportunity to earn both cash-back rewards and interest if you maintain a $2,500 balance. You can earn cash back on an unlimited amount each month, and you’ll earn up to 1% on select purchases.

What to look out for: Minimum balance and compound interest. You must have $2,500 to make the most of your checking account. LendingClub also compounds interest monthly rather than daily, which will affect how much you earn in the long run.

Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Why it stands out: Axos has a free network of over 91,000 ATMs, and it reimburses an unlimited amount of fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers. The bank doesn’t charge overdraft fees. You have the potential to earn a high APY.

What to look out for: APY qualifications. You can earn up to 1.oo% APY, but you must meet the criteria.

Each month, you’ll earn 0.40% APY if you receive at least $1,500 in direct deposits each month. You have to meet this requirement first in order to be eligible for additional interest.

To earn up to 1.00% APY, you also have to do the following monthly:

Make 10 debit card transactions (minimum $3 per transaction) or you need to sign up for Account Aggregation/Personal Finance Manager.Keep at least a daily average of $2,500 in an Axos Managed Portfolios Invest Account.Keep at least a daily average of $2,500 in an Axos Self Directed Trading Invest Account.Make a monthly Axos consumer loan payment with your Reward Checking account.Chime Spending Account

Why it stands out: You can use 38,000 ATMs for free. Chime doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. You can receive your paycheck up to two days early. If you also have a high-yield Chime Savings Account, then you can round each debit card purchase up to the nearest dollar and automatically put the spare change into savings.

What to look out for: Overdraft protection. Chime’s SpotMe feature allows you to overdraw by up to $100 with no overdraft fee – but you must receive $500 in direct deposits each month to qualify for SpotMe. There’s no option to overdraw by more than $100. Your transaction would just be denied.

Alliant High-Interest Checking Account

Why it stands out: Alliant ranks as one of our top credit union picks, so if you prefer a credit union over a bank, then this checking account could be a good choice. You don’t need to meet any qualifications to earn interest. Alliant’s free network includes over 80,000 ATMs, and the credit union reimburses up to $20 per month in fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers. You can enroll in free overdraft protection if you also open a savings account.

What to look out for: Overdraft fees and compound interest. If you don’t enroll in overdraft protection, then Alliant can charge you its $28 overdraft fee an unlimited number of times per day. Like many credit unions, Alliant compounds your interest monthly rather than daily, which will limit how much you earn.

Wealthfront Cash Account

Why it stands out: Get free access to 19,000 ATMs. You can receive your paycheck up to two days early. You don’t need to meet any qualifications to earn interest on your balance. Set the maximum amount you want in your account through Wealthfront’s Autopilot feature. When your balance exceeds that amount by over $100, Wealthfront will move the excess funds into a Wealthfront investment account.

What to look out for: No overdrafts. Wealthfront doesn’t charge overdraft fees, but this also means you don’t even have the option to overdraw from the account. Your purchase would just be denied.

Other no-fee checking accounts we considered and why they didn’t make the cut

Ally Interest Checking Account(Member FDIC): This is a solid online checking account that pays interest on your balance, but its features aren’t as unique as what you’ll find with some of our top picks. Read Insider’s full review of Ally here.HMBradley Account (Member FDIC): This is a good option if you want a hybrid checking/savings account that pays up to 3% APY, but you must meet certain qualifications to earn the highest interest rate. Read Insider’s full review of HMBradley here.CIT Bank eChecking Account (Member FDIC): The minimum opening deposit for this account is $100 and it only offers up to $15 of fee-free ATM visits a month, otherwise it’s a fine account earning 0.10% APY on balances below $25,000. Read Insider’s full review of CIT Bank here.Betterment Checking Account (Member FDIC): This online checking account reimburses ATM and foreign transaction fees, and there are no monthly service charges or overdraft penalties. However, Betterment is still in the process of developing features like physical checkbooks and joint accounts. Read Insider’s full review of Betterment here.Axos Bank Essential Checking (Member FDIC): A solid online-only checking account with unlimited ATM fee reimbursement, but nothing extra special. Read Insider’s full review of Axos here.Axos Bank Rewards Checking(Member FDIC): This account offers up to 1% cash back on purchases (up to $2,000 per month), but doesn’t count transactions from grocery stores and requires an average daily balance of $1,500 to earn the cash back. If your balance falls below that limit, you get 0.50% cash back. Read Insider’s full review of Axos here.TIAA Yield Pledge® Checking Account(Member FDIC): No monthly service fees and all balances earn a competitive APY for the first year; after that, the rate drops. To enjoy unlimited ATM reimbursement you need to keep an average daily balance of at least $5,000. You also need at least $100 to open the account. Read Insider’s full review of TIAA here.SoFi Money®(Member FDIC): This hybrid checking account/savings account pays interest and lets you earn cash-back rewards, but you must deposit $500 per month to qualify for either. Read Insider’s full review of SoFi Money here.USAA Classic Checking (Member FDIC): USAA is specifically for military members and family, and new recruits get paid a day early with a checking account. Aspiration Account(Member FDIC): You have the option to plant a tree every time you swipe your debit card, and you can earn 3% to 5% cash back when you shop at companies like TOMS and Blue Apron.

Which banks are the most trustworthy?

The Better Business Bureau assigns companies trustworthiness grades, ranging from F to A+. A good BBB grade indicates a company responds effectively to customer complaints, advertises honestly, and is transparent about business practices. Here are the BBB grades for our top picks:

InstitutionBBBCapital One 360ADiscoverA+Charles SchwabA+LendingClubA-Axos BankA+ChimeCAlliant Credit UnionA+WealthfrontF

The BBB cites the fact that Wealthfront hasn’t responded to a large percentage of complaints on the BBB website as one reason for its bad grade – but it hasn’t responded to three of five total complaints. Because the number is low overall, we’ve still included Wealthfront on the list of our favorite checking accounts.

Chime has a C rating because the BBB says it hasn’t responded to 4 customer complaints.

A strong BBB grade doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a smooth relationship with a company, though. We’ve also looked at any public scandals.

LendingClub Bank’s parent company, LendingClub Corporation has a A- rating from the BBB due to government action that was taken against the bank.

In July 2021, LendingClub Corporation paid $18 million in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission when accused of deceptive lending practices that charged consumers hidden fees and said they were approved for loans even when they weren’t.

In September 2018, the Department of Justice required Lending Club Corporation to pay $2 million in a settlement that said the company violated the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989.

LendingClub Corporation has also informed the BBB that the company’s name is being used in an online scam. In a note on the BBB website, LendingClub says that consumers applied for loans outside of the company website and were reached by representatives who claimed they were LendingClub representatives. The consumers were told to pay a certain fee and their loan would be approved. However, once they paid the fee, the loan was never received. LendingClub says that if you are getting a loan from LendingClub Corporation, you will not be asked to pay an upfront application fee.

If any of these scandals worry you, you may decide to open a checking account at a different bank.

Frequently asked questions

Why trust our recommendations?

At Personal Finance Insider, we strive to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of nearly three dozen checking accounts available at over 20 national and online-only banks so you don’t have to.

We understand that „best” is often subjective, however, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a checking account – no fees, for example – we outline the limitations, too.

How did we choose the best no-fee checking accounts?

To find the best no-fee checking accounts, we consulted our list of the best checking accounts, many of which are completely free for all account holders, regardless of their balance. To compile that list, we considered offerings at over 20 financial institutions, as well as reviews at popular comparison sites like Bankrate and Nerdwallet, to determine the strongest options.

We also polled Insider employees for their favorite picks and considered J.D. Power’s US National Banking Satisfaction Study for 2020, which measures customer satisfaction at America’s largest retail banks.

While big retail banks in the US have the most widespread ATM and branch location access, they typically do not offer completely free checking accounts, so we didn’t name a winner for ATM and branch access.

Unlike a savings account, a checking account doesn’t need to have a high interest rate to be good. In fact, the annual percentage yield (APY) shouldn’t matter much if you’re using your checking account to pay your monthly bills and cover expenses in short order. If your money is constantly flowing in and out of your checking account, it won’t get a chance to earn much interest anyway.

What banks offer free checking accounts?

You can find completely free checking accounts at Ally, Betterment, CIT Bank, US Bank, TD Bank, Capital One, Charles Schwab, Discover, Axos, and SoFi Money, to name a few.

Which banks have the best checking accounts?

Through our extensive research, we’ve concluded that the best checking accounts available right now are at Capital One, Discover, Simple, and SoFi Money. Some of these may offer to waive service fees if certain requirements are met, but most charge none at all.

Which banks have free checking with no minimum balance?

Several banks offer free checking accounts with no minimum balance or opening deposit requirement, including Ally, Charles Schwab, Betterment, and Capital One.

The experts’ advice on choosing the best checking account for you

To learn more about what makes a good checking account and how to choose the best fit, four experts weighed in:

Tania Brown, certified financial planner at SaverLifeRoger Ma, certified financial planner with lifelaidout® and author of „Work Your Money, Not Your Life”Mykail James, MBA, certified financial education instructor, BoujieBudgets.comLaura Grace Tarpley, editor of banking, Personal Finance Insider

Here’s what they had to say about checking accounts. (Some text may be lightly edited for clarity.)

What makes a checking account good or not good?

Roger Ma, CFP:

„I would look at the ATM branch locations and then minimum balance amounts to not incur a monthly fee. I think there’s other stuff that could make life easier, whether it’s a free checks, online bill pay, are they in the Zelle network?”

Laura Grace Tarpley, Personal Finance Insider:

„I would make a list of the top three to five things you want out of a checking account. Is it a great mobile app, 24/7 customer support, no ATM fees? Then research the best banks for those features.”

How can someone determine whether a bank is the right fit for them?

Tania Brown, CFP:

„Obviously, you want to make sure it’s FDIC insured. Also, your banking experience – do you like walking into a bank? Well, then you need someone local. Do you just not care if you ever see your bank? Then you’re okay online. Do you write checks? Do you not write checks? So it’s thinking through how your experience with it is going to be before you make that decision.”

Mykail James, CFEI:

„The No. 1 thing about a checking account is you should know what provider the debit card is coming from. And a lot of people don’t think about that, because there are places that don’t accept MasterCard or don’t accept an Amex.”

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