Best Checking Accounts With No Minimum Balance | March 2023

Free checking is not really free if it means you have to park more money than you can afford in a checking account (particularly if it isn't earning any interest). Thankfully, there are some great free checking accounts that don't require a minimum balance.

Many "free" checking accounts advertise a low or $0 monthly fee but require you to keep a minimum amount of money to waive their hefty maintenance fees. Unfortunately, this scares many people away from opening an account because they're concerned they won't be able to afford the minimum balance.

The good news is there are free checking accounts that do not require a minimum balance. Here are some of the best currently available.

Minimum balances are hurting American households

Too many American households (approx. 7.1 million) don't have a checking account -- or access to all the banking services that come with one. The most common reason households gave for not having a checking account was not having enough money to meet the minimum balance requirement.

The good news is there are plenty of excellent options for people looking for a checking account that doesn't require a minimum deposit or balance.

What does "no minimum balance" mean?

You may be wondering what financial institutions actually mean when they say there is "no minimum balance." The meaning can vary depending on the type of account you are dealing with. In most cases, "no minimum balance" is used by checking accounts that market themselves as "free" and want to highlight that you don't have to keep a minimum balance to enjoy free checking. This is the meaning we are using in this page.

However, "no minimum balance" is also used when referring to checking accounts that pay interest on the money you deposit and don't require a minimum amount to get it. This is in contrast with checking accounts with a tier system that pays higher interest based on how much money you deposit.

There are other uses of "minimum balance" and the exact meaning can vary depending on the institution, so -- as always -- it is important to check the terms and rates of each account before you make a decision.

Do you need a checking account with no minimum balance?

It depends on your financial circumstances. If you have substantial savings and you want to use your checking account for your emergency fund, you may not care about having to keep a minimum balance to avoid fees. In such a case, you may want to consider a high-yield checking account so you can put your hard-earned money to work.

However, if you don't have the cash flow to tie up money in a checking account, a no-minimum balance account is the way to go.

Pros & cons of checking accounts with no minimum balance


Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks to consider.

  • You don't need to worry about keeping a big balance to avoid fees.
  • Accounts that don't have a minimum balance requirement usually also have lower fees.
  • It helps households with cash flow issues who would otherwise not be able to afford a checking account.
  • Gives you access to a whole suite of banking benefits and services.
  • Typically, checking accounts with no minimum balance don't offer generous APYs or rewards (but there are exceptions).
  • You won't find that much of a selection if you're looking for brick and mortar banks. Some major banks offer no minimum balance accounts but there are often online-only accounts.
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