best online checking accounts

Best Online Checking Accounts in 2019

percentage of people who go to a branch to open an account

Looking for the best online checking accounts? You’re not alone. Every year, more Americans bank online, particularly through their smartphones, and banks are responding with a wide range of offerings. For instance, only 59% of customers go to a bank branch to apply for a loan (source). When it comes to checking accounts, online offerings cut down on the overhead for banks. That means with an online checking account, you can enjoy lower costs and greater benefits.

Wondering which online checking account is best for you? Here’s what you should know.

What is an online checking account?

Best Online Checking Accounts:

Checking accounts are designed for everyday use. They offer a place to keep the cash that you need for expenses such as groceries, gas, bills, etc.

Traditionally, checking accounts are available through financial institutions with physical branches. However, you can now get checking accounts that are online-only, without a brick-and-mortar bank. You set the account up online, transfer money online, and manage everything… you guessed it… online.

With online checking accounts, you still get a debit card to use in-person, and you can still withdraw money from ATMs. Many people (especially young people) prefer the convenience of online banking.

But how do you know which account to open? Let’s look at the key factors to consider.

How to compare the best online checking accounts

Each online checking account is different, and many advertise unique features like an annual percentage yield (APY) or cashback rewards. It can be confusing to figure out which one is the best. To compare apples to apples, here’s what you should consider.

Fees

Some of the common fees charged by banks include those for overdrafts, non-sufficient funds, monthly maintenance, out-of-network ATM use, transfers, and foreign transactions. The fewer fees you have to pay for your account, the better.

ATM networks

Most checking accounts come with debit cards that you can use to withdraw cash from of the ATM. However, you will usually only be able to withdraw money from certain ATMs without paying a fee. Being so, check the size of the ATM network. The larger, the better.

Transfer options

Without physical branches, you’ll need to transfer money into the account online. Further, you may need to transfer money out to other people. Find out the cost, ease, and processing time of transfers for each account you consider. If you need to send money overseas, this will be particularly important.

Minimum balance requirements

A minimum balance requirement is the amount of money you must deposit to open the account and keep it open. Some accounts have this requirement, while others don’t.

Rewards

You may be able to earn rewards for your spending, like cashback or points. Consider this perk when comparing accounts, as it adds value to your day-to-day spending.

Interest yields

Although it’s more common to earn interest on a savings accounts, many online checking accounts offer a small return on investment. Investigate the annual percentage yield (APY) to see how much you can earn back on your account funds.

Eligibility

Not all checking accounts are easy to get. You may have to pass a credit check (and Chex systems check) to get approved for an account. Find out what is required to open an account and confirm that you qualify.

Promotional sign-up offers

Check to see if you can take advantage of any incentives for opening the account. Attractive promotional offers can make one account stand out over another.

Extra features

Many accounts offer unique features that add value. For example, some offer bill pay, overdraft options, budgeting tools, and automatic transfers to savings. Be sure to include these in your comparison.

Now that you know the basics, let’s look at the best online checking accounts on the market. Keep in mind, there is no universal best account — the right account for you depends on your lifestyle and unique needs. However, this guide will help you to see some of the leading accounts on the market today.

Read on to find the best online checking accounts for a variety of situations.

Best Online Checking Account for APY: Redneck Rewards Checkin’ Account

While the branding is a little colorful, Redneck Rewards Checkin’ Account has a stand-out offering. You can earn an impressive 3.00% APY on your checking account balance up to $10,000.

Further, the bank charges no monthly service fees, offers free bank-to-bank transfers, and doesn’t require you to keep a minimum balance. The only catch is that you need to deposit $500 initially to open the account.

Highlights:

  • Fees: No monthly service fee.
  • Transfer options: Redneck offers in-house transfer services for moving money between Redneck accounts and a free bank-to-bank transfer service for sending or receiving money to or from other banks.
  • Minimum balance requirement: $500 to open the account but no ongoing minimum balance requirement.
  • Rewards: High interest yield.
  • Sign-up offer: None.
  • Extra features: Mobile banking, text banking, and overdraft protection.

Best Online Checking Account for Saving Money: Simple Spending Account

Simple offers a refreshing alternative to traditional

checking accounts, as it does not charge any fees. Forget your concerns about being nickel and dimed, as that is against Simple’s values. The only time you might have to pay a fee is if you use an out-of-network ATM and are charged by the owner of the ATM.

This account also has a built-in saving program. You can create ‘Protected Goals’ accounts where you save for specific goals, like a new car or a vacation. Once your protected goal account balance reaches $2,000, you begin to earn the 2.02% APY.

This is an innovative low-cost online checking account which helps to keep banking simple. The downside is it doesn’t have a built-in transfer service. However, it is compatible with third-party services like Xoom, PayPal, and Venmo.

Highlights:

    • Fees: No fees.
    • Transfer options: Send and receive money instantly to other Simple customers with no fees. Use third-party plug-ins to wire or receive money outside the Simple network.
    • Minimum balance requirement: None.
    • Rewards: None.Eligibility: Subject to approval based on credit.
    • Sign-up offer: None.
    • Extra features: Built-in budgeting and saving tools, mobile app, and photo check deposits.

Best Online Checking Account for Extra Features: BBVA Compass

The BBVA Compass free checking account is a good all-around card (with rewards) but stands out due to its extra features. The ClearBenefits Program costs an additional $4 per month but offers a value that far exceeds the fee. You’ll get accidental death and dismemberment coverage, cell phone protection, identity theft restoration, identity theft insurance, and roadside assistance.

Highlights:

  • Fees: No monthly service fee.
  • Transfer options: Transfer money online between accounts at BBVA and other banks. Send money by wire transfer. Use SecureSend to transfer money to more than 20 countries.
  • Minimum balance requirement: $25 minimum deposit to open the account.
  • Rewards: Cash back rewards on all debit card purchases.
  • Interest yield: None.
  • Eligibility: Subject to approval based on credit.
  • Sign-up offer: No.
  • Extra features: Overdraft protection and ClearBenefits Program (identity theft restoration, cell phone protection, and more)

Best Online Checking Account for Bad Credit: Capital One 360

Capital One 360 is a low-cost online bank account with lenient eligibility requirements.

While there are no regular account maintenance fees, you may be subject to fees for events like a stop payment or overdraft. However, Capital One 360 offers multiple overdraft options, including auto-decline, free savings transfer, overdraft line of credit, and a next-day grace period.

Other benefits of this account include no minimum balance requirement, a wide network of ATMs, easy bank-to-bank transfers, and interest yields on your balance.

Highlights:

  • Fees: No monthly fees.
  • ATM network: 39,000+ Capital One and Allpoint ATMs.
  • Transfer options: Transfer to other U.S. bank accounts within the Zelle network free.
  • Minimum balance requirement: None.
  • Rewards: None
  • Eligibility: Qualified U.S. citizens living in the U.S.
  • Sign-up offer: None.
  • Extra features:  First checkbook is free, overdraft options, online bill pay, and mobile deposits.

Best Online Checking Account for College Students: Chime Spending Account

The Chime Spending Account is great for students because it is low-cost, has no minimum balance requirement, and helps you save money. Further, it has a large ATM network, is easy to manage on-the-go, and can help you get paid earlier.

Students often live on a tight budget. Fortunately for them, this account is pretty much free, while offering a great lineup of benefits. The downside? Chime has a low interest yield on the savings account and no yield on the checking account. However, interest yield isn’t a primary concern for most college students, who don’t yet carry high balances.

Highlights:

  • Fees: No monthly fees, minimum balance fees, foreign transaction fees, or overdraft fees.
  • ATM network: 30,000+ MoneyPass ATMs and 30,000+ cashback locations.
  • Transfer options: Easily make transfers to and from the account in the mobile app. Wire transfers are not allowed.
  • Rewards: None.
  • Eligibility: U.S. citizens living in the U.S.
  • Sign-up offer: None.

Best Online Checking Account for Signup Offer: Chase Total Checking

There are a lot of alluring sign-up bonuses on the market. The trick is to find one with reasonable requirements. Chase Total Checking makes it easy to earn its $200 bonus. All you need to do is open an account, deposit $25, set up direct deposit, and receive a direct deposit within 60 days of opening the account. After you’ve done so, you’ll receive the deposit within 10 days.

If you meet the requirements to have the monthly fee waived, Chase Total Checking can be a good account. However, Chase’s myriad fees can easily counteract the $200 bonus. You’ll need to tread carefully with this account.

Highlights:

  • Transfer options: Chase Quickpay with Zelle allows you to send payments to others for free.
  • Minimum balance requirement: None.
  • Interest yield: None.
  • Eligibility: Must pass a credit check.
  • Extra features: Mobile app, Quickpay with Zelle, and online plus physical branches.


Best Online Checking Account for International Travelers: Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account

The Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account may sound a little intimidating, especially because it needs to be linked to a brokerage account. But don’t worry. You can open both accounts online, and there is no minimum balance requirement for either account.

The big benefits here are 0.40% APY and the lack of ATM fees. Travel anywhere in the world and get money whenever you need it. Plus, there are no foreign transaction fees or monthly fees. While lacking when it comes to additional perks, the low-cost, high-APY earns this account the top recommendation for international travelers.

Highlights:

  • Fees: No monthly fees, ATM fees, or foreign transaction fees.
  • ATM network: Refunds on all ATM fees, anywhere in the world.
  • Transfer options: Schwab allows a variety of free transfers to and from the account. However, wire transfers may come with a fee.
  • Minimum balance requirement: None.
  • Eligibility: Must be linked to a Schwab One brokerage account. However, the brokerage account has no minimum balance requirements. Must also pass a credit check.
  • Sign-up offer: None.
  • Extra features: Bill pay, mobile check deposit, free checks, and a Visa debit card.

Best Online Checking Account for Rewards: Discover Cashback Debit Account

While cashback rewards are more common with credit cards, Discover offers the feature with its online checking account. Earn 1% cashback on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. What do they charge for such a reward program? Nothing! There is no monthly fee and no minimum balance requirement.

Highlights:

  • Fees: No monthly fee. However, there are fees for outgoing wire transfers, stop payments, and non-sufficient funds.
  • ATM network: 60,000+ ATMs in the U.S.
  • Transfer options: Easily move money online or through the mobile app with no fees.
  • Minimum balance requirement: None.
  • Eligibility: Approval is based on creditworthiness.
  • Sign-up offer: None.
  • Extra features: Online bill pay, first-fee forgiveness, and mobile check deposit.

Frequently asked questions about online checking accounts

What banks offer free checking with no minimum balance?

Many banks offer free checking with no minimum balance. These include Chime, USAA, BBVA Compass, Ally, and more. View and compare checking accounts with no minimum balance requirements here.

Can you get overdraft fees waived?

It is possible, but policies vary from bank to bank. Some, like Discover, offer first-fee forgiveness, while others will decide on a case-by-case basis. Usually, if you call, ask politely, and have not had any fees in the recent past, you can get a fee or two waived.

What bank has the lowest overdraft fees?

When comparing overdraft fees, consider the fee amount and how many fees can be charged per day. Multiply the two figures to find out how much a bank can charge you per day. As for the lowest fees, Chime and Simple don’t charge overdraft fees at all.

Which online checking account is best for you?

Now you know how to spot a good online checking account and some of the top picks for 2019. If you’d like to shop around for yourself, head over to SuperMoney’s Checking Account Reviews page to see dozens of accounts side by side. Compare features and reviews to find the perfect fit for you.

Get started now!