Top 10 Best Free Checking Accounts
(2022): Compared & Reviewed
In this article, we will tell you everything that you need to know about free checking accounts. It is important to know these terms as it could help you make more informed banking decisions. Through our discussion of free checking accounts and top free checking accounts available to you, we ease your decision-making process and ensure that you only make smarter decisions.
There are a number of free checking accounts available if you search for them online but the sheer variety of options is enough to confuse anyone. We will recommend only the best checking accounts in detail, with their features, advantages and hidden limitations if there are any. Before moving on to free checking accounts, let us first understand what checking accounts are.
Checking Accounts Explained
A checking account, also known as a transactional or a demand account is a bank account which holds your savings and deposits and allows you you withdraw them, at will. These accounts are characterized by their liquidity which means that the money withdrawal process for various transactions is easy. Your money can be withdrawn using checks, debit cards, ATMs, E- Wallets or other methods.
How are They Different From Other Types of Bank Accounts?
A checking account is different from say a savings or an investment account because of its liquid nature. It allows for a number of easy deposits and withdrawals. A savings account has limits for both because it is not as liquid.
Why is this Article Important?
Checking accounts that are actually free are becoming rarer by the day. As explained earlier in the article, banks seek to minimize their losses by selling various profitable services. In case they are not able to do that, they introduce or even increase their rates. It is becoming progressively difficult to find free checking accounts without any strings attached. Studies show that less than 40 percent of the banks are currently offering free checking services.
The rate of decline has been rapid if we compare it with the rates in 2009 which was around 76 percent. This is where we come in. In this article we recommend free articles with minimum to no strings that are some of the best options in the market today. We have done the hard work and research and we want to share these insights with our readers to enable them to make better, smarter financial decisions.
The following are our recommendations for a free checking account.
Let us now discuss them in detail, taking into cognizance their features, advantages, disadvantages and our opinions on each of these banks.
The first bank that offers a free checking account service on our list is the Axos Rewards Checking digital bank. Axos is known in the market as the most experienced bank in the digital realm.
Axos rewards checking account has everything that one could look for in a free checking account. Its features are compatible with most people’s banking behaviors and decisions.
It is one of the topmost banks in terms of the low price that it charges for its services and the quality of services that it provides.
- No Minimum Balance Requirement - With no minimum balance that is required, you can have as much or as little money in your checking account and you would not be charged for it.
- No Monthly Fee - It also does not have a monthly fee, so you can end up saving around 60 dollars a year on an average.
- No Additional Fees - There are also no overdraft fees or fees that are charged when the funds are less. This bank also offers limitless ATM services reimbursements as long as they are being availed domestically.
Make sure to avail the services of Axos Bank, if you are eligible. You will not regret it. In fact you might end up earning a bit of an interest along with the freedom to deposit and withdraw as much or as little money as you want.
The second bank that offers a free checking account service on our list is the BBVA Free Checking digital banking service.
This bank is not too well known but the services that it offers are quite good.
- Free Accounts, Nationwide -As the name indicates, BBVA Banks do offer free checking accounts and that too on a nationwide basis.
- Unlimited Transaction - Avail unlimited deposit and withdrawal services as long as you are a national account holder, anywhere within the country.
- Option of Opting Out of Fees - This bank does charge you for things like statements printed out on paper and other things but the account holder always has the option to opt out of these services.
- No Strings Attached - There are no hidden costs, no strings such as a minimum balance or a direct deposit requirement even after you opt out of these charges.
BBVA banking services are digital, accessible and come with no additional strings attached. It is definitely worth a try as it would save a lot of your overhead costs.
Chime is known for being the most experienced, digital and a free financial institution that is also available as a mobile banking app.
It aims to offer its customers high quality banking service at the lowest possible price.
No Opening Deposit Requirements - Chime checking accounts do not require a fixed initial deposit amount. Therefore, you can open a checking account with whatever little amount you have.
No Minimum Balance - There are no additional charges when your account balance drops below a certain limit. This is because there are no limits as such. This feature is perfect for students.
No Monthly Fee - Chime does not charge you a monthly or an annual maintenance fee
Offers Interest - In addition to offering its services free of charge, it offers an interest rate of 0.5 percent
Offers ATM Access - Despite the lack of a physical location, Chime does have ATMs that you can access anywhere in the country.
Chime is an accessible platform that can be used anytime, anywhere. It is especially useful when you are frequently on the go and do not have time to access the physical location of your bank.
Chase Total Checking banking service is a well-known bank whose services are accessible, largely for free nationwide.
It also offers a comprehensive list of services and features which make it a trusted name across the market.
- Wide Range of Services - Chase offers a wide range of banking services to meet all your financial requirements.
- Cash Rewards - You can earn more than 100 dollars if you open a checking account and set up a direct deposit
- Fee Waivers - You can avail Chase banking services at a nominal rate of 12 dollars per month which can be waived on following certain simple steps.
Trust is one of the most important things when it comes to your finances. There are a number of happy customers which would testify to the high quality of services offered by chase. In exchange for a nominal maintenance amount, you can be assured of your finances and avail unlimited deposit as well as withdrawal facilities.
There are ways to get around the additional charges. First, if your account can maintain a minimum balance of 1500 dollars daily. Secondly, if your monthly deposits are more than 500 dollars and finally if you have multiple Chase accounts and you can maintain a combined daily balance of 5000 dollars across it.
It is a free banking service which is available to everyone across the country. It is a service that offers and allows you to keep a track of your bonuses, advantages and rewards.
- APY Benefits - You can get up to a 0.90 percent rate of interest on your deposit if you follow certain criteria and if you are a qualified applicant.
- Good Accessibility - The bank has a whopping 80,000 ATMs spread across various parts of the country so that you can easily withdraw your money, no matter wherever you are in the country.
- No Minimum Balance Charges - Nationwide Advantage Checking does not charge you if your account balance drops below a certain point. It does not have any set limits on balance.
- No Monthly or Annual Charge - It does not charge you with hidden or additional fees claiming the reasons of maintenance either at a monthly or an annual level.
Go with Nationwide Advantage Banking services, if you want to have interest benefits even after holding a highly liquid checking account. You can easily earn APY percentages by making direct deposits of minimum 1000 dollars or by making transactions through their debit cards.
If you're seeking a banking account that manages your cash smoothly and starts you off with free access or paid plans, based on your requirements then Aspiration is the ideal choice for you.
- Cash Management Account - Operating as a cash management account, its spend and save accounts let you avail of their services with various plans. You can even choose from a free or paid plan, depending on the facilities that best suit your requirements.
- Free Plan - Aspiration's free spend and save account lets you take control over how you'd want to pay for the services attained. The free plan also gives you access to more than 55000 ATMs without any charges. All of its services give an alternative to encourage the planting of more trees by planting one every time you swipe your card.
- Paid Plan - Aspiration with its Plus plan charges $15 each month or $12.50 each month if you opt for payments on an annual basis. The paid plan lifts any limitations placed by its free plan. It also repays the charge for one ATM fee each month, post-withdrawal from an external network of ATM providers.
- Cashback service - Its services assure 3-5% of cashback on its free plan when one makes coalition purchases. Likewise, its paid offers a cashback of 10% on similar purchases.
- Environment-centric approach - For all the environmentalists out there, who believe that all of the commercial services need to resume responsibility to protect the environment, that's one segment that Aspiration's services cover without a mistake. With the recyclable plastic used in the making of their debit cards, the planet is now safer.
- Additional features - While their account gives you the advantage of handling your account without any restrictions imposing a minimum of deposit. Although you might have to pay an account opening charge of $10. It also allows APY that extends to 1% with the paid plan. Delivers scores with personalized effects which further aids and enhances your shopping experience.
Pricing of KeepSolid-
- The small team plan comes at $ 349.99 per month. This plan comes for a 5-person team.
- Enterprise plans and annual subscriptions are also available.
- All the above options have a 14-day trial plan.
- The best part about the pricing policy is that there's a 25% discount for paying annually. This is substantiating the point of competitive pricing.
It's clear that Aspiration and its services are more suitable for individuals seeking free account handling and for environmentalists. Some of its limitations set it off as a cash management account that distributes the financial responsibility amongst the investors.
The Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking is a massive banking service spread all over the USA.
Although its usage isn't completely free, its huge investor base and easy accessibility make it everyone's top choice.
- Monthly Fees - Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking offers no variety when it comes to plans, it comes with a monthly fee of $12 which ensures smooth maintenance of your finances and account-oriented services.
- Free Maintenance - If you're wondering, how do I avail the services offered by them without having to pay a monthly fee? Well, that's possible now, as long as you fulfill one of their few conditions;
- You're under the age of 24 and qualify as a student
- Your account holds a balance of $1500 each day through all your statement cycles.
- Your account consists of one eligible deposit with an amount of $250 or more for every statement cycle.
- Online Banking - They also facilitate banking services with the use of their mobile application. Their online services assure increased security and comfort with easy transactions.
- Rewards - With distinct card types, you can enjoy a different set of rewards. Their preferred rewards give you bonuses on your investments with the bank. The rewarding program organized by them makes it a favorable option.
- Other Features - Let’s you block your card service if one has lost their card. Their cashback offers also let you decide the offers that you want to go with. Giving you more control over your account, you can easily set up alerts.
- Interests - Although it's been known that interests offered by Bank of America are lower as per the market rates. It's believed that their interests go up as your savings grow along the way. Depending on your savings, one can earn an interest of 0.03% on their standard saving, go up to 0.04% as they upgrade to the gold phase of savings, 0.05% as one moves up to the platinum savings account, and lastly 0.06% for platinum honors.
Gaining the position of the second of the largest banks followed by JP Morgan Chase surely creates more significance all over the USA. Although there are many of their fees to stay aware of and their interest rates won't fetch you any leveraged gains. It can be an ideal choice for individuals seeking reliable banking services.
Wealthfront is a famous advisor working through their robot systems, the checking accounts offered by Wealthfront gets you a higher rate of interest.
- Fees - Let's start by discussing a crucial factor that determines the overall services. Wealthfront imposes no administration fees or other additional fees, which makes it more pleasing. Its services start with a 0.25% of the annual management fee, originated depending on AUM. It also charges a fund fee of 0.07% up to 0.16% annually for investments below $100,000. There are no fund fees charged for direct investments.
- Loss Identification - You can now handle your taxes better and pay an adequate amount without going beyond what you're accountable for, with the assistance of their passive plus service. A competent algorithm allows you to calculate all of your losses and set them against your incomes and gains. This can ensure credits through your capital losses as well as stock-oriented losses.
- Model Followed - Although Wealthfront is not very open about the algorithms that it operates with, its model with the implementation of smart beta facilitates support to five aspects. These five main aspects comprise dividend earnings, velocity, value, volatility in correlation to the marketplace, and lower volatility.
- Investment Accounts - WealthFront backs a wide range of investment accounts starting from the traditional IRAs, a total of 529 deals for college-goers, transfer of IRAs, tax-enabled brokerage account for individuals as well as joint account holders, ROTH and SEP IRAs.
- Financial Planning Software - It offers a freely usable financial planning software and what makes it even more ideal is that anyone can use it, you don't necessarily have to be their account holder to avail of this service. It certainly works as one of the best finance management bot, unless you want to work with a human.
- Cash Account - With their cash account, you can relish all of their automated services and start with just $1 as an opening balance. The interest offered on this account is 0.35% with assured FDIC covering until $1 million. Access to this account is without any transaction or management fees, which lets you transact free of cost and without any limits.
- Credits - With its portfolio credits, account holders with tax-enabled brokerage accounts can attain a credit of 30% of your account's worth. One needs to hold a balance of at least $100,000 for attaining such credits.
Wealthfront Cash Account gives you the dual advantages of heightened interest rates as well as little to no fees oriented with your accounting transactions or maintenance. It's suitable for investors with more choices and better asset planning and management.
Radius with its checking account delivers excellence with a robust interest rate to generate more revenue to your account balance.
It also gains a competitive edge with more alternatives to operate your checking account online.
- Rewards Checking Account - Operating as a primary account to investors, Radius furnishes its Rewards Checking Account without expending any amount on monthly fees. It requires $100 as an opening balance and gives access to all ATMs without any limits.
- Eligibility to Interests - Its Rewards Checking Account activates the interest rate once you have a balance of and above $2500. Further on reaching or exceeding $10,000, the interest rates are heightened even more.
- Cashbacks - Account-holders can attain a cashback of 1% on monthly purchases comprising signature-oriented products. It extends an additional cashback of 0.50% for certain expenditures incurred by the user. The users can now benefit with a cashback of 1.50% on expenses incurred on food delivery, take away or dine out, health-oriented expenses, and monthly subscriptions to streaming or other services. This implies one can attain this 1.50% cashback along with their regular 1% cashback on purchases.
- APY - Rewards Checking confirms payment of APY worth 0.10% on balances starting from $2,500 up until $99,999. Further, the APY elevated to 0.15% on the balance of and above 100,000. You'd be required to hold at least $2,500 as the minimum balance.
- Dormant Checking Account - Radius with its checking account indeed assures free services without any fees levied on its users. However, on inactive checking accounts, where the user has been inactive for 12 months or more, there'll be a fee of $5 each month charged as a service charge to maintain a dormant account.
- Other Features - Radius's checking account users enjoy mobile-based applications that assure user-friendly interfaces and features. They also attain ATM rebates without any limitations. It facilitates checking deposits through its mobile deposits. With FDIC insured services and encryption with 256 Bit, users can attain their credible services without any maintenance or management fees. Their services are also accessible throughout the USA making it one of the best online banking platforms.
Radius Rewards Checking offers a competitive range of products that facilitate smoothened online banking services with its mobile-based apps. Stands as one of the rare banks that benefit checking account holders with an interest rate. It also facilitates business accounts that are suitable for small businesses.
If you're someone who predominantly uses online checking services then the Radius Reward Checking account is more suitable for you, while it might not be the same for individuals who prefer using location-based banking services as cash deposits are tougher that way.
Betterment has launched some of the best banking products in recent times and its checking services are just one of them.
Its checking account promises to acquaint users with free services and higher yields when it comes to interest rates, let's dive more into their features to learn about its services and performance.
- Categories of Accounts - Starting with traditional IRAs, Betterment lets you categorize your accounts between savings accounts, educational savings accounts, savings for a down payment for housing, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, and trusts.
- Portfolio Management - Betterment functions with an automated advisor that plans your investments over a range of distinct assets or index funds. If you're unhappy or unsatisfied with the way assets are allocated, you can consider taking matters into your own hands. This implies you can take control over the portfolio investments and create as well as manage your plan.
- Minimum Amount Required for Opening Your Account - You must be wondering about what's the minimum amount required to get your account started? Well, here's the most advantageous part about Betterment's checking account. One requires $0 to start your account, unlike other bank accounts that makes it mandatory.
- Fees - It charges no monthly bills, however, its account plan charges an annual fee of 0.25% of AUM. In correlation to this annual fee, the user can avail of its diverse services inclusive of financial guidance through advice, assistance with tax savings, robust customer support, portfolio management for lowered expenses, and more. Further, its premium plan costs 0.40% of AUM with a minimum requirement of $100,000.
- Financial Advice by Experts - Betterment offers financial advice by CFP or other financial experts for its paid plans. With a total of 5 paid plans, it starts at $149 and goes up to $399. This implies you can avail the best of services directly from the experts for a one-time payment.
- Tax & Loss Identification - For taxable account users, considering Betterment's oldest and well-known features like tax and loss harvesting can help save a great deal of money. It extends intelligent strategies to investors in lowering their tax obligations.
Betterment functions as one of our top-suggested banking services, in the form of an automated financial advisor. It is recommendable for individuals looking to reduce the costs-oriented with investments. One can also retain expert advice with its CPA for their paid services. Further, its diverse online banking products make it the number one choice for businesses or individuals looking for efficient management of finances.
Types of Checking Accounts
Checking accounts differ from each other on the basis of the account holder’s professional status or designation. The following are the types of checking accounts based on one’s designation:
- A commercial or a business account is used for day-to-day business transactions. These transactions are authorized by a particular organization’s business or financial officer or the manager.
- A student checking account is used by students (usually college students) for their day-to-day transactions. Certain banks offer special offers and rates for college students until they graduate. Sometimes, there are no overhead charges for students.
- A joint checking account is used by two people or for their transactions. These accounts are usually held by people and their partners and all the account holders can write checks, deposit and withdraw money.
Features of Checking Accounts
- A checking account is a deposit account with a financial institution, firm or a bank that allows for deposits and withdrawals
- It is characterized by high liquidity
- It allows for unlimited deposits and numerous withdrawals.
- It is different from a savings or an investment account in the sense that a savings account imposes limits
- There is negligible to no interest on deposits if one uses a checking account
- It allows for a number of ways of deposit and withdrawal- ATMs, debit or credit cards, electronic wallets, checks et al.
- Checking accounts charge fees for unlimited deposit and withdrawal services. These fees are called overhead fees.
- Some banks also charge fees if the account balance is lower than the minimum requirement.
- These accounts can be individual accounts, student accounts, commercial accounts, business accounts and joint accounts among other kinds of accounts.
Some Limitations of Checking Accounts
- Because of their highly liquid nature, banks do not provide interest on the deposits made to a checking account. [Pro tip: If you are a checking account holder with a chartered bank then interest rates are guaranteed. The minimum amount however, is 250,000 Dollars per individual per bank.]
- Banks charge for frequent deposit and withdrawal services and other overhead costs. [Pro tip: If you have an account with a large bank balance then some banking institutions offer a sweep service for checking accounts. This service allows you to withdraw cash and invest it in an overnight fund that offers interest. The next day, this cash along with the interest is deposited into the checking account.]
More Information About Checking Accounts
Banks usually provide checking account services at a minimum cost. However, they also nudge the free or low-priced account holders towards a marketing tactic called loss leadership wherein certain services are offered at prices lower than the market price in order to get more and more customers to partake in that service. Once the target customers are captured, they are offered services that are profitable for the bank such as deposit certificates, loans or mortgages. If the banks are unable to sell enough profitable services, then they increase the rates on holding a checking account.
What is the Average Monthly Cost of a Checking Account?
The average monthly cost of a checking account is about 5 Dollars per month. The average annual cost thus, comes around to 60 Dollars. The price may vary depending from bank to bank.
How Can One Still Find a True Free Checking Account?
According to our research that utilizes results from authoritative banking surveys that have been conducted recently, community banks or credit unions are places where one can still get a free checking account. More than 70 percent of these financial institutions are currently offering free checking services.
What is Really Meant by Free?
A free account does not mean that you would never have to pay. If you do not choose a checking account which matches your specifications then you might end up incurring a lot of unforeseen costs. We will explain this through an example. Suppose you are the type of person who is prone to over drafting your bank account.
Then, while selecting a checking account you should thoroughly check what the overdraft fees of the bank are. This fee is usually quite high and might end up costing you a lot of money ultimately, entirely defeating the purpose of a checking account. Thus, even if you are not paying the monthly maintenance fee, you pay through other means. Overdraft fees are unpredictable as well and it is best to avoid any entanglement with it.
Full Disclosure and Complete Transparency is Important
On paper, the banking system is quite transparent. The strings however, are present in fine print which is also worded in a complex manner. It is very important to read all the terms and conditions, including the ones in fine print so that you don’t end up losing money.
According to most banking experts, these disclosure agreements can be as long as 50 pages, a tactic to exasperate customers into signing agreements that they do not get the full import of. This is again where our article comes in handy because we explain things that no one usually does. The aim is to enable our readers to make only those decisions that work out for them in the long run.
The picture is not that bleak. There are some banks that are committed to the spirit of full disclosure and transparency and hence they make it a point to apprise their customers with the rules in a clearer way. One should ideally avail services from these financial institutions. The best way to avoid paying much more than you intended is to conduct a thorough market research and to read all the documents carefully (even the fine print) before signing the policy document.
One can avoid overdraft fees by refusing to sign on the overdraft policies. And most of all, take cognizance of your banking habits and realize what type of an account holder you are before choosing to open an account in a particular bank. Select the bank which fits all your needs and whose policies are most compatible with your banking habits.
Things to consider in a checking account
One commonly noticed trait in terms of investments in checking accounts is that students and other individuals hold limited balances, while other aged individuals from the US hold increased balances. This could be because of two simple reasons, one they don't function as part of the earning group, or second, they hold multiple accounts with limited funds in each of them.
Depending on the age groups and their specific requirements, the features expected in their checking accounts differ greatly. To bring you close to these alternatives and to reveal what would ideally fit your category, we've laid down some things to be taken into consideration;
- Emphasizing Monthly Fees - Monthly fees like maintenance or account management fees play a major role in determining how your checking account performs. Regardless of which age groups you belong to, fees are a complete no-no for everyone. Considering checking accounts that assure free services without administering any such charges is an ideal resort.
Of course, certain other banks assure to waive off these charges on meeting some given conditions. But it's also true that many of these banks are most likely to impose these charges back onto your account on completion of a given buffer period. Make sure to get your services assessed, especially with regards to all of the fees to be charged on a monthly, annual, or occasional basis.
- Minimum Balance Requirements - You've seen that some banks require a minimum deposit limit while opening your account or for maintenance of an account from one statement cycle to another. This amount is generally needed for ensuring the bank with smooth payment of fees or monthly credit payments.
It's preferable to seek checking services that involve little to no minimum balance requirement as one need not hold any large amount of balance just for the sake of monthly fees. We also ensure to base our review on services that are best suited with limited requirements and improved performance. This eliminates even considering such checking accounts requiring hefty balances.
- Direct Deposits - Various banks and checking accounts require maintenance of an adequate amount as deposits. While many retired and learning students have no jobs or flowing funds to affix as a deposit, it's best to look out for checking services that have no such set requirements. And paying deposits for freely fledged checking accounts makes no sense. That's just another aspect to consider before opening up your new checking account.
- Online Banking Services - It's pretty clear that the world is moving toward a digital banking era and availing banking services online is no longer a benefit but a necessity. Not everyone has the time and effort to put in and physically reach out to a bank and operate their activities and transactions.
Furnishing platforms that support mobile applications, also assure access to your banking services online. Picking an online banking platform that is easy to use can make your experience even more satisfactory. However, along with virtual platforms, it also becomes vital to seek a checking back that also gives you access to its physical quarters as it brings in more reliability. An online platform alone won't suffice.
- Access To ATM - A checking account that expands its services across all 50 states makes for a preferable choice as long as it establishes or gives access to external ATMs from all of the locations. Of course, it's not possible for an individual to reach out to the same ATM for cash withdrawal every single time.
Especially, users inclusive of college-going students or working professionals prefer using the closest of ATMs from any location they're at. Generally, some banks charge a fee for accessing the ATM services by domestic or international ATMs. However, where such a basic service is in question, it's not ideal to have a fee attached to it. Users can look out for checking accounts that offer free ATM services.
- Interests - We've noticed that most checking accounts provide a distinct range of interests based on their services and your savings. While most commonly the interests go up as and when your savings grow. The basic idea being more savings should attain more returns. Likewise, moving on to premium plans as your savings grow can leverage your interests. Exploring options that let you gain higher interests despite the usage of freely available plans can give you the best deal.
Now that we've considered all of the important aspects that one needs to determine before confirming their decision, there are some additional sets of questions that one can ask themselves.
Let's quickly run through these frequently asked questions;
What's a Free Checking Account and is it a genuine service?
Our answer to that is a big YES! Generally, when we relate to a Free Checking account, it implies administering day-to-day management of your banking services without payment of any fees. While some accounts charge a monthly fee, it's convenient to have this amount waived off by following some simple steps that differ based on the provider you're considering.
What are some commonly known fees charged by checking bank accounts?
The most primary fee is the management fee or maintenance charge, however, other relevant fees that are commonly seen in checking accounts are ATM fees, charges on withdrawals, transaction fees for processing all of your transactions, premium-priced plans, and an additional set of charges like fees for seeking financial advice whether through an expert or robot, portfolio management and more.
Is it possible to open a checking account that gives out interests?
Some checking accounts give out interests, while the others don't. Eliminating such non-interest bearing checking accounts can help look out for other alternatives that comprise heightened interest rates. Typically, some accounts require a minimum balance that triggers the interests on an automated system. Also, savings accounts favorably extend a higher interest in comparison to checking accounts.
Is there a set limit that one can have to maintain?
A checking account has no restrictions for the amount to be maintained, but they only allow insurance to a total of deposit set by FDIC's insurance limit. Any amount past the given amount will not be considered as safety funds.
In an attempt to cover all aspects, we have given an elaborated review of all the top banking products. Hopefully, our thorough analysis and details aid you with the most suitable checking account.