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Best Free Checking Accounts in May 2021

Save money on your everyday banking needs any of these free checking accounts.

Advertiser Disclosure: At Slickdeals, we work hard to find the best deals. Some products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation, but this doesn’t change our opinions.

Best Free Checking Accounts (May 2021)

Minimum Opening Balance Interest Bearing
Ally Interest Checking $0 Up to 0.50% APY
Axos Rewards Checking $50 Up to 1.25% APY
Axos Essential Checking $0 None
Axos CashBack Checking $0 0.61% APY
BBVA Free Checking $25 None
BBVA Online Checking $25 None
Betterment Checking $25 None
Capital One 360 Checking $0 0.10% APY
Chime $0 None
CIT eChecking $0 Up to 0.25% APY
Discover Cashback Debit $0 None
M1 Spend $0 None
Nationwide My Checking $0 None
Nationwide First Checking $0 None
Radius Bank Rewards Checking $100 Up to 0.15% APY

* Jump to the methodology our financial experts used to choose the best free checking accounts.

Having a checking account is the best option for everyday banking, like paying bills, making purchases and managing your money. But many checking accounts, even at the top banks, charge monthly fees for having a checking account. Many banks charge monthly fees upwards of $10 to $12. By finding a free checking account, you could save yourself $144 annually, while still having access to all of the features you want in a checking account. Check out our list of the 10 best free checking accounts to find the right free account for you.

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Axos Essential Checking

Axos Essential Checking

Minimum opening deposit $0
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest No
ATM Access No ATM network; unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
Availability U.S. Citizens

Open Account Today

Axos Essential Checking is another option for fans of online banking. Accounts have no monthly fees and no opening deposit or ongoing balance requirements. As an online bank, Axos doesn’t have its own ATM network but does offer unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.

Select Axos Essential Checking customers with direct deposits get paid up to two days early through Direct Deposit Express. Accessibility to the program depends on your employer’s payroll servicer and how and when they handle deposits.

Your money is accessible almost anywhere in the world, thanks to Axos Bank’s mobile app, available on iOS and Android. Manage accounts and make free mobile deposits on the go. Axos accounts also come with online access.

Unfortunately, this online bank doesn’t come with any check-writing privileges, although Axos customers can use its free online bill pay feature.


Axos Rewards Checking

Axos Bank logo

Minimum opening deposit $50
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest Up to 1.25% APY
ATM Access Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
Availability U.S. Citizens

Open Account Today

High interest rates are typically reserved for high-yield savings accounts, but in most cases, you won’t get much interest at all with a checking account. With online bank Axos, however, you’ll earn up to a 1.25% APY with its Axos Bank Rewards Checking account.

To earn that maximum APY on the account, though, there are three requirements you need to satisfy.

  • Receive a monthly direct deposit of $1,000 or more: 0.4166% APY
  • Use your debit card for a total of 10 transactions of $3 or more per month: 0.4166% APY
  • Use your debit card for a total of 15 transactions of $3 or more per month: 0.4166% APY

For each of these tiers you satisfy, you’ll get a 0.4166% APY on your balance for the month. This means you’ll need to do some legwork to make sure you qualify for the full amount each month. However, if you regularly use a debit card as your primary payment method and you can easily meet the direct deposit requirement with your paychecks, you may not have to keep track.

In addition to a high interest rate, the account also offers:

  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
  • No overdraft or non-sufficient fund fees
  • No monthly minimum balance requirement

It’s pretty easy to find other checking accounts with no monthly fee, especially with online banks and credit unions. However, the ATM fee reimbursements and no overdraft and non-sufficient fund fees are impressive, especially considering the account’s APY on top of it. Read our full review of Axos Rewards Checking.


BBVA Free Checking

BBVA Free Checking

Minimum opening deposit $25
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest No
ATM Access Roughly 1,000 BBVA USA ATMs across the U.S.
Availability Only available in seven states (TX, CA, CO, AZ, NM, AL, FL)

Open Account Today

Banking customers in select states have access to BBVA Free Checking. Similar to BBVA’s Online Checking account, Free Checking accounts have no monthly service fees and only require a $25 deposit to open.

There’s no charge for paper or online statements, and an account comes with unlimited check writing privileges. BBVA Free Checking also comes with access to mobile and online banking, along with cash back earning through Simple Cash Back. While it does come with access to digital banking, BBVA Free Checking is meant for customers who also like traditional brick-and-mortar banking services.

There is a $3 fee for out-of-network ATM use, but for a $5 monthly fee, you can pay nothing for using other ATMs and get up to four automatic rebates for ATM fees charged by other banks. BBVA checking accounts are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per depositor.


BBVA Online Checking

BBVA Online Checking

Minimum opening deposit $25
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest No
ATM Access Over 64,000 AllPoint, participating 7-Eleven and BBVA USA ATMs
Availability U.S. Citizens

Open Account Today

The BBVA Online Checking is the perfect online checking account for people tired of paying for simple banking options. There is no monthly service fee or minimum balance requirement and only requires a $25 deposit to open an account.

BBVA Online Checking accounts are FDIC-insured and come with a free BBVA Visa debit card. With access to over 64,000 fee-free ATMs, you’ll have access to your money almost anywhere in the U.S. Customers also earn cash back on select purchases by signing up for Simple Cash Back, a free program available through BBVA online and mobile banking. BBVA’s award-winning mobile app, available on iOS and Android, gives customers access to banking on the go, including bill pay, mobile deposits, transfers and more.

The online checking account isn’t completely free of fees, though. There’s a $3 fee for paper statements (you can opt for online statements for free), $3 out-of-network ATM fees and overdraft protection fees.


Chime

Chime

Minimum opening deposit $0
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest No
ATM Access Free access to 38,000+ ATMs in the MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance networks
Availability U.S. Citizens

Open Account Today

While technically not a checking account, the Chime Spending Account is an excellent choice if you’re hoping to get a mostly fee-free experience with access to a long list of valuable features including early direct deposit, a Visa debit card, FDIC insurance and account management through the mobile app. Chime isn’t like other banks because it isn’t actually a bank. Chime is a financial technology company that offers banking products through its partners, Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank.

The Chime Spending Account also offers the possibility of getting your paycheck up to two business days earlier than traditional banks with its early direct deposit feature. This works because most employers process their payroll several days in advance of your payday.

Chime not only doesn’t charge a monthly fee, but it was also one of the first finance companies to offer no overdraft fees, which is becoming more popular. Additionally, the spending account offers fee-free overdrafts on your Chime debit card when you overdraw up to $100. This feature is called SpotMe, and you’ll be eligible for it if you have $500 in monthly direct deposits. Read our full review of Chime.


CIT eChecking

CIT Bank eChecking

Minimum opening deposit $100
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest 0.10%-0.25% APY
ATM Access No in-network ATM fees. Plus, up to $30 in other bank’s ATM fees reimbursed per month.
Availability U.S. Citizens

Open Account Today

CIT Bank eChecking is the online bank’s premier high-interest checking account and it won’t cost you a dime in monthly maintenance fees. Accountholders earn 0.25% APY on balances of $25,000 or more and a generous 0.10% APY on balances under $25,000.

eChecking with CIT Bank is mostly fee-free checking. This interest-bearing account charges no monthly maintenance fees and no in-network ATM fees. CIT will even reimburse up to $30 per statement cycle on other bank’s ATM fees. The mobile app allows you to deposit checks, make unlimited withdrawals and disbursements, as well as transfer pay and purchase using third-party service like Zelle, Bill Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay.

Although this free checking account does not use paper checks, CIT eChecking does provide a free debit card with EMV technology. CIT Bank is a member FDIC, which means your deposit accounts are insured up to $250,000 per depositor, for each account ownership category.


Betterment Checking

betterment graphics

Minimum opening deposit $0
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest No
ATM Access No ATM network; unlimited ATM fee reimbursements worldwide
Availability U.S. Citizens 18 years and older
Promotions No

Open Checking Today

Although Betterment is known mostly as an online investment company, it also offers a free online checking account through a partnership with FDIC-insured NBKC Bank. Betterment Checking is a fee-free mobile-first checking account.

Betterment doesn’t have its own ATM network, but customers have access to unlimited fee reimbursements using ATMs anywhere in the world. They even reimburse Visa’s 1% foreign transaction fees when using your Betterment debit card internationally. Betterment’s debit card is tap-to-pay enabled, allowing for quick, contactless payments.

The checking account is managed mostly through the Betterment mobile app, available on iOS and Android. It allows mobile check deposits, transfers and more. Betterment checking is missing check-writing privileges, along with ATM cash and paper check deposits and wire transfers.

When you open a Betterment Checking account, they automatically open a Cash Reserve account as well, which acts as a high-yield savings account. You have the option to close the Cash Reserve account if you aren’t interested in it. There’s also an option to set up automatic deposits from your checking account into your Cash Reserve account or a Betterment investment account if you have one.


Nationwide My Checking

Nationwide logo

Minimum opening deposit $100
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest No
ATM Access Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
Availability U.S. Citizens

Open Account Today

Nationwide My Checking is an online checking account with no monthly fee, and it offers many popular features of most online checking accounts today. That means it is an internet-only account with no bank branch to visit. If you are new to online and mobile banking, it’s a great way to handle all of your financial needs yourself from the comfort of home, couch or commute. And, in the COVID-19 landscape, it’s much safer than an added trip to the bank for in-person service.

Nationwide My Checking account holders can use their ATM card at any ATM in the United States with no fees from your bank. There are no in-network ATM rules. If the ATM owner charges a fee, you will be reimbursed for those ATM fees with no limits. That means you can use any ATM in an airport, at a gas station, in a convenience store or anywhere else your travels take you surcharge-free.

My Checking also offers early direct deposit. If you are always anxiously awaiting payday for your direct deposit to show up in your account, this feature could help you get paid up to two days early. Most employers send direct deposit information in advance so employees can get their “paycheck” on a specific day. Read our full review of My Checking.


M1 Spend

M1 Spend

Minimum opening deposit: $0
Minimum balance requirement: $0
Interest: No
ATM Access: No ATM network; one ATM fee reimbursement per month
Availability: U.S. Citizens
Promotions: None

Open Checking Today

M1 Spend is a basic online cash management checking account. Opening a Spend account through M1 does require having an investment account, but has no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. M1 Spend accounts are provided through Lincoln Savings Bank and are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per depositor.

M1 Spend doesn’t offer a lot of perks, which are reserved if you upgrade to an M1 Plus account, which has a $125 annual fee. M1 doesn’t charge ATM fees, but other banks likely will for using their ATMs. You only get one ATM fee reimbursement a month with the M1 Spend account, which means most of your banking should be done online or through the M1 mobile app.

Your Spend account comes with a free M1 debit card. As a Visa card, it’s accepted almost anywhere in the world, but you’ll be charged a 1% conversion fee by Visa on any international purchases.

You can’t open an M1 Spend account alone, so only choose this account if you already have an M1 investment account or want to open one soon.


Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Radius Bank logo

Minimum opening deposit $100
Minimum balance requirement $0; $2,500 to earn APY
Interest Up to 0.15% APY
ATM Access No ATM network; unlimited ATM fee reimbursements worldwide
Availability U.S citizens or legal permanent residents 18 years of age or older
Promotions 1% cash back if you meet requirements

Open Checking Today

Radius Bank is a leader in the online banking space, so it makes sense that they would have a checking account that stands out among free checking options. Rewards Checking is a no-fee online checking account with the potential to earn both cash back rewards and interest.

Rewards Checking customers can earn up to 1% cash back on signature-based purchases with their debit card. To qualify for cash back rewards, you’ll need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Monthly direct deposit of at least $2,500 from an employer or other income source, OR
  • Average balance of $2,500 or more in your account

Radius Bank also rewards customers with the option to earn interest with this checking account. There is a minimum balance required to earn interest, though. Account balances between $2,500 and $99,999.99 earn 0.10% APY. Balances of $100,000 or more earn 0.15% APY.

Besides earning money, Rewards Checking gives customers access to tons of helpful tools and resources, including mobile bill pay, early direct deposit, budgeting tools and a net worth tracker. Plus, your first book of checks is free with Radius Bank Rewards Checking. There’s a lot to love about this free online checking account.


Ally Bank Interest Checking

Ally Bank logo

Minimum opening deposit $0
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest Up to 0.50% APY
ATM Access Over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs across the U.S.
Availability U.S citizens or legal permanent residents 18 years of age or older
Promotions No

Open Checking Today

Ally Bank is one of the most popular online banks, and its Interest Checking account is one of the reasons why. Not only does it have no minimum opening or ongoing balance requirements, but this interest-bearing account also doesn’t charge monthly fees.

Interest Checking accounts come with a complimentary debit card and check-writing privileges. Customers also have access to the entire Allpoint ATM network and up to $10 in reimbursements per statement cycle for using other ATMs.

Of course, it’s not an Interest Checking account without earning interest. Account balances under $15,000 earn 0.10% APY, while balances over that limit earn 0.50% APY, which is excellent for a checking account.

Other features of Ally Interest Checking include mobile check deposit, voice bank transfers through Amazon Alexa and online and mobile account management. Unfortunately, there’s no way to make cash deposits through Ally at this time.


Capital One 360 Checking

Capital One 360 Checking

Minimum opening deposit $0
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest 0.10% APY
ATM Access 40,000 Capital One ATMs and all Allpoint ATMs across the U.S.
Availability U.S citizens or legal permanent residents 18 years of age or older
Promotions No

Open Checking Today

Another top choice for free checking accounts is Capital One 360 Checking. You’ll never pay monthly fees with 360 Checking. There’s no minimum deposit required to open an account or ongoing balance requirement, either. A 360 account comes with a Capital One debit card and access to the entire Capital One and AllPoint ATM networks. Also, your first order of checks with Capital One is free.

Capital One 360 Checking earns interest on all balances. Currently, all balance tiers earn 0.10% APY.

As a Capital One customer, you can access your funds at Capital One branches, Capital One Cafes, ATMs and online access. One of the best features of this checking account is access to Capital One’s mobile app, one of the best in the banking industry. Mobile features include:

  • Mobile check deposit
  • Card lock
  • Zelle compatibility
  • Mobile bill pay
  • Free credit score through CreditWise
  • Purchase notifications
  • Account management

Customers also have access to Eno, Capital One’s virtual assistant, which helps you track spending and prevent fraudulent activity on your checking account.


Discover Cashback Debit Account

Discover Cashback Debit Account

Minimum opening deposit $0
Minimum balance requirement $0
Interest No
ATM Access Over 60,000 ATMs nationwide
Availability U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents 18 years of age or older
Promotions 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month

Open Checking Today

Discover is known for never charging fees on its credit cards, which carries over to its online checking account. Discover Cashback Debit has no monthly fees and no minimum opening or ongoing balance requirements. It comes with a Discover debit account, check writing privileges and access to more than 60,000 Discover ATMs across the country.

Discover customers can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases every month. If you use a debit card for most of your spending, the rewards add up quickly with this checking account.

Besides online account access, Discover customers can download their mobile app for access to other cool features, like mobile check deposits and the ability to freeze your debit card if you lose or misplace it. Discover’s checking account also comes with 24/7 customer service by phone.


Methodology

There’s no shortage of free checking accounts. You can get one from one of the big banks like Chase, Capital One and Wells Fargo, online-only banks, and your local credit unions.

We made our choices for the best free checking accounts accounts by focusing on a few different factors.

For example, most people want accounts that offer free transactions and access to fee-free ATMs. We also focused on accounts that have the potential of earning interest and feature good online banking options, high transaction limits, no or low minimum balance requirements and more.


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While we work hard on our research, we do not always provide a complete listing of all available offers from credit-card companies and banks. And because offers can change, we cannot guarantee that our information will always be up to date, so we encourage you to verify all the terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply.

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a personal finance, credit card, and travel writer. He is the family travel and budget expert behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife and four kids. His work has appeared on several websites, including FinanceBuzz, Credit Karma, Millennial Money, Club Thrifty, Student Loan Planner and Slickdeals.

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