Best Online Banks of 2021

Whether you're looking for checking or savings options, online-only banks come with advantages.

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Monthly Fees Fee-Free ATM Products
Ally Bank No Yes Checking, savings, money market account and CDs
Aspiration Yes Yes Spend and Save Account
Axos Bank No No Checking accounts, savings, money market account and CDs
Barclays U.S. Savings No Yes Savings account and CDs
Capital One No Yes Checking, savings and CDs
Chime No Yes Spending account and savings account
CIT Bank No No Checking, savings, money market account and CDs
Discover No Yes Checking, savings, money market account, CDs and retirement accounts
HSBC Direct No Yes Checking, savings and CDs
SoFi Yes Yes Cash management account, brokerage accounts, home loans, student loans and personal loans
UFB Direct No Yes Savings and money market accounts

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In a day and age where convenience is highly valued, online banks have become increasingly popular for personal banking services. Not only do online banks provide instant access to your money, but they also do it while offering interest-earning potential well above the national average.

Best Online Banks of 2021

Money kept at an online bank is just as safe as your local bank branch. Most online bank deposits are FDIC-insured up to legal limits. Many online banks provide full-service banking services too. Below is an overview of the best online banks right now and how to choose the right online bank for you.

Ally Bank

ally

  • Banking products available: Checking, savings, money market account and CDs
  • Fees: No monthly maintenance fees
  • App Store Rating: 4.7
  • Google Play Rating: 4.0
  • ATM Access: 43,000+ fee-free Allpoint ATMs, up to $10 in out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements/month
  • Bonuses and Promotions: None currently

The history of Ally Bank goes back a hundred years as GMAC, a division of GM. Since becoming Ally Bank in 2009, they’ve provided full-service online banking services to millions of customers.

Banking products include an interest-bearing checking account and competitive APYs through its online savings account, money market account and several CDs options. There are no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements. Checking account balances over $15,000 earn a higher interest rate.

Ally’s checking and money market accounts both come with ATM cards and check-writing privileges.

On top of its deposit accounts, Ally offers investment and retirement accounts, and home, auto and personal loans.


Aspiration

bank website

  • Banking products available: Spend and Save Account
  • Fees: Monthly fee is based on what you think is fair ($0-?), Aspiration Plus $7/month ($5.75/month if paid annually)
  • App Store Rating: 4.8
  • Google Play Rating: 4.3
  • ATM Access: 55,000+ fee-free Allpoint ATMs, up to one out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement/month
  • Bonuses and Promotions: Earn $100 when you spend $1,000

Aspiration is a financial firm, not a bank, but it’s the perfect banking solution for socially-conscious individuals who want to make a difference with their money. Aspiration guarantees that customer deposits will never fund fossil fuel projects.

Customers can open a Spend & Save account for as little as $0— you set your own monthly fee. For real. The account doesn’t earn interest, but gives you access to 55,000+ fee-free ATMs across the U.S. and cash back on select purchases. Every time you swipe your ATM card, Aspiration plants a tree.

For a small monthly fee, customers have the option to upgrade to Aspiration Plus, which allows you high-yield interest and a higher cashback percentage.

For any fees paid, 10 cents per dollar is donated to partner charities working to protect the planet.

There is a $10 minimum deposit required to open a Spend & Save Account. Aspiration customers have access to investment and retirement accounts too.


Axos Bank

axos website

  • Banking products available: Checking accounts, savings, money market account and CDs
  • Fees: No monthly fees
  • App Store Rating: 4.7
  • Google Play Rating: 3.5
  • ATM Access: No fee-free ATM network, ATM reimbursements from $8/month to unlimited depending on the account you have
  • Bonuses and Promotions: None currently

Axos Bank has been a leader in the online banking industry since it opened in 2000.

The online bank features five checking accounts, including options to earn interest and cashback. There are also accounts available for minors and seniors.

For high-yield interest, Axos Bank offers a savings account and money market account. There is a $250 minimum opening deposit to open a savings account and a $1,000 minimum opening deposit to open a money market account. The money market account comes with an ATM card and check-writing privileges.

Axos customers don’t have access to an ATM network, but many of its accounts come with unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.

Customers also have access to home, auto and personal loans through Axos Bank.


Barclays US Savings

bank website

  • Banking products available: Savings account and CDs
  • Fees: No monthly fees
  • App Store Rating: 3.7
  • Google Play Rating: 2.0
  • ATM Access: None
  • Bonuses and Promotions: None currently

You’ve probably heard of Barclays because of its consumer and small business credit cards, but they also offer personal banking services.

Barclays US Savings features a high-yield savings account that earns a competitive APY. Customers also have access to CDs with terms ranging from three months to five years. CD rates are lower than found with other top online banks, though. Neither account type charges monthly fees or has minimum deposit requirements. Barclays doesn’t have a checking account option currency.

Unfortunately, Barclays’ mobile apps are rated much lower than other online banks. If you prefer to manage your money on your phone, you may be better off choosing another online bank with higher ratings.


Capital One

bank website

  • Banking products available: Checking, savings and CDs
  • Fees: No monthly fees
  • App Store Rating: 4.8
  • Google Play Rating: 4.7
  • ATM Access: 40,000+ fee-free ATMs
  • Bonuses and Promotions: Earn $100 when you spend $300

Capital One is a full-service online bank offering a variety of banking products and services. The online bank offers limited in-person services at select local bank branches and Capital One Cafes, but most of its business is online.

Bank accounts include savings and checking accounts, CDs and accounts for kids and teens. CD terms range from six months to five years. Other accounts include IRA Savings and IRA CDs. Capital One customers also have access to auto financing online.

Capital One doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees on any of its bank accounts, and there are no minimum deposit requirements. You can use your Capital One ATM card at over 40,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. The online bank doesn’t offer ATM fee reimbursement for out-of-network ATM use.

Capital One’s mobile app is one of the highest-rated mobile banking apps in both the App Store and Google Play.


Chime

bank website

  • Banking products available: Spending account and savings account
  • Fees: No monthly maintenance fees
  • App Store Rating: 4.8
  • Google Play Rating: 4.6
  • ATM Access: 38,000+ MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs
  • Bonuses and Promotions: None currently

Chime Bank offers hassle-free online banking with simple bank account options. Customers can open a Chime Spending Account, their version of a checking account, which comes with an ATM card. There’s also an option to open a savings account featuring high-yield interest. You must open a spending account first before you can open a savings account.

Neither account option has monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements. Spending accounts come with extra perks like access to direct deposit funds up to two days early and fee-free overdraft protection. Chime debit cards are accepted at 38,000+ MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs nationwide.


CIT Bank

bank website

  • Banking products available: Checking, savings, money market account and CDs
  • Fees: No monthly maintenance fees
  • App Store Rating: 4.6
  • Google Play Rating: 3.9
  • ATM Access: NA
  • Bonuses and Promotions: None currently

CIT Bank is another top online bank to consider. It offers competitive rates on many of its accounts, especially its Savings Builder Account, which rewards balances of $25,000 or more with its highest interest tier.

CIT’s bank accounts require an initial $100 deposit, while most CDs have a $1,000 minimum opening deposit. CD terms range from six months to five years but only offer average earning potential compared to the top online banks. CIT Bank’s other CD options include no-penalty and jumbo CDs.

If you’re looking for access to a checkbook with your online bank account, you’re out of luck with CIT Bank. Neither its e-checking account nor money market account feature check-writing privileges.


Discover

bank website

  • Banking products available: Checking, savings, money market account, CDs and retirement accounts
  • Fees: No monthly maintenance fees
  • App Store Rating: 4.8
  • Google Play Rating: 4.5
  • ATM Access: 60,000+ fee-free Allpoint and MoneyPass ATMs
  • Bonuses and Promotions: None currently

Credit card giant Discover brings the same no-fee philosophy to its online banking with no fees and no minimum balance requirements on any of its accounts.

Customers have access to several bank accounts that earn competitive high-yield interest, including its savings and money market accounts. Discover’s CDs are also a great way to build savings with high APYs and terms from three months to 10 years.

Discover’s online checking account comes with a debit card and access to a checkbook. The account also earns cash back on select debit card purchases each month.


HSBC Direct

bank website

  • Banking products available: Checking, savings and CDs
  • Fees: No monthly maintenance fees
  • App Store Rating: 1.4
  • Google Play Rating: 2.7
  • ATM Access: Global ATM network in almost every country, no ATM fees at US-based network ATMs
  • Bonuses and Promotions: None currently

HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organizations in the world. It only makes sense for the banking giant to feature an online banking division, HSBC Direct.

HSBC offers free checking through its Direct Checking account. The account earns interest but at a much lower rate than other interest-bearing checking accounts on this list. It does come with access to a global ATM network with no fees at US-based ATMs, but no checkbook.

There is a $1 minimum opening deposit for its checking and savings accounts and a $1,000 minimum balance requirement to open a CD. Then HSBC Direct’s savings account has an interest rate comparable to other top online banks. CDs are only available in three term lengths— 6, 12 and 24 months. CDs also feature high-yield interest rates comparable to its competitors.

Despite being a global banking leader, its mobile apps have some of the lowest ratings among banks on our list.


SoFi Money

sofi money screenshot

  • Banking products available: Cash management account, brokerage account, mortgage loans, student loans and private loans
  • Fees: No monthly maintenance fees
  • App Store Rating: 4.8
  • Google Play Rating: 4.1
  • ATM Access: Fee-free access to 55,000 ATMs worldwide in the Allpoint network
  • Bonuses and Promotions: $150 cash bonus for new customers

The first thing you need to know about SoFi Money is that it’s not a bank account. Rather, it’s a cash management account for SoFi Invest, the financial institution’s brokerage service. This doesn’t mean you need to invest anything in your SoFi Money account or open a SoFi Invest account, but it does mean there are a few differences to keep in mind.

SoFi Money allows you to get some of the benefits of both a checking and a savings account. What’s more, if you open an account, you can get a sign-up bonus, even if you want to just take SoFi Money for a “test drive.”

Beyond the sign-up bonus, though, SoFi has a lot to offer. And while it’s not technically a checking or savings account, your money is still protected and you’ll get a few other big perks, including rewards, a better-than-average interest rate and more when you meet direct deposit requirements.

SoFi Money isn’t a high-yield savings account, but it offers a much higher annual percentage yield (APY) on your deposits than the vast majority of checking and also many savings accounts on the market. If you have $500 in monthly direct deposits, you’ll earn 0.25% APY on your balance in the account.


UFB Direct

bank website

  • Banking products available: Savings and money market accounts
  • Fees: savings account – No monthly maintenance fee, MMA- $10/month for average daily balances under $5,000
  • App Store Rating: 4.7
  • Google Play Rating: 3.4
  • ATM Access: 91,000 fee-free ATMs
  • Bonuses and Promotions: None currently

UFB Direct is a division of Axos Bank. Even though it doesn’t have a checking account option or CDs, it still offers plenty of value for customers who plan to keep larger balances.

Both the High Yield Savings account and Premium Money Market account earn competitive rates. UFB Direct’s savings account comes with an ATM card and has no minimum deposit requirement but does require a balance of $10,000 or more to earn interest.

The money market account requires a $5,000 minimum deposit to open but requires a $10,000 balance to earn interest. It’s highest interest tier requires and even higher balance— $25,000 or more.

There are no monthly maintenance fees with either bank account, and both come with a debit card. UFB Direct’s money market account also comes with limited check-writing privileges.


What Is an Online Bank?

Online banks are banks and credit unions that typically exist without traditional brick and mortar branches. While many local banks offer online services in addition to in-person service, they are not considered online banks. Online banks provide banking services via online and mobile access almost exclusively. Customer service for online banks is usually limited to phone, email and online chat support.

How to Choose an Online Bank

There are several factors to consider when comparing online banks to find the right one for you:

  • Fees: Most online banks don’t charge monthly maintenance fees, but some do. Ensure you’re clear about monthly fees and any other fees that might pop up like overdraft fees.
  • Rates: Opt for an account that earns a competitive rate to maximize your savings.
  • Mobile App: Since most of your banking is through online access and a bank’s mobile app, survey what features its app offers before committing to a bank. Does it allow mobile check deposits? What about online bill pay or the ability to link to popular third-party payment sites like Venmo, Apple Pay and more?
  • FDIC insurance: Most online banks are FDIC-insured, but it’s a good habit to check. You want to know your money is protected wherever you store it.
  • Access: Look for details on how to make deposits and withdrawals from a bank’s accounts. Many online banks make cash deposits difficult or impossible to make. Make sure transaction options line up with your needs.

It’s human nature to skip over the fine print, but take time to read those details when picking an online bank. You could be looking over vital information that would affect your decision. Much of our lives are spent online, so why not boost your savings with higher rates from an online bank? Even if you don’t do all of your banking online, a high-yield online bank account is a great spot to keep an emergency fund or save for another project or savings goal.

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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