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Best Free Checking Accounts

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

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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. We break down where you can find the best free checking accounts that require little to no minimum opening deposits.

 Minimum Opening BalanceInterest Bearing
Ally Interest Checking$0Up to 0.25% APY
Axos Rewards Checking$50Up to 1.25% APY
Axos Essential Checking$0None
Betterment Checking$25None
Capital One 360 Checking$00.10% APY
Chime® Checking Account$0None
CIT eChecking$100Up to 0.25% APY
Discover Cashback Debit$0None
M1 Spend$0Up to 1.30% APY☨
Nationwide My Checking$100None
Nationwide First Checking$500.10% APY
Radius Bank Rewards Checking$25Up to 0.15% APY
Slickdeals updates average percentage yields (APY) periodically. The rates in this article are accurate as of July 2022.
☨ Only M1plus members can earn APY

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

Best Free Checking Accounts

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
ATM AccessNo ATM network; unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
AvailabilityU.S. Citizens

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.

Additionally, Axos Bank occasionally offers valuable Axos Bank promo codes. Take advantage of these online discounts to improve your finances.

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
InterestUp to 1.25% APY
ATM AccessUnlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
AvailabilityU.S. Citizens

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 requirements you need to satisfy.

  • Receive monthly direct deposits totaling $1,500 or more: 0.40%
  • Use your Axos Visa® Debit Card for a total of 10 transactions per month (min $3 per transaction) or sign up for Account Aggregation/Personal Finance Manager (PFM) in online banking: 0.30% APY
  • Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in an Axos Self Directed Trading Invest Account: 0.20%
  • Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in an Axos Managed Portfolios Invest Account: 0.20% APY
  • Use your Rewards Checking account to make your full monthly Axos consumer loan payment: 0.15% APY

The monthly direct deposit requirement must be met to be eligible to earn any interest during the statement cycle, regardless of whether the other interest-earning requirements are met.

For each of the other tiers you satisfy, you’ll earn an APY consistent with the schedule above on your balance for the month. This means you’ll need to do some legwork to make sure you qualify for the full APY 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, this free checking 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.


Minimum opening deposit$0
Minimum balance requirement$0
ATM AccessFree access to 60,000+ ATMs in the MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance networks
AvailabilityU.S. Citizens

While technically not a checking account, the Chime® Checking 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 Chime 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 Checking 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 fee-free overdraft up to $200 for eligible members. This feature is called SpotMe®, and you’ll be eligible for it so long as you receive a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to your Chime Checking Account each month. Read our full review of Chime.

CIT eChecking

CIT Bank eChecking
Minimum opening deposit$100
Minimum balance requirement$0
Interest0.10%-0.25% APY
ATM AccessNo in-network ATM fees. Plus, up to $30 in other bank’s ATM fees reimbursed per month.
AvailabilityU.S. Citizens

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$25
Minimum balance requirement$0
ATM AccessNo ATM network; unlimited ATM fee reimbursements worldwide
AvailabilityU.S. Citizens 18 years and older

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
ATM AccessUnlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
AvailabilityU.S. Citizens

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:1.30% APY (M1plus members only)
ATM Access:No ATM network; one ATM fee reimbursement per month
Availability:U.S. Citizens

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$25
Minimum balance requirement$0; $2,500 to earn APY
InterestUp to 0.15% APY
ATM AccessNo ATM network; unlimited ATM fee reimbursements worldwide
AvailabilityU.S citizens or legal permanent residents 18 years of age or older
Promotions1% cash back if you meet requirements

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
InterestUp to 0.25% APY
ATM AccessOver 55,000 Allpoint ATMs across the U.S.
AvailabilityU.S citizens or legal permanent residents 18 years of age or older

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 0.25% 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
Interest0.10% APY
ATM Access40,000 Capital One ATMs and all Allpoint ATMs across the U.S.
AvailabilityU.S citizens or legal permanent residents 18 years of age or older

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
ATM AccessOver 60,000 ATMs nationwide
AvailabilityU.S. citizens or legal permanent residents 18 years of age or older
Promotions1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month

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.


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which banks have low or no fees for wire transfers?

While it may not be easy to find a bank that offers low or no fees for wire transfers, there are some. Some banks that offer low or no fees for wire transfers can include Ally, Fidelity, Capital One 360, Axos, and more. In some cases, the fee you pay may vary based on the kind of account you have, so double check the account terms and fees. Fees may also vary depending on whether it is an incoming, outgoing or international transfer.

Which bank offers fee-free ATMs?

Many banks allow you to use ATMs within their network of machines for free. In some cases, this can provide you with access to thousands of ATMs free of charge.

However, if you want free ATM transactions outside of your bank’s network, you may want to consider some online banks, as most of them offer ATM fee reimbursements. In addition, brick-and-mortar banks like Charles Schwab will reimburse your fees at the end of the month, including in some international ATMs.

What is the minimum amount of money needed to open a checking account?

The minimum amount of money needed to open a checking account varies by bank. Some banks offer free checking accounts with no minimum opening deposit, while others only require as little as $25 to open an account. 

What are some low-cost checking accounts?

There are many choices when it comes to low-cost checking accounts, including options from Axos, Discover, nbkc, PenFed and more. Make sure you review all the terms before opening an account, including monthly maintenance fees, required opening deposit, or direct deposit minimums necessary to waive any monthly fees. Check out our roundup above for some of the best free checking accounts.

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.

Ben Luthi
Ben Luthi
Ben Luthi is a personal finance and travel writer and credit card expert. He has a degree in finance from Brigham Young University and worked in financial planning, banking and auto finance before writing full-time for NerdWallet and Student Loan Hero. Ben is now a full-time freelance writer and enjoys traveling and spending time with his two kids. His work has appeared in several publications, including U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Money, Success and Slickdeals.

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