Best Free Checking Accounts (2015–2016)

This review and comparison ranking of the best free checking accounts (banks with no checking account fees) is a follow-up to other account reviews that we’ve published, including Best Banks to Bank With, Best Checking Accounts for Small Business Banking, Best Credit Union Accounts in the US, Best CD Accounts, and Top Money Market Accounts with High Rates.

In this article, we present and review the two kinds of free checking account banks below.

  1. Free checking account online banks
  2. Brick-and-mortar banks with free checking accounts

Before we go into the comparison details between these types of banks with free checking accounts, let’s first address the often-asked question of which checking account is best – an online or a traditional free checking account.


Don't Miss: High Yield Bank Accounts


Online vs. Local/Traditional Free Checking Account

There are a wide range of pros and cons to opening an online checking account versus going with a free checking account at your local bank.

One key benefit to opening a free checking account with a local bank is your ability to walk into a branch whenever you choose and conduct a transaction.

In addition, if you prefer personal banking, where you can meet and know your bank tellers and banking staff in-person, then your preference would probably be a free account at your local bank.

Online banks, on the other hand, have little to no branches, so their overall costs are much lower than local banks.

As such, they are able to pass these savings on to you. This is the key reason why free checking accounts offered by online banks also come with a much higher account interest yield than what you could earn at banks like Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo or at your local credit union or bank.

If you are more comfortable performing most of your transactions online and are interested in earning a higher annual percentage yield (APY) on your free checking account, then you’ll want to sign up for a free checking account with an online bank.

List of Best Free Checking Accounts – Top Online Banks

The eight online banks listed below are the most popular banks that provide free checking accounts with no deposit requirements.

Click on the link at the bottom of the table for a detailed review of these free checking account online banks.

List of the Best Online Free Checking Accounts

Rates

Bank of Internet USA Free Checking Account

1.25%

EverBank Free Checking Account

1.01%

Ally Bank High Yield Free Checking Account

0.60%

Salem Five Direct eOne Free Checking Account

0.25%

Discover Bank Cash Back Free Checking  (up to $120 cash back a year)

up to $120 cash back

FNBO Direct Free Online Checking Account

0.65%

Bank5 Connect High Yield Free Checking

0.76%

Capital One 360 Free Checking

0.20%



Click here: Detailed Review of the Top Online Free Checking Account Banks for a detailed review of the banks above, including the high yielding free checking accounts that they offer.

 

Wells-Fargo-Stagecoach

Traditional Banks with Free Checking Accounts

The list below presents large and established banks in the US that provide a wide range of checking accounts including accounts with waived monthly fees.

  • Bank of America (MyAccess Checking)
  • Capital One (360 Free Checking)
  • Chase (Total Checking)
  • Citibank (Basic Checking)
  • PNC Bank (Virtual Wallet)
  • SunTrust (EZ Checking)
  • TD Bank (Convenience Account)
  • U.S. Bank (Gold Checking Account)

See below for a detailed review of these top traditional banks with free checking accounts.

Detailed Ranking Table – Traditional Banks with Free Checking Accounts

Most traditional US banks will charge you a monthly account fee or a minimum balance account fee to cover their costs of providing you with debit cards, checks, ATMs, tellers, and other banking services.

Despite this, the AdvisoryHQ News research team identified numerous ways in which you can still maintain a free checking account with a local or major traditional bank.

Most traditional banks on our list of free checking account banks will waive the monthly fees if you meet some specified requirements, which usually involve direct deposits or maintaining a minimum balance.

Bank Account

Fees to Waive

How to Waive the Fee

Bank of America MyAccess Checking

$12

  • To waive this fee and turn this account into a free checking account, you’ll need to have $250 per month in direct deposits or maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500.

Chase Total Checking

$10

  • Chase’s Total Checking account can be converted into a free checking account if you have $500 per month in direct deposits or if you maintain a $1,500 minimum balance

Citibank Basic Checking

$10

  • A favorite option for direct depositors is the Citibank Basic Checking; it’s easy to avoid the $10 fee and make this account a free checking account. You do this by paying one bill using the bank’s online bill pay and also by having one direct deposit.
  • You can also maintain a daily balance of $1,500 in your checking account or in a linked savings account to qualify for free checking.

PNC Virtual Wallet

$7

  • This account is a free checking account without any monthly maintenance fees –as long as you stay out of the bank, sticking to ATMs and online tools; otherwise, there is a $7 monthly fee.

SunTrust EZ Checking

$7

  • You can easily make this a free checking account if you make 10 transactions per month and receive online statements.

TD Bank Convenience Account

$15

  • A minimum daily balance of $100 is required to qualify for having this account as a free checking account without any fees.

U.S. Bank Gold Checking

$10.95

  • The $10.95 monthly fee is waived, and this becomes a free checking account if you have any line of credit open with U.S. Bank – even just a credit card.
 
See Also:


As mentioned earlier, the online banks reviewed and presented in this article just don’t provide free checking accounts with no deposit requirements. Most of the accounts they provide are also high interest yielding checking accounts.

In the table below, we’ve reviewed these accounts and included a column to outline the high yields offered on these accounts.

List of the Best Free Checking Account Online Banks

High Yield Rates

Comparison Review – Online Free Checking Accounts

Discover Bank Cash Back Free Checking

Up to $120 cash back

  • Discover Bank’s Cash Back Free Checking account allows you to earn up to $120 in cash back rewards
  • Every debit card purchase earns 10¢
  • Every bill you pay online earns 10¢
  • Every check that clears earns 10¢
  • Note: The 10¢ is earned on the above transactions up to 100 transactions per month per account
  • Redeem your cash back reward as cash into your account or spend it on a purchase
  • No monthly service fees
  • No minimum balance bank requirements
  • 24/7 customer service
  • No hidden bank fees

Click on the above image to open a high yield free savings account, or click here for an additional review of Discover Bank

Bank of Internet USA Free Checking Account

1.25%

  •  Bank of Internet USA is one of the top rated banks with its high yielding free checking account which comes with an unprecedented, “unlimited ATM reimbursements” offer
  • The 1.25% APY is paid on balances up to $150,000
  • Free checking with no monthly maintenance fee or minimum monthly balance
  • No overdraft or non-sufficient funds fee

EverBank Free Checking Account

1.01%

  • The EverBank Yield Pledge Free Checking account currently offers a high APY of 1.01% for $10,000–$24,999.99 in balances
  • For other balances, you get 0.95% ($0–$9,999.99),  1.03% ($25,000–$49,999.99), and 1.08% ($50,000–$99,999.99)
  • $1,500 to open the free checking account
  • No monthly fee plus free bill pay
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements with minimum balance

Bank5 Connect High Yield Free Checking

0.76%

  • Earn 0.76% APY with this free online checking account
  • The account comes with no monthly maintenance fees
  • Free mobile banking
  • Free first order of checks
  • Free ATMs anywhere and anytime

FNBO Direct Free Online Checking Account

0.65%

  • Free checking account with no hidden fees
  • One overdraft forgiveness every 12 months
  • 24/7 worldwide access to over 2 million ATM locations
  • No monthly service fees
  • Free debit card fraud monitoring
  • Free person-to-person payments

Ally Bank High Yield Free Checking Account

0.60%

  • Free checking with no monthly maintenance fees
  • Earn 0.60% APY on a $15,000 minimum daily balance or 0.10% on less than $15,000
  • 24/7 live customer care – talk to a real person
  • Deposit checks remotely with Ally eCheck Deposit

Salem Five Direct eOne Free Checking Account

0.25%

  • Salem Five Direct eOne Free Checking Account comes without any monthly fees or requirements
  • This free checking account also comes with a fee-free debit card with cash back on all your non pin-based purchases
  • You also get free use of any ATM – no matter the location; Salem Five Direct will never charge a fee and will reimburse your fees that other banks charge
  • Free online bill payment
  • Mobile check deposit (app only)

Capital One 360 Free Checking

0.20%

  • With Capital One 360’s free checking account, you can earn 0.20% for an account balance of $0–$49,999.99 and 0.75%–0.90% for balances that are above $50,000
  • No hidden fees
  • No monthly minimum requirements

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