Overview: 8 Ways to Open a Checking Account Online for Free with Bad or Good Credit


One of the biggest nuisances when you decide to open a checking account at a traditional financial institution is the fees.

If you decide to try and avoid the fees and open a free checking account, you are forced to deal with an account with limited features and a transaction limit that you will almost certainly go over (and be charged for).

Deciding to open a checking account online is one option for people who are dissatisfied with these choices.

Image Source: Ways to Open a Checking Account Online for Free



In the age of the Internet, services like banking are no longer limited to brick-and-mortar institutions. If you want to open a checking account, you are not restricted to whatever options that your local bank presents you. Instead, you can access a wide variety of banking products including free online checking accounts.

This article will provide eight tips for those who wish to open a checking account online.

Not only will this article provide you with tips for what to think about before you go to open an online checking account, it will also show you the benefits of free online checking accounts versus deciding to open a checking account at a regular institution.

Additionally, this article will provide tips for those exploring how to open a checking account online with bad credit.

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1. Understand Your Banking Habits Before You Open an Online Checking Account

This may sound like an unnecessary (or silly) tip before you open an online checking account, but it is quite important. Take a moment to catalog what your fixed monthly expenses are, such as your regular bill payments, how often you withdraw cash for things like groceries, and how often you use your debit card.

Understanding this before you decide to get a checking account online will be a helpful way to figure out what you want out of a checking account and which features are the most useful to you.

In fact, this is a helpful step to take before opening any account, period. This is not exclusively useful for those who want to open an online checking account.

Taking inventory of your financial habits will determine if a mandatory minimum balance is an unsustainable request, whether you need unlimited transactions, and how many automatic withdrawals you will have coming out of your account.



2. Choose an Online Bank That Offers Free Checking

Finding a free checking account with attractive features from any financial institution can be difficult (fees are one of the ways banks make bank after all!), but it is much easier to do if you open a checking account online.

While there are definitely brick-and-mortar banks that offer free checking accounts, such accounts are usually designed to compel you to pay for an upgraded account. Usually, this “free” account comes with a limit on free transactions.

As a result, you go over this limit, pay a fee for each transaction, and then eventually suck it up and pay the fixed monthly rate.

One of the reasons banks charge a lot in fees (and such high interest) is because, yes, they have to make a profit, but also because they pay a lot in overhead costs. Regular banks have to pay staff, pay the rent for their branches, and pay all of the other expenses that come with maintaining those branches.

On the other hand, online banks do not have the costs associated with physical branches, which means they can offer products with much more attractive prices and sometimes even free online checking accounts.

One bank that offers free online checking accounts is Capital One. The Capital One 360 checking offers the brand recognition and institutional support of its parent company, Capital One, without the pricey fees of a traditional financial institution.

When you open a checking account online for free with Capital One 360, there is no minimum and no checking fees. You also get a free MasterCard debit card and can deposit your checks using your mobile device.



3. Consider Making Interest off Your Checking Account

When you open a free checking account online, you can also earn interest on the money you keep there. You read that right – even in a checking account.

Oftentimes, people assume that the only place they can earn interest on their deposits is in a savings account.

That is not correct. You can also earn some interest off your earnings that sit in your account after you open a free checking account online. Traditionally, people associate earning interest with their savings account because you normally keep your funds in a savings account untouched as opposed to your checking account where you pay bills, shop, and carry out numerous transactions.

If you want to open a free checking account, look for free online checking accounts that offer interest on your deposits. You can apply for a checking account online with Bank5 Connect and grow your money with the Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking Account.

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4. Don’t Forget to Factor Quality Customer Service into the Equation

Once upon a time, there was a lot of trepidation over choosing to apply for a checking account online. People were worried about whether their money would be safe if they decided to open a free checking account online. If you already bank with a brick-and-mortar “physical” bank, deciding to open a checking account online for free is not any less safe.

In fact, if you perform the same due diligence that you would do when you open a checking account, your money will be safe. Free online checking accounts insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are protected in the case that the bank goes under. The amount of insurance depends on the kind of account that you are referring to, and you can also check whether your specific bank – online or otherwise – is insured by the FDIC.

So, in terms of trust, you can feel comfortable choosing to open a free checking account online. However, you should still do your research when it comes to determining whether that bank has good customer service.

Since you will most likely not have a physical branch you can visit, when you open a free checking account, the bank’s dedication to quality customer service and communication will be of the utmost importance.

Ally Bank is one such bank that is known for its exceptional customer service and is a great choice for those looking to get a checking account online at a company with good client care. It has a call center that is open 24/7, which is of significant comfort to those who want to apply for a checking account online with a company that provides around-the-clock access to information. In addition to its call center, it also has live chat available for customers.



5. Consider Your Overdraft Options Including Overdraft Protection

This goes back to the first piece of advice to make an honest assessment of your financial situation and banking needs. When it comes to your overdrafts, this is a particularly important factor to consider when you go to open a free checking account online.

There are a number of different “protections” that banks offer for overdrafts, and you should see what kind of services online companies offer when you go to open a checking account online for free.

When you get a checking account online or anywhere for that matter, you are not obligated to sign up or pay for overdraft coverage or protection of any kind. However, if, for some reason, your account dips below zero (due to using your debit card, an automatic withdrawal or a bill payment), the transaction will be rejected, and your bank will charge you an NSF, or nonsufficient funds fee.

Different kinds of protections offered by banks include:

  • Overdraft protection or coverage: Open a free checking account online or at a regular bank, and then pay extra for overdraft protection or coverage which makes sure you are covered if a transaction is carried out when your balance dips below zero. This gives you the peace of mind of knowing you will not have to pay an NSF fee for your absentmindedness.
  • Overdraft protection transfer: Get a checking account online and, instead of just getting overdraft protection and then having to pay the money back in addition to the fee, you can opt for this service where your checking account is linked to your savings or even a line of credit. For a fee, this money is automatically transferred from the secondary source to your checking account if there is ever a transaction that will take the account below zero.


6. Take Advantage of Innovative Features Designed to Keep You Financially Healthy

Open a checking account online for free and discover a number of innovative features designed to help keep you financially healthy. You can open a checking account online with Simple, an online bank that doubles as both a place to open a checking account and for doing your budgeting.

What’s cool about Simple is that when you open a checking account online with it, instead of just showing your available balance, the online bank shows your “Safe To Spend” amount.

In lieu of simply showing you how much is in your bank account (which is an awful way to measure what you can spend), the Safe to Spend feature tells you how much money you can afford to spend minus any goals or bills you have set for that month. You can open a checking account that allows you to do your banking online and keeps you accountable.

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7. Seek out Second-Chance Checking Accounts, Like GoBank, If You Want to Open a Checking Account Online with Bad Credit

If you want to open a checking account online with bad credit, consider GoBank, a mobile banking option offered by Green Dot Bank. If you do not have a regular bank account or have a patchy credit history that has made it difficult for you to open a checking account, this is a viable option.

For those who want to open a checking account online with bad credit, this is a great choice – assuming they are comfortable doing a large amount of their banking online. You would not be interacting with physical branches. Instead, you would primarily carry out transactions through the mobile app.

If you open a checking account online with bad credit through GoBank, your cash deposits are made at Walmart unless you want to incur additional fees. While you are not severely limited in the things you can do with a GoBank account, you should review the account features to ensure you do not accrue fees for features that are not included for free when you open a checking account online with GoBank.

Those who decide to open a checking account online with bad credit through GoBank and need cash have options with this account. They can make withdrawals at ATMs that are part of the bank’s network, or they can request cash back when they make purchases using their credit card.

There are some drawbacks to deciding to open a checking account online with bad credit through GoBank including a wait of up to ten business days when completing a mobile deposit of your check. Moreover, the fees you can rack up for ordering paper checks can be irritating. Finally, you will be charged fees when trying to deposit cash at stores other than Walmart.

Then again, if your options are limited, deciding to open a checking account online with bad credit through GoBank may be one of your best and only choices.



8. Take Stock of Your Banking Priorities Before You Open a Checking Account Online

Whether you have great or bad credit when deciding to open a checking account online, the important thing to do is take stock of your banking needs and be honest about your preferences and financial situation.

If you need to open a checking account online with bad credit, then recognizing that your options are slightly limited is perhaps the best approach to making a choice (and holding yourself over until you build your credit back up).

If you are not in a position where you need to open a checking account online with bad credit and have more flexibility, consider your preferences. If you don’t deal in cash that often and rarely visit a bank branch, it doesn’t make much sense to open a checking account online with a company that has numerous ATMs and bank branches. It will probably result in less attractive fees (due to overhead costs), even if the service you are getting is mainly online.


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Additionally, if building interest is not that important to you or you never have enough money in your checking to accumulate anything, why open a checking account online that provides high interest?

You will probably need to pay a monthly service fee for that kind of account. The same goes for overdraft protection – if you are on top of your stuff or have a decent cushion that you know you will not drift below zero, save yourself the extra fees and ditch the overdraft service charges.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with several terrific options for where to open a checking account online as well as where to open a checking account online with bad credit.

Your checking account is a very important banking product – the one you will likely use most often – so carefully consider with which bank you want to establish a relationship.

Read More: What Do You Need to Open a Business Checking Account?



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