Take a look at the chart below to find where you fit on the checking account continuum. Some accounts may combine different aspects of each of these:

Choose the best checking account for you
Type Pros Cons Perfect for …
Basic checking
Check writing
Debit/ATM card
May have minimum balance requirement
May have limits on checks per month
No interest
Checking beginners and those who will rarely use it.
Free checking
Unlimited checking and ATM/debit card use
No minimum balance
Relatively light on fees
No interest
Account holders may be caught off guards by fees in “free checking”
Most checking account users, regardless of age.
Interest-bearing
Interest is paid on the account balance.
Check writing.
Debit/ATM card.
Minimum initial deposit.
Minimum balance required.
Interest rate is low.
May have monthly fee.
Those who maintain a high balance in their checking accounts
Online/Express
Extensive online/phone banking features.
Unlimited checking.
No debit/ATM fees.
May pay interest
May compensate for out-of-network ATM usage.
Limited teller availability.
Customer service may be limited.
Students and tech-savvy adults.
Lifeline
Banks are required to offer it regardless of credit history in Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Low or no minimum deposit.
Few features.
May have monthly fee.
Those recovering from bankruptcy and others who have a spotty credit or banking history.
Senior/student checking
Few if any fees.
Perks like better credit card rates, free cashiers checks or discounts.
Age limited.
Students and seniors.
Money market
Pays more interest than traditional interest-bearing accounts.
May have high balance requirements.
May have limits on check writing, ATM transactions or debit transactions.
Those prepared to maintain a high balance and face limits on transactions.

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