5 banks that offer free checking accounts

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Banks often charge monthly fees just to maintain your checking account. Some financial institutions will charge penalty fees if you dip below the required minimum balance, or hit your account with an annoying fee for accessing ATMs at competing banks. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to sign up for a free checking account that can save you a few bucks.

With a number of free checking accounts to choose from, it’s a no-brainer to find a no-fee option. Here’s a look at what banks offer free checking accounts.

1. Ally: Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank offers an Interest Checking account with no minimum deposit to open or monthly maintenance fee. And even though it’s not much, it offers 0.10 percent APY on balances under $15,000 and 0.25 percent APY for those who carry a daily balance of $15,000 or more.

Interest Checking account also offers perks, such as free standard checks and access to Allpoint ATMs, plus great mobile app ratings.

  • Minimum deposit and balance requirements: $0
  • Yield: up to 0.25 percent APY ($15,000 minimum daily balance required for this APY, otherwise 0.10 percent APY)
  • Physical branch: No
  • Mobile app offered: Yes; Apple’s App Store rating 4.7 stars. Google Play Store rating 4.0 stars.
  • ATM access: 55,000 Allpoint surcharge-fee ATMs, plus up to $10 per statement reimbursement for fees charged at other ATMs in the U.S.
  • Offers and incentives: Free standard checks, no-fee cashier’s checks and incoming wire transfers, and free access to Allpoint ATMs.

Keep in mind that Ally does not have any physical branches for you to visit if you have a concern that requires in-person assistance.

2. Capital One: 360 Checking Account

Capital One charges no fees to open or use a 360 Checking account, not even for foreign country debit card transactions, and mobile banking is streamlined and easy to use.

  • Minimum deposit and balance requirements: $0
  • Yield: 0.10 percent APY
  • Physical branch: Yes
  • Mobile app offered: Yes; Apple ‘s App Store rating: 4.8 stars. Google Play Store rating: 4.7 stars.
  • ATM access: 40,000 Capital One and Allpoint ATMs

Know that there may be some things you want or need to do with your account, like overnight check delivery or stop payments, that will result in charges.

3. Heritage Bank: eCentive Account

Midwest-based Heritage Bank perhaps doesn’t come with the cache or brand recognition of the big banks. But its generous APY for its free checking account is a big draw if you’re able to meet a few requirements:

The APY of 1.32 percent on qualifying balances up to $25,000 is very attractive.

However, if you carry a balance over that amount, you’ll receive an APY that’s a full percentage point lower. Also, to qualify for the higher APY on balances under $25,000, you have to make 10 or more debit card payments or purchases every month, have at least one monthly direct deposit or automatic payment (ACH), and sign up for paperless statements. If you can live with all of that, this is a great high-yield account for you. Note that the bank will charge a $30 fee if you close this account within six months of opening.

  • Minimum deposit and balance requirements: $100 to open; no minimum balance
  • Yield: 1.32 percent on account balances up to $25,000
  • Physical branch: Yes, in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota
  • Mobile app offered: Yes; Apple’s App Store rating 4.8. Google Play Store rating: 4.6.
  • ATM access: Yes, in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota

4. Simple: High-Interest Online Checking Account

Simple aims to make banking easy. When you open a Simple high-interest online checking account, you’ll earn a 0.80 percent APY with no opening amount due and no monthly balance requirements. You’ll also get access to a Simple Visa debit card to swipe anywhere Visa is accepted, and you’ll have easy access to send money instantly to other Simple customers.

The account also interfaces well with Zelle, PayPal, Venmo, and other payment platforms. Plus the built-in budget tracker keeps all your expenses in check.

  • Minimum deposit and balance requirements: $0
  • Yield: 0.80% APY
  • Physical branch: No.
  • Mobile app offered: Yes; Apple’s App Store rating 4.5. Google Play Store rating 4.2.
  • ATM access: more than 40,000 Allpoint ATMs

5. NBKC: Everything Account

Based in the Kansas City, Missouri, metro area, NBKC Bank offers easy banking services. The bank’s Everything Account yields 0.80 percent. NBKC Bank charges no minimum balance fees, overdraft fees, maintenance fees, or fees on returned items, stop payments, cashier’s checks and other services. Plus, the bank will reimburse up to $12 a month for other banks’ ATM fees.

  • Minimum deposit: $5
  • Balance requirement: $0.01 to earn interest
  • Yield: 0.80% APY
  • Physical branch: Yes
  • Mobile app offered: Yes: Apple’s App Store rating 3.8. Google Play Store rating 4.0.
  • ATM access: 32,000 MoneyPass ATMs

Note that wire transfers coming in are free, but if you need to send one, the bank will charge you $5.

Bottom line

There’s no point to pay for a checking account, when a number of banks offer free checking. But while free checking is good, it only works if your banking needs are met. Before you choose a checking account, consider whether you need access to ATMs, paper checks, in-person branches or 24/7 account information? Plenty of banks offer perks and even earned interest on their free checking accounts — just make sure you pay attention to the fine print.

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