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Best checking accounts for September 2022

Best available rates across different account types for Friday, September 30, 2022
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How to choose a checking account

Many people receive their income into a checking account which can be used for spending and paying bills. In some cases, checking accounts can also be a good option for your savings goals. 

Either way, a checking account is a necessity for managing your finances. Follow the steps below when choosing and setting up a checking account:
 
1. Shop around. Some checking accounts have large ATM networks, reimburse ATM fees, and/or pay interest. Most offer debit cards and check writing. You’ll want to research banks and credit unions to compare accounts. When doing so, make sure the minimum opening deposit is in line with how much you have available and check if there are ongoing minimum balance requirements and monthly maintenance fees. Generally, savings account and money market account rates are higher than checking account yields, but there are some exceptions.

2. Open the checking account 
and deposit the funds into it.

3. Consider setting up a direct deposit
 to have your income automatically deposited into the checking account. 

Best checking accounts for September 2022

Bankrate's experience on financial advice and reporting

At Bankrate, we regularly survey approximately 4,800 banks and credit unions in all 50 states to provide you with one of the most comprehensive comparisons of interest rates. All of the checking accounts below are insured by the FDIC at banks or the NCUA at credit unions. When selecting the best checking account for you, look for the highest yield while also considering introductory rates, minimum balances and accessibility.

We strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. We follow strict guidelines to ensure that our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Our editorial team receives no direct compensation from advertisers, and our content is thoroughly fact-checked to ensure accuracy. The top banks listed below are based on factors such as APY, minimum balance requirements and broad availability.

Banks with the best checking accounts for September 2022

Heritage Bank eCentive checking account - 1.52% APY (on qualifying balances of $0.01-$25,000)

BEST FOR: Overall rate

3.7

Overview

Heritage Bank is based in Spicer, Minnesota. It offers checking accounts, savings accounts and CDs and is best for those who want a high-interest checking account and refunds on ATM transactions.

Invest Rate
1.52% APY
Loan
$100 minimum balance to open

NBKC Bank Everything Account - 0.50% APY

BEST FOR: No/low fees

3.6

Overview

NBKC Bank offers competitive rates on deposit accounts for business and personal customers. It is a good choice for customers who like to bank online, get competitive rates and avoid the array of fees many banks charge.

Invest Rate
0.50% APY
Loan
$0 minimum balance to open

BEST FOR: Active duty military members and veterans

4.6

Overview

Navy Federal Credit Union is the world’s largest credit union serving millions of military members and their families. It’s a good fit for anyone looking for a credit union known for providing reliable customer service and an extensive network of branches, with more than 340 offices worldwide.

Invest Rate
0.05%-0.45% APY
Loan
$0 minimum balance to open

Ally Bank Interest Checking account - 0.10%-0.25% APY

BEST FOR: Mobile app and high-yield rate

5.0

Overview

Ally Bank launched in 2009 as a one-stop shop for online-only banking customers from coast to coast. It is ideal for consumers comfortable with banking only online who want access to loans, high-yield deposit products and credit cards.

Invest Rate
0.10%-0.25% APY
Loan
$0 minimum balance to open

LendingClub Bank Rewards Checking - 0.10%-0.15% APY

BEST FOR: Unlimited ATM fee rebates

LendingClub logo
4.4

Overview

LendingClub Bank is an FDIC-insured online bank. It is an option for consumers looking for an online bank that offers competitive yields, low fees and ample ATM access. In February 2021, LendingClub acquired Radius Bank.

Invest Rate
0.10%-0.15% APY
Loan
$25 minimum balance to open

Capital One 360 Checking - 0.10% APY

BEST FOR: No balance requirements

4.6

Overview

Capital One Bank is among the top 10 largest banks in the country, with branches in seven Eastern and two Southern states. It is ideal for consumers looking for a full-service bank with a wide network of no-fee ATMs and access to branches in select states.

Invest Rate
0.10% APY
Loan
$0 minimum balance to open

TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking - 0.10% APY

BEST FOR: APY guarantee

4.8

Overview

TIAA Bank is an online institution offering deposit accounts with competitive rates and low minimum balances. It is good for customers who want a full-service online bank with competitive deposit yields. 

Invest Rate
0.10% APY
Loan
$100 minimum balance to open

Chase Bank Total Checking and College Checking (pay no interest); Premier Plus Checking and Sapphire Checking - 0.01% APY

BEST FOR: Sign-up bonuses

3.4

Overview

With a massive branch network and breadth of product offerings, Chase is often viewed as the country's signature banking institution. If you like having quick access to branches and ATMs — and you live where the bank operates — Chase is a solid option.

Invest Rate
0%-0.01% APY
Loan
Minimum balance varies by location

Discover Bank Cashback Debit - non-interest-bearing account, earns no APY

BEST FOR: Cashback

Discover logo
4.8

Overview

Discover Bank is an online institution within a financial services company offering various banking products, including credit cards, personal loans and student loans. It is a great option for consumers who want to manage their credit cards and bank accounts in one place.

Invest Rate
0% APY
Loan
$0 minimum balance to open

What is a checking account?

A checking account is a financial tool that offers everyday access to your money. These accounts typically come with personal checks and a debit card. In recent years banks have expanded their checking account services to include online and mobile banking. With checking accounts, there's no limit to how often you can access your money. Unlike savings accounts, you can withdraw, transfer, write checks and make debit card charges as often as you'd like. Virtually all banks and credit unions offer checking accounts.

To clear checks and transfer funds, banks use the Federal Reserve's automated clearing house service, or ACH, a nationwide network operated by the two national ACH operators  the Reserve Banks and the Electronic Payments Network. Checking accounts are typically easy to set up with a small deposit. If they earn interest at all, it tends to be less than savings and money market accounts. However, checking accounts offer the same level of safety. Like savings and money market accounts, checking accounts are insured up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) or by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, depending on whether your account is at a bank or credit union.

Why should you open a checking account?

Because of their accessibility and safety, checking accounts make for a good financial hub — a versatile account that can be used to pay bills, make purchases and receive deposits. Checking accounts can simplify your financial life. For example, you can set up your checking account to receive automatic deposits from your employer and make automatic withdrawals to pay your bills. Mobile apps enable you to make payments, transfer money and review your transaction history on the go.

What to look for in a checking account

Types of checking accounts

Checking accounts come in several varieties, including versions geared to specific populations, such as seniors, teens, business owners or those who have checkered credit histories. Some offer perks, such as cash back for using debit cards or interest paid on the account balance. Regardless of your financial situation or needs, Bankrate can help you find the best type of checking account for you.

Bonuses

Some banks will pay you hundreds of dollars to get you to open a checking account, but these bonuses usually come with strings attached. For instance, Chase will pay $200 to new customers who open a Chase Total Checking account by Oct. 19, 2022, but they must set up direct deposit of a paycheck, pension or Social Security benefit and keep the account open for at least six months. Bankrate can help you find the best bank account sign-up bonuses.

Rewards

Some banks will offer cash-back rewards, but these can require a sizable minimum balance. One notable exception is Discover Bank, which doesn't impose balance requirements and pays out 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.

No fees

Bankrate's 2022 checking account and ATM fee study found that 46 percent of non-interest-bearing accounts are free and don't charge monthly service fees. The majority of noninterest accounts will waive fees under certain conditions, such as direct deposit. Challenger banks, a term used to denote upstart banks like Chime and Current, also offer no-fee accounts.

Potential obstacles to opening a checking account:

Checking accounts typically have some general requirements. And if you don't meet them, it can be difficult to open an account.

  • Age: It's typically difficult to get a checking account under age 18. That said, opening a joint account or a custodial account can be an option for minors.
  • Identification: Most banks and credit unions require two forms of identification to open an account — a Social Security card, passport, state ID or driver's license.
  • Minimum deposit: The minimum deposit to open a checking account is typically around $25 or more, although there are some accounts that allow for less.
  • Address: You'll need to provide proof of address when opening an account. Utility bills, lease agreements and insurance cards can work well for this.

What to know about minimums and fees

It's important to be aware of minimums and fees when opening a checking account. Here's an explanation of the different types of minimum requirements and fees you may face:

  • Minimum balance to open: Otherwise known as an opening deposit, this is the minimum amount of money required to open a checking account. This minimum is often $25 or more. However, it's possible to find some accounts that require no minimum to open.
  • Minimum balance to avoid fees: Many checking accounts require that you keep a minimum balance in the account in order to avoid the monthly maintenance fee. This minimum requirement can range anywhere from $250 to more than $1,500. Often, as long as you maintain the monthly minimum, the bank will often waive the fee.
  • Monthly fees: Checking accounts frequently charge a monthly fee for "maintenance." These fees can add up to $100 or more per year. In order to get the fee waived, you may need to meet the bank's minimum balance requirement, enroll in direct deposit or even open a savings account.
  • ATM fees: Banks normally charge for using your checking account's debit card at non-network ATMs to withdraw money. These fees generally range anywhere from $2 to $5 (or more at international ATMs). But there are some banks that don't charge for non-network ATM use, and some will even reimburse you for non-network ATM fees.

How to avoid fees and why it matters

Bank fees are costly. Even though Bankrate’s 2022 checking account and ATM fee study found that the average overdraft fee decreased from $33.58 last year to $29.80 this year, it’s still expensive to pay these fees. 

Luckily, some banks have eliminated or cut overdraft fees

A Bankrate survey published in January found that millennials and Generation Z have faced the brunt of these increasing costs, paying more than three times as much in bank fees than older generations. 

In monthly checking account fees alone, the survey showed millennials paid $16 and Gen Zers paid $19, on average, versus $4 for Gen Xers and $2 for baby boomers. The disparity caused by bank fees most significantly affects working class people and people of color. 

For many millennials and Gen Zers, tracking money and investing in the right savings account may not seem like a priority, especially given that they are increasingly overwhelmed by work, student debt and the ongoing pandemic. Unfortunately, these overlapping struggles also put younger generations at the most risk of conceding to higher bank fees or being less careful with their money. The cost of high monthly checking account fees can amount to over $400 a year, money that otherwise could have gone into emergency savings or investments.

Bypassing bank fees can be highly rewarding for both short- and long-term goals. With overdraft fees at all time highs, it’s crucial to prevent your account from being overdrawn. Some steps to take for preventing an overdraft fee include:

  • Budgeting to be conscious of how much you’re spending
  • Keeping track of your available balance regularly
  • Opting in for alerts for when your balance is at risk of an overdraft 

But perhaps the best way to curb overdraft fees is by switching to a bank that doesn’t charge them at all. Some banks, such as Capital One and Ally Bank, recently eliminated overdraft fees. 

Switching to a bank with lower or no fees is especially worthwhile for younger workers to get a head start on saving. Monthly maintenance fees — which hit younger consumers hardest — in particular, are easily avoidable. Many online banks charge no monthly fees and also feature low minimum balance requirements, another key consideration for younger workers in entry-level jobs or working in the gig economy with inconsistent income. When considering a new account or bank to switch to, Bankrate’s list of best banks can help guide you towards one that suits your needs and saves you money.

 

Checking vs. savings accounts

Both checking and savings accounts can be found at banks, credit unions and community banks. The relatively recent adoption of online and mobile banking allows seamless transfers from one account to another. But checking and savings accounts differ in important ways.

How does a checking account differ from a savings account?

  Checking Account Savings Account
Purpose Checking accounts are for everyday use: paying bills, buying groceries, debit card transactions. Savings accounts are for stashing cash for emergencies, large purchases and longer-term goals.
Accessibility Offer unlimited withdrawals. Are limited to six withdrawals per month. There are some exceptions.
Flexibility Offer several methods for spending the money, including debit cards, paper checks, mobile apps and third-party payment services, such as Zelle. They are less flexible. Many accounts don't come with check-writing. Some do come with an ATM card, but not all of them.
Earnings Often do not pay interest and if they do, the yield is paltry. Are more likely to be interest-bearing and the yields are better

Checking account FAQs

Highest checking account rates of September 2022

Bank Checking Accounts APY Monthly Fee
Heritage Bank eCentive Checking 1.52%* $0
NBKC Bank Everything Account 0.50% $0
Navy Federal Credit Union Flagship Checking 0.35%-0.45%** $0
Ally Interest Checking 0.10%-0.25%*** $0
LendingClub Bank Rewards Checking 0.10%-0.15%**** $0
Capital One 360 Checking 0.10% $0
TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking 0.10% $0
Chase Premier Plus Checking 0.01% $25*****
Discover Cashback Debit Checking N/A $0

Annual percentage yields (APYs) shown are as of Sept. 14, 2022. Bankrate's editorial team updates this information regularly, typically biweekly. APYs may have changed since they were last updated and may vary by region for some products.

*APY requires account holders to make at least $500 in total debit card purchases in a month, have at least one direct deposit or ACH payment each month, and receive electronic statements. APY applies to balances up to $25,000.

**0.35% APY for balances of zero to $9,999; 0.4% APY for balances of $10,000 to $24,999; and 0.45% APY on balances of $25,000 or more.

***0.25% APY paid on balances of $15,000 or more; 0.1% APY on balances under $15,000.

****0.1% APY on balances of $2,500-$99,999.99; 0.15% APY on balances of $100,000.

*****$25 fee can be waived each monthly statement period with an average beginning day balance of $15,000 across accounts, or a linked qualifying Chase first mortgage automatically paid through your Chase account.

Banks we monitor

These financial institutions are featured in our checking account rate research: Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, Amerant Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express National Bank, Axos Bank, Bank 5 Connect, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Barclays, Bask Bank, BECU (Boeing Employees Credit Union), Bethpage Federal Credit Union, BMO Harris Bank, Bread Savings (formerly Comenity Direct), BrioDirect, Capital One Bank, Chase Bank, CIBC USA, CIT Bank, Citibank, Citizens, Citizens Bank (Rhode Island), Credit One Bank, Comerica Bank, Customers Bank, Delta Community Credit Union, Discover Bank, Emigrant Direct, Fifth Third Bank, First Citizens Bank, First Internet Bank, First Technology Federal Credit Union, FNBO Direct, Golden 1 Credit Union, Heritage Bank NA, Huntington National Bank, Investors Bank, Investors eAccess, KeyBank, LegacyTexas Bank, Limelight Bank, Live Oak Bank, Morgan Stanley Private Bank, M&T Bank, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, MySavingsDirect, Navy Federal Credit Union, NBKC Bank, PenFed Credit Union, PNC Bank, Popular Direct, PurePoint Financial, Quontic Bank, Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, Regions Bank, Salem Five Direct, Sallie Mae Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, State Employees' Credit Union, Suncoast Credit Union, Synchrony Bank, TD Bank, TIAA Bank, U.S. Bank, UFB Direct, Union Bank (California), U.S. Bank, USAA Bank, Vio Bank, VyStar Credit Union, Wells Fargo and Zions Bank.