Finding truly free checking accounts is becoming increasingly difficult. But they do still exist if you know where to look.
In fact, many online banks and select brick-and-mortar banks still offer legitimately free, FDIC-insured accounts with minimal restrictions and plenty of perks. Some even pay interest, though it may not be enough to keep up with inflation.
If you’re looking for a checking account that won’t eat away at your deposits, take a close look at these options available to customers across the United States.
Best Free Checking Accounts Here are the best free checking accounts currently available. Each excels at least in one area, whether it’s automated budgeting, mobile availability, or comprehensive money management features.
We believe that our “overall best” free checking account offers the most value for the widest range of potential users.
Overall Best: US Bank Bank Smartly® Checking US Bank logo Earn up to $1,000 when you open a new US Bank Smartly® Checking account online along with a standard savings account and complete qualifying activities. Subject to certain terms and limitations. Offer valid through October 31, 2023. FDIC member.
Complete the following steps within 90 days of opening a new Bank Smartly® Checking account online to earn up to $500:
Make two or more direct deposits of $5,000 to $9,999 to earn $300 or $10,000 or more to earn $500 Enroll in online banking or the US Bank mobile app For the standard savings account, earn up to $400 by completing the following steps:
Open a new standard savings account Deposit new funds between $25,000 and $49,999 to earn $200 or $50,000 or more to earn $400 You can earn an additional $100 if you open both a US Bank Smartly® Checking account and a standard savings account simultaneously.
Applicants must reside in AZ, AR, CA, CO, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, NC, ND, OH, OR, SD, TN, UT, WA, WI, or WY to qualify for the new Bank Smartly® Checking account. FDIC member.
Looking forward to enjoy more features and benefits like:
Access to US Bank and MoneyPass® network ATMs without paying ATM transaction or surcharge fees Easily manage your cash with top-ranked mobile app through automated budgeting and saving Send money with Zelle® Free transfer overdraft protection from linked deposit accounts, $50 overdraft coverage safety threshold, and overdraft fee forgiveness plan Get US Bank Smart Rewards™ and enjoy additional perks FDIC member
Read the US Bank Bank Smartly® Checking review for more information.
Best for Cash Back: Rewards Checking Plus via Upgrade New Upgrade logo V 1 Rewards Checking Plus via Upgrade has one of the best cash back programs among all free checking accounts. Great for everyday spending:
Maximize your rewards with direct deposits Earn 2% cash back on eligible debit card purchases at convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and bars (including delivery), and use for utility bills and certain monthly subscriptions Earn 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases Additional Features:
Get paid up to 2 days early⁴ No account fees — no annual fees, ATM fees, or overdraft fees, ever⁵ No minimum deposit to open an account Sign up for Rewards Checking Plus by Upgrade
1 Active accounts with monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more are eligible for additional benefits with Rewards Checking Plus, such as extra cash back rewards, ATM fee reimbursements, and more.
² Rewards Checking Plus customers with monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more will receive 2% cash back on daily spending at convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and bars (including delivery) and gas stations, as well as utility bills and monthly subscriptions. Subscriptions include phone, cable, TV, and other streaming services, and 1% cash back on all other debit card purchases. The 2% cash back limit is $500 per calendar year; after reaching $500, customers earn 1% cash back on all eligible debit card purchases for the rest of the year. Rewards Checking Plus accounts will earn 1% cash back on daily spending and 0.50% cash back on all other eligible debit card purchases after 60 days of account opening if monthly direct deposits fall below $1,000. Some restrictions apply. See the applicable Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information.
⁴ Early direct deposit requires setting up regular electronic direct deposit from your employer, payroll, or benefits provider and is limited to $5,000 and below. The early availability of funds depends on when we receive notice of the pending deposit, which is typically up to two days before the scheduled deposit date.
⁵ Rewards Checking Plus accounts do not charge overdraft or annual fees. Rewards Checking Plus does not charge ATM fees, but if you use an ATM/network of a third party institution or use the Upgrade VISA® Debit Card internationally, the third party institution may charge you fees. Upgrade will reimburse active accounts for ATM fees charged by other institutions on U.S. debit card withdrawals up to five times per calendar month for active accounts. In order to be eligible for fee rebates on qualifying ATM withdrawals through the Rewards Checking Plus account in any calendar month, the account must be an active account from the previous calendar month. See the Active Account page for more information. As a courtesy to new customers, Upgrade will provide third-party ATM fee reimbursements within 60 days of account opening, regardless of the status of the account user. Some restrictions apply. See the applicable Cross River Bank Checking Deposit Account Agreement and Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information.
Best for Investors: Wealthfront Cash Account Wealthfront logo Wealthfront started as a low-cost investment management solution, and its robo-advisor platform remains at the core of its value.
However, the Wealthfront Cash Account quickly established itself as a top-tier free checking solution — offering one of the best interest rates currently on the market.
Best Overdraft Fee Avoidance Option: Fifth Third Momentum® Checking Fifth Third Bank logo Bonus Offer: Earn $350 by opening a Fifth Third checking account and making a total of $500 or more in direct deposits within the first 90 days. Offer expires on January 7, 2024.
Fifth Third Momentum® Checking has everything you need in a checking account and nothing you don’t—meaning you never have to pay a monthly maintenance fee to keep the account open. Access your funds anytime, anywhere using Fifth Third’s website and mobile app and enjoy more time to deposit and avoid overdraft fees.
Offer available in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Illinois.
No minimum balance requirement No minimum deposit to open an account No overdraft protection fees Fifth Third gives you a full workday to make a deposit and avoid overdraft fees Get paid up to 2 days early for free Enjoy unlimited check writing privileges Withdraw cash at over 50,000 free ATMs Best Debit Card Rewards: Go2bank Go2Bank logo Go2bank has secured its position as the best free checking account on the market with features that are unmatched by many of its competitors:
Impressive savings yield (4.50% APY for savings up to $5,000) Earn up to 7% cash back on eligible electronic gift card purchases within the app¹, up to 3% cash back on Amazon gift card purchases Get paid up to 2 days early with ASAP Direct Deposit TM³ Option to deposit cash at participating retail stores (may incur fees and deposit limits) Get up to $200 overdraft protection with qualifying direct deposits (overdrafts determined by Go2bank; terms and conditions apply) Avoid $5 monthly fee with qualifying direct deposits Repay overdraft transactions within 24 hours of the first overdraft transaction authorization to avoid a $15 overdraft fee Sign up for Go2Bank
¹ Requires a valid GO2bank account to receive electronic gift cards. Merchants for electronic gift cards may change. ² GO2bank, Member FDIC. If the account has good standing, interest is paid quarterly based on the quarterly average daily savings balance, up to $5,000. As of April 2023, the Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is 4.50%. APY may vary before and after the account is opened. As of April 18, 2023, the FDIC’s national average savings rate was 0.39%. Visit https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/rates/ for more information. Fees on your primary deposit account may reduce the income on your savings account. ³ Early Direct Deposit is dependent on the timing of the payer’s payment instructions and may be subject to fraud prevention restrictions. Therefore, the availability or timing of early Direct Deposit may vary by pay period. The name and social security number filed with your employer or benefits provider must match your GO2bank account exactly, or we will reject your deposit.
Best Customer Service Award: Albert Albert logo Albert offers exceptionally robust customer service for a discreet personal finance app. Impressively, it’s free—though if you’re willing to pay at least $8 a month, upgrading to Albert’s Genius plan gives you access to experts 24/7 who are ready to answer any money questions you may have.
No monthly maintenance fee for Albert’s debit card and app Get paid up to 2 days early Seamless savings and budgeting for a healthier financial life Get up to 20% cash back on qualifying purchases with the Genius plan No overdraft fees, pre-fund up to $250 of wages when overdrawing Withdraw cash for free at over 55,000 ATMs with the Genius plan Genius plan guides investments starting as low as $1 No minimums or trading commissions Sign up for Albert
Best for Automated Budgeting: Dough Dough logo gradient purple-blue-green@4x (1) Dough is a feature-rich financial management app that puts you in control of your finances no matter how complex they may be.
At its core is the Salary Sweeper, an automated tool that runs in the background and moves your income to either:
Your Bills Jar, with its own virtual card, designed for your day-to-day spending needs Your Savings Jar, a long-term storage bucket that you can divide into sub-jars for single-purpose goals With Dough automatically moving funds for designated bill payments and savings targets into your account before they’re due, you’ll never be surprised by unpaid bills or frustrated by a lack of progress in achieving long-term financial goals. You can rest easy knowing that any other spending you do with your Mastercard debit card is safe and sound.
No minimum opening deposit or ongoing balance requirements. Connect your account to Cash App, Venmo, or PayPal to easily send funds to friends Complete transactions anytime, anywhere with Apple Pay Almost no additional fees
Novo Business Checking Account Novo B Truly free business checking accounts are hard to come by and becoming increasingly rare. However, Novo has currently carved out that space—with a free business checking account that is light years ahead of any alternative from the big banks.
Novo’s free business banking experience, supported by Middlesex Federal Savings FA, imposes no limits on deposits, which is virtually unheard of in this category. It also offers a growing list of app integrations, including Slack (a leading workplace collaboration tool) and Xero (an accounting solution for small businesses).
Deposit $50 (which you still control) to activate Novo’s features Unlock exclusive benefits worth thousands of dollars in value Novo may cover transactions with insufficient balances on a case-by-case basis Sign up for Novo
Novo is a fintech company, not a bank. Banking services are provided by Middlesex Federal Savings FA; Member FDIC.
Best for Low Minimums: Quontic High-Interest Checking Quontic Bank logo Quontic High-Interest Checking allows you to earn leading interest on qualifying checking account balances with ease. Its minimum opening deposit is also low, requiring only $100. This makes it easy to get started and start earning right away.
Earn 1.10% APY on balances up to $150,000 and 1.10% APY on balances from $150,000.01 to $1,000,000 with an account opened for at least $100.
Then, meet simple transaction requirements: at least 10 eligible debit card point-of-sale transactions of $10 or more per statement cycle.
During statement cycles where you don’t meet the transaction requirements, you’ll only earn token APY.
No ATM fees when using your debit card at AllPoint®, MoneyPass®, and SUM® network ATMs or at Citibank® ATMs located in Target, Speedway, Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, Safeway, Winn Dixie, or Circle K Seamlessly move check deposits, pay bills online, and send money to friends using the mobile app Track purchase receipts directly in the app Sign up for Quontic Bank
Best for Low Fees: Discover® Cash Back Debit Card Discover Bank logo Discover Bank is a full-service online bank offering an exceptionally generous and completely fee-free checking account.
While the 1% cash back* earnings are certainly noteworthy, the real benefit for users lies in its lenient fee schedule. With Discover, you never have to worry about fees for:
Bill pay Insufficient funds Check reordering Debit card replacement Bank checks ATM transactions at over 60,000 in-network locations And of course, there’s no monthly maintenance fee here.
Earn up to 1% cash back on qualifying debit card purchases up to $3,000* per month—up to $30 in cash back per month or up to $360 in cash back per year No minimum balance or minimum deposit required Free overdraft protection—link your Discover checking account to another Discover deposit account and funds will be automatically transferred to cover transactions that would normally result in a negative balance Get paid up to two days early at no cost Sign up for Discover Bank
*See website for details
Methodology: How We Chose the Best Free Checking Accounts We used several key factors to select the best free checking accounts on the market. Each was related in some way to the overall cost of the account (the lower, the better), or its features or overall availability.
Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements Free checking accounts requiring a hefty opening deposit or ongoing balance are becoming less common.
Minimum balances are more common among accounts that charge maintenance fees because it’s easier to link fee waivers to specific balance thresholds. “Maintain a daily minimum balance of at least $1,500 to waive the $12 monthly maintenance fee”—you get the idea.
Still, you’ll find some holdout accounts that demand significant minimum balances. Therefore, all other things being equal, we prefer free checking accounts with lower or no minimum balance requirements.
Account Earnings While high-yield checking accounts are becoming less common, rewards checking accounts are becoming richer. This is good news for those looking for returns on their balances, no matter how modest.
We always prioritize high-yield checking accounts over accounts with no earnings. The best in the industry have rates of over 1%.
Debit Card Rewards Reward programs for debit cards are not as common in the realm of free checking as they are in the world of credit cards, where cashback credit cards and travel credit cards seem to grow on trees.
Luckily, rewards debit cards haven’t disappeared entirely. We put in a lot of effort to find free checking accounts that offer cashback on users’ everyday purchases—sometimes giving back 5%, 10%, or more for specific purchases.
Budgeting Capability Budgeting with spreadsheets takes 2000 seconds. If you’re accustomed to using mobile banking apps, then you have a host of stunning budgeting help to choose from.
That’s because some of the best mobile budgeting apps are also banking apps, automatically allocating your income toward emergency savings, long-term goals, and everyday spending. We’re big fans of these buy-one-get-one-free deals.
Mobile Features At this point, any checking account that doesn’t fit with mobile devices is already obsolete. But the best accounts go the extra mile to make mobile banking easier—and even preferable. All else being equal, we prefer these accounts and the financial institutions behind them.
Other Products and Services When is an online bank not just a bank? When it’s also your brokerage account, your home equity loan provider, your education financing institution, and so on.
We don’t automatically exclude banks that stick to plain deposit accounts. However, we do prefer comprehensive offerings—where you can spend, save, invest, and plan easily through the same app.
Other Account Fees There’s no doubt that “free checking” doesn’t mean “100% fee-free.” Most accounts on this list charge for certain types of transactions or activities, such as ATM withdrawals and wire transfers. Fortunately, these fees can usually be avoided under normal circumstances.
That being said, because “normal” isn’t always a given, the scale and type of these fees matter. We look for banks and accounts that can minimize or entirely waive fees.
Frequently Asked Questions about Free Checking Accounts
Still have questions about free checking accounts? Fear not, we have answers.
Are there any fees for free checking accounts? Not all free checking accounts are entirely 100% free. Depending on the bank you choose, you may encounter some or all of the following fees for free checking accounts:
ATM withdrawal fees (in-network and/or out-of-network) Wire transfer fees Overdraft fees Insufficient funds and stop payment fees Fees for paper checks Less common fees, such as account research fees
What is a monthly maintenance fee? Many banks now require a monthly maintenance fee to keep your checking account active.
Monthly maintenance fees at traditional brick-and-mortar banks can range from a few dollars to $20 or more, depending on the bank and the benefits provided with the account.
To avoid these fees, you may need to maintain a higher minimum daily balance, make regular deposits of a certain size or frequency, or perform a minimum number of transactions within the statement period, which may not always be feasible if you live paycheck to paycheck.
Are free checking accounts safe? Yes, as long as they have FDIC insurance, which provides a statutory maximum coverage of $250,000 per account. FDIC insurance protects your checking account balance from the impact of bank failures and certain other events that could otherwise cause your account balance to disappear.
Please note that FDIC insurance does not protect investment account balances or the value stored in alternative assets such as cryptocurrencies. If you use the same app for managing your day-to-day funds to invest in stocks or cryptocurrencies, those investment balances are at greater risk.
How do I open a free checking account? These days, even “traditional” banks make it easy to open a free checking account online. In fact, some top-tier free checking accounts are “online-only” accounts backed by physical financial institutions.
Use the links in the list above to find the application page for your preferred bank, or visit the website directly and begin the online application process. You’ll need to provide basic personal information and funding account details, but the actual application process shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes.
How to choose the best free checking account Ready to open a free checking account but still unsure how to choose the best one?
First, make sure the account you’re considering truly has no monthly maintenance fees. Some banks, especially fintech apps, don’t disclose pricing explicitly on their websites.
If in doubt, look for questions about maintenance fees or subscription plans in the FAQs. If they do charge these fees, they must talk about it there.
Next, consider what you want to get out of the account. Do you want above-average yields? Debit card spending rewards? The option to invest excess cash in the stock market? Look for accounts that check these boxes.
Finally, learn about the actual user experience with the account you’re considering. Are there hidden availability or customer service issues? Do teaser yields decline over time, reducing your returns? Is the bank lagging behind in additional features like mobile functionality and budget support?
Take your time and choose wisely.