The best online banks usually offer higher interest rates and friendlier fee structures than brick-and-mortar banks, in part because of the money they save by not operating branches — or, in the case of a few financial institutions on this list, not very many branches. And they’re just as secure, backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. or the National Credit Union Administration.
Aspiration Summit Account
Although Aspiration is an investment firm, not a bank, its Summit Account functions much like a standard online checking account. Deposits are FDIC-insured, and there’s no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement.
But Aspiration’s interest rates separate it from the pack: Balances of at least $2,500 earn an annual percentage yield, or APY, of 1%, while smaller balances earn 0.25%. You’ll also get unlimited ATM fee reimbursements worldwide.
Bank of Internet USA Rewards Checking
Bank of Internet offers several checking options with great perks: no overdraft fees, no monthly fees or minimum balance, plus unlimited domestic ATM reimbursements. With Rewards Checking, you also can earn up to 1.25% APY, but you’ll have to jump through a couple of hoops: The bank requires at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits, and you have to use your debit card 15 times a month on everyday purchases to earn the maximum APY. If you use it 10 times, you’ll still get a rate just above 0.80%.
Instead of making spending decisions based on your available balance, a figure that can be misleading, Simple users can check their Safe-to-Spend number. It’s an estimate of the amount you can afford to spend based on your balance, upcoming bills, and savings goals.Withdrawals within the massive Allpoint ATM network are fee-free, and there’s no overdraft fee.
Discover Cashback Checking
You’ll need to have a Discover product, like a credit card or savings account, to qualify for the Cashback Checking account, but it will probably be worth it. Discover Bank’s checking account lets you earn up to $120 per year in cash back on debit card purchases, online bill payments and cleared checks. You’ll also have access to 60,000 free ATMs.One caveat: You won’t be able to deposit cash, except at Discover’s one branch location in Delaware
Radius belongs to a network of about 7,500 cash machines, and it doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees. You’ll also get unlimited refunds for fees charged by other ATM owners. Because Radius has only one full-service branch, you’ll have to be comfortable banking online.
Free USAA Classic Checking
This account comes with 10 free withdrawals monthly from 60,000 “USAA-preferred” ATMs. USAA, which is available to active and former military personnel as well as their eligible family members, also reimburses up to $15 in other banks’ domestic ATM fees per month. It has only a few branches, so you’d probably wind up doing the majority of your banking on your phone or computer.
Alliant Credit Union Free High-Rate Checking
Unlike most other credit unions, Alliant makes it easy to become a member. If you don’t meet its other eligibility requirements, you just have to make a one-time donation of $10 to an Alliant-affiliated non-profit. And with this checking option, you’ll have access to over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs and can qualify for a 0.65% APY if you opt out of paper statements and have at least one electronic deposit made to your account each month.Alliant doesn’t participate in shared branching and doesn’t have many physical locations, so you’ll probably have to take care of most tasks online. That may not be an issue, though, because Alliant’s digital tools are better than those offered by most other credit unions.
Ally Interest Checking Account
Checking at Ally comes with decent rates, more than 43,000 surcharge-free ATM, and exceptional customer service. You can contact Ally via:
- A call center staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Real-time chat
- Secure messaging in online banking
Ally also offers a great digital experience that includes all the online banking essentials in an easy-to-use package.
Fidelity Cash Management Account
Strictly speaking, Fidelity’s Cash Management option is a full-service brokerage account. That said, it looks a lot like other online checking options. It has no monthly fee and comes with unlimited refunds for every ATM in the country, along with online bill pay and a mobile check-deposit service. Customers’ accounts are insured up to $1.25 million by the FDIC. Fidelity has more than 180 branches, so this isn’t technically an online-only option.
360 Checking by Capital One
This Capital One checking account has a better overdraft policy than those at most banks and credit unions. It gives you several ways to handle overdrafts. The best options include:
- Applying for an overdraft line of credit, a short-term borrowing option with a reasonable 12% interest rate and no transfer fees
- Using a 360 Savings account to cover overdrafts for free
- Having the bank decline charges that you don’t have enough cash to cover
The 360 Checking account also offers excellent online and mobile tools and fee-free access to more than 40,000 ATMs.
Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking
Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking provides unlimited fee rebates on ATM withdrawals worldwide. The account is free, and there’s no minimum deposit requirement. It also offers online bill pay and a mobile check deposit service, and it comes with a brokerage account.
Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking
Along with its outstanding APY of 0.76%, Bank5 Connect gives members access to thousands of free ATMs and reimburses up to $15 per month in fees racked up at other banks’ ATMs. It has strong mobile banking apps and low fees: There’s no monthly service fee, and the $15 overdraft penalty is well below the national median of $34.You’ll have to put down $10 to open an account and maintain a balance of at least $100 to earn interest.
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