Everyone needs a basic checking account. It’s the account you use to pay the bills, go to lunch and the other expenditures of everyday life.
What you don’t need are random fees just for having that account. A monthly maintenance fee? Your checking account doesn’t need an oil change. What is that fee really even for?
The other thing you don’t need is a minimum balance requirement. That basically means you have a set amount of money that you don’t get to use. Ever. At least not until you close the account. Or, if you do dip into that balance, you get more fees. Ugh.
Keep it simple with a bank that offers a free checking account with no minimum balance. Luckily, there are plenty of good options.
1. Capital One 360 Free Checking
Why you want it: It’s as simple as it gets.
Features: Capital One 360 Free Checking has an easy-to-use app that lets you pay bills, move money and deposit checks anytime just by using your phone. On top of the fact that it’s free and has no minimum balance requirement, you’ll earn interest on the money in the account starting at .2% for balances under $50,000.
2. Ally Interest Checking Account
Why you want it: You keep a higher balance in your account.
Features: Ally’s Interest Checking has most of the standard features like:
- No maintenance fees
- No minimum balance requirement
- No minimum opening deposit
- Easy online access
As its name suggests, you’ll earn interest with this account. For balances under $15,000 you’ll earn .1%, which isn’t all that remarkable. But, if you tend to have $15,000 or more on hand, you can earn .5%.
Another nice perk is that Ally will reimburse you for up to $10 worth of ATM fees charged by other banks per statement cycle.
3. Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account
Why you want it: You already invest with Charles Schwab.
Features: Okay, when you think Charles Schwab, you probably don’t think about checking accounts. That could change. Their High Yield Investor Checking is a free account with .15% APY on your balance. It also features unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide. That’s pretty cool if you travel a lot.
There is one little catch. You need to have a Schwab One brokerage account linked to your checking to avoid the maintenance fees. It may not be for everybody, but if you already invest, why not take advantage of it?
4. NBKC Personal Checking Account
Why you want it: You are all about that interest rate.
Features: The NBKC Personal Checking Account gives you all the basics plus a $12 per month allowance for those pesky ATM fees. Where this account sets itself apart is with a 1.01% interest on all balances with no minimum. That’s a pretty sweet deal. It also features $0 overdraft and non-sufficient funds charges, so if you tend to overextend your money, you won’t get dinged.
This account has a minimum opening deposit of $5, but you can probably swing that, right?
5. Discover Cashback Debit
Why you want it: You like the sound of “cash back.”
Features: The Discover Cashback Debit account boasts no fees ever, for anything. Its real selling feature is 1% cash back on up to $3,000 debit card purchases each month. Think about it. If you pay your mortgage, insurance payments and car payments with your card each month, you could be getting $30 back.
If that doesn’t seem like much, just think of it as free Netflix and HBO Go every month. Sounds good now, right?
6. Chime Bank Account
Why you want it: You want your paycheck to show up early.
Features: This online bank is slick and streamlined. No fees, no minimums and no overdraft penalties. Where the Chime Bank Account separates itself from the pack is with its feature that gives you your paycheck two days early. When you sign up for direct deposit, Chime will put the money in your account as soon as they receive notice of the payment. No waiting for it to clear. That means you’ll have the money available to use up to two days sooner than your coworkers.
While everyone else is waiting for Friday, you could be living it up on hump day.
7. Simple Checking Account
Why you want it: You need a checking account, but need help saving too.
Features: If you’re looking for a free checking account with no minimum balance that will help you start saving, Simple’s Checking Account is your new BFF. When you open this account you can start a Savings Goal (which is a part of their Protected Savings Accounts). From there you’ll get tips on how much you can save each month based on your typical spending with their Safe-to-Spend feature. Money will get stashed automatically to your Savings Goal account where it will earn a very nice 2.01% APY.
Trying to save up for something big with your partner? Open a Shared Account and you can both add into the Savings Goal to get there twice as fast.
8. USAA Free Checking
Why you want it: You appreciate customer service
Features: You know that USAA offers auto insurance to eligible members, but did you know it does banking as well? You don’t have to be an active or former military member, either. If your parent was in the military and a USAA member, you’re eligible. Once you sign up for a free checking account, your spouse and kids become eligible, too. This account comes with all the bells and whistles including early paydays for new recruits and a Quick Balance Widget that lets you check your balance without logging on.
It does require a $25 minimum opening deposit.
9. T-Mobile Money
Why you want it: It could pay for your phone bill.
Features: Wait, isn’t T-Mobile a phone company? Yes, but they also offer their customers a pretty sweet banking deal with T-Mobile Money. This no-fee, no minimum bank account comes with a whopping 4% APY for account balances up to $3,000 and 1% after that. That’s $120 per year for a $3,000 balance. If you carry a significant balance in your account, you may just earn enough interest to pay your cell phone bill — and you don’t even have to have your cellular through T-Mobile to get a bank account.
Plus, they’ll spot you $50 if you accidentally overdraft without any penalty.
Tyler Omoth is a freelance writer covering topics from personal finance to career advice and even lawn care. His work has been featured on TopResume.com, Writersweekly.com and more. He is also the author of over 70 educational books for children and a proud parent of twin toddlers.