5 Best Online Checking Accounts
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The Internet provides us almost limitless choices, especially when it comes to finances. These days, you can choose to keep your money at almost any bank in the nation rather than limit yourself to the brick-and-mortar choices in your local area.
If you aren't happy with your local offerings, turn to the Internet. There are plenty of online checking accounts with no fees, and some that even pay yields on your account balance. With low overheads, online checking account providers can afford to be more generous in their terms, and that benefits consumers.
How to Choose an Online Checking Account
The first thing you should look for is FDIC or NCUA protection — you want to make sure that your money is safe. You should also check into the reputation of the bank or credit union, since you don't want to end up with a fly-by-night operation.
Consider your individual needs. Think about whether or not you can handle maintaining a large account balance. Will you use the checking account as your primary account, or is it more of an emergency fund? Paper checks, remote deposit of checks you receive, ATM access, and other perks are also things to consider.
You can also compare yields, but it's important to recognize that yield isn't everything. If you have to maintain a high balance to get a high yield, it might not be worth the trouble — especially if you can get a great account with a little lower yield, but fewer restrictions.
Here are a few great options for online checking accounts.
Discover Cashback Checking
Discover's Cashback Checking offers a $50 bonus just for opening a checking account by September 15, 2015. Then, you can earn up to $120 cash back per year just for everyday banking activities like making a purchase with your debit card, paying a bill online, and writing a check. There are no monthly fees or monthly balance requirements, and you have access to over 60,000 free ATMs. Right now, Cashback Checking is only available if you already bank with Discover or if you have a Discover card, but they'll open up this service to everyone later this year.
Capital One 360
Capital One 360 offers an interest bearing checking account with a % APY along with no fees and no minimums. Get access to 38,000 fee-free Allpoint® ATMs and 2,000 Capital One ATMs. You'll also get a MasterCard debit card for purchases.
Ally Interest Checking Account
Ally offers a checking account yield that is very competitive (currently 0.60%). You receive unlimited checks for check writing if you want, and there is free online bill pay. You don't have to pay any monthly fees, and you can open an account without a deposit.
One of the great things about Ally, though, is that the overdraft fee is only $9. In a world where $25 to $45 is normal for overdraft charges, Ally doesn't penalize as much for slip-ups. Ally also reimburses you for ATM fees, offers great customer service, as well as eCheck Deposit to remotely add funds to your account.
Chase Total Checking
Not exclusively an online bank, Chase is mentioned here for its sheer size and reputation for being an industry leader in customer service. You'll have access to 15,500 ATMs and 5,400 branches. There is a monthly fee but there are three ways to get it waived:
- Direct deposits totaling $500 or more to the account
- $1,500 minimum daily balance
- Average daily balance of $5,000 or more in qualifying linked deposits/investments
There is a special promotion right now if you open a new account! Get a $150 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set-up direct deposit. Or get $100 bonus if you open a Chase SavingsSM account and deposit a total of $10,000 or more in new money within 10 business days, and maintain a $10,000 balance for 90 days. Or open both a Chase Total Checking and Chase Savings account to get a $250 bonus. These offers expire October 14, 2015.
Even though you won't earn a yield on this account, it is still one of the best in the business. USAA is generally lauded for its outstanding customer service. You no longer have to be a member of the military to join. You also don't have to worry about fees, and you are reimbursed for up to $15 in ATM transactions.
You can pay bills for free, as well as enjoy free unlimited funds transfers to any bank in the United States. USAA was one of the first financial institutions to offer remote check deposit. You can also send money to anyone using your iPhone or Android phone.
EverBank Yield Pledge® Checking
Earn interest with EverBank Yield Pledge® Checking. Get 1.40% APY for the first year. Then it goes down to 0.30% to 0.61% (depending on your balance). They promise that their yield will be in the top 5%. You'll need $1,500 to open an account, but get free bill pay and there are no monthly fees. You can also get unlimited ATM fee reimbursement as long as you keep your balance at or above $5,000.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.