Banks Still Offering Free Checking and Savings with Great Interest Rates

By Ashley Jacobs on 14 October 2011 21 comments

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Are you shopping for a new bank thanks to the new bank fee increases?

Here are 6 banks that are still offering awesome perks, like free interest-bearing checking accounts and high-yield savings accounts.

Capital One 360

Capital One 360 offers a variety of products including checking, savings, loans, investing, retirement, and business services to their customers.

Sign up for a Capital One 360 account today!


With Simple banking, there are no fees whatsoever. A variety of budgeting and saving tools are built into your account, including advanced record keeping, separate savings pools for your goals, and the Safe-To-Spend feature, which subtracts upcoming bill payments and pending transactions to give you an accurate idea of how much money you actually have on hand. You get a Visa debit card for making transactions anywhere Visa is accepted and at more than 50,000 fee-free ATMs. While the APY is only 0.01%, Simple is still a solid choice thanks the built-in tools and the lack of fees.

Sign up for a Simple account today!


USAA offers free checking with no minimum balance, free use of 60,000 USAA-preferred ATMs nationwide, and free transfers and bill payments. Additionally, get refunded the other bank's ATM fee if you use another ATM. Other tools USAA offer include mobile deposits, Apple Pay, and more. You must be a member to create an account. Membership is open to U.S. service members, veterans, and their eligible family members.

Click here to open a USAA Free Checking account today!

Discover Bank

Discover's Cashback Checking is only available to current Discover customers or Discover card customers, but they'll open up this service to everyone later this year — and it's definitely worth checking out.

They start you off with a $50 bonus for opening a checking account by September 15, 2015, then you can earn up to $120 cash back per year just for your everyday banking: making a debit card purchase, paying a bill online, and writing a check.

Discover's savings account is also quite attractive. At 0.95%, the APY is over five times the National Savings Average. There are no monthly maintenance fees or balance requirements. You can open an account with $500.

Sign up for a Discover savings account today!

Ally Bank

Ally Bank was named one of the Best Banks of 2011 by Money Magazine, and offers checking, savings, retirement, and auto financing services.

  • Checking account: APY is 0.10% on accounts with under $15,000 and 0.60% on accounts with over $15,000. No fees and minimums.
  • Savings account: APY is 0.87% with no fees and minimums.

EverBank Yield Pledge® Checking

EverBankoffers an interest bearing checking account with no fees. Its current APY ranges from 0.30% to 0.61% (depending on your balance). However, they have a bonus offer right now which gives first time account holders 1.40% for 6 months. They also promise to keep the yield in the top 5% of competitive accounts. It only takes $1,500 to open an account. There are no fees, and you can use any ATM. EverBank won't charge you an ATM fee. Even better, keep your balance at or above $5,000 and they'll pay you back 100% of the ATM fees charged by other banks.

All the banks on this list are FDIC insured.


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21 discussions

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Will Chen's picture

Great write up Ashley. I met Julie (Family CEO) at the personal finance blogger conference last week. She's a wonderful lady and a great blogger. I love the fact that she was a customer first and then became a guest contributor for them.

Guest's picture

I personally don't think 1% is such a great interest rate. My bank (Classic Bank) - currently has a reward checking account that offers a 3.01% APY when the qualifications are met each month (when you use your debit card 10 times during the calendar month, receive an e-statement, provide and maintain a valid e-mail address and have at least one automatic payment or direct deposit). It's a little bit or work each month, but definitely a lot better than when I was with ING.

There are many other small banks that offer this type of deal too - some may have 12 or 15 debit transactions per month - but most of the terms are the same.

If anyof the legislation does pass regarding debit card fees, I may have to go to cash and my rewards credit card at that point :(

Will Chen's picture

That's what I love about lists like this. It helps to encourage discussion and we learn about even MORE awesome banks.

Here's a link to Classic Bank:

Guest's picture

I am looking into Classic Bank. The APY is now 2.5 on their Reward Checking account which is better than anyone else seems to be offering. BankRate gives them a 4 star rating. Anyone else have any experience with them?

Guest's picture

It's not universally available, but USAA bank has free checking, no ATM fees from them and they reimburse up to $15 a month in other banks' ATM fees, and their home page states they have no intention of charging the debit card fee. Until recently their debit cards had rewards points, but they've recently done away with that, though the credit card still has them. Mobile deposits, online banking, no fees...if you can get it, it's a good deal.

Will Chen's picture

I've heard a lot of great things about USAA. Do you have to be a member (or related to a member) of the armed forces?

Guest's picture

Yes, I believe you have to be current, former, or dependent of the military to join, but once you are your family is in perpetuity. My husband got his Id as a teenager when his father was in the National Guard. When I married him I got my own Id, and now our children are members. As long as they are their future spouses and children, etc, will be eligible.

Will Chen's picture

Thank you! That's very useful information. I'm glad to see our military members have a great financial option. They seem to do a lot--insurance, retirement planning, etc--beyond just banking.

Guest's picture

Actually banking services are available to everyone. It's insurance that is only available to military. I have accounts with them and no military relationship.

Guest's picture

Why would you leave money in a checking account to collect interest in the first place? I personally like reward type checking over interests because I get rewarded for using my debit card instead of credit card.

If you want to save money, put them in a savings account. Checking should be used for wise spending.

Guest's picture

If you are a military member or are a Veteran USAA has free checking and is not charging a monthly Debit fee to use their debit card, unlike most banks which are starting effective Nov 1st.

Guest's picture

I was hoping someone would cover this topic. It gets so draining looking for a bank. Thanks for doing the footwork. I'll have to tweet this one.

Guest's picture

I love my bank, Southern Community Bank and Trust, located in North Carolina (even though I now live in New Jersey). They make deposits available right away, and pay 1% interest on checking if you use your debit card at least 10 times a month. It used to be 6% in 2008. The customer service is EXCEPTIONAL. Last week, my wife mailed a check and it didn't get there when we thought. She called, they said they'd call her when the mail came in, and they did telling her the check had arrived, and the made the funds available that day.

Guest's picture

Does anyone have any experience with ING Checking? I have an ING Savings, and it takes 2 business days to transfer $ to my checking account - that's a REALLY long time, especially in the case of emergencies. How long does it take for transfers within ING? How long does it take for checks to clear? I hate to say it, but it's convenient that Bank of America clears checks immediately, almost worth the $5 a month vs. the hassle of waiting 2 business days to get access to my own money.

Guest's picture

I think you are asking two questions. Transferring money electronically, vs depositing checks. My bank, Southern Community, immediately makes funds available from a deposit. But you have to mail it in. If I transfer money via ACH, it usually takes a day or two. From my account to my wife's account, both at Southern Community, it's instaneous, which is good since sometimes she runs out of money. Most the local banks around here take 4 days to clear checks, which is why I'd just rather mail it to Southern Community.

Guest's picture

Wow! Thank you, that was helpful. Do you think it's the same/similar with other online banks? For example, I write the whole rent check and my roommate (that my landlord doesnt know about) writes me a check for her portion. If I deposit her check in Bank of America, it clears immediately. But if I had to mail her check in, and wait for it to clear, I'd like to at least be able to transfer $ from my savings instantaneously in the meantime....

Guest's picture

I'm disappointed they didn't mention USAA. They offer free checking and so many valuable banking options.

Guest's picture

Even though USAA is only available to members, failing to include them in this article is a great disservice to your readers. It is very similar to the auto insurance advertisements that provide statistics about their rating, but only with an * stating that the information excludes USAA. Eliminating the best competition from your rating does not make you any better...USAA offers an incredible banking opportunity and is worth many readers have already stated in the comments.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

Yeah, I'm surprised the original CNN article didn't mention USAA. Maybe they thought the military membership restriction was too exclusive to be a general recommendation?

I'm glad that people are sharing their favorite banks and credit unions in the comments. I'm learning a ton from you guys.

Guest's picture

Alliant Savings states a .95 APY via your link, did this change? Or is the 1.15 estimated from their dividend payout which it also states there?

Guest's picture

Just wanted to update some information I read. I just opened up an online Ally savings account, and it was so easy! But the APY is now 0.87%.

Guest's picture
First Avenue

Wow. 1% interest isn't amazing, but over time it could add up. Who knows.