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.

Capital One 360

Capital One 360 offers an interest bearing checking account with a 0.10% APY along with no fees and no minimums. Get access to 70,000 fee-free Allpoint and Capital One ATMs. You'll also get a MasterCard debit card for purchases.


Simple is an online bank with all the features you'd expect from a traditional bank without any of the fees. You get a Visa debit card for making transactions anywhere Visa is accepted and at more than 50,000 fee-free ATMs. 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.

Discover Cashback Checking

Discover's Cashback Checking offers up to 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit purchases each month. There are no monthly fees or monthly balance requirements, and you have access to over 60,000 free ATMs.

Ally Interest Checking Account

Click here to apply nowAlly offers a checking account yield that is very competitive (currently up to 0.25%). 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.

Ally also reimburses you for ATM fees, offers great customer service, as well as eCheck Deposit to remotely add funds to your account.

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Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Guest's picture

Growing up in a military family, I've had an account with USAA for a long time. I've been very happy with them and they do indeed have excellent customer service. I didn't know that they done away with the military requirement--that's great news.

Guest's picture

A military affiliation is still required for insurance products.

Guest's picture

I have a USAA checking account and I can definitely vouch for their awesomeness. The checking account does earn interest but it's a very piddly amount. They also have an account aggregator (like Mint) where you can easily track your budget, assets & liabilities. It seems like they're always adding new services or features to try to stay on top & they're always rated very high for customer service.

Guest's picture

As someone who has been with PerkStreet for a while, I am switching from PerkStreet to Ally. Several reasons (and these are just the ones off the top of my head):
-PS charges for additional paper checks. Ally doesn't.
-PS don't allow you to scan in checks as Ally does (PS UPS overnight still takes several days to process).
-PS ATM network is more limited and often claim to charge surcharges (even when they don't). Ally reimburses you for any ATM fees at the end of the month.
-PS recently changed their cashback system for the worse. I think they lowered it from 2% to 1% cash back in most cases, raised the amount of cash back money you need to earn (often $50) before getting gift certificates with their partners, and now charge you $2 if you want to put at least $20 in cash back into your account. It may be still be attractive if you don’t have a decent rewards/cash back credit card, but I do, so it’s not. Ally has a more limited Ally Perks program, but again, moot point for me.
-PS will charge you a monthly fee if you don’t meet minimum transaction requirements (such as direct deposit or two debit card purchases); Ally doesn’t.
-Ally offers interest on checking; PS doesn't.
-Ally offers savings accounts you can link with your checking account; PS doesn't.

Guest's picture

I have to say: this article, like so many others on the Internet, suffers from real, definitive advice. This person is a shill for the on-line banking community which is just about as bad as the "big bank" jerks that wrecked our country. How do I know this? Just peruse the rules and regulations put forth on any e-bank webpage mentioned above and your head will spin from all the ways they tag you with fees.

What are you searching for? Free checking, right? You don't want to pay for services like on-line bill pay. You want a FREE Visa/MasterCard Debit card, right? You want to use as many ATM's as possible without paying outrageous fees. You don't want to deal with stupid requirements meant to trigger fees (like balance requirements, direct deposit, etc.). If you travel, you don't want to pay outrageous fees (up to 3%) for converting foreign currency.

Let's face it: not many banks offer these things. So how do you cope? Why don't you check out the local, community banks nearby? You're searching on the Internet—that's a good start. Credit Unions are fantastic!

Check the rules within your community. I used to live in San Francisco and they forced all credit unions and banks within the boundaries of the city and county of San Francisco to open their doors to every resident, worker, or worshiper. Great, eh? You could force your community to do likewise—just proposing such a move at the next city council meeting would spur a lot of interest! I belong to the BEST credit union: San Francisco Fire! Beats USAA by a mile.

How about your employer? Do they offer access to a credit union? You can pressure them to offer such a service—work with them and you'll be able to choose the best services from the best credit unions in your area!

Lastly: write the idiots in our government. Make it clear you want more from banks. Sending copies of your letters to local banks sends a clear message: the good times won't last for long. Just think: if everyone send copies of their letters to their local banks, they'd get the picture quickly.

Don't be a victim. Fight back.

Guest's picture

I tend to agree with Jason. These are very simple introductions to a much more complex issue. The author can simply pick the "alternative" favorites that are trendy among twenty-somethings, for online checking, without actually giving much substance or any catalyst for choosing them beyond some tiny interest paid. Yes, there is incredible fine print with many of these, which makes them a terrible waste of your time.

Credit Unions and local banks are an incredible solution. We live in a time that all of them will offer some online opportunities including bill pay. So they are inherently useful to us, who have grown up on technology. Interest rates tend to be higher as does customer satisfaction. I am a member of one through my employer. Just a few perks I get: better rates on loans, paychecks deposited several days earlier, near 3% interest, free checks, etc. Again, not perfect but, no bank ever will be.

Another consideration: we mention the importance of something like no ATM fees at different locations, a lack of charges on currency transfers, etc. Honestly, how often is the average twenty-something going to encounter these instances to make them worthwhile? Why do I need all of those options when I might not ever encounter them?

We all want freebies and handouts but, if I was given the responsibility of holding onto your money, recording it, transferring it and giving it back to you at no notice, I would expect to charge a fee.

Guest's picture

Nothing comes close to the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account:

I have extensively used the unlimited fee rebates from US and international ATM's - and their customer service has been top notch. A no-brainer for a must-have checking account.

Guest's picture

Perkstreet has discontinued their accounts. So much for being number 1!

Guest's picture

Thanks for the insight. I started reading about CapitalOne360 checking and it has grabbed my attention. I am currently a Wells Fargo Account holder and am being charged $13/mo which feels like a rip off. Finding your website may have just made my day :)

Guest's picture

Charles Shcwab has one of the best products in terms of checking accounts the market has to offer. It is even linked to a nice brokerage account. They offer atm fee refunds even when you use your atm card at any part of the world.