Best Checking Accounts for July 2021

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Checking account features have evolved over the years beyond just the paper checks and debit cards we’ve become accustomed to. Now, if you’re not getting free checks and ATM usage, interest on your account balances, and 24/7 access to your money, there’s more you could be doing to build your wealth.  

To help, we’ve analyzed dozens of banks, credit unions, and non-bank checking service providers to find out who is offering the cream of the crop. From fees and accessibility to APYs and other perks, here’s where we put our money. See our rankings methodology.  

Best Overall

A good blend of low fees, plentiful ATM locations, and short-term high-interest yield options make the below accounts ideal for storing your money in anticipation of daily use. 

1. Chime Spending Account 

FDIC insured, the Chime Spending Account offers a robust lineup of features that are hard to match in the ever-evolving online banking era. The no-fee, no minimum balance account allows users access to their Round Ups feature: an easy way to contribute to their connected high-yield online savings account. Get paid up to 2 days early with their paycheck direct deposit program. 

0% APY
$0 Minimum Deposit
DollarSprout Rating

A banking service provider, Chime partners with traditional brick and mortar banks to offer a dizzying array of high-value services. FDIC insured up to $250,000, you'll get fee-free access to 65,000 nationwide ATMs, up to $200 in overdraft protection on eligible accounts, and convenient security controls.

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Pros

Cons

  • No physical branches.
  • Difficult to make account contributions outside of paycheck direct deposit or Round Ups feature. 

2. Consumers Credit Union High-Interest Checking Account

Consumers Credit Union took the throw the kitchen sink at the wall approach to checking accounts and boy did it stick. Offering industry-leading features in every category, their high-interest yield on account balances takes the cake. At 4.09% APY for balances of $10,000 or more, their checking account offers rates better than nearly every other cash account on the market. 

4.9% APY Requirements apply.
$5 Minimum Deposit $500 monthly thereafter.
DollarSprout Rating

At 2.09% APY on balances up to $10,000 and 4.09% on balances over $100,000, consumers would be hard-pressed to find somewhere better to short-term store their money than the Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking Account. Must receive e-Statements, make 12 debit purchases per month, and make $500 in qualifying deposits each month to maintain APY.

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Pros

  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursement.
  • 30,000 ATM locations + 5,000 shared branches.
  • Mobile banking and online bill pay available. 
  • No maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements. 
  • Write unlimited checks.
  • Get paid 1 day early with Early Direct Deposit.
  • APYs up to 4.09% on qualifying balances.

Cons

  • Must make at least $500 in monthly qualifying deposits to unlock bottom-tier APY. 
  • No paper statements to qualify for robust APY tiers. 
  • Must apply for, get approved, and spend at least $1,000 per month on the CCU Visa Credit Card to be eligible for the top APY tier. 

3. Axos Bank® Rewards Checking

Continuing the trend of high interest checking accounts, Axos offers a robust 1.25% APY on account balances so long as you can maintain their monthly requirement of at least $1,000 in eligible deposits (generally achieved through automated paycheck direct deposit). 

1.25% APY Requirements apply.
$50 Minimum Deposit $1000 monthly thereafter.
DollarSprout Rating

With only a $50 minimum deposit, the Axos Bank Rewards Checking account makes checking less boring giving account holders up to 1.25% APY on held balances. Tack on unlimited ATM fee reimbursements and no account fees or minimums and this account quickly becomes one of the most well-rounded on the market.

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Pros

  • Zero monthly maintenance fees.
  • Zero overdraft or NSF fees.
  • Zero minimum monthly balance requirements. 
  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.
  • Online debit card management.
  • Simple, 3-step process for direct deposit.
  • Only $50 to open an account.
  • $20 referral bonus for each friend you successfully invite to bank with Axos. 

Cons

  • Highly monthly deposit requirement to unlock the highest APY tier. 
  • Must use Axos Visa® Debit Card at least 15 times per month. 
  • No physical bank locations. 

Honorable Mentions

These top-tier banks offer comparable features, benefits, and the same low-fee structures as their elite counterparts. 

4. Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Earn 0.25% on any available balance with this no monthly fee, $0 minimum balance account. Up to $20/month in ATM fee reimbursements. (Learn More

5. CIT Bank eChecking 

With up to $30 in ATM fees reimbursed monthly, CIT Bank offers a nearly free eChecking option (no monthly fees) with high interest rates for balances over $25,000 (0.25%). You’ll still earn 0.10% APY on balances less than $25,000 and need only $100 to open your account. (Learn More

6. Capital One

Basic free checking account with all the bells and whistles: no fees, easy-to-use mobile app, fee-free ATMs, overdraft protection, and early paycheck deposit program. (Learn More

7. nbkc bank Everything Account

A holistic approach to banking, nbkc showers account holders in an industry-leading number of features. Fee-free ATMs, mobile banking, bill autopay, bucket/goal-oriented saving options, and 0.15% on account balances are but a few of the many features. (Learn More)

8. Discover Bank Cashback Debit Checking

A pioneer in the online banking space, Discover offers cashback of 1% on all debit card purchases after opening an account. With no fees, ever, their mobile banking platform makes it easy to get the most out of your checking experience. (Learn More

9. Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account

Looking for a traditional big-name bank with a long, trusted history? Look no further than the Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account. Seamlessly move money between investment vehicles and your checking account with an integrated banking interface. No fees or account minimums and earn 0.03% APY on checking account balances. (Learn More)  

How DollarSprout Rates Checking Accounts

When evaluating checking accounts, we look at multiple factors to help determine where they fall on our rating scale:

  • Annual percentage yield (APY), if applicable
  • Fees and the likelihood that a user will incur them
  • Account balance requirements
  • Customer service
  • Mobile app reviews
  • Check cost

For checking accounts, APY and fees play a heavier role in our ratings than other factors because they directly affect your bottom line.

Benefits of a Checking Account

No two peoples’ personal finances are identical, but every person should have a checking account. Checking accounts are the foundation for how we conduct our day-to-day finances.

A checking account is a deposit account provided by banks and credit unions that is used to store money for everyday use. They’re the more casual twin to a savings account, which is meant to hold money for long-term use. If a savings account is like a wine cellar, then a checking account is like a refrigerator or kitchen cabinet.

Deposit accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000 per bank, so there’s no risk of losing your principal in a checking account. You can pay from a checking account with a debit card, check, or an electronic funds transfer (EFT), and you can access those funds at any time.

Checking accounts are separate from savings accounts, which have their own rules and regulations but are also insured by the FDIC. You can open a checking account without having a savings account or open both at the same time.

Fees to Watch Out For

Maintenance Fees: Some banks charge monthly maintenance fees if a certain balance threshold isn’t maintained. Maintenance fees are usually between $3 and $12 per month but can be waived if your account stays above the minimum maintenance balance. Be sure to check what the minimum maintenance balance is before you open an account.

Some banks don’t charge maintenance fees, so if you’re tired of being charged for keeping a low balance, consider switching banks.

Overdraft Fees: If your checking account reaches a negative balance, the bank will usually charge an overdraft fee until you restore the account to a positive balance (i.e, put money back in your account). Overdraft fees are around $34 on average and can be charged multiple times a day.

Stop Payment Fees: If you use a check to pay for an item and discover you’ve been swindled or scammed, you can call your bank to cancel the payment. The bank will often charge a stop payment fee, ranging from $15 to $35. 

Research Team
Research Lead: Ben Huber
Final Review: Jeff Proctor
Review Date: July 1, 2021