6 Best Free Checking Accounts of 2021 - MrLiambi's blog

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Tuesday, 19 October 2021

6 Best Free Checking Accounts of 2021

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Too many of us are settling for less-than-satisfactory checking accounts. (Just look at the folks complaining on Twitter!)

We're still forking over so many bank fees. The average overdrafter hands over about $350 a year in overdraft fees alone, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That doesn't even account for ATM network fees, monthly maintenance fees and minimum balance fees.

In reality, there are a ton of free checking account options out there; you just might not be looking in the right places (ahem, online banks!). No need to spend hours researching, though. We did that for you.

6 Best Free Checking Accounts

Account Top Feature ATM access

NBKC Everything Account

Checking, savings in one

37,000+
SEE DETAILS

Varo Money Banking Account

Excellent banking app

55,000+
SEE DETAILS

SoFi Banking Account

Loan interest discounts

55,000+
SEE DETAILS

Chime Money

Early direct deposit

60,000+
SEE DETAILS

Discover Cashback Debit

Zelle money transfer

60,000+
SEE DETAILS

Capital One 360 Checking Account

Overdraft options

70,000+
SEE DETAILS

NBKC Everything Account

Best for Ambitious Savers
Key Features
  • Up to $12/month in reimbursed ATM fees
  • 0.15% APY on all balances
  • No fees
starstarstarstarhalf star
4.5 out of 5 Overall
Formerly National Bank of Kansas City, NBKC Bank is a full-fledged financial institution, member FDIC, offering loans, credit cards, savings, money market and free checking accounts. Its Everything Account is a personal checking and savings account in one, with spending, budgeting and savings goals built into one high-yield account.
NBKC Everything Account
Fees
None
Minimum opening deposit
None
APY
0.15% on checking and savings
ATM access
37,000+ MoneyPass ATM
Promotions
n/a

With NBKC's Everything Account, you can set up savings buckets in the platform, and move money in and out of your savings easily without the penalties associated with traditional savings accounts. You'll earn 0.15% annual percentage yield (APY) on all balances within your Everything Account. Anyone can open an account online; you don't have to live near the bank's Overland Park, Kansas, headquarters.

 

Varo Money Banking Account

Best for Tech-Forward Clients
Key Features
  • Dual account for checking and savings
  • Up to 3.00% APY for eligible accounts
  • Cash back on in-app purchases
starstarstarstarhalf star
4.5 out of 5 Overall
Varo is a double threat: a tech-forward banking platform with a bonafide FDIC bank charter. That means, unlike with most online banks, Varo holds your money itself, so there's no complicated business happening under the hood.
Varo Money Banking Account
Varo
Fees
2.50 for out-of-network ATMs (plus ATM owner's fee)
Minimum opening deposit
None
APY
0.05%, up to 3.00% for any month with at least $1,000 in direct deposits and daily balance is at least $5,000
ATM
55,000 Allpoint ATMs
Promotions
n/a

Varo's origins as a technology company mean it offers an intuitive banking app with all the perks we've come to expect from challenger banks: higher-than-average APYs*, early payday, automatic savings features and cash back perks.

*https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/rates/

 

SoFi Money

Best for Lots of Features
Key Features
  • 0.25% APY on checking
  • $50 in free overdraft protection
  • Member discounts on other products
starstarstarstarempty star
4 out of 5 Overall
Originally known for revolutionizing student loan refinancing, SoFi has become an all-around go-to for your financial needs. Its banking service, SoFi Money, offers a fee-free online checking and savings account with 0.25% APY, early direct deposit and up to $50 in free overdraft protection.
SoFi Money
Fees
Up to $4.95 for cash deposits at Green Dot retail locations
Minimum opening deposit:
None
APY
0.25% on all balances, with recurring monthly deposits of $500 or more. Otherwise, 0.01%
ATM access
55,000+ Allpoint ATMs
Promotions
$100 bonus when you receive $1,000 in direct deposits within 30 days

When you're a SoFi member, you get access to its vast community and events, as well as interest rate discounts on its loan products, including mortgage, student loans and refinancing. Bonus security: Because SoFi works with up to six partner banks, your account is eligible for up to $1.5 million in FDIC insurance â€" compared with the typical $250,000 of any single bank.

 

Chime Bank Account

Best for Easy Access
Key Features
  • Up to 2 days early direct deposit
  • $20â€"$200 free overdraft protection
  • Access to Credit Builder credit card
starstarstarstarempty star
4 out of 5 Overall
Chime is one of the top online bank accounts, loved for its simplicity and focus on just what a typical banking customer needs: easy access to your money. Through its Spending account, you'll get a debit card and get paid up to two days early through direct deposit. When you open a Savings account, you can earn 0.50% APY and set up rounds up and automatic deposits from your Spending account.
Chime Bank Account
Chime Logo
Fees
Out-of-network ATM fees
Minimum opening deposit:
None
APY
0.50% on Savings balance
ATM access
60,000+ ATMs from Allpoint, Visa Plus Alliance and MoneyPass ATMs at any 7-Eleven
Promotions
n/a

Chime also has a $75 referral bonus promotion that has no expiration date. After you open your account, if you refer a friend and they open a new account and receive a direct deposit of at least $200 in the first 45 days, you will each receive $75.

Make sure to use the referral link from your account to get the cash bonus. Chime is great for beginners, offering fee-free overdraft, automatic savings, early paycheck deposit and 60,000+ fee-free ATMs.

 

Discover Cashback Debit

Best for Traditionalists
Key Features
  • 1% cash back on debit card purchases
  • No extraneous fees
  • Transfer money to anyone with Zelle
starstarstarempty starempty star
3 out of 5 Overall
Sometimes jumping ship and moving all your money to a company you've never heard of can be intimidating, so here's an option for traditionalists: Discover's Cashback Debit. The fee-free account offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 of debit card purchases each month. Beyond that, the account's perks are slim (hello, traditional banking…).
Discover Cashback Debit
Fees
None
Minimum opening deposit:
None
APY
None
ATM access
60,000+ Allpoint and MoneyPass ATMs
Promotions
n/a

The Discover Cashback Debit account is a great fit for anyone who uses their checking account more for spending than storing a big balance of money. You won't earn an impressive APY on this account, but you can open a Discover Online Savings account to earn 0.50% APY on your savings balance. You can manage all your Discover products â€" from loans to credit cards to bank accounts â€" through the Discover app.

 

Capital One 360 Checking Account

Best for Money Transfers
Key Features
  • Multiple options for free overdraft protection
  • Up to 2 days early direct deposit
  • Transfer money to anyone with Zelle
starstarstarempty starempty star
3 out of 5 Overall
Overdrafting is a cruel â€" and expensive â€" cycle. The accounts on this list won't charge you overdraft fees, but none of them give you as many options as the fee-free Capital One 360 account. You can opt to auto-decline a transaction, transfer funds from savings, use a line of credit or get a one-day grace period to deposit more money (that last one comes with a fee).
Capital One 360 Checking Account
Fees
$35 per overdraft with one-day grace period, $7â€"$11 for paper checkbooks
Minimum opening deposit:
None
APY
0.10%
ATM access
70,000+ Capital One and Allpoint ATMs
Promotions
n/a

The account also comes with early direct deposit and peer-to-peer payments via Zelle.

Capital One 360 doesn't have the most attractive APYs for either its online checking or savings (0.10% for checking and 0.40% for savings), but the online bank makes up for it with the industry's second-highest-rated app according to J.D. Power, with users citing the app's speed, easy-to-use interface and self-service options that are simple to use.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Banks Offer Free Checking Accounts?

Most banks offer a free checking account option now that challenger banks have shoved the market in that direction. In some cases, the account is only free if you maintain a minimum balance or deposit requirement, so read the fine print before opening an account.

In many cases, especially with online banking platforms like we listed above, you can get a checking account with no monthly fees, limited ATM fees, no overdraft fees and few miscellaneous fees without balance or deposit requirements â€" so compare your options before going all in with a traditional bank. The best free checking accounts cut nearly all fees.

Are Free Checking Accounts Really Free?

Most customers consider a checking account 'free' as long as it doesn't come with a monthly maintenance fee. That's the baseline we applied to choose the checking accounts listed above.

But lots of banks, especially traditional institutions, charge for other things, like overdraft protection, ATM transactions, minimum balance requirements, paper statements and more. We sought checking accounts that minimize or eliminate these fees, so you can count on a fee-free banking service.

The only fees you typically can't get away from are for less common services like card replacement, foreign transactions, stop payment and wire transfers.

Nearly all banks charge fees for these services, but if you know you'll use them often, shop around and seek out an account that caters to your needs by eliminating or reducing fees for the types of services you use.

How Can You Avoid Common Checking Account Fees?

The most common checking account fee is a monthly maintenance fee. Most financial institutions waive this fee is you keep a minimum monthly balance. Avoid the fee by paying attention to that minimum balance requirement when you sign up and keeping your account in the no-fee zone.

Many banks also charge for paper statements, so sign up for electronic statements right away. You'll be able to see your bank statements, balance and transactions online no matter what; opting out of paper statements just saves a bunch of trees and saves you money.

Pro Tip

Check out our current list of bank promotions for a chance to gain a monetary bonus when signing up for a new bank account.

What Are Common Free Checking Account Benefits?

The best benefit of a free checking account is the elimination of a monthly service fee, and balance and direct deposit requirements.

To stay competitive, many free checking accounts also include perks like well-designed mobile apps (especially the online-only platforms), free ATMs, early direct deposit, budgeting features, automatic savings options, cash back, creative fee-free overdraft protection options and high APYs.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing for online audiences since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media. She is a former staffer at The Penny Hoarder. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, CNBC, The Motley Fool, Inc. and more. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.



Source : https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/bank-accounts/best-free-checking-accounts/?aff_id=178&aff_sub3=MainFeed__bank-accounts/best-free-checking-accounts/

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