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11 Best Online Checking Accounts of 2018

Nov. 7, 2018
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

The best online banks have fewer fees and higher interest rates than traditional banks, in part because of the money they save by not operating branches. And they’re secure, backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. or the National Credit Union Administration.

Here are our favorite online checking accounts.

RADIUS HYBRID
Radius Bank

at Radius Bank,

Member, FDIC

4.0 NerdWallet rating
CHIME
Chime

at Chime,

Member, FDIC

4.0 NerdWallet rating
AXOS BANK Rewards CHECKING
Axos Bank™

at Axos Bank™,

Member, FDIC

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking
Alliant Credit Union

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

4.5 NerdWallet rating
SIMPLE
Simple

at Simple,

Member, FDIC

4.0 NerdWallet rating
FREE USAA CLASSIC CHECKING
USAA Federal Savings Bank

at USAA Federal Savings Bank,

Member, FDIC

4.0 NerdWallet rating
ALLY INTEREST CHECKING Account
4.5 NerdWallet rating
FIDELITY CASH MANAGEMENT ACCOUNT
4.0 NerdWallet rating
360 CHECKING BY CAPITAL ONE
4.5 NerdWallet rating
CHARLES SCHWAB BANK HIGH-YIELD INVESTOR CHECKING
4.0 NerdWallet rating
BANK5 CONNECT HIGH-INTEREST CHECKING
4.0 NerdWallet rating

» Looking for a new savings account? Browse our best high-yield online savings accounts

Radius Hybrid

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Radius Bank

at Radius Bank,

Member, FDIC

Radius belongs to the surcharge-free NYCE and MoneyPass ATM networks, and it doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees. You’ll also get unlimited refunds for fees charged by other ATM owners. Because Radius has only one full-service branch, you’ll have to be comfortable banking online.

The Hybrid account has an annual percentage yield of 1.00% if your balance is between $2,500 and $99,999.99. You can earn 1.20% APY on balances of $100,000 or more, but if you have that much cash on hand, consider investing it instead. (Read our Radius review for further insights.)

Chime

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Chime

at Chime,

Member, FDIC

Chime doesn’t charge monthly maintenance or overdraft fees. Customers can use over 38,000 free MoneyPass ATMs and can receive their direct deposit up to two days early.  With Chime, you can also have every debit card transaction rounded up to the nearest dollar and automatically transfer the difference to your Chime Savings account.

If you need to write a check, Chime has an online feature that creates and mails one on your behalf. For deposits that can’t be set up electronically, you’ll need to use a third party service, such as Green Dot, to fund your account. (Read our Chime review for more details.)

Axos Bank USA Rewards Checking

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Axos Bank™

at Axos Bank™,

Member, FDIC

Axos Bank, formerly Bank of Internet, offers several checking options with great perks: no overdraft fees, no monthly fees or minimum balance, plus domestic ATM fee reimbursements. With Rewards Checking, you also can earn up to 1.25% APY, but you’ll have to jump through a couple of hoops: The bank requires at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits, and you have to use your debit card 15 times a month on everyday purchases — with a minimum of $3 per transaction — to earn the maximum APY. (Read our Axos Bank review for details on the bank’s other products.)

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

4.5 NerdWallet rating
Alliant Credit Union

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Unlike most other credit unions, Alliant makes it easy to apply for membership. If you don’t meet its other eligibility requirements, you can qualify by supporting an Alliant-affiliated nonprofit. And with this checking option, you’ll have access to over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs and can earn a 0.65% APY. To be eligible for interest, you have to opt out of paper statements and have at least one electronic deposit made to your account each month.

Alliant doesn’t participate in shared branching and doesn’t have many physical locations, so you’ll probably have to take care of most tasks online. That may not be an issue, though, because Alliant’s digital tools are better than those offered by most other credit unions. (Alliant also has a great high-yield savings account.)

Simple

4.0 NerdWallet rating
Simple

at Simple,

Member, FDIC

Instead of making spending decisions based on your available balance, a figure that can be misleading, Simple users can check their Safe-to-Spend number. It’s an estimate of the amount you can afford to spend based on your balance, upcoming bills and savings goals.

Withdrawals within the massive Allpoint ATM network are fee-free, and there’s no overdraft fee. (Read our review of Simple.)

Free USAA Classic Checking

4.0 NerdWallet rating
USAA Federal Savings Bank

at USAA Federal Savings Bank,

Member, FDIC

This account comes with 10 free withdrawals monthly from 60,000 “USAA-preferred” ATMs. USAA, which is available to active and former military personnel as well as their eligible family members, also reimburses up to $15 in other banks’ domestic ATM fees per month. It has only a few branches, so you’d probably wind up doing the majority of your banking on your phone or computer. (For more details, check out our USAA review.)

Ally Interest Checking Account

4.5 NerdWallet rating

Checking at Ally comes with decent rates, more than 43,000 surcharge-free Allpoint ATMs and exceptional customer service. You can contact Ally via:

  • A call center staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Real-time chat
  • Secure messaging in online banking
  • Twitter

Ally also offers a great digital experience that includes all the online banking essentials in an easy-to-use package. You can pair your Ally checking with its savings account, which is among accounts with the highest yields.

Fidelity Cash Management Account

4.0 NerdWallet rating

Strictly speaking, Fidelity’s Cash Management option is a full-service brokerage account. That said, it looks a lot like many online checking options, plus it earns interest. It has no monthly fee and comes with unlimited refunds for every ATM in the country, along with online bill pay and a mobile check-deposit service. Customers’ accounts are insured up to $1.25 million by the FDIC. Fidelity has more than 190 branches, so this isn’t technically an online-only option. (Read our Fidelity review.)

360 Checking by Capital One

4.5 NerdWallet rating

This Capital One checking account has a better overdraft policy than those at most banks and credit unions. It gives you several ways to handle overdrafts. The best options include:

  • Applying for an overdraft line of credit, a short-term borrowing option with a reasonable 13.25% interest rate and no transfer fees.
  • Using a 360 Savings account to cover overdrafts for free.
  • Having the bank decline charges that you don’t have enough cash to cover, which is the default option.

Bouncing a check, however, will cost you $9.

The 360 Checking account also offers excellent online and mobile tools and fee-free access to almost 40,000 ATMs. (Read our Capital One 360 review for details on the bank’s savings options and more.)

Charles Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking

4.0 NerdWallet rating

Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking earns interest and provides unlimited fee rebates on ATM withdrawals worldwide. The account is free, and there’s no minimum deposit requirement. It also offers online bill pay and a mobile check deposit service, and it comes with a brokerage account. (For further insights, check out our Charles Schwab Bank review.)

Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking

4.0 NerdWallet rating

Along with its outstanding APY of 0.76%, Bank5 Connect gives members access to thousands of free ATMs and reimburses up to $15 per month in fees racked up at other banks’ ATMs. It has strong mobile banking apps and low fees. There’s no monthly service fee, and the $15 insufficient funds penalty is well below big banks’ national median overdraft fee of $34.

You’ll have to put down $10 to open an account and maintain a balance of at least $100 to earn interest. (Read our Bank5 review for more details.)

» For more stellar options, take a look at NerdWallet’s best checking accounts

Best online checking accounts

Checking accountNotable features
Radius Hybrid1.00% APY on balances of $2,500 to $99,999.99, and unlimited reimbursements for out-of-network ATM fees
SimpleSafe-to-spend budgeting tool
ChimeAutomatic savings options
Free USAA Classic CheckingUp to $15 reimbursement in out-of-network ATM fees a month
Axos Bank Rewards Checking1.25% APY if certain requirements are met
Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking0.65% APY and up to $20 in out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements a month
Ally Interest Checking AccountUp to $10 in out-of-network reimbursements per statement cycle
Fidelity Cash Management AccountUnlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
360 Checking by Capital OneReasonable overdraft policy
Charles Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor CheckingWorldwide unlimited ATM reimbursements
Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking0.76% APY

Tony Armstrong is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @tonystrongarm.


METHODOLOGY

We took a close look at over 70 financial institutions, including the largest U.S. banks based on assets, debit card volume, Internet search traffic and other factors; the nation’s largest credit unions, based on deposits as well as broad-based membership requirements; and other notable and/or emerging players in the industry. We rated them on criteria including annual percentage yields, minimum balances, fees, digital experience and more.

Financial institutions surveyed include: Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express, Aspiration, Associated Bank, Axos Bank, Bank5 Connect, Bank7, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Barclays, BB&T, BBVA Compass, Boeing Employees Credit Union, BMO Harris, Capital One 360, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Chime, CIT, Citibank, Citizens Access, Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Commerce Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Discover Bank, E-Trade, Fidelity, Fifth Third Bank, First National Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, GoBank, Golden 1 Credit Union, GS Bank, HSBC Bank USA, Huntington Bank, KeyBank, MetaBank, M&T Bank, Moven, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, Popular Direct, PurePoint Financial, Radius Bank, Redneck Bank, Regions Bank, Sallie Mae Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Service Credit Union, Simple, State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina, State Farm Bank, Suncoast Credit Union, SunTrust Bank, Synchrony Bank, TCF Bank, TD Bank,  TIAA Bank, Union Bank, UFB Direct, USAA, U.S. Bank, Varo, Wells Fargo and Zions Bank.

How we rate banks and credit unions