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The best free no-fee checking accounts let you manage your money without taking a monthly bite out of your cash, and even zero out common bank penalties, such as overdraft charges.

However, no bank account is entirely “free”. You’ll often have to pay for something; the key is to limit how much of those somethings you owe. If you can earn a little bit of yield for your troubles, so much the better. If you’re looking to earn interest and don’t mind the potential of fees, many of which can be waived, you should review our list of the best high-yield checking accounts.

Annual percentage yields (APYs) and account details are accurate as of June 6, 2024.

Best no-fee checking account winners

Why trust our banking experts

Our team of experts evaluates hundreds of banking products and analyzes thousands of data points to help you find the best product for your situation. We use a data-driven methodology to determine each rating. Advertisers do not influence our editorial content. You can read more about our methodology below.

  • 300+ accounts from 120 financial institutions reviewed.
  • 4 levels of fact checking.
  • Nearly 60 data points analyzed.

*Offer details

Earn $300 bonus after opening a new Chase Total Checking account and setting up a qualifying direct deposit of $500 or more within 90 days of account opening.

*Offer Details

Earn a $300 bonus after opening a new Chase Total Checking account and setting up a qualifying direct deposit of $500 or more within 90 days of account opening.

Best no-fee checking accounts

Best for ATM access

Axos Bank Essential Checking

BLUEPRINT RATING
Our ratings are calculated based on fees, rates, rewards and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.
On Axos Bank’s Website
Monthly maintenance fee
$0
Minimum deposit requirement
$0
What should you know
The Axos Essential Checking account avoids many of the fees that get consumers into trouble. There’s no monthly maintenance fees, overdraft or non-sufficient fund fees, plus no fee to get or replace a debit card. Any fee you have to pay at a domestic ATM will be reimbursed, though there are 91,000 available fee-free ATMs. Two of Axos’s other checking accounts also have few fees, Axos Bank Cashback Checking and Axos Bank Rewards Checking. The difference between the three is that each has a special feature. Essential checking offers early direct deposit, automatically dropping your expected earnings into your account two days early. Axos Cashback Checking offers up to 1% cash back on debit card purchases and Axos Reward Checking yields up to 3.30% APY total (balances above $50,000 do not earn interest) if you’re able to jump through some hoops. Those chiefly concerned with avoiding fees should consider Essential Checking.
Pros and cons
Pros
  • No monthly maintenance fees or balance minimums.
  • Unlimited ATM reimbursements in the 91Ӱ
  • High limits on debit card transactions (point-of-sale limit is $2,500).
Cons
  • Non-interest bearing.
  • No cash-back rewards.

Best for purchase protection

EverBank Yield Pledge® Checking

EverBank Yield Pledge® Checking
BLUEPRINT RATING
Our ratings are calculated based on fees, rates, rewards and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.
Monthly maintenance fee
$0
Minimum deposit requirement
$100
What should you know
We value this account because of its ability to limit costs for its customers, while also offering a few decent perks that other banks tend not to. Most importantly, there’s no maintenance fee, no overdraft transfer fee and 100% protection for any money lost due to unauthorized online use, thanks to EverBank’s Web Safety Guarantee. There are no non-sufficient fund fees or return deposit fee, though you will have to fork over $25 to stop payments. You won’t owe a fee if you need a new debit card. EverBank has more than 80,000 fee-free ATMs, which you can locate easily on its website. The account offers reimbursements should you venture outside of its network: either up to $15 per month if you have less than a daily average balance of $5,000, or unlimited if you have more. The account’s debit card also offers purchase benefits — extended warranty, price and return protection — which are typically only seen on credit cards. A quick word on overdrafts: If you sign up for overdraft protection services, EverBank will transfer money from a linked account to your checking account to cover any overages. If you don’t sign up, EverBank will generally cancel any payment that puts you in the red. Whichever option you choose, there’s no associated fee. The account gets its name from its pledge to provide an interest rate among the top 5% in the industry. We applaud the move, but realize that checking accounts by and large pay little in the way of yield, which is why this account only offers a 0.40% APY. That may be bigger than 95% of the competition, but it won’t do much for your long-term financial health.
Pros and cons
Pros
  • Earns interest.
  • Purchase benefits.
  • 80,000+ ATMs.
Cons
  • No cash-back offered.
  • $100 initial deposit required.

Best for interest checking

Quontic Bank High Interest Checking

BLUEPRINT RATING
Our ratings are calculated based on fees, rates, rewards and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.
On Quontic Bank’s website
Monthly maintenance fee
$0
Minimum deposit requirement
$100
What should you know
There’s a reason Quontic made our no-fee list; it has no monthly maintenance fees; no overdraft or non-sufficient fund fees; no incoming wire transfer fees; no overdraft fees; no fees for money orders or cashier’s checks. There are also more than 90,000 fee-free ATMs. There is no free lunch, however, which means you will have to fork over $20 for a stop payment request, or $25 for an outgoing domestic wire transfer. But those fees, which while annoying, likely won’t impact your day-to-day banking experience. And the icing on top of this no-fee cake is that you can earn daily compounded interest on your checking account balance. And a competitive rate of 1.10% APY on all balance tiers after making at least 10 qualifying debit card transactions of $10 or more per statement cycle (otherwise, earn 0.01% APY on all balance tiers) at that. However, you do need to earn this sugar by exercising your debit card. To earn the advertised yield, you need to make ten debit card transactions of at least $10 each month, buying things online or in person. Making loan payments, withdrawing cash or using a third-party app like Apple Pay with your debit card doesn’t count. The juice may not be worth the squeeze for some shoppers, especially those with an established credit card rewards scheme. However, research shows that people tend to spend less with cash than credit, so this may be a net benefit for most people.
Pros and cons
Pros
  • Few fees.
  • More than 90,000 in-network ATMs.
  • Earns interest.
Cons
  • Jump through hoops to earn APY.
  • Online only, no physical branches.
  • Minimum balance of $100.

Best for credit union users

PenFed Free Checking

PenFed Free Checking
BLUEPRINT RATING
Our ratings are calculated based on fees, rates, rewards and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.
Monthly maintenance fee
$0
Minimum deposit requirement
$25
What should you know
Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) offers no monthly fees and no ATM fees on its Free Checking account. The attached Visa debit card and the online bill pay feature is free, as well as your first box of 50 checks (which may be enough to last you the rest of your life). If you have a long life or simply need more checks, you’ll pay $5 for an order of 50 and $10 for an order of 100. Other check-related fees that you may run into include a $20 check stop payment ($30 if sequential) and $5 returned deposited check. Outside of paper-based transactions, you’ll find a few other fees: $10 for uncollected deposits on hold and then $30 each for non-sufficient funds and returned inbound electronic transfer. International transactions can cost up to 2% of the transaction amount. A national credit union originally built for members of the 91Ӱ military, PenFed membership is now open to everyone. You simply have to open a savings account with an initial $5 deposit to become a member. Doing so grants you access to a cornucopia of other financial services and benefits, including consumer loans, credit cards and discounts.
Pros and cons
Pros
  • Early direct deposit.
  • 85,000+ fee-free ATMS.
  • Mobile check deposits.
Cons
  • Not interest-bearing.
  • $30 non-sufficient fund fee.
  • Membership requires a savings account with a $5 initial deposit.

Compare the best no-fee checking accounts

ACCOUNTSTAR RATINGMONTHLY MAINTENANCE FEEMINIMUM DEPOSIT
Axos Bank Essential Checking
5.0
$0
$0
EverBank Yield Pledge® Checking
4.6
$0
$100
Quontic Bank High Interest Checking
4.6
$0
$100
PenFed Free Checking
4.5
$0
$25

Methodology

When grading the best no-fee checking accounts we, unsurprisingly, heavily weighted checking products that charged few fees. That means the best products have little in the way of monthly maintenance fees, non-sufficient fund fees, overdraft fees and the like.

Just as important, we believe, is the availability to access your money easily and, well, without fees. It makes little sense to select a fee-free account that charges an arm-and-a-leg at the ATM. Rounding out our research was customer service and digital experience scores, as well as the minimum banks require to open an account, or keep it going.

You’ll notice that interest didn’t factor into our methodology. That’s because you’re better off using your checking account as a waystation for your cash; money comes in from your work, and goes out to pay bills. If you want to earn yield, consider one of the best savings accounts.

We looked at more than 300 checking accounts offered by 119 financial institutions, and dozens of data points for each of those accounts. We evaluated them to create a star rating for each. A perfect score of 100 would get five stars; a score of 80 would get four stars and so on. Here are the categories we analyzed and how we weighted each.

  • Fees: 45%
  • Access: 45%
  • Customer experience: 5%
  • Digital experience: 3%
  • Minimum deposit requirement: 1%
  • Minimum balance requirement: 1%

The financial institutions we monitor include Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi Bank, Discover® Bank, TD Bank, Marcus by Goldman Sachs and USAA.

Why some banks didn’t make the cut

Every financial institution and each account has different pros and cons. Only the best made the cut. Many of the largest banks and credit unions didn’t make our list because they charge fees. They’re able to have fees largely because they are so well known and trusted, that consumers are willing to pay or don’t think to look for a no-fee checking account.

National average for free checking accounts

Here’s data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on the for deposit accounts as of May 20, 2024. 

BANK PRODUCTNATIONAL DEPOSIT RATE (APY)
Interest checking
0.08%
Savings
0.45%
Money market
0.68%
Three-month CD
1.53%

The best high-yield checking accounts however can have interest rates up to 5.00% APY. 

Common checking account fees

Most common checking account fees cost less than $50 each, but they can add up. 

“A checking account needs to be liquid,” said certified financial planner Timothy McGrath, a managing partner at Chicago-based Riverpoint Wealth Management. “The key is to forecast upcoming inflows and outflows so you don’t run into problems with fees.”

Monthly maintenance fee. Think of this as a rent or mortgage payment. Some banks will charge this fee for as long as the account is open. For most types of accounts, the maintenance fee is typically nominal, less than $10. The same is often true for savings accounts.

Non-sufficient fund fee (NSF). If a check bounces, a debit card swipe is too big or there’s an electronic transfer that asks for more cash than your account has, not only will the transaction not go through, but the bank will charge you an NSF. In 2020, the average NSF fee was a little more than $24. 

Overdraft fees. In the event that you overdraw your account—spend more money than you have—the bank or credit union may allow the transaction to go through and then charge you an overdraft fee, plus the amount you went over. Overdraft fees normally cost $35 each time. These expenses can rack up quickly. 

Debit card fees. When you first open an account, you may have to pay a small fee to get a debit card for it. This fee covers the cost of making the card, having the card tied to your account and mailing it to you. It can apply to your first card and any replacements. 

Expedited mail fee. If you need something in a hurry (like a replacement debit card), you may have to pay an expedited mailing fee for overnight delivery. 

Wire fees. Transferring funds to or from your account via wire almost always involves a fee but it varies by institution and account type. In 2022, for domestic transfers, the median cost to receive a wire was $5 and the cost to send one was $25. International wires cost more. For example, 91Ӱ Bank charges $25 for incoming international wires and $50 for outgoing international wires. 

Out-of-network ATM fees. Taking care of an ATM — stocking it with cash, paying for it to be in a certain spot, maintaining its programming, paying for insurance on it — is expensive, plus, ATM machines themselves aren’t cheap. When someone who’s not even your customer uses one of your ATMs, you’d probably charge them a fee. The average fee for an out-of-network ATM was a bit more than $1.75 in 2021, but many banks offer ATM fee reimbursements. 

What is a free checking account?

More descriptive than technical, a no-fee checking account is simply a checking account that doesn’t charge you to open or maintain the account. That doesn’t mean the account will never charge any fees. There may still be fees for extra services like wire transfers and penalty fees like overdraft fees. The best checking accounts have little to no penalty fees. 

Choosing the best free checking account

Once you’ve gathered up a list of the best no-fee accounts as your top contenders, to choose the best one for you, look at the other things the accounts and the providers offer. What matters to you may vary, but here are four things to consider. 

Access. Do you prefer old-school, in-person banking? If so, look for no-fee checking accounts from an institution that has physical branches near you. Do you hate to tap in your user name and password every time you want to look in your banking app? If so, look for a bank or credit union with an app that allows biometric sign-in. Use ATMs often? Pick a bank with a huge ATM network or unlimited ATM fee reimbursement. 

Other financial services. Will you be looking for loans, retirement accounts or financial advice in the future? Maybe you want to open a Roth IRA now? Maybe you want a car loan in a couple years? It could be convenient to use the same financial institution for different financial services. 

Lastly, you might consider two things: 

Yields. Besides having no fees, does the account offer a competitive APY? Or does the same bank offer a high-yield savings account that you can easily open and tie to your no-fee checking? 

Rewards. If you’re more of a spender than a saver (no shame), look at reward programs. Many debit cards offer rewards for swiping. Some have a flat 1% cash back program that applies to every purchase, while others offer higher percentage rewards for spending at select businesses. 

How to open a free checking account

1. Determine what you want. Besides “no fees”, what else are you looking for in a free checking account? Do you want to be able to go into a physical branch or are you OK with an online bank? Would you like to earn interest or cash back?

2. Research. Having an idea of what you want, look at what’s available. See which banks and credit unions offer what you’re after and make a list of contenders. 

3. Pick an account (or two). If you’re torn between a couple of free checking accounts, sleep on it and then go for it. You could always replace one if it’s not all that’s promised. You could even open multiple accounts and then close the ones that don’t work out.

4. Apply. You’ll need to provide some personal information, including your Social Security number (SSN), address, date of birth and such, as well as agree to the terms and conditions for the account. 

5. Fund the account and enjoy. You should know rather quickly whether you’re approved. If you are, you’ll be able to fund the account and start using it almost immediately. Any debit card or checks typically come in the mail within ten days. 

Pros and cons of free checking accounts

Pros

  • Free. Did we say “free” enough? No one likes paying for services when you can otherwise receive them free of charge. While you’ll likely still have to pay for special services and products, you won’t get dinged with monthly fees. 
  • Provider options. There’s a glut of free checking accounts available; you don’t have to look very hard to find one. 

Cons

  • Not all banks offer free accounts. Even though there are plenty of free checking accounts, there may be one bank that you want, which doesn’t offer checking for free. You may have to pony up for a monthly maintenance fee to stick with that bank.
  • Other services may cost more. Because the checking account is free of maintenance fees and other such costs, the services that do have a price tag attached may cost more, such as wiring fees, stop check orders and expedited delivery.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Many banks don’t charge monthly fees for their checking and savings accounts, including all of the banks and credit unions we list above.

Plenty of banks and credit unions have free checking with no minimum balance, including Axos Bank.

It’s rarer for checking accounts to earn interest. For deposits to earn yields, they’re typically used as backing for loans that can last years. As checking accounts are meant to be a very temporary place to hold money, they typically don’t earn interest. Some checking accounts however, are interest bearing, though you’ll find savings accounts almost always provide greater APY.

Yes, you can open a free checking account online at a credit union, bank or online-only bank.

In most cases, it’s better to get something for free rather than pay for it. There could be an important reason you might want to pay for a checking account, however. Paying a monthly service fee could be worth it if you’re after a specific feature or reward that you can get only from that account.

Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy. The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.

Jenn Jones

BLUEPRINT

Jenn Jones is the deputy editor for banking at 91Ӱ Blueprint. She brings years of writing and analytical skills to bear, as she was previously a senior writer at LendingTree, a finance manager at World Car dealerships and an editor at Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ. Her work has been featured on MSN, F&I Magazine and Automotive News. She holds a B.S. in commerce from the University of Virginia.

Taylor Tepper

BLUEPRINT

Taylor Tepper is the lead banking editor for 91Ӱ Blueprint. Prior to that he was a senior writer at Forbes Advisor, Wirecutter, Bankrate and Money Magazine. He has also been published in the New York Times, NPR, Bloomberg and the Tampa Bay Times. His work has been recognized by his peers, winning a Loeb, Deadline Club and SABEW award. He has completed the education requirement from the University of Texas to qualify for a Certified Financial Planner certification, and earned a M.A. from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York where he focused on business reporting and was awarded the Frederic Wiegold Prize for Business Journalism. He earned his undergraduate degree from New York University, and married his college sweetheart with whom he raises three kids in Dripping Springs, TX.