Best Banks for Checking Accounts
The banks offering the best checking accounts provide options with low fees, helpful money management technology and accessible branch locations. These banks also have solid savings and money market account options and usually offer additional savings if you have multiple accounts open. As such, one way to save both money and time is to open a checking and savings account with one bank.
Best for Free Checking: BBVA Compass
ClearChoice Checking from BBVA Compass, also known as Compass Bank, is a great free checking option for Arizona residents. The account can be opened with as little as $25.00, and it carries no monthly maintenance fee. BBVA Compass also has 76 convenient branch locations across Arizona in total, with 37 in Phoenix, 14 in Tucson and 25 in Mesa. BBVA Compass has other locations in Florida, Alabama, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and California.
Compass also offers interest-bearing checking accounts, which can be a good option if you carry a high balance. Their ClearChoice Interest Checking earns up to 0.50% interest on balances lower than $25,000, and 0.01% interest on higher balances. The monthly maintenance fee is $25.00 per month, unless you maintain an average daily balance of $5,000, or maintain a combined Average Daily Collected Balance of at least $25,000 in the bank's Interest Checking and Money Market Accounts.
Best for Branch Access: Chase Bank
For those who prioritize brick-and-mortar access, Chase Bank's Total Checking account is an affordable checking account offered by one of the biggest national banks. Chase Bank is the largest consumer bank in Arizona, with more than 250 locations spread throughout the state. In Phoenix and Tucson, the two biggest Arizona cities, Chase has 122 and 35 branches, respectively.
The Total Checking account can be opened with as little as $25, and the $12 monthly fee can be waived as long as you meet one of the following requirements: monthly direct deposits of at least $500, a minimum checking balance of $1,500 each day, or a minimum total balance of $5,000 across all of your Chase accounts. Middle- to high-income consumers who want to bank with Chase can also consider the bank's interest-earning checking accounts. With a $35 monthly fee—which can be waived with a balance of at least $75,000 across your open Chase accounts—their Premier Platinum Checking Account earns interest of 0.01%.
Best Checking for Students: BMO Harris
BMO Harris Smart Money Checking is an affordable and accessible banking option for college students in Arizona. The account can be opened with $25, and there are no monthly maintenance fees for those 25 and under—even if you're not a student. The Smart Money account also doesn't charge any overdraft or nonsufficient fund fees (NSF), which is helpful if you're living on a college student's budget.
With 50 branches located in Arizona, BMO Harris is one of the state's 10 largest banks. Outside of Arizona, the bank has branches in Florida and throughout select Midwestern cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, Kansas City and St. Louis. If you're graduating soon and don't anticipate to be located in any of these areas, you may want to look for a national bank with branches near your future home—that way, you can avoid the hassle of switching banks or paying unnecessary outside-of-network ATM fees.
Best for Savings: BBVA Compass
BBVA Compass Bank offers the best savings account if you're looking to maximize returns on a low balance. The bank's ClearChoice Money Market account yields a savings APY of 1.25% for any balance—which is much better than the industry standard for low balances. This rate is a promotional deal and requires you to open an account online, with an initial deposit of $25 or more. If you prefer to do your banking in-person, you can always open the account online and do your future banking in person.
It's important to note that the monthly fee for the ClearChoice Money Market account is $15. This fee is waived by the bank if your account's minimum daily collected balance is more than $10,000 or if you set up monthly transfers of at least $25 from your Compass checking account. Otherwise,, you can avoid the monthly maintenance fee by opening a free checking account with Compass and setting up transfers.
Best for Small Business: U.S. Bank
US Bank is the second largest bank in Arizona with 80 branches, and it has 3,000 more spread across the American West, Midwest and southwest. Additionally, US Bank branches and ATMs cover Western states where other major banks don't operate. Through the Gold, Silver and Platinum checking accounts, US Bank offers business checking solutions for small businesses at all levels.
Their Silver Checking account allows 150 transactions per month and has no monthly maintenance fee. Each extra transaction incurs a penalty fee of $0.40. This account is a good option for businesses just starting out, or for those that make few monthly transactions.
For those who make more transactions, the Platinum Business Checking Account from US Bank allows 500 monthly transactions for a monthly fee of $25. This fee is waived if you maintain an average balance of $25,000 in the account, or have over $75,000 in business deposits and outstanding business credit balances. This account is best for business owners who have high account balances or who value regional branch access enough to pay the fee.
Summary of Best Banks in Arizona
When you're looking to open a new bank account, consider what features in a bank are most important to you. You might have to make a trade off between less important wants and your more important needs. As you continue researching, you can use this guide and the table below as a reference point for comparison shopping.
|Best For …||Bank Name||Monthly Fee|
|Free Checking||BBVA Compass||$0.00|
|Checking & Branch Access||Chase||$0.00|
|Student Checking||BMO Harris||$5.00|
|Small Business Checking||US Bank||$0.00|