The Best Checking Accounts in October 2020

The Best Checking Accounts in October 2020

Our best checking accounts offer perks like bonus offers, high-yields, free ATM access and no-fee checking. We've reviewed checking accounts from hundreds of banks and credit unions nationwide to ensure we feature the best selection around.

According to a study from Chime, the average American consumer spends $329 a year on bank fees alone. There are almost a dozen checking account fees a bank can charge you; these run the gamut from overdraft fees and ATM-access charges, to monthly maintenance and wire transfer fees. When shopping for the best checking account, you'll want to find a bank that not only earns you perks like high interest, cash rewards and bonus offers, but also charges little to no fees.

You can get a head start on finding the best checking account for your needs by taking a look at our list below.

Why trust us

To find the best checking accounts, we looked at nationally available offerings from over 200 federally-insured banks and credit unions using exclusive data from DepositAccounts.com, another LendingTree-owned company.

We graded each checking account on a number of factors, including interest rates, ATM access, rewards, bonus offers, fees and more. We also decided to overweight and underweight specific factors when it came to picking our top choice for each category.

Remember to check back regularly as we update this page each month to help you stay on top of new checking account offers as they hit the market.

Best checking accounts

CategoryAccount
Best High-Yield Checking AccountParamount Bank High-Interest Checking Account
Best No-Fee Checking AccountDiscover Cashback Debit
Best Rewards Checking AccountRadius Bank Rewards Checking
Best Student Checking AccountPNC Virtual Wallet Student
Best Checking Account for ATM rebatesSchwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking
Best Business Checking AccountBlueVine Business Checking

Best high-yield checking account: Paramount Bank High-Interest Checking Account

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  • Monthly fee: $3
  • Balance to waive: $1
  • Opening minimum: $0

Paramount Bank is a constant rate leader with its High-Interest Checking Account. Plus, all balances can take advantage of its 0.85% APY, which blows all other checking account competition out of the water.

You can open a Paramount Bank High-Interest Checking Account with any balance, although the bank says it prefers deposits starting at $100. The account is easy to maintain, as it requires a minimum balance of only $1 to avoid its $3 monthly fee. The bank doesn’t charge ATM fees, either.

To access the High-Interest Checking Account, you can use the free Visa® Debit Card included with the account, as well as the Paramount Bank mobile app.


Best no-fee checking account: Discover Cashback Debit

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Balance to waive: N/A
  • Opening minimum: $0

The Discover Cashback Debit account eliminates not only a monthly fee, but a whole cache of common checking account fees. This includes fees for ATM use, overdrafts and overdraft protection, checks, returned deposit items and insufficient funds.

Just about anyone can take advantage of this fee-free account, as it doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement to open or maintain. Even better, your debit card purchases earn 1% cashback, on up to $3,000 of purchases per month. The debit card can also be used for fee-free ATM withdrawals at Allpoint and MoneyPass ATMs. While Discover won’t charge you a fee for using an ATM out of those networks, the third-party ATM owner likely will.

Discover Bank review are available entirely online. The bank provides a mobile app for access as well, where you can freeze your debit card at any time, deposit checks, find ATMs and more.


Best rewards checking account: Radius Bank Rewards Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Balance to waive: N/A
  • Opening minimum: $100

The Radius Bank Rewards Checking account earns double rewards in the form of both cash back and interest earned. The account earns 1.00% cash back on qualifying online and signature-based debit card purchases, as long as you maintain a minimum average balance of $2,500 or receive direct deposits totaling at least $2,500 each month. Until Sept. 30, 2020, you can earn an additional 0.50% cash back on transactions within several industries, including drugstores and pharmacies, medical services, grocery stores, restaurants, charitable organizations and more. There is no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn.

As for earned interest, you’ll need to have at least $2,500 in your account to start earning at 0.10% APY. A higher 0.15% APY applies to balances of $100,000 and higher.

The perks keep coming with the Rewards Checking account. For one, Radius Bank can get you your direct deposit paycheck up to two days earlier than usual by depositing the funds into your account as soon as the bank gets it, rather than holding it. In terms of accessibility, you can make deposits and withdrawals for free at MoneyPass and SUM ATMs worldwide. Radius Bank won’t charge you a fee for using out-of-network ATMs either, and it even offers unlimited ATM fee rebates for any third-party surcharges.


Best student checking account: PNC Bank Virtual Wallet Student

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Balance to waive: N/A
  • Opening minimum: $25, or $0 if opened online

PNC Bank’s Virtual Wallet Student is more than just a checking account – it’s three accounts rolled into one. There’s the Spend checking account, which gives students experience with expenses and paying bills; the Reserve checking account, which earns interest but still allows spending; and the Growth savings account, which helps students with their savings. There is no monthly fee, nor minimum balance requirements to worry about. Plus, PNC Bank offers several budgeting and spending tools to help students practice good money management skills.

Virtual Wallet Student has features in place to keep student account holders on track, too. It provides an automatic refund of your first overdraft or returned item fee, reimbursement of the first two non-PNC Bank ATM transactions each statement period and up to a $5 reimbursement of other banks’ ATM surcharges each statement period. You also get one free incoming wire transfer each statement period; any incoming wires after that cost $15, and all outgoing wires are $30.

Virtual Wallet Student is accessible both online and through the bank’s mobile app.


Best checking account for ATM rebates: Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Balance to waive: N/A
  • Opening minimum: $0

If you’re a Schwab customer or have always wanted to get into investing, the Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking account is a good start for its unlimited ATM rebates. This checking account is available only as a linked account with a Schwab One® brokerage account. Neither of the accounts have minimum balance requirements or charges.

This pairing allows you to take advantage of any ATM with the checking account’s linked Visa® Platinum Debit Card, as well as Schwab’s investing platform. You don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees either when using the linked debit card.

The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account also earns interest at 0.03% APY on all balances.


Best business checking account: BlueVine Business Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Balance to waive: N/A
  • Opening minimum: $0

Online-based BlueVine Business Checking offers business owners some peace of mind with no monthly fees, unlimited transactions, two free checkbooks and more. A rate of 1.00% APY is earned on balances of at least $1,000, but other than that, there’s no minimum balance requirement to worry about. In addition to no monthly service fees, there are also no fees for nonsufficient funds or incoming wires.

There are some fees you might face, however, like for expedited debit card replacements, cash deposit fees at Green Dot locations and outgoing wires. Luckily, you can avoid ATM fees with BlueVine, which provides access to the MoneyPass network for when you need to make cash deposits or withdrawals. BlueVine won’t charge fees for out-of-network ATMs either, but it won’t reimburse the third-party surcharge you’ll likely face in that event.

In addition to its Business Checking account, BlueVine provides financing services to small businesses. The checking account is serviced by The Bancorp Bank, which provides FDIC insurance and the BlueVine Mastercard® Debit Card for the account.


How to choose the right checking account

If you haven't found the kind of checking account that suits your financial habits or situation, there are many more options out there that may fit the bill. For instance, if you place a high value on banks that emphasize face-to-face interaction and investment in your local community, you may want to look at a small neighborhood bank that has time to personalize its customer service. You may even consider joining a credit union, which is organized differently than a standard bank but provides the same kinds of banking services and products.

When shopping for a checking account, some important factors to pay attention to include:

  • Fees: Fees are an easy and sneaky way banks make money – and deplete your funds. Always check for a monthly fee, which is essentially just a charge to own the account, or at the available ways to waive the monthly fee. Other common fees include charges for out-of-network ATM usage, wire transfers and paper statements. Most banks also have a hefty overdraft fee that applies if it ever has to cover a transaction that exceeds your account balance.
  • Rates: Earning interest on your checking account balance is a smart perk to have, especially since almost all of your money runs through that account at some point. Many big, traditional banks offer checking account rates not much higher than 0.01%, if that. But you can do better, especially by looking at online banks.
  • ATM access: Your checking account is your go-to source for depositing and withdrawing cash, since savings accounts place limits on your monthly transactions. Look into whether a bank limits you to its own ATMs – and its geographical reach – or whether it partners with another ATM network for wider scope, too. Remember, fees may be charged for out-of-network ATM use; check whether an account offers surcharge reimbursements.
  • Minimum balance requirements: A checking account can look great at first glance with its interest rates and rewards, but take a closer look, and you might find that there are some qualifications required. Many checking accounts have a minimum amount that you must deposit to open the account and another minimum requirement that you must maintain to keep the account open. Minimum balance requirements are also often used to waive monthly fees or earn interest.
  • FDIC/NCUA insurance: Deposit insurance is key to finding a legitimate account; it is provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for bank deposits and by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for credit union deposits. This insurance backs your money up in the rare event your bank fails. All the big-name banks you’ve heard of are FDIC-insured, as are all the accounts we’ve listed above. Still, it’s always important to check the amount of insurance coverage a bank provides.

In the end, you should narrow your focus down to a few key factors that can guide your decision. For example, if you only have a little money in the bank and depend on each new paycheck to replenish your balance, you may want to prioritize finding a free checking account. Or if minimum balances are no worry, then you can move on to finding an account that rewards higher balances with higher interest. It’s all about finding the account that works for you – not one that you have to work to maintain.

Lauren Perez

Lauren is a Deposits and Investing Writer for ValuePenguin, with years of experience chasing the best savings account rates out there. She also covers deposits and investing for MagnifyMoney and DepositAccounts. Lauren’s work has been covered by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSN, Univision, Acorns and more. Lauren graduated from the University of Rochester, where she majored in English. Prior to joining LendingTree, she was a writer at SmartAsset.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.