Keeping your money safe and accessible shouldn’t be a costly affair. Luckily, there are several free checking accounts out there that won’t charge a service fee to hold your money. Many of those accounts take the fee-free checking approach even further and forgo several other fees that banks typically charge, such as for overdrafts and ATM use. That way, you get to keep your hard-earned money where it belongs — with you and not in the bank’s pockets.

Even better, we’ve divided the best free checking accounts into categories so you can more easily find the right fit for you, whether you’re looking for high-yield interest, rewards, 24/7 service, ATM rebates, early paycheck access or free overdraft protection. We also included a free second-chance checking account, an account from a credit union, and the best overall free checking account, which embodies all of these qualities in one package.

Why trust us

At ValuePenguin, we don’t like pesky fees or conditional requirements. That’s why we found free checking accounts with no minimum deposit or balance required, which means the account’s fee-free structure doesn’t depend on how much money you have.

We also understand that each person has their own preferences and requirements when it comes to bank accounts. That’s why we split the best free checking accounts into different categories, so you can more easily shop around for the one that’s really right for your banking needs.

Lastly, we made sure that each of our top picks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), if it is a credit union.

10 best free checking accounts

Best for
Account
Monthly fee
Minimum deposit
OverallCapital One 360 Checking$0$0
High-yield interestnbkc Everything Account$0$0
RewardsDiscover Cashback Debit$0$0
Second-chance bankingChime Spending Account$0$0
24/7 customer supportAlly Bank Interest Checking$0$0
ATM rebatesSchwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking$0$0
Early paycheck accessVaro Checking Account$0$0
Free overdraft protectionBetterment Checking$0$0
Credit unionAlliant High-Interest Checking$0$0

Best free checking account overall: Capital One 360 Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Free overdraft protection: Yes

Capital One 360 Checking is our top pick for a free checking account, thanks to the fact it has no monthly and ATM fees, lacks minimum balance requirements, boasts an interest-earning schedule, and offers overdraft protection options. The account earns 0.1% APY on all balances and comes with a free debit card.

The account offers three free overdraft protection choices: Auto-Decline declines all transactions that overdraw your account; Free Savings Transfer automatically transfers funds from your Capital One 360 savings account to cover what you owe; and Next Day Grace covers your overdraft and gives you a full business day to replace the overdrawn amount before assessing a $35 fee.


Best for high-yield interest: nbkc Everything Account

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Free overdraft protection: Yes

The nbkc Everything Account consistently offers one of the top checking account interest rates, currently earning 0.15% APY. Even better, interest is earned on all balances at all times, the account is free to own and the accompanying free Mastercard debit card works with mobile interfaces like Apple Pay.

The Everything Account also acts as a savings account, allowing you to set aside money in various goals, which still earn interest at the same rate. Finally, you don’t have to worry about fees for overdrafts or foreign transactions with this account either.


Best for rewards: Discover Cashback Debit

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Free overdraft protection: Yes

The Discover Cashback Debit account earns 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. You don’t have to worry about losing your earnings to checking account fees either, since the account doesn’t charge for monthly maintenance, debit card replacements, standard checks, deposited item returns, insufficient funds and more.

Overdraft protection is also free. When you opt into it, automatic transfers from a Discover savings or money market account are set up to cover your checking overdrafts. You also won’t face fees for ATM access when you use your free Discover debit card at Allpoint and MoneyPass machines.


Best for second-chance banking: Chime Spending Account

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Free overdraft protection: Yes

Most traditional banks run your information through a database called ChexSystems, which will flag your application if you have a rocky banking history. Chime won’t do that, though, which opens up this steady account to customers who may be shut out of other accounts. Even better, there is no minimum deposit or balance requirement on the account, and it is free to own.

You can use the free Chime Visa debit card (provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., along with the account’s FDIC insurance) at MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs for free. The card is also compatible with mobile wallets. Certain users may qualify for free overdraft protection called SpotMe, but even without this feature, Chime won’t penalize you for overdrafts, instead simply declining the transaction.

As another perk of the account, Chime will deposit your direct deposits into your account as soon as it receives them, up to two days earlier than most other institutions.


Best for 24/7 customer support: Ally Bank Interest Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Free overdraft protection: Yes

A big name in online banking, Ally Bank offers the coveted perk of 24/7 phone customer service, so you can manage your account on your own time. You can even see the estimated wait time at the top of the bank’s website.

The Interest Checking Account and its linked debit card are free to own and open with any balance you like. It also earns a decent APY: 0.1% on balances less than $15,000 or 0.25% on balances of $15,000 and over. Just watch out for fees like those for overdrafts, returned deposit items and outgoing domestic wires. You can avoid overdraft fees by setting up free overdraft coverage from a linked Ally Bank savings or money market account.


Best for ATM rebates: Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Free overdraft protection: Yes

Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide is a great perk for a free checking account that has no balance minimums. The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account comes with a free, contactless Schwab Bank Visa Platinum Debit Card, which is compatible with mobile wallets. The account also earns 0.03% APY and skips out on fees for foreign transactions, standard checks, incoming wires and more.

Not only that, but when you open a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account, you also open a separate Schwab One brokerage account to get your investing started. Overdrafts and overdraft coverage are also free when you set up a linked account — like the brokerage account — to cover any overdrafts.


Best for early paycheck access: Varo Checking Account

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Free overdraft protection: No

Varo Checking really embodies no-fee checking: It doesn’t charge for monthly service, online transfers, foreign transactions or transactions at Allpoint ATMs (which you can access with the linked free Varo Bank Visa contactless debit card). Even better, Varo makes your direct deposits available to you as soon as it has the funds. That means you can get your paycheck direct deposited into your account up to two days earlier than at many other banks.


Best for free overdraft protection: Betterment Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Free overdraft protection: Yes

Betterment won’t dig you into a deeper financial rut when it comes to overdrafts. If you overdraw your checking account, Betterment will reverse the transaction and won’t charge a single overdraft fee.

To make the account even better, there is no monthly fee for Betterment Checking. Betterment will also reimburse you for foreign transactions and ATM fees worldwide. That means you can use your Betterment Visa debit card (issued by nbkc bank, Member FDIC) without worrying about extra fees.


Best credit union free checking account: Alliant High-Interest Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Free overdraft protection: Yes

If you’re looking for a credit union experience, the Alliant High-Interest Checking account is a well-rounded account worth considering. You just have to fall under Alliant’s wide range of membership eligibility requirements to join.

The account has no monthly service fee or minimum balance requirements, and it earns 0.25% APY on all balances as long as you receive eStatements and at least one monthly electronic deposit. You can use the account’s free Visa contactless debit card for free at over 80,000 ATMs, but Alliant also will rebate up to $20 per month in third-party ATM fees.

Finally, this account offers free overdraft protection by way of automatic transfers from an Alliant savings account to cover your overdrafts. You may also qualify for Courtesy Pay, where Alliant covers the overdraft for you, although this comes with its own $28 fee. You’ll also want to watch out for non-sufficient fund (NSF) item fees of $25.


Free checking account FAQs

Learn more about free checking accounts here, like what common fees you can avoid and whether a free checking account is right for you.

The most obvious way a checking account can be free is by not charging a monthly maintenance fee. Even if an account doesn’t charge that particular fee, however, it can carry a bevy of other fees, which is why it’s always important to check what fees are associated with an account. Fees can take a big bite out of your savings, so set your sights on a no-fee checking account, which charges as few fees as possible.

  • Maintenance fee: Also known as a service fee, this is the fee the bank charges you for owning the account. It is usually assessed monthly and can vary widely depending on the bank and the account. Be wary of banks that market an account as free, but require you to jump through hoops (like meeting a minimum balance or transaction thresholds) to waive a monthly fee.
  • Paper statement fee: This fee often ends up being a monthly fee under a different name. Typically between $2 and $5, a paper statement fee charges you for receiving paper statements instead of enrolling in electronic statements. If you tend to be more old school with your banking and prefer to still get paper statements, this is an important fee to look out for.
  • ATM fee: This fee is usually easy to avoid if you’re diligent about finding an ATM that’s within your bank’s network. Brick-and-mortar banks tend to have more restrictive networks, while online banks usually partner with one or more widespread ATM networks. This fee is usually around $2.50.
  • Overdraft fee: Often reaching around $35, overdraft fees occur when you make a transaction that is more than the amount in your account and the bank steps in to cover the difference. Banks may charge this fee every time you overdraft your account, while others set a daily limit. You can avoid overdraft fees by keeping an eye on your balance so you don’t overdraw the account, by finding an account that won’t allow you to overdraw or by setting up a savings account to cover your overdrafts (if the checking account allows for this).
  • Nonsufficient funds (NSF) fee: NSF fees are charged when you try to make a transaction but don’t have enough funds to cover it and the bank declines to cover the charge. Some banks may charge both an overdraft fee and an NSF fee, penalizing you twofold for not having enough funds in your account. Unfortunately, the NSF fee is usually about the same amount as an overdraft fee at around $35.

When an account imposes a minimum deposit or balance requirement, that can make it less freely available for many consumers. A minimum deposit is the amount you need to deposit to open the account; you’re often given 30 to 60 days to make the opening deposit, depending on the account. A minimum balance is the amount you’re required to keep in the account either to keep the account open or sometimes to snag a certain perk, like earned interest.

You’ll have pretty good luck finding a free checking account without an opening deposit requirement, as those features often go hand in hand. Just check to see whether that extends to no minimum balance requirement as well.

Pros of free checking

  • No fees for account ownership
  • No worries about losing money to your bank

Cons of free checking

  • May be a bank’s simplest account without special perks

On its face, a free checking account may seem more appealing than a regular checking account, which charges a monthly fee. However, at traditional brick-and-mortar banks especially, a free checking account often means fewer perks. Often, the accounts that earn interest on your balance, include free checks or offer refunds on other fees — just to name a few examples — charge a monthly fee, which typically increases the more enticing the perks are.

That’s why our list of free checking accounts is the best place to find a free checking account. We’ve identified checking accounts with no monthly fee and few to no other fees that still include solid perks — but without the price tag.

Just about anyone could benefit from having a free checking account. Not needing to pay a monthly fee just to keep your money safe and accessible means you get to use that money for other purposes like investing. Accounts with no fees are also more accessible to customers who may have lower balances and would get hit harder by fees.

Plus, our picks above show that free checking accounts aren’t devoid of great perks either. So even if you’re looking for a rewards checking account or a high-yield checking account, you can still find those that are also free.

Summary of our top free checking accounts

Best free checking account overall: Capital One 360 Checking

Best high-yield interest free checking account: nbkc Everything Account

Best free checking account with rewards: Discover Cashback Debit

Best free second-chance checking account: Chime Spending Account

Best free checking account with 24/7 customer support: Ally Bank Interest Checking

Best free checking account with ATM rebates: Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking

Best free checking account for early paycheck access: Varo Checking Account

Best free checking account with free overdraft protection: Betterment Checking

Best free credit union checking account: Alliant High-Interest Checking

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.