The Best Online Checking Accounts of April 2021

Best Online Checking Accounts

Online checking accounts often outperform traditional checking accounts by offering higher APYs, lower fees, and convenient online access. We went through hundreds of online banks to ensure our list features the best online checking accounts of 2020.

Your checking account is an important part of your financial picture, and you could be missing out on the best option for your money if you overlook online checking accounts. Online checking accounts are more likely to be free and earn competitive interest rates or rewards, all while providing easy access to your money.

In fact, brick-and-mortar banks will charge $20 per month on average for a checking account that earns interest, although at paltry rates. Online checking accounts, on the other hand, rarely charge a monthly fee and for much better interest rates. Take a look for yourself below, where we compiled the top online checking accounts to give you a head start on finding the best account for your banking needs.

Why trust us

We know finding a new bank account is often an overwhelming process. That's why the experts at ValuePenguin looked through all of the available online checking accounts to rank them here for you.

We first considered free online checking accounts, which are more financially accessible, as well as easy to access on the go. Then we looked for any perks, especially earned interest or cashback rewards. We also made sure the accounts offered free and fair overdraft options.

Each account below provides FDIC insurance on its deposits, either on its own or through a partner bank.

Best online checking accounts

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Capital One 360 Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • APY: 0.10%
  • Minimum to open: $0

Highlights: Capital One’s 360 Checking account earns interest on all balances at 0.10% APY. There's no minimum balance threshold to worry about, nor a monthly fee to cut into your earnings. The account is easy to access and manage, as it's available on your computer or in the palm of your hand in the Capital One mobile app. The app is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and offers the ability to securely deposit a check using your smartphone camera. You also can use your Amazon Alexa to manage your account.

For physical access to your cash, you can use any Capital One or Allpoint ATM at no cost. Capital One also won't charge you for using an out-of-network ATM, although you'll likely face a surcharge from the ATM owner. Although this is largely an online account, different from checking accounts that you can open in a branch, 360 customers can still access Capital One Cafes and branches.

With the 360 Checking account, you have three overdraft options, which is helpful in molding the account to your needs:

  • Auto-Decline declines all transactions that would overdraw your account for free.
  • Free Savings Transfer links your 360 savings account to your checking account and automatically covers overdraft transactions for free.
  • Next Day Grace allows Capital One to cover the overdraft transaction and gives you a full business day to replace the overdraft amount before you're charged a $35 overdraft fee.

What to watch out for: There aren't many fees you should run into with your day-to-day banking with this account. However, there are fees you could face in certain circumstances, such as for cashier's checks, outgoing domestic wires and non-sufficient funds for returned unpaid checks.

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • APY: 0.10%
  • Minimum to open: $100

Highlights: Radius Bank didn't name this account Rewards Checking for nothing — the account earns rewards in two ways. For one, it earns up to 1% in unlimited cash back on online and signature-based transactions made with the Radius Bank Mastercard debit card. Until Dec. 30, 2020, you can earn an additional 0.50% cash back on purchases made in select merchant categories like medical services, groceries, restaurants, charitable organizations and more. The second round of rewards comes in the form of earned interest. Balances from $2,500 to $99,999 earn 0.10% APY, and balances of $100,000 and over earn 0.15% APY.

Radius Bank allows you to get your paycheck up to two days earlier than usual by depositing those funds into your account as soon as the bank receives it from your employer, rather than holding it for a few days like most institutions still do.

You can find Radius Bank online and in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store; the mobile app includes mobile check deposit for convenient deposits. Your Radius Bank account is compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Radius Bank allows you to make withdrawals and deposits at MoneyPass and SUM ATMs for free, though you can still use any ATM worldwide without facing a fee from Radius Bank. The bank also rebates surcharges you'll likely face at non-MoneyPass or SUM ATMs.

What to watch out for: To earn cashback rewards, you must keep an average balance of at least $2,500 or receive direct deposits totaling at least $2,500 within the month.

Further, if you don't plan on keeping at least $2,500 in the account, you'll miss out on earning interest. Additionally, if you want to set up overdraft protection for your Radius Bank Rewards Checking account, you'll need to open up at least one other account with the Bank to provide overdraft transfer coverage.

Axos Bank Rewards Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • APY: Up to 1.25%
  • Minimum to open: $50

Highlights: The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account is easy to open and maintain, requiring only a $50 minimum opening deposit and forgoing any minimum balance requirements after that. You also don't have to worry about fees for monthly service, overdrafts and non-sufficient funds.

Although it's an online bank, Axos Bank still provides account holders with free access to tens of thousands of ATMs across the country. Even better, Rewards Checking account holders benefit from unlimited reimbursements on domestic ATM fees.

To deposit cash into your checking account, you can find eligible ATMs through the Axos Bank website or on its mobile app, available in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. You can also deposit cash at a Green Dot Network location, like at a CVS, Kroger or Walmart; Axos Bank doesn’t charge a fee for this service, but the retailer might. Mobile check deposit allows you to deposit checks right from the Axos Bank app.

What to watch out for: Axos Bank makes you work for the 1.25% APY. First, you have to receive monthly direct deposits totaling at least $1,000 to earn 0.4166% APY. Second, you just make at least 10 transactions per month (of at least $3) with your Axos Visa Debit Card to earn another 0.4166% APY. Finally, the bank requires you to use your debit card five more times for another 0.4166%, bringing you to the maximum 1.25% APY.

Additionally, balances over $150,000 do not earn interest. If you don't plan on using your checking account within these parameters, you may want to look elsewhere.

nbkc Everything Account

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • APY: 0.25%
  • Minimum to open: $0

Highlights: nbkc bank recently rebranded its checking account to the higher-rate Everything Account, complete with savings and budgeting features. Its 0.25% APY applies to all balances. There are no fees for monthly service, overdrafts, cashier's checks, money orders or foreign transactions.

Within the Everything Account are Savings Goals, which allow you to differentiate between any separate savings goals you might have. Even within Savings Goals, your money still earns the 0.25% APY, with no minimum balance required.

The Everything Account also provides a financial snapshot when you link your other external financial accounts, from credit cards to investments. You can then set budgets and spending categories to keep your finances on track. You also can schedule automatic bill payments within your account.

Although largely an online bank, nbkc has a few branches in the Kansas City area in addition to its online and mobile app access. It also provides free access to MoneyPass ATMs with your Mastercard debit card, and reimburses up to $12 per month in third-party ATM surcharges.

What to watch out for: The only fees that may apply when you have an Everything Account are for outgoing domestic wires ($5 per wire) and incoming and outgoing international wires ($45 per wire).

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • APY: 0.10%
  • Minimum to open: $0

Highlights: Online banking giant Ally Bank offers a full suite of great online bank accounts, including its Interest Checking Account, which can be opened with any deposit amount and is free to own. All balances earn interest, although you'll earn the higher rate of 0.25% APY if you have at least $15,000 in the account, compared with the 0.10% APY you'll get with less than $15,000.

There are plenty of ways to access your Ally Bank account. You can make free withdrawals at any Allpoint ATM, and Ally Bank will even reimburse up to $10 in third-party ATM fees for the times you can’t make it to an Allpoint ATM. You can log into your account online and in the Ally Bank mobile app, which includes mobile check deposit and is available in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Windows Phone Store and Amazon. The account is also compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Microsoft Wallet. You can even make transfers through Ally Skill™ for Amazon Alexa.

Your best bet for overdraft protection is setting up the overdraft transfer service, which will automatically pull funds from a linked account to cover any overdraft transactions. This will protect you from a declined non-debit card transaction and an overdraft fee. If you don't have overdraft transfer service and make a transaction with your debit card, the transaction will simply be declined and you will still avoid the overdraft fee. Even if you make a non-debit card transaction without overdraft transfer service and incur an overdraft fee, Ally Bank will only charge a fee once per day, even if you overdraw your account more than once.

What to watch out for: While Ally Bank is upfront about the fees you might face, it still charges a few fees that other competitors on this list don't. That includes fees for overdrafts, returned deposit items and outgoing domestic wires.

Another potential downside is that you cannot deposit cash into an Ally Bank account. Instead, you can use online transfers, direct deposit, mobile check deposit or wire transfers, or simply mail a check to the bank.

Discover Bank Cashback Debit

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • APY: 0.00%
  • Minimum to open: $0

Highlights: Cashback rewards aren't just for credit cards when you have the Discover Cashback Debit checking account. This account earns 1% cash back on debit card purchases each month up to $3,000.

The Discover checking account is also quite fee-free. You won't face a fee for monthly service, insufficient funds, deposited items returned and more.

Discover bank accounts are accessible online and in the bank's mobile app, which is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The app even comes with the ability to deposit checks using your smartphone camera.

Discover offers free Overdraft Protection, which means when you opt in, it allows you to link another deposit account to cover your potential overdrafts.

What to watch out for: While Overdraft Protection covers transactions like checks, bill payments and ACH transfers initiated at another institution, it does not cover debit card transactions.

Additionally, you cannot make cash deposits into this Discover checking account. To make a deposit, you will need to initiate an online transfer, set up direct deposit, use mobile check deposit in the app or mail a check to Discover.

If you need to send a wire transfer from this account, it will cost $30.

Chime Spending Account

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • APY: 0.00%
  • Minimum to open: $0

Highlights: The Chime Spending Account doesn't have too many frills, but its features make for a solid online account. You can open the account with any deposit, maintain the account with any balance and face no monthly fees. Chime also doesn’t use ChexSystems when customers apply for an account, which makes it a good option for those with a rocky banking history.

Chime lets you get your paycheck faster by putting your direct deposit into your account as soon as it receives the funds from your employer, rather than holding it for a few days like many banks do.

As for overdraft protection, Chime users with monthly qualifying direct deposits totaling at least $500 can opt into Spot Me, a free service that covers up to $100 in purchases per overdraft item. Without SpotMe, Chime will simply decline the transaction, and you still won't face an overdraft fee.

Chime is accessible online and in its mobile app, which you can find in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and use to deposit checks remotely. Your Spending Account debit card is also compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. You can also use the debit card to make cash withdrawals at MoneyPass or Visa Plus Alliance ATMs.

What to watch out for: You'll face a $2.50 fee for using an ATM outside of the MoneyPass or Visa Plus Alliance networks. Depositing cash into the Chime Spending Account is a bit tricker, as you'll have to find a Green Dot location that accepts cash deposits at the register. The retailer may charge a fee for this service. You can deposit up to $1,000 per 24 hours or $10,000 per month in this way.

If you have Spot Me overdraft protection, note that it does not cover ACH transfers or ATM withdrawals.

While not something to distrust, it’s important to know that Chime is not a bank itself; instead, it is a fintech company that partners with The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC to provide its banking services and Visa debit card.

Simple Online Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • APY: 0.40%
  • Minimum to open: $0

Highlights: Another fintech to make the list, Simple offers several features with its free Online Checking account to help you manage and budget your money. You can set Expenses to let Simple know what recurring bills and expenses you have each month. Then, Simple will set aside your Safe-to-Spend balance, letting you easily see how much you can safely spend on other items.

Having a Simple account is a pretty fee-free experience, too. There are no fees for monthly account maintenance, ATM usage, non-sufficient funds, overdrafts and more.

You can use the Simple app on both iOS and Android devices, and both interfaces support mobile check deposit. The account's Visa debit card is compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Simple partners with the Allpoint ATM network to give you free and easy access to your cash. Even if you use an ATM outside of the network, Simple won't charge a fee.

What to watch out for: While Simple's checking account typically earns at least a little bit in interest, current market conditions have caused Simple to lower the rate to 0%, pausing any earnings for now. To earn Simple's competitive 0.80% APY, you'll need to move your money into the Protected Goals savings account.

Although Simple won't charge a fee for using a non-Allpoint ATM, you'll likely face a third-party fee if you stray from the network, which Simple does not reimburse. For folks who still need to write paper checks, Simple does offer that service, but for a fee of $5.

If you're looking to work with a chartered bank, know that Simple is not a bank, but a fintech company. Its banking services and Visa debit card are provided by BBVA USA.

Varo Checking Account

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • APY: 0.00%
  • Minimum to open: $0

Highlights: Fintech company and newly minted Member FDIC Varo offers a mobile-first online checking account, available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The account is free to own and doesn't require any minimum deposit or balance amounts either. Plus, Varo doesn't use ChexSystems when reviewing account applications, which opens up this account to more potential customers, including those with negative banking history.

Banking with Varo can also get you your paycheck up to two days early when you receive it via direct deposit. Varo deposits your paycheck funds into your account as soon as your employer sends it, instead of holding it like most institutions do.

The Varo checking account comes with a Visa debit card, which you can use for purchases and at thousands of Allpoint ATMs nationwide at no cost.

Varo generally will decline transfers that would overdraw your account, without charging a fee. However, you can qualify for its No Fee Overdraft feature by making at least five purchases with the Varo Visa debit card each month and receiving payroll or government direct deposits into your Varo checking or savings account totaling at least $1,000 each month. No Fee Overdraft covers overdrafts on purchases and withdrawals you make with your debit card up to $50; overdrafts that go over this amount will be declined, but you still won't face a fee. Once you make a deposit into the account, it will automatically apply to the negative balance to cover that overdraft.

What to watch out for: Using an out-of-network ATM will cost you $2.50, which is a standard amount for that kind of fee, plus any surcharges that the ATM owner decides to charge.

The only way to make cash deposits is through the Green Dot Network. One option is to deposit cash at the register of a Green Dot Reload @ the Register location, like Walmart, CVS or 7-11. Varo doesn't charge for the service, but the retailer might charge up to $4.95. Many of these locations may also offer a second cash deposit option, which is buying a $5.95 Green Dot MoneyPak that allows you to deposit $20 to $500 in a single transaction. This option requires some further registration with Green Dot.

Also note that while mobile check deposit is a feature that Varo offers, it seems as though it may not show up in everyone's app. If that's the case for you, Varo suggests contacting customer support.

Aspiration Spend & Save

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  • Monthly fee: Your choice, or $7 with Aspiration Plus
  • APY: Up to 1.00% with Aspiration Plus
  • Minimum to open: $10

Highlights: Aspiration's focus on socially-responsible banking sets it apart from its competitors. For one, it says it doesn't use customer deposits to fund projects like oil pipelines. When it comes to monthly fees, Aspiration allows account holders to pay what they think is fair — even if that's $0. Whatever Aspiration does get from customer payments, it donates 10% to "charities helping struggling Americans build a better life."

If you choose the Pay What Is Fair route, you can earn 3% to 5% cash back on purchases made at Conscience Coalition merchants, which are socially-responsible companies like Lola, TOMS, Wag!, Warby Parker and more.

If you're at the Aspiration Plus level, you can earn up to 10% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases. Aspiration Plus also offers the chance to earn up to 1% APY on your Save balances and one reimbursement per month for an out-of-network ATM fee. You'll also get access to Aspiration Planet Protection, which tallies up the carbon output of the gas purchases made with your Aspiration debit card. Aspiration then offsets your carbon output by helping to fund organizations focused on carbon reduction efforts and renewable energy strategies.

You can make free withdrawals at any Allpoint ATM in the country. Aspiration is also accessible in its mobile app, available on iOS and Android devices and equipped with mobile check deposit capabilities. You can also connect your debit card to Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

What to watch out for: The Aspiration Spend & Save dynamic may be a bit confusing unless you open an account and try it out for yourself. The two accounts are combined into one cash management account and once you open it, you cannot separate the Spend and Save components. However, Spend and Save balances are separate when it comes to earning interest and using the Aspiration Mastercard debit card.

Unfortunately, Aspiration’s Pay What Is Fair system doesn't apply to Aspiration Plus, which offers the better perks, but costs $7 per month (or $5.75 per month if you pay annually).

The 1% APY on Save balances applies to Aspiration Plus balances up to $10,000 and only when you've also made at least $1,000 in purchases with your debit card that month. If you don't meet the debit card requirement in a given month, the rate drops to 0.25%. In any case, balances over $10,000 earn 0.10% APY. Note that Save does not earn interest if you're not paying for Aspiration Plus.

Like other fintechs, Aspiration partners with banks to provide its banking services and FDIC insurance. Account holders can see where their deposits are being held in their account statements.

Other top online accounts

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking — 0.25%, $0 monthly fee

Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking — 0.25%, $0 monthly fee

CIT Bank — 0.10%-0.25% APY, $0 monthly fee

Heritage Bank eCentive — Up to 1.32% APY, $0 monthly fee

HSBC Direct — Up to 0.01% APY, $0 monthly fee

Salem Five Direct — 0.10% APY, $0 monthly fee

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking — 0.03% APY, $0 monthly fee

TIAA Bank — 0.20%-0.50% APY, $0 monthly fee

Quontic Bank — Up to 1.01% APY, $0 monthly fee

Checking account FAQs

What is an online checking account?

An online checking account is one that is available online and typically nationwide. They are accessible online, via mobile app and through ATM access.

Online checking accounts are often offered by online banks and fintech companies, but they are also increasingly offered by traditional banks with branches. Depending on the bank, you may be able to access its online account in a branch, too.

What are the pros and cons of online checking accounts?

Pros of online checking accounts

  • Almost always free (no monthly fee)
  • More likely to earn above-market interest rates
  • Easily accessed on-the-go with mobile apps
  • Mobile check deposit usually available
  • Often more widespread ATM access than traditional banks

Cons of online checking accounts

  • May not accept cash deposits
  • Most don’t include in-person branch service

How should I choose an online checking account?

With so many options, the choice of an online checking account really comes down to you and your preferences. But here are a few key points to keep in mind when weighing your options:

  • Fees. No one likes fees, but luckily, online checking accounts can help you avoid them. You'll see that all of the accounts in our top 10 above don't have monthly fees, and many of them barely charge any fees at all. When looking at accounts, check for fees on items like ATM usage, overdrafts, cash deposits and checks.
  • Accessibility: It's important to figure out how you want to access your account. For example, will online and mobile access be enough, or will you need to visit a branch once in a while? Also take a look at an account's ATM access to see whether there are ATMs near you.
  • Interest rate: Interest rates are certainly an added plus to a checking account, and certainly not unheard of in the online banking space. Finding a checking account that earns interest will upgrade your financial game.
  • Overdraft protection: Everybody makes mistakes — including overdrawing your account. You want a bank and an account that won't punish you by charging a fee and pushing you further into the red. Find an account that either declines any potential overdrafts for free, or offers free and safe options for protecting your money.
  • FDIC/NCUA insurance: As long as you're searching through reputable banks and lists (like ours), you'll find trustworthy institutions that provide insurance on your deposits through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). This ensures you don't lose your money in case your bank fails, as does insurance from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for credit unions. If you're ever unsure whether your institution is insured, you can usually find out on its website or by giving them a call.

Can I withdraw and deposit cash with an online checking account?

Yes. Since you can't access most online checking accounts at a branch, banks often provide free access to tens of thousands of ATMs across the country. Often, these ATMs are made for cash withdrawals only.

Some accounts accept cash deposits via partner ATMs or at Green Dot Reload locations. Green Dot Reload locations, which are in everyday retailers like CVS or Walmart, allow you to deposit cash into your checking account at the register. The service may cost a fee charged by the retailer.

Are online checking accounts safe?

Online checking accounts are just as safe as traditional bank accounts. To keep your money and your information safe, online checking accounts often employ firewalls, encryption, two-factor authentication and more.

Additionally, online banks usually realize that customers may be worried about doing all of their banking online, so they make information about their safety measures readily available on their website. You can also call a bank to ask for more information.

What's the difference between an online checking account vs. traditional checking account?

Online checking accounts offer some of the best deals out there. They're less likely to charge fees (if any at all) and more likely to earn you a bit of money in interest. Some online checking accounts even offer cashback rewards. Online checking accounts are even more widely accessible in some cases as they provide free access to ATMs nationwide, while traditional accounts are often limited to bank-branded machines.

It's usually more difficult to find all of these perks piled into one brick-and-mortar account, especially since traditional institutions make much of their money off of bank account fees.

However, traditional banks do offer in-person banking, something that most online checking accounts can't provide. In-person banking is often easier when you need to make larger deposits, purchase a cashier's check or just talk to a banker about your options.

A good in-between solution could be opening an online checking account that still provides some branch access. That way, you get the benefits of both sides. You could also open the best online checking account you find while keeping a checking account at your brick-and-mortar bank of choice. Then, you can move money between the accounts and never lose access to a local branch.

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.

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