Best Online Checking Accounts of 2018
With so many different online checking accounts, your final choice may require you to choose between features like high interest rate or easy ATM access. We read through deposit account agreements from dozens of online banks to get a picture of the best online checking accounts currently available.
Best Online Checking Account Interest Rates
The following online checking accounts come with the highest interest rates among the banks we researched, but they come with slightly different requirements which you should look over before committing to an account.
Redneck Bank Rewards Checking
As unusual as the name sounds, the 2.25% APY on Redneck Rewards Checking makes it the highest-earning option for people who can keep up with its frequent debit spending requirement. The account requires you to select paperless statements and post at least 10 debit card transactions in order to earn the full 2.25% APY each month. Falling short of this activity requirement reduces the rate to 0.50% APY, and any amount you deposit over the first $10,000 will only earn 0.50% APY.
Even with this $10,000 ceiling on the top rate, Redneck Rewards Checking is one of the best deals available if you're looking for an online checking solution. Meeting the debit requirement also unlocks $25 in monthly ATM reimbursements, making your cash withdrawals essentially fee-free regardless of location. While it operates under its own unique brand, Redneck Bank is the Internet banking division of the Oklahoma-based All America Bank.
MemoryBank EarnMore Account
The MemoryBank EarnMore Account can earn 1.60% APY in the first twelve months, so long as you meet a monthly minimum of one direct deposit and 5 debit card uses. These activity requirements are similar to those attached to the Bank of Internet Rewards Checking account. If you have direct deposits and 5 or more transactions on each of your monthly statements, the initial interest boost on this account is the highest available for checking accounts anywhere.
However, the permanent rate on the EarnMore Account falls to 1.00% after the first year, slightly lower than the standard 1.25% APY at Bank of Internet USA. In addition, the activity requirements remain in place for the standard rate, so missing a direct deposit or failing to make enough debit card purchases will drop your rate to 0.05% for that month. Still, we believe this account presents a rare opportunity to earn interest on your checking balance at a time when deposit interest rates have been stuck at all-time lows.
Bank of Internet USA Rewards Checking
The Bank of Internet USA Rewards Checking account has zero fees and zero minimum balance requirements. While most interest checking accounts require you to keep a certain minimum balance in order to earn the monthly rate, Bank of Internet instead requires at least $1,000 in direct deposits and 15 debit card purchases of $3 or more. If you don't meet the conditions completely, you can still earn part of the rate depending on how close you get. While complicated, this system has no minimum balance requirement, so if you receive at least $1,000 each month from direct deposits and spend money with your debit card at least 4 to 5 times a week, you should easily qualify for the full rate.
Best Free Online Checking Account: Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account
With 0.76% APY on balances over $100, Bank5 Connect is the most cost-effective option for a high checking interest rate. While the interest rate isn't the highest available, we believe this account obtains the highest rate for the most reasonable minimum on a free account. People who can't or don't want to keep large amounts of money in their account will appreciate the relatively strong rate and low balance requirement. Keeping this account truly "free" requires a good grasp of the service fees, which are comparable to those at other online banks. Bank5 Connect doesn't charge anything for overdraft transfers and incoming wires, so you have more than one way to transfer money into your account without undue costs.
Best Online Checking Account with No Minimum: Ally Interest Checking
Ally Interest Checking is a strong choice among online accounts overall, but it's especially interesting to people trying to avoid opening deposit requirements. This account requires nothing to open, nothing to earn the minimum interest rate and nothing to maintain each month. It also avoids the direct deposit requirements attached to other accounts, earning 0.10% APY on any balance and up to 0.60% APY if you can keep $15,000 or more in the account.
Ally Bank comes up frequently in our research of the best online checking options thanks to its relatively wide array of deposit accounts, high interest rates and a demonstrable focus on customer service. In a 2015 Pew Charitable Trusts report covering 45 of the nation's largest retail banks, only Ally Bank achieved full marks. Ally's account agreement avoids every practice that Pew considers potentially harmful to bank customers, including complex language, excessive overdraft fees and arbitration clauses.
Best Business Checking Account Online: EverBank Business Checking
If you're looking for a business checking account from an online bank, your choices are somewhat limited. Of the few online-only banks that offer business checking, EverBank offers a decent product in its EverBank Business Checking account. You receive 200 free transactions per month and pay $0.25 on each additional transaction, which compares favorably to the transaction fees you receive with a major bank like Bank of America.
That said, perhaps the biggest drawback of an online-only business checking account is the inability to make direct cash deposits. If your business relies on cash payments from customers, an online account will add a barrier to getting the money into your bank. However, if your business only takes electronic payments, EverBank may help streamline your finances with its large suite of financial management tools.
Best Second Chance Online Checking Account: Capital One 360 Checking
The Capital One 360 Checking account is ideal if you want an online account but have a history with Chexsystems or some other consumer reporting agency. While Capital One does refer to such systems, the bank is unique for considering other personal information, like your credit score. This means that a negative record in Chexsystems is less likely to result in a rejection compared to applications at other banks.
Another noteworthy feature of 360 Checking is the option to activate overdraft protection from an overdraft line of credit. Overdraft protection at most banks rely on automatic withdrawals from a savings account you own, which can eat into your savings. At Capital One, the overdraft line of credit charges about 3 cents per day for every $100 of negative balance —a uniquely generous policy compared to the $35 per-transaction overdraft fee at most banks.
Summary of Best Online Checking Accounts
Here are the best online checking accounts we examined. If none of them stood out to you for their individual features, you can use the common qualities listed below for an apples-to-apples comparison.
|Best For...||Account Name||APY||Required to Earn APY|
|Overall APY||Redneck Rewards Checking||2.25%||10 debit purchases, paperless statements|
|Introductory rate||MemoryBank EarnMore Account||1.50%||1 direct deposit, 5 debit purchases|
|No activity requirements||Bank5Connect High-Interest Checking||0.76%||$100 daily balance|
|No deposit to open||Ally Interest Checking||0.10%-0.60%||-|
|Online business banking||EverBank Business Checking||0.00%||-|
|Second chance accounts||Capital One 360 Checking||0.20%-1.00%||$0.01 daily balance|
Finding Other Online Checking Accounts
Although online-only checking comes with a number of important benefits, you may feel that access to brick-and-mortar services is an important part of the banking experience you want. If that's the case, our breakdown of the best checking accounts includes traditional accounts that could meet your particular needs. But whether you're considering brick-and-mortar banking or online banking or something in between, it's easiest to make a good decision when you start out with a clear idea of what you want to find.
When it comes to checking accounts, you should think about how you'll use your account every day. Do you make a lot of debit card purchases, or do you prefer to withdraw cash from ATMs? Is access to a branch important to you, or will you be comfortable doing all your banking online and by phone? Should you worry about potential overdraft fees? Having answers to these questions will make it much easier to narrow down your options.
A Comprehensive List of Online Checking Accounts
Here is the full list of online checking accounts we considered in the course of our research. This may be a good place to start looking for options if you didn't find what you were looking for above. You can also check out our account comparison tool for a more interactive list of choices.
|Account||APY||Min Balance for APY||Minimum Opening Balance|
|MemoryBank EarnMore Account||0.05%-1.50%||$0||$50|
|Bank of Internet Rewards Checking||1.25%||$0||$0|
|Aspiration Summit Account||0.25%-1.00%||$0-$2,500||$10|
|Capital One 360 Checking||0.20%-0.90%||$0-$100,000||$0|
|Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account||0.76%||$100||$10|
|Bank of Internet Platinum Checking||0.71%||$5,000||$0|
|Ally Interest Checking||0.10%-0.60%||$0-$15,000||$0|
|Everbank Yield Pledge Checking||0.25%-0.61%||$0-$100,000||$1,500|
|State Farm Interest Checking||0.25%||$2,500||$100|
|Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking||0.06%||$0||$0|