It’s time to get the most out of your bank
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Checking accounts are the most important account of your personal finances. It acts as the nerve center of your finances and is where income goes in and expenses go out. With so much importance, it is essential to pick a great checking account. And there are a bunch to choose from, including ones that offer cash back rewards, no ATM fees and more. To help make the right choice, we put together a list of the best banks for checking accounts, so you can make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
• 01-Best Overall: Charles Schwab Bank
The best overall checking account doesn’t come from a traditional bank, it comes from an investment company. Charles Schwab Bank accounts were originally designed for Schwab investors, but the accounts stand out for low fees, no minimum balances and an ability to use any ATM in the world with no fees. The only thing this account does not let you do is deposit cash.
The account has the same features you would expect from an online banking account, including free bill pay, free transfers to accounts at Schwab and other banks, a free debit card and perks such as free checks. The biggest benefit is no-fee ATMs. Schwab charges no foreign ATM fees and reimburses you for charges from other bank’s ATMs automatically anywhere in the world. For regular international travelers or anyone who likes using ATMs but does not like fees, this is a major benefit.
• 02-Best Online Checking: Ally Bank
Ally Bank offers a top account in the online checking account space. It comes with useful features such as free Allpoint ATMs (43,000+) and a $10 reimbursement per statement cycle for other bank’s ATM fees, easy-to-use phone support where you can reach a human being, quick transfers to friends and family with Zelle and among the best checking account interest rates for online banks.
There are almost no fees for this account for regular activity. You can even get a cashier’s check free of charge. There isn’t much to complain about here. The only thing you can’t do with this online-only account is deposit cash. But because it’s 2018 and cash deposits are not all that common for those outside of the service industry, that shouldn’t hold you back.
• 03-Best High Tech: Capital One 360
If you ask Capital One 360, they say they are a technology company who also does banking, not a bank that happens to have technology. This means you get some of the best and most cutting-edge tools and features, plus no fees for regular activity with no minimum balances.
The account has free ATMs at any Capital One or Allpoint ATM (39,000 and counting) and a limited number of branches (called cafes) in large cities. Capital One was an early bank to offer remote deposit from your phone and includes powerful and useful apps and a great online experience. The bank offers competitive interest rates on checking and savings accounts.
• 04-Best Cash Back: Discover Bank
Discover is best known for credit cards, but it offers a compelling online checking account as well. The Discover Cashback Checking account pays one percent cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases each month. That gives you an ability to earn as much as $360 per year in cash back.
The accounts come with very few fees, including no monthly fee with no minimum balance requirement. There are no fees for online bill pay, access to 60,000+ ATMs, check reorders, debit card replacements, official bank checks, ACH transfers, incoming wires or deposit items returned. This account costs very little and offers a lot in return. The only big downside is that the debit card works at a limited number of merchants compared to Visa and Mastercard branded cards.
• 05-Best Military Families: USAA Federal Savings Bank
USAA is a financial institution just for military members, veterans and their families. If you are lucky enough to qualify for membership (about one in four Americans is eligible), you can get access to a wide range of value priced insurance and other financial products, including several great checking account choices.
The flagship checking account is USAA Cashback Rewards Checking, which offers 60,000 free ATMs, overdraft protection, no minimum balance, no monthly fee and early access to your paychecks in some cases when directly deposited by DFAS. Plus you get every feature you would expect from a modern bank through online and mobile banking.
• 06-Best Keeping a Budget: Simple
Simple is a bank and budgeting app in one. Acquired by BBVA (think Compass Bank) in 2014, Simple continues to operate as a stand-alone bank. It launched in 2012, making it a newer entrant to the industry. It has no physical branches and offers all services through online and mobile banking apps.
Simple offers free access to STAR network ATMs (55,000), mobile check deposits and everything else you would expect from online banking. The standout features come with automatic savings and budgeting tools, which are perfect to help you fix up and take control of your financial situation. Oh yeah, and no fees!
• 07-Best For Millennials: Chime
Chime is a mobile app first bank that makes your banking easy and in one place. It offers no fees, automatic savings plans, early access to direct deposit funds in some cases, and charges no overdraft, maintenance or foreign transaction fees.
The mobile app is great and easy to use and comes with useful notifications and access to the most important information in a couple of taps. You can even send a paper check through a button in the phone app. There are not a ton of big frills and bells and whistles. Everything just works.
• 08-Best Physical Branches: Chase
If your biggest concern is a wide network of bank branches where you can meet with a human for in-person banking, Chase is at the top of the pack. While it is an old school bank that charges fees for minimum account balances, among other fees, it does give you access to one of the biggest networks of bank branches in the country.
If you are okay with low-interest rates and high fees, you will find that Chase has generally good customer service, offers a huge range of banking products and its checking account can handle pretty much everything you throw at it, including cash deposits. Just beware using your debit card at any non-Chase bank if you have a regular checking account, as you’ll get dinged with fees on both sides.