Best Checking Accounts from Non-Traditional Banks 2021

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These checking accounts from nonbanks are what I call Save and Spending accounts.

Save and Spending accounts operate similarly to traditional checking accounts such as accepting direct deposits and access with a debit card to make purchases. The advantage of these accounts includes a fully integrated online and mobile experience.

Many of the Save and Spending accounts are cash management accounts because the financial services companies that offer them are nonbanks. However, these companies partner with banks to sweep your money into an FDIC insured financial institution giving your deposits FDIC insurance.

Additionally, these Save and Spending accounts have features that include budgeting, financial tracking, alerts, and automatic savings transfers. And they often have no monthly fees and overdraft fees while giving you access to thousands of surcharge-free ATMs.

At phroogal, I believe there are appropriate times we should pay a fee for a product or service that helps us do finances better. So the list isn’t comprised entirely of “free” accounts.

Best Interest Earning: SoFi Money

SoFi Money offers an online cash management account giving you access to an interest-bearing account with checking features and a debit card. SoFi is best known for student loan refinancing and has grown to offer a variety of financial products. The drawback is depositing paper checks or cash.

First Step: Open a SoFi membership, if not an existing member, and then open SoFi Money

Perks: Attend social events and workshops

  • Fees and Pricing: No minimum balance and no transaction or monthly account fees
  • ATM Access: Unlimited free or fee-reimbursed ATMs nationwide

New Account Bonus: Open a new SoFi Money account and get $50

Best Mulitple Savings Goals: Qapital Spending

Qapital Spending is linked with a debit card and your money is deposited in an account at a partner bank. With Qapital you start with savings goals and can set up automatic and rules-based deposits. The drawback is the monthly fee if you’re fee adverse.

First Step: Open a Qapital Savings account and start your membership

Perk: Rules-based triggers through IFTTT

  • Fees and Pricing: Tier monthly subscription fees for membership. No minimum balance or overdraft fees for Qapital Spending
  • ATM Access: No fees assessed by Qapital but fees may apply elsewhere

Best Micro-investing Feature: Acorns Spend

With Acorns Spend, you get a checking account with a debit card with no surprise fees. It can invest in your future, save for later (tax-advantaged retirement accounts), earn more money and spend better. The drawback is you don’t earn interest on Spend.

First Step: Open an Acorns Invest account to be eligible for Acorns Spend

Perk: Found money helps you earn cashback

  • Fees and Pricing: No minimum balance or overdraft fees — Acorns + Acorns Later + Acorns Spend for just $3/month
  • ATM Access: Unlimited free or fee-reimbursed ATMs nationwide

New Account Bonus: Open an Acorns account and get $5 invested

Best Free Checking Account: Chime

Chime is a mobile-only and FDIC insured bank account offering a connected checking and savings account with automatic savings rules such as roundups for purchases. The only drawback is depositing checks or cash.

First Step: Open a Chime account that includes both checking and saving

Perk: Get your direct deposited paycheck 2 days earlier

  • Fees and Pricing: No minimum balance or monthly account fees
  • ATM Access: Unlimited surcharge-free access to thousands of ATMs, out-of-network has fees

New Account Bonus: Open a new Chime banking account and get $50 with a minimum $200 payroll direct deposit

Best Charitable and Mission Focus: Aspiration

Aspiration Spend & Save is a cash management account with a debit card that lets you save, spend, and track your money. At Aspiration, your deposits will never go towards funding fossil fuel projects, firearms, or political campaigns.

First Step: Open an Aspiration account that includes both a Spend and Save account

Perk: Extra cashback for spending at socially-conscious businesses

  • Fees and Pricing: Choose the monthly fee you’d like to pay such as $0
  • ATM Access: 5-free ATM withdrawals each month, anywhere

New Account Bonus: Open a new Aspiration account with a minimum of $50 and get $50; $25 into your account and $25 donated in your name.

Note: The Smile List includes products and services that have been used by myself or contributors for a minimum of 60 days. This gives us a personal experience before recommending the products listed. The goal is to share products that can help you live financially well and not merely based on the affiliate income we may earn. But, if you decide to use any of these products and click the link provided, we may earn income from the list. We thank you in advance for considering these products and helping us in our mission. Again, you can always check our financial marketplace to search, filter, and find the best product to meet your needs.

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