Did you know you don't have to pay to have a checking account? In fact, some financial institutions will pay you to have your checking with them. So why are you sticking with a bank or even a credit union that charges you monthly fees, debit card fees, and statement fees along with increased fees on ATM surcharges and NSFs?
There are many financial services companies offering free checking accounts that include online account access, a mobile app, mobile deposit, access to thousands of ATMs, online bill pay and more.
Here are my favorite free checking accounts. Look them over, try one or all of them and find the one that fits your needs.
Best Free Checking with Savings Automation: CHIME BANKING
Chime is a mobile bank account that offers a Spending Account, a Savings Account, and a Visa debit card along with a very user-friendly mobile app. The goal of Chime is to eliminate the high banking fees and impersonal approaches most people have experienced with their banking relationships. With Chime, you have access to 24,000 ATMs nationwide through MoneyPass Network. Find the nearest ATM using the app.
Chime is partnered with The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Early access to your direct deposited paycheck from your employer or benefits provider up to 2 days earlier. Connect your accounts with other financial institutions.
And absolutely no monthly fees, transaction fees, statement fees, debit card fees, foreign transaction fees, or overdraft fees. Read the complete Chime Bank review.Try Chime's Free Checking (Get $10 Bonus)
Best Free Checking Account with Branch Access: CAPITAL ONE 360
Capital One 360 offers a free checking account with no fees or minimums and plus access to over 39,000 fee-free Allpoint® ATMs. Capital One 360 provides online banking along with many brick-and-mortar branches that make managing your money simple.
Capital One offers other checking accounts that may have monthly fees. If you do most of your banking online, on mobile, or through ATMs, then choose to open a Capital One 360 account online and not at a branch. However, a key benefit of a Capital One 360 free checking account is that you'll still have branch access to make deposits and withdrawals if needed.
Capital One 360 debit cards attached to your free checking account will also never overdraft. You'll only be able to charge the amount available in your checking. Read the complete CapitalOne 360 review.Try CapitalOne 360 Free Checking (Get $25 Bonus)
Best Free Checking for the Digital Nomad: Simple Bank
Simple offers free checking accounts, a debit card, and an app. With Simple, everything is done online or through the mobile app. There are no physical locations or branches for you to visit. Having no physical presence or proprietary ATMs to service can keep operational costs low allowing Simple to offer you free checking.
Using Simple banking is, well, simple. You start by signing up for a free checking account through a streamlined online process. Within a few days, you'll receive a Visa debit card attached to the account. You have immediate access to your accounts via the app.
Deposits are made through direct deposit, electronic transfers or by using the mobile deposit feature. There are no cash deposits. You'll have access to 40,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide. Additionally, you can connect your other checking and savings accounts and make transfers easily. Read the complete Simple Bank review.Try Simple Free Checking (Get $20 Bonus)
My Smile Summary: Which Free Checking Account Should You Use?
I currently use these three checking accounts for various reasons. I highly recommend them as alternatives to banks and credit unions. In fact, I still have accounts with credit unions which is connected to these online free checking accounts. I just happen to like the features of these apps. For instance, I like how Chime rounds up my purchases and transfers the difference into my savings accounts.
With Capital One 360, it's my go-to account because I have never paid a fee in the 8 years I've had the account. I really like Capital One 360's terms for no overdraft fees on electronic transactions. And like the fact they have branches that I can visit if need be which is very rare.
If you're looking for a more hands-off approach, then Simple Bank is a good solid choice. The company was founded years ago to offer free checking to those who don't require the use of expensive branches.
Unsure of which one to use? Try them all. It's easy to open accounts which can take a couple minutes each. And if you do, they are all offering bonuses that total to $55. Now, that's enough to cover one NSF fee those big banks charges.