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Most brick and mortar banks offer traditional checking accounts, but online banks can offer checking account perks you won’t find at your bank down the street.
Similar to shopping for a good savings account, when searching for the best checking account, you should look for one with low or no fees. In addition, many checking accounts now offer the chance to earn interest on your account balance. Is there anything better than free money?
So, what are the best checking accounts in 2021 and what do they offer? Let’s take a look.
Best Checking Accounts for 2021
1) Quontic High Interest Checking Account
Quontic Bank is a full-service digital bank offering personal bank accounts, mortgage loans, and more.
Their High Interest Checking Account is easily one of the best checking accounts on the market. Here’s why:
- Earn up to 1.01% APY
- Minimum deposit of just $100
- No monthly service fees
- Over 90,000 fee free ATMs in United States
Unlike some other banks, earning the top interest rate on this account is super easy. Simply fund your new account with at least $100. Then, use your account to make 10 purchases a month of at least $10. Balances between $0 and $150,000 are eligible for the rate.
How easy is that?
2) Axos Rewards Checking – $100 Holiday Bonus
Axos Bank is an online bank that offers several different options for checking and savings. In our opinion, their best checking account is the Axos Rewards Checking.
This account earns a stellar interest rate of up to 1.00% APY. They also did away with:
- Overdraft fees
- Non-sufficient funds fees
- ATM fees (unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements)
- Monthly maintenance fees
Axos has no minimum balance requirements, but with their super competitive rates, the Rewards Checking Account is the great place to keep balances above $2,500.
Beginning November 1st, 2021, you can also get a $100 bonus for opening a new account with at least $50. Use the code “Holidays” when you sign up, and claim your bonus today!
3) CIT Bank eChecking
CIT Bank is known for its high-yield savings products. The bank has also added an interest-bearing checking account to complement its wide array of banking options.
CIT Bank eChecking allows customers to earn different amounts of interest at each of two tiers:
- 0.10% APY for balances under $25,000
- 0.25% APY for balances of $25,000 or more
You only need an initial deposit of $100. There are no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum ongoing balance requirements. They provide up to $30 in reimbursements each month for ATM fees charged by other banks.
Opening an eChecking account means customers can use an online portal or mobile app to manage their money, see their transaction history, pay bills, deposit checks, set up direct deposit, and more. The only thing CIT Bank’s eChecking account is missing is check-writing privileges.
You can earn even more interest by linking your eChecking account with a Savings Builder account and setting up automatic deposits.
4) Chime Spending Account
Chime doesn’t mess around when it comes to checking accounts. The Chime Spending Account has:
- No service fees
- No minimum balance requirements or fees
- No overdraft fees
- No foreign transaction fees
- Get your paycheck up to 2 days early with direct deposit
- Access to 60,000 fee-free ATMs
Your Chime Spending Account comes with a free Visa Debit Card that can be used almost anywhere in the world. You do face $2.50 fees for out-of-network ATMs, though.
Hate waiting for your paycheck every week? With Chime, you can get your paycheck up to two days earlier by setting up direct deposit.
Although you won’t be able to write paper checks, Chime will send one for you through its “Checkbook” feature. There’s no limit on the number of checks that you can send per day, but the maximum amount is $5,000 per check.
If you’re looking for both checking and savings options, Aspiration is could be a good fit. Their Spend & Save Account is a hybrid account that earns interest. The account is offered by Aspiration Financial, LLC, which is a broker account, not a traditional bank. Despite that fact, your deposits are FDIC-insured.
With Aspiration, you will never pay an ATM fee. If another bank charges you a fee, Aspiration will reimburse you for it. You can also earn cashback rewards for every dollar spent on your Aspiration debit card. And you’ll earn 1.00% APY interest on your Aspiration Save deposits.
6) M1 Finance
It’s not often that you see brokerage firms offering checking accounts, but that’s basically what M1 Finance provides in the form of M1 Spend. Meant as a replacement to traditional checking accounts, M1 Spend offers two tiers to choose from.
The first tier is a simple M1 Spend checking account. This free account comes with a plastic debit card and the ability to waive ATM fees once per month.
The second tier is M1 Plus, a premium service with extra perks. M1 Plus carries a $125 annual fee, which is almost unheard of with traditional checking accounts. However, the perks tied to M1 Plus may be worth the extra cost. With the M1 Plus checking account, customers will earn 1.00% APY and will receive the Tungsten metal debit card. They’ll also snag unlimited 1% cash back on all debit card purchases and get ATM fees waived up to four times per month.
No matter which option you choose, M1 Spend offers tons of value. Both checking account tiers offer direct deposit and money transfers, have no balance minimums, and are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. M1 Spend is also fully integrated with all of the M1 Finance offerings, such as M1 Invest and M1 Borrow.
If you’ve ever invested money, you know there’s often a three-day hold on money transferred from your bank to a brokerage account. Having an M1 Spend checking account allows you to transfer money to your M1 Invest account without any wait time.
If you’re someone who likes earning cash back rewards but doesn’t use credit cards, M1 Spend is a great fit. It’s also a great way to earn a good APY on everyday spending.
Chase is one of the oldest and largest financial institutions in the US. In addition to their credit card and lending services, they also offer traditional bank accounts like the Chase Checking Account.
With a Chase Checking Account, customers get access to 16,000+ ATMs and 5,000 Chase bank branches. You’ll also receive a Chase debit card. You can snap a photo of checks for mobile deposit and send money from your Chase checking account to other people using Zelle.
Chase does charge a $12 monthly fee. This fee can be waived if you have:
- Direct deposits totaling $500 or more
- A beginning of day balance of $1,500 or more
- An average beginning day balance of $5,000 or more combined with qualifying linked Chase accounts
Use our link below to get a $200 bonus for opening a new checking account and setting up direct deposit!
Although it’s known mostly for its investment services, Betterment also has a fee-free checking account. Betterment Checking accounts have no minimum deposit or balance requirements. An account also comes with a complimentary Visa debit card.
Betterment doesn’t charge fees on its checking account — not even monthly maintenance or overdraft fees. While Betterment doesn’t have its own ATM network, it does reimburse fees from ATMs worldwide. The company also reimburses Visa’s 1% transaction fees on foreign purchases made with your debit card.
It’s important to note that when you open a Betterment Checking account, the company will automatically open a Cash Reserve account — a high-yield cash account — for you. Customers have the option to close their Cash Reserve account if they don’t want it.
Betterment Checking accounts do not come with check-writing privileges or a bill-payment feature. These accounts are geared towards fans of mobile banking. Customers can use the Betterment mobile app to manage their accounts, make mobile check deposits, and integrate with third-party payment apps like Venmo and Zelle. Betterment Checking is an excellent option if you like having your everyday money and investment accounts in one place.
Ally is one of the originals of online banking and they continue to make a splash with their Interest Checking Account. How much interest can you earn with Ally?
- 0.10% APY on accounts with less than $15,000 minimum daily balance
- 0.25% APY on accounts over the $15,000 minimum daily balance
Ally doesn’t charge any monthly maintenance fees and they offer 24/7 live customer service.
You’ll have access to any of the 43,000+ Allpoint ATMs in the U.S. You can also make deposits by direct deposit, wire transfer, mobile deposit, or by sending a check in the mail.
Discover is known for their cash back rewards, and that stands true for their checking account, too. Open a Discover Cashback Debit Account and earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases every month.
Additionally, Discover doesn’t charge any fees. You get access to 60,000+ ATMs across the US, and their mobile bill pay feature is perfect for account owners on the go.
11) PenFed Access America Checking
With PenFed Credit Union’s Access America Checking, you’ll enjoy a solid rate with minimal fees. When you set up direct deposit, you can also access your paycheck a day early.
This account also offers fee-free access to over 85,000 ATMs nationwide. You can even deposit checks via your smartphone by utilizing the mobile deposit feature.
The account does carry a monthly fee service fee, but it is easy to avoid. Simply make a monthly direct deposit of $500 or maintain a minimum daily balance of $500.
Not all checking accounts are created equal. Whether you open an account at your local bank or choose one of the online checking account options, be sure to find an account that fits your financial needs and makes your money work for you.
*Additional reporting by Kevin Payne