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It wasn’t long ago when your only banking option was your local hometown branch. Thankfully, online banks have come a long way and can provide fantastic service, lower fees, and higher interest rates than what you’d see with traditional banking.
Most have an array of financial products to pick from, offering everything from the checking and savings accounts you’d expect to money market accounts and CDs, too.
But new online banks are popping up all the time, and that can be overwhelming. With so many available, how do you know which online bank is right for you?
Don’t worry! This guide to the best online banks of 2021 is here to help you choose.
Best Online Banks for 2021
Before we dive in, the first thing you need to know is that, just like brick and mortar banks, all of the online banks and credit unions on our list are insured with the FDIC or NCUA. That means you won’t face any extra risk for putting your money in an online bank vs. a traditional one.
And second, just because a physical branch doesn’t exist in your town doesn’t mean withdrawing your money is a pain. With online banking, you typically have 24/7 access to your money on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Plus, they’re usually part of an ATM network that provides fee-free ATMs any time you want to withdraw some cash.
Okay, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of what this article is about. Here are the best online banks to help you get more from your money.
1. CIT Bank [Editor’s Choice]
CIT Bank is our go-to online bank for high-yield savings and money market accounts. They have home loans and business loans, too, but their interest rates on personal savings vehicles is hard to beat. For those who make getting a great return a top priority, CIT Bank is our best online bank for savings.
With a Savings Builder account, you can earn as much as 0.40% APY. All it takes is a $100 minimum deposit to open and a monthly deposit of $100 or more each month to take advantage of this high-yield savings account.
A minimum balance of $25,000 also qualifies you for that awesome interest rate, but the monthly deposit will work if you don’t have that much cash to keep in that account.
To cash in on interest and write checks, CIT Bank’s money market account can help. You’ll get 0.45% APY without worrying about monthly service fees.
Just keep in mind that, although Savings Builder doesn’t have fees, you will pay a fee for overdrawing your account or making more than six transactions per month.
Although Aspiration is more of a financial firm, they offer FDIC-insured online banking with their Spend and Save Accounts. They’re an excellent option over brick-and-mortar banks since they don’t charge monthly service fees.
Taking out cash won’t cost you anything either since they’ll reimburse you for ATM fees you pay – and this even includes international ATM withdrawals (though you may still pay a 1% foreign transaction fee overseas).
With Aspiration, cash back rewards aren’t only for credit cards. Their online banking lets you earn unlimited cash back and rewards you at a higher rate for shopping at socially conscious companies.
Speaking of socially conscious companies, you can feel good about banking with Aspiration because they pledge to donate 10% of their earnings to charities.
Accounts also come with a couple of features you rarely see at banks, such as theft and damage protection for your cell phone when you pay your monthly bill with your Aspiration debit card. If you’re a victim of identity fraud, Aspiration will reimburse you for losses up to $1,000.
3. Discover Bank
Like Aspiration, Discover has a Cashback Debit account that gives you 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases each month.
Besides earning cash back, you’ll save when you bank with Discover because they have no hidden fees. Monthly maintenance, check orders, and replacing debit cards all come at no cost to you and fees don’t apply if you send money to another bank or receive money by wire transfer, either.
The huge network of ATMs is another great aspect of using Discover as your online bank. You won’t pay a fee to take out money from any of the 60,000+ ATMs on the network.
For saving money, Discover has a superb online savings account. If you don’t like banks that require a minimum balance, this is an excellent option for you. The interest you’ll earn on your savings is also one of the best you’ll find.
The Everyday Cash Reserve account from Betterment is a lucrative option if you’re looking for an online bank. You only need $10 to open an account, and they pay a top interest rate of 0.10% APY without requiring a minimum balance. Plus, there are no fees so more of your money stays in your pocket.
You might recognize Betterment from their roots as a robo-advisor. Since the company began in 2008, they’ve been one of the top investing platforms available.
With that said, you don’t need an investment account to qualify for an Everyday Cash Reserve. The two accounts are completely separate, though transferring money between your investment goals and Everyday Cash Reserve is an option.
The money in your Betterment Everyday Cash Reserve isn’t invested, so there’s no risk. All your deposits are FDIC-insured up to $1 million.
They will soon add an Everyday Checking account, and that promises to be fee-free, too.
If you need a place to hold your emergency fund, save for your next vacation, or stash cash for another savings goal, Betterment Everyday Cash Reserve is a simple solution with amazing benefits.
Your Chime account comes with everything you’d expect from your banking: A Visa debit card, spending account, and a savings account.
If you’ve been around the block, you know how common overdraft charges and monthly service fees are. Chime is one of the best online bank accounts for checking because it delivers peace of mind and a great member experience. They offer a full service bank account that is insured by the FDIC, and they load it with some sweet perks.
With Chime’s, you can get faster access to your paycheck through direct deposit. While most employers have the funds available on your typical payday, Chime will let you have it up to two days early.
Depositing money is simple with direct deposit, mobile check deposit, and electronic transfers. You can add cash to your Chime account by stopping into a Walgreens, CVS, 7-Eleven, or any other Green Dot location.
Chime bank goes a step beyond a few others with programs to help you find your financial footing. This extra help is great if saving money is a struggle or you have bad credit.
For help with saving, your purchases can automatically round up to the nearest dollar and the spare change can be put in your savings account. Chime’s second-chance banking is also an option if you’ve been denied a bank account before.
6. Ally Bank
If a history of excellent service is important to you, Ally Bank checks all the boxes. They’ve been around for more than a decade and are continually recognized as a top online bank year after year.
In addition to a great high-yield savings account, Ally also offers an interest-earning checking account. The interest you’ll earn on the funds in your checking isn’t as significant as their savings, but it’s still a decent return.
Managing your money is simple with online and app access to your accounts. Plus, Amazon Alexa opens up a world of hands-free banking with three simple words: “Alexa, open Ally.”
Using Alexa, you can check your balance, transfer money, and hear your recent transactions. Of course, you don’t want just anyone getting into your accounts. That’s why adding a voice passcode to restrict access through Alexa is quick and easy to do.
7. Wealthfront Cash Account
If getting the most bang for your buck is a priority, look no further than a Wealthfront Cash Account. Like the name implies, this high-yield savings account helps you build cash by offering 0.35% APY. There’s no wait to start earning, either. As soon as you make a deposit, your interest starts to grow.
Wealthfront doesn’t charge any fees for their Cash Account, so all the interest you earn stays in your pocket.
If you’re looking for a place to stash your emergency savings or to save for future purchases like a new home, a wedding, or that vacation you’ve been dreaming about, this account is perfect.
When it comes to financial planning, they don’t leave you out in the cold to fend for yourself. Every Wealthfront Cash Account includes Path, a personalized savings tool that helps you plan out your financial goals.
Instead of wondering if you can afford to take a year off to travel or send your kid to the college of their choice, Path crunches the numbers to give you the insight you need to make your savings goals a reality.
The best part? Opening an account is free and takes just a few minutes from your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Plus, you only need $1 to open a new account, so you have no excuse for putting off your savings goals any longer.
Although Wealthfront isn’t an online bank in the truest sense (it’s an investment company), the cash account operates like a typical bank account with even better protections. Wealthfront doesn’t invest your money and your account is FDIC insured up to $1 million so you don’t have to worry about losing that cash.
With that said, this account doesn’t offer debit cards or checks to access your cash yet. Still, withdrawing your money is easy-peasy because your Cash Account comes with unlimited transfers to a linked bank account.
Banking with Simple is a perfect solution for people who like to track their spending or need help sticking to a budget.
As a Simple customer, you’ll have no trouble with daily money management. Instead of struggling with setting up your budgeting system or using a separate app, Simple seamlessly integrates budgeting tools with your checking and savings for a one-stop banking experience.
The Safe-to-Spend feature takes the guesswork out of your money decisions. Think about the last time you wanted to spend a little extra at the store but weren’t sure if your budget could handle the extra purchase.
9. Salem Five Direct
Whether you’re looking for online savings, checking account, or both, Salem Five Direct is a fantastic option for growing your money. The eOne Savings pays a whopping 0.61% APY after you open the account with a minimum deposit of $100, making it one of the best online banks for savings. There’s no minimum balance and no monthly fees.
They offer interest checking, too, though it isn’t as great at 0.10% APY. But checking accounts are for spending, not saving, and this rate actually isn’t too bad.
Salem Five Direct has free online bill pay, mobile check deposit, and your first order of checks is free. They also offer CDs up to 36 months.
10. Radius Bank
Radius Bank has a variety of checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees and free ATM access at thousands of machines all over the country. And their checking account comes with an unlimited 1% cash back on purchases made with their debit card.
Once you deposit the initial $100 to open an account, Radius Bank doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement. Keep in mind you’ll need a minimum balance of $2,500 to qualify for their interest-earning checking, which earns 0.15% APY.
If meeting that balance requirement isn’t a problem, and you want to earn a little more, consider taking advantage of their savings account option instead.
For extra help creating a budget, tracking expenses, or reviewing your spending habits, their online financial toolbox is full of resources to put you back in control of your money. Plus, Radius Bank partners with Everfi to give your personal finances a boost with free online courses.
For a streamlined experience of saving money and earning interest, Varo has checking and savings accounts to fit your busy life. With no minimum balance requirement, your savings delivers a delightful 0.81% APY.
Get an increase to 2.80% APY if you have at least $1,000 a month direct deposited to your account and by using your Varo Visa debit card five or more times throughout the month. This is an astonishing rate, especially right now.
Like most of the other banks in this list, Varo won’t charge you fees and is part of an ATM network to give you fee-free access to cash at more than 55,000 ATMs worldwide. And if you travel often, you’ll especially love Varo because they don’t charge foreign transaction fees.
12. Capital One 360
With excellent online banking services and café locations popping up all over the U.S., Capital One is a smart choice when considering the best online banks for checking.
Besides the usual checking, you’ll find convenient options that range from savings and money market accounts to special accounts made with kids and teens in mind.
The APY you earn with the Capital One 360 savings falls short of others on this list, but – compared to rates at some major brick and mortar chains – it isn’t a terrible, either. They offer an interest-earning checking account as well.
Where Capital One 360 really shines is their superior overdraft protection. Rather than getting stuck with a fee, your checking comes with four overdraft options: auto-decline, next-day grace, a line of credit, or a free transfer from your savings account. Which option is right for you depends on your spending habits and preferences.
13. Charles Schwab Bank
Investors love the high yield checking and savings accounts at Charles Schwab Bank. When you open a checking account, you can connect it to a Schwab One brokerage account for the best in banking and investing. This will also let you skip the monthly fees.
The interest rates are a bit low, so this might not be the bank for you if a high-yield savings account is what you’re after. On the plus side, depositing money is a snap when you use the mobile app. And your Visa debit card is a convenient way to get cash fast when you need it.
14. CIBC Bank USA
CIBC Bank features a variety of banking products including personal banking, wealth building, saving, and commercial and small business banking.
The Agility Savings account from CIBC Bank is a top contender among high-yield savings accounts. With no fees and no minimum balance to maintain, cashing in on their excellent APY is easy to do.
Your choices for checking accounts include earning cash back on debit card purchases, interest rate bonuses, and reimbursement of any ATM fees you might pay.
And all of your accounts with CIBC Bank come with free online banking and a mobile app to manage your money on the go.
The Best Online Banks: Final Thoughts
Thanks to advances in technology, online banking isn’t what it used to be and the convenience it offers is a perfect fit for your busy lifestyle.
Since nearly all online accounts come with basic features like online bill pay, easy-to-navigate mobile apps, and fee-free ATM access, this list of the best online banks can help narrow your choices to make banking a breeze.
Do you use online banking? What are your favorite features of banking online? Share them with us in the comments!