The 8 Best Free Checking Accounts of 2021

By having no fees certain banks offer free checking accounts. Luckily many banks are offering totally free checking accounts nowadays. You can take advantage of free services and no interest rates. Who said banking had to cost you more money?

There are a lot of banks out there and a lot of them will not charge you any fees. They have large ATM footprints, powerful apps, and reward systems. Below is a roundup of the best free checking accounts out there.

Table of Contents
  1. Chase Total Checking®
  2. Discover Cashback Debit
  3. Ally Bank Checking
  4. LendingClub Bank
  5. NBKC Bank
  6. Chime Spending Account
  7. Axos Bank

Chase Total Checking®

Chase Total Checking is the only checking product on this page that will pay you money to sign up for it. Chase will give you $225 if you open a new account and set up and . If you do all this, you’ll get $225 in 15 business days.

There is a $12 monthly service fee that gets waived if you have a monthly direct deposit of at least $500 or keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 OR have $5,000+ in any combination of Chase savings, checking, and other accounts. Whew!

Why we like it: $225. The account doesn’t offer interest, which is common from a major bank, but it does give you $225 and they have a massive geographic footprint.

Available online nationwide except in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. For branch locations, visit locator.chase.com.

Learn more about Chase Bank

Discover Cashback Debit

Discover Bank Logo

Discover Bank has a great checking account that offers cashback debit – you can get 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases each and every month. Add that up and it’s $360 in cash back per year just to use your debit card, a reward that is extremely rare on this type of account.

This is on top of Discover’s history of being a very affordable, low fee bank. There is no monthly maintenance fee, 60,000+ no-fee ATMs, no fees for ATM use at other ATMs (though other banks may still charge a fee), free standard checks, free online bill pay, and free debit card replacement.

Why we like it: The debit card pays you 1% cashback. Debit cards rarely give you cashback and this account gives you 1% on up to $3,000 each month – an annual total of $360 – and it’s automatically deposited into your Discover savings account.

Learn more about Discover Cashback Debit

Ally Bank Checking

Ally Bank Logo

I use Ally Bank. I’ve been using them for years because they’re one of the best online banks out there. Ally Bank has an entire suite of deposit products that are best in class, with high interest rates and low fees.

The checking account has no maintenance fees and no minimum balance. You get free ATM access via the Allpoint ATM network but if you find yourself using another bank’s ATM, Ally will reimburse you $10 in ATM fees every statement cycle (this is the fee the other banks charge, Ally doesn’t charge you). Finally, there is a fully-featured mobile app with mobile check deposit. If you prefer to deposit via mail, you can do that too.

Why we like it: It’s everything you want in a checking account PLUS it pays you interest. The rate is far higher than any brick and mortar bank out of the water and almost every other online bank too. It’s also part of Ally Bank’s other deposit products, like certificates of deposit and savings accounts, which are also best in class as well.

Learn more about Ally Bank
(here’s a full review of Ally Bank)

LendingClub Bank

LendingClub Bank, formerly Radius Bank, is a Boston, MA-based bank founded in 1987 and offers fantastic rewards on their checking account. With the Radius Bank Rewards Checking account, you can earn unlimited 1% cashback on signature-based “credit” transactions on their debit card plus a high rate of interest. The interest rate is 0.75% APY on balances from $2500 to $99,999.99 and 1.00% APY on balances above $100,000.

You can also pair this with their savings account, which yields 1.15% APY on balances of $25,000 and up and 0.75% APY on balances $2,500 to $24,999.99. It’s a solid combination when you consider the rewards on the debit card have no limit.

You get free ATMs worldwide and just need $100 to open an account, but otherwise has no account minimums. There is no monthly maintenance fee and no minimum balance.

For a complete look at them, check out our Radius Bank review.

Why we like it: Unlimited 1% cash back rewards on an account that can bear interest (if your balance is over $2,500) is a good combination to have.

Learn more about Radius Bank Rewards Checking

NBKC Bank

nbkc bank logo

While not a household name, NBKC Bank is making a name for itself with a personal account that offers a on all balances. It’s an online-only bank, the interest rate is one of the best on this list (without strings), and it has no minimum or maintenance fee. There is also a fully-featured mobile app with mobile deposit, a must nowadays.

They leverage the 32,000+ MoneyPass ATMs so you can use them for free but they will also reimburse you $12 for ATM fees other banks charge you when you use their ATMs. All in all, it’s a solid online bank with a decent interest rate.

Why we like it: It’s a good interest rate. As of this writing, Ally Bank’s checking account only offers 0.10% on balances under $15,000 and a mere 0.60% on balances that are above $15,000. in interest plus all the other perks, it’s a solid choice.

Learn more about NBKC Bank
(read our review of NBKC Bank for more details)

Axos Bank

Axos Bank

Axos Bank, formerly Bank of Internet USA, is a rewards checking account that offers an interest rate as high as 1.00% APY if you meet some of the reward checking account requirements.

The rewards program is tiered, which means you get a higher interest rate when you meet more of these conditions:

  • Receive monthly direct deposits totaling $1,500 or more: Earn +0.40% APY
  • Use your Axos Bank Visa® Debit Card at least 10 times (minimum $3) or sign up for Account Aggregation/Personal Finance Manager in Online Banking: Earn +0.30% APY
  • Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in an Axos Managed Portfolios Invest Account: +0.10% APY
  • Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in an Axos Self Directed Trading Invest Account: +0.10% APY
  • Use your Rewards Checking account to make your full monthly Axos consumer loan payment: +0.10% APY

There is no minimum balance, no maintenance or service fees, as well as unlimited ATM reimbursements when you use another bank’s ATM. There is a fully-featured mobile app with mobile deposit, bill pay, etc.

Why we like it: Rewards checking accounts, like those powered by Kasasa banking, are great because they offer higher interest rates often for things you’re already doing. If you are making 15 transactions a month and get $1,500+ in direct deposits, why not take the higher interest? (unlimited ATM fee reimbursement is nice too!)

Learn more about Axos

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

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He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

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  1. Dave says

    Liberty First Credit Union, Lincoln, NE Kasasa checking acct. 4% interest up to $40K balance, .15% over $40k, THE very best in the country !

  2. Jon Vawter says

    All of the above 8 financial institutions are “banks”; please include or have a separate article on “credit unions” which include those paying 3% to 7% on their checking accounts balances; yes, each have their requirements like 10 to 15 debit/credit transactions, a direct deposit of $100+ each month and/or other requirements.
    Consumers deserve a better alternative.

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