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Top 5 July 2024 online checking accounts

When you need a safe place to keep money you need for everyday spending, checking accounts are the best option. Most checking accounts make it easy to access money and are FDIC insured. The best checking accounts have low to no fees and a high APY. Free online checking accounts with no deposit required are becoming more common these days. Below, you can see our picks for some of the best checking accounts available online.

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BMO Relationship Checking High Interest Checking BMO Smart Advantage Checking Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus BMO Smart Money Checking
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APY
See terms
Up to 1.10% APY
See terms
N/A
See terms
Monthly Fee
$25*
$0
$0
$0
$5 or $0 if you’re under 25
Earning rewards
No
Earn 1.10% APY on all balances
N/A
Up to 2% cash back on common everyday expenses for active accounts with monthly $1,000 direct deposit, and up to 1% cash back for other purchases.
No
Minimum Deposit
$25
$100
$25
$0
$25
Online Banking
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
FDIC Insured
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
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What is a
checking account?

A checking account is an account that allows you to deposit and withdraw money, offering everyday access to your money. There is no limit to how often you can access your money. You can use a checking account to pay bills, make purchases, and manage your daily financial transactions.

You can open a checking account at brick-and-mortar banks, credit unions and online. Online checking accounts are becoming more popular as they tend to offer better terms and even earn some interest. Many banks offer checking accounts with debit cards for easier access to funds. Plus, in addition to opening a bank account online, you can manage it online or via a mobile app.

Checking accounts also offer a good level of safety. They can be federally insured to at least $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) or by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, depending on whether the checking account is offered by bank or credit union.

Available Online
Online checking accounts offer more convenience, less cost, and less hassle.
FDIC Insured
The FDIC protects the money you place in insured banks in the unlikely event of a bank failure.
Debit Card
Checking accounts may come with debit cards or allow you to link one for easier access to money.
Low to No Fees
Online checking accounts may offer various ways to waive monthly maintenance fees.
APY
Some checking accounts may earn interest (annual percentage yield).

How to choose a checking account

When selecting a checking account, you will want to know about all possible fees a bank could charge you for the services. Even if an advertisement says "free checking account", that might not be the whole truth.

The best checking accounts charge minimal fees and allow you to waive some of them. For example, you could set up a direct deposit or maintain a minimum average balance to waive monthly fees. Online checking accounts may not charge monthly fees at all and even offer perks like ATM fee reimbursements. Here are some of the fees to look out for: monthly maintenance fees, paper statement fees, wire transfer fees, out-of-network ATM fees, foreign ATM fees, foreign transaction fees, overdraft fees, returned item (NSF) fees, certified check and money order fees.

To benefit from opening a checking account online, check for offers with bonuses, rewards, or interest earning opportunities. Such perks usually come with requirements, so make sure you meet them before you open a new bank account.

Here's a list of checking account features to consider:


  • Minimum balance: When opening a checking account, you may be required to deposit a minimum amount. Plus, there may be a minimum amount required to avoid monthly maintenance fees. Online banks may offer no deposit checking accounts.

  • Welcome bonus: From time to time, you may see banks offering cash bonuses for opening a new account. Some bonuses may be up to $500. However, this may require you to meet certain criteria, which is often a minimum amount of direct deposits.

  • ATM fees: Network ATMs are usually free to use, but if you use an out-of-network ATM, you will most likely be charged a fee.

  • Monthly fees: This fee is charged to maintain your account. Many online checking accounts do not charge this fee, some accounts offer ways to waive it.

  • Overdraft fees: When you accidentally exceed the available balance in your checking account, you'll be charged an overdraft fee.

  • Debit card: Checking accounts often come with a debit card, which makes it easier to access money. You can use a debit card for purchases (including online), to pay bills, and to withdraw or deposit money via ATMs.

  • Annual percentage yield (APY): This is the interest rate you can earn on your deposit over a year. However, the APY is not very high compared to savings accounts.

What are the pros and cons of checking accounts?

Many consumers have checking accounts. They are convenient to use and are easy bank accounts to open with bad credit. There are good reasons why checking accounts are such a popular place to keep money. But at the same time, in some cases you can find better alternatives. Here are some pros and cons of using a checking account to consider.

PROS:

  • Checking accounts offer easy access to your money. You can spend out of a checking account using checks, debit cards, online banking, and mobile wallets.

  • You can set up a direct deposit to receive paychecks directly into your account. Most checking account advertise early paycheck access with the direct deposit.

  • You can enjoy no restrictions on spending. With a savings account, you are usually limited to a number of withdrawals each month. And with a certificate of deposit, you can't take money out at all without paying a penalty.

  • Your money is protected as most checking accounts have insurance covering up to $250,000 in deposits.

CONS:

  • Many checking accounts earn little or no interest. While you can find checking accounts with a competitive yield, it may still not be as good as with savings accounts, or you may be required to, for example, keep a minimum deposit to get that high interest.

  • Some checking accounts may charge fees for things such as not meeting the minimum.

  • Keeping too much money in your checking account may not be worthy in terms of efforts to save.
Money Transfers
You can transfer money from your own checking account into a savings account.
Mobile Banking
You can manage all your accounts from your smartphone using a banking app.
Bill Payment
You can set up automatic payments or reminders so you never miss a beat.
Mobile Payments
You can make purchases from your account using Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.
ATM Access
You can withdraw money from your accounts at ATMs in the US and around the world.

Let's compare
checking accounts BY MAIN FEATURES:

viewing 0-0 of 0
APY
See terms
N/A
See terms
N/A
See terms
Up to 1.10% APY
See terms
Monthly Fee
$25*
$0
$5 or $0 if you’re under 25
$0
$0
$0
Zero
Overdraft Fee
$15 each (or get overdraft protection to avoid fees)
$0
$0
$0
$15 each (or get overdraft services to avoid fees)
$35.00 per item
Zero
Minimum Deposit
$25
$0
$25
$0
$25
$100
Only $50 to open an account
Zelle service
Yes
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
Online Banking
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Mobile Check Deposits
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Member FDIC
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Earning Rewards
No
Up to 2% cash back on common everyday expenses for active accounts with monthly $1,000 direct deposit, and up to 1% cash back for other purchases.
No
No
N/A
Earn 1.10% APY on all balances
No
Bonus Offer
Earn a $500 cash bonus when you have a total of at least $7,500 in qualifying direct deposits within 90 days of opening
No
Earn a $350 cash bonus when you have a total of at least $4,000 in qualifying direct deposits within 90 days of opening
No
Earn a $350 cash bonus when you have a total of at least $4,000 in qualifying direct deposits within 90 days of opening
Cash in on up to a $500 bonus and up to 3.30% APY* with a new Rewards Checking account. Just use promo code RC500 before July 31.
Minimum Age
18
18
18
18
18
18
18

How to open a checking account online instantly

With so many online banks, it's quite easy to open an online bank account. First of all, you need to compare offers to select the account that fits your needs. When picking an account, make sure you know about its fees, benefits and banking methods (online, mobile, in-person, etc.).

Then you need to carefully read the agreement. Like with credit cards, online checking accounts come with terms and conditions, which you'll want to read before you apply. The terms usually cover all fees, rates, and important information about the account.

After that, you can apply online. You can apply for most checking accounts online if you are 18 or older. You will need to provide some basic information about you to fill out an application form. Some banks may require you to submit documents. When you submit your application, you may receive an email describing what to do next.

Once you are approved, you may need to make an opening deposit. If you are planning to use a debit card linked to your checking account, you will need to activate it. Once the bank finishes setting up your account, it's ready to use.

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