7 Free Online Checking Accounts

Free Online Checking Accounts

“Free” is such a subjective word. When a bank offers you a free $50+ cash bonus for opening a premier account, doesn’t it have to adjust its fees to pay for this little sugarplum? 

Similarly, someone is paying for free online checking accounts, and that someone is you, through secondary fees. Nevertheless, free checking can be a terrific deal. By shifting the costs elsewhere, some online banks can offer this amenity in the hopes of eventually upselling customers into more lucrative (for the bank) accounts.

So, frugal consumers, feel free to take advantage of these checking accounts that are more or less free and available to folks with all sorts of credit histories.

Best Free Online Checking Accounts

These seven checking accounts are attractive. You can open and manage them without ever going to a bank branch. They charge very little, and most do not require a minimum account opening deposit or balance. 

Online-only banks can afford these free accounts because they don’t sink a fortune into brick-and-mortar branches. The result is the convenience of free checking, albeit usually without the checks.

  • Your Chime Checking Account comes with a debit card, no monthly fees or maintenance fees.
  • Avoid out-of-network ATM fees and access to 60,000+ fee-free ATMs¹ — more than the top 3 national banks combined!
  • Direct deposits arrive up to 2 days early, terms apply.²
  • We’ll spot you up to $200 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals with no overdraft fees. Eligibility requirements and limits apply.³
  • Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
  • Click here for sign-up, terms, and details.
★★★★★

5.0

Overall Rating

Monthly Fee Minimum Deposit Minimum Balance Reputation Score
$0 $0 $0 9.5/10

The keeps costs down by operating exclusively online. It offers a bank account that charges no fees for ATM transactions, monthly maintenance, overdrafts, or foreign transactions.

You can deposit, withdraw, and transfer the money in your account for free. You receive a Visa® Debit Card when you open the account, and may be able to apply for the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card⁴. The optional overdraft fee protection can save you money if you overdraw your account. We rate Chime as the best free checking account in this review.

2. Current

  • Safe and secure Visa debit card with instant transaction alerts.
  • Fee-free overdraft protection of up to $200 with Overdrive™.
  • Earn 15x points when you swipe your card at participating merchants, which can be redeemed for cash in your Current Individual account.
  • Access 40,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs in the US.
  • Get paid up to two days faster with direct deposit.
  • Current is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services are provided by Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC.
  • Click here for sign-up, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Monthly Fee Minimum Deposit Minimum Balance Reputation Score
$0 $0 $0 7.5/10

offers an online bank account with no hidden fees or minimum balance requirement. Its Overdrive service provides up to $200 of fee-free overdraft protection, and direct deposits process up to two days faster than conventional paychecks, all without a monthly service charge.

The account’s debit card pays rewards on eligible swipes. You can earn interest on your balances via Current Savings Pods, and there are no fees for money transfers or in-network ATM withdrawals (fees apply for cash deposits).

3. Oxygen

  • Earn cash back on select purchases – no points or gimmicks – just real money.
  • Create savings goals and make your money grow with Annual Percentage Yields (APYs).
  • Get paid up to two days earlier with direct deposit.
  • Four Visa debit card tiers to choose from, each with varying costs, rewards, and benefits.
  • Oxygen is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services are provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Click here for sign-up, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.3

Overall Rating

Monthly Fee Minimum Deposit Minimum Balance Reputation Score
$0 $0+ (tier dependent) $0 6.0/10

Oxygen offers four separate debit cards, and the Earth version charges no monthly fee. It provides early access to direct paycheck deposits, free withdrawals at thousands of nationwide ATMs, and an interest-bearing savings account.

The Earth account provides free ACH transfers, up to three virtual cards, and no-cost bill pay. As is typical of online accounts, you get accelerated access to your directly deposited paycheck. The account offers several consumer protections and travel benefits.

4. Sable

Initially, the founders of Sable wanted to provide international consumers with a US checking account that didn’t require a Social Security Number (SSN) or credit check. The company has since expanded its offerings to include credit products.

Sable offers customers an online account and cash rewards for debit card purchases regardless of credit history. The company doesn’t charge fees for basic financial institution transactions, ATM usage, or overdrafts. In addition, the Sable account doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement.

5. Capital One

You can open, keep, and use a Capital One 360 Checking Account with no minimums and no fees. The account also provides access to more than 70,000 fee-free ATMs. As with most online accounts, this one comes with a mobile app that supports remote deposits and instant card locking/unlocking.

Optional overdraft protection is available, as is faster access to your pay through Early Paycheck. Furthermore, you can deposit cash at any CVS location and move money easily via Zelle. Capital One is an equal housing lender.

6. Ally

Ally’s Interest Checking Account eliminated overdraft fees through its Overdraft Transfer and Coverdraft Services. You can access your paycheck two days early and increase your Coverdraft protection after two months of direct deposits.

By opening an online savings account, you can round up transactions to the next dollar and automatically transfer the difference to your savings. This financial institution doesn’t offer a money market account type. The checking account has no monthly maintenance fee, no minimum balance requirements, and fee-free access to Allpoint ATMs.

7. Axos Bank

The Axos Bank Essential Checking provides early direct deposit and unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements without a monthly fee, balance requirements, or charges for overdrafts and insufficient funds. 

This account type pays a $20 referral bonus when you recommend a new customer who signs up. You get a Visa debit card that you can lock and unlock online from the Axos banking dashboard.

What Is a Free Online Checking Account?

Online banks offer checking accounts you can open and manage online or via a mobile app. These banks have very few or no physical branches at all, and many offer free online checking accounts. 

Brick and mortar banks versus online-only banks graphic

You don’t have to pay a monthly service charge or any transactional fees when the account is free, but other fees may apply. 

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures online bank accounts despite the banks’ lack of branches, and each is an equal housing lender. Similarly, the National Credit Union Administration backs credit union share accounts. 

Pros of Online Checking Accounts

The most compelling reasons to open a free online account include:

  • Fewer fees: While no account is 100% fee-free, these avoid most charges (e.g., monthly maintenance fee, ATM usage charges, overdrafts penalties, etc.). Typically, they also avert minimum requirements for deposits and balances. 
  • Around-the-clock access: The bank is open 24/7 online and through mobile apps. 
  • Ease of use: Online banking websites and phone apps are usually well-designed and allow you to carry out most of your bank-related financial goals.

You’ll have to read the fine print to understand each account’s features since they vary from bank to bank.

Cons of Online Checking Accounts

Free online accounts are not without their disadvantages:

  • Lack of personal touch: These accounts are not for you if you prefer to interact with a human in person. 
  • Transaction limitations: Some banks provide free ATM deposits, but others charge for this service. You may have to resort to mobile and direct deposits to fund your account. Also, free accounts may limit the number of monthly deposits, withdrawals, and transfers.
  • No checks: You may consider this a plus rather than a minus, but online checking accounts don’t offer checks in most cases. Instead, you make debit card purchases and bill payments.

If you use a credit card for most of your payments, the shortfalls of free checking accounts may be only a minor nuisance.

What Services Do Online Checking Accounts Provide?

Free online accounts offer much and cost little:

  • Personal checking accounts: You can use your account to pay bills, purchase items, and send money to others. Personal checking accounts may limit the allowed number of monthly transactions and dollar amounts. 
  • Interest checking: A few accounts offer interest checking on your unused balances. The interest rate is usually relatively low.
  • Overdraft protection: Many of these accounts offer free overdraft protection if you satisfy specific criteria, such as direct deposits or minimum balances. The protection may range from $20 to $250 or more.
  • Direct deposits: These accounts encourage direct deposits of paychecks and government checks. They provide the money two days faster than conventional check deposits. You may qualify for additional benefits if you post a sufficient number of direct deposits each month.
  • ATMs: Most online accounts work with an extensive ATM network such as Allpoint. You’ll avoid charges when withdrawing from an in-network ATM, but you may have to pay for cash deposits. If a bank doesn’t have an ATM network, it may reimburse your ATM fees – check the fine print for limits. 
  • Mobile banking: You can manage your account via a mobile app that provides the same functionality as the online dashboard. In addition, these apps support mobile check deposits that allow you to scan and transmit an image of the check.
  • Bill pay: These accounts let you set up automatic bill payments via ACH transactions. You can specify the default amount and frequency of these payments but override those instructions are necessary. 
  • Debit cards: The debit cards from these accounts replace the use of checks. Debit card accounts with greater benefits may offer rewards on debit transactions, although they may limit them to select merchants.
  • Credit cards: You can usually apply for a credit card when you open an online account. The bank’s offering may be a secured credit card that requires a deposit of at least $200. Some of these cards may offer rewards and other benefits.

Most importantly, you sacrifice little in the way of services when choosing a free online banking account. You may get additional services, higher limits, and better rewards if you upgrade to a premium checking account, but you’ll probably have to pay a monthly service fee.

Are Free Checking Accounts Really Free?

According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

“Under banking laws and regulations, a bank cannot advertise an account as “free” if it charges a regular maintenance or activity fee for the account. But the bank can offer a free account and still charge for certain services, such as check printing, ATM use, or overdrafts.”

The reviewed free accounts don’t practice these shenanigans, but others may. Look for hidden fees for foreign or out-of-network ATM use, cash deposits, international transactions, card replacements, and express mailings. None of these free accounts should charge a monthly service fee.

Can I Open a Checking Account With No Money?

You need a little money to open a checking account, but there may not be a minimum required amount. Theoretically, you could open some accounts with just $1 and then add funds later. 

Accounts that don’t require minimum deposits frequently waive the requirement for a minimum balance. But some may be free only if you maintain a specified balance. 

How Do I Manage My Free Checking Account?

Electronically, of course! You can go online or onto your mobile app to manage your account, including:

  • Making deposits, withdrawals, payments, and transfers
  • Checking balances
  • Reconciling the account
  • Setting up autopayments
  • Locking and unlocking the account
  • Communicating with the bank or credit union
  • Requesting replacement cards
  • Closing the account

Usually, monthly account statements are available for free online, but you’ll have to pay for printed copies. 

Do Online Bank Accounts Check Credit?

Some do, and some don’t. Banks that offer so-called second chance accounts do not check applicants’ credit and banking history. But many banks pull your ChexSystems report when you apply for an account. The report lists any banking issues you’ve experienced in the last three years. 

If you apply for overdraft protection, the bank may also inquire about your credit reports from one or more of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). This type of inquiry may slightly impact your credit score. 

If you have unresolved issues with a former bank account, consider fixing them before applying for a new account at a different bank. The same applies to outstanding debts.

What Is the Easiest Checking Account to Get Online?

We rate as the best free checking account for easy approval. It doesn’t check your credit or your banking history when you apply.

You must only provide your name, date of birth, address, and Social Security Number to apply. There are no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, and overdraft protection is free. 

  • Your Chime Checking Account comes with a debit card, no monthly fees or maintenance fees.
  • Avoid out-of-network ATM fees and access to 60,000+ fee-free ATMs¹ — more than the top 3 national banks combined!
  • Direct deposits arrive up to 2 days early, terms apply.²
  • We’ll spot you up to $200 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals with no overdraft fees. Eligibility requirements and limits apply.³
  • Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
  • Click here for sign-up, terms, and details.
★★★★★

5.0

Overall Rating

Monthly Fee Minimum Deposit Minimum Balance Reputation Score
$0 $0 $0 9.5/10

In addition, you can easily get a free Chime Savings Account (which is not a money market account) after the checking account opening. 

Compare Free Online Banking Accounts

Our review of free online checking accounts reveals seven good options for your consideration. Please read the fine print accompanying each offer, as the personal account fee schedule varies from one bank to the next. 

Online accounts are the modern way to meet your financial goals, and paying nothing for these accounts is a good idea in any era. 


Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.

Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.

Chime SpotMe is an optional service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third-party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.]

To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be from your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR Original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer-to-peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.

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