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Best Checking Accounts for March 2022

Your checking account is the gateway to your financial realm. It’s where you’ll bring your money in — usually via paychecks or other income — and send your money out.

Whether you want to pay bills, make purchases, send birthday checks to grandkids, get cash from ATMs or all of the above, your checking account should cover all your depositing and payment needs for no or low cost. It should make it easy for you to get or give money anywhere, without sneaky fees. And it should incorporate all the latest banking technology, like early paychecks, Zelle and round-up savings.

While interest rates have been far lower than previous decades, the best checking accounts will even offer some interest on your balance, though you may need to meet a few requirements. Read on to learn about the best checking accounts available right now.

Axos Bank

Founded in 1999 as Bank of Internet USA, Axos Bank was one of the first digital banks. Now it offers an excellent range of three checking accounts that should appeal to many checking users. 

I selected Axos’ Rewards Checking service because of its relatively high interest rates and reasonable requirements for earning those rates. If you receive $1,500 a month in direct deposit payments, you automatically earn 0.40% interest on your checking balance. 

Use your debit card 10 times a month ($3 minimum purchase) and you’ll add another 0.30% interest on top, for an easy 0.70% return on your money. A minimum $2,500 balance in an investment and/or trading account will each add another 0.10% interest onto your checking balance, as will paying off an Axos loan, bringing your maximum APY up to 1.0% — that’s more than most “high yield” savings accounts.

Axos has no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirement. Rewards checking requires a $50 minimum deposit to open an account. 

One of the features that separates Axos from Ally, my other top digital banking choice, is the ability to deposit cash. Axos uses the Green Dot Network, which lets users deposit cash or even pay bills with cash using stores like CVS, Kroger, Safeway and Walmart.

Also, Axos provides unlimited reimbursements on non-network ATM fees, whereas Ally is limited to $10 per month. Unfortunately, unlike Ally, Axos does not yet support Zelle, the free person-to-person electronic payment system.

Current deals for Axos include a $100 welcome bonus if you open an account before March 31, 2022 with the promotional code “LUCKY” and meet the $1,500 deposit requirement each month, for your first three months. 

  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: None
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements: Unlimited
  • In-network ATMs: 91,000 (MoneyPass)
  • Direct deposit funds available early: Yes
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes; $10,000 daily limit; $50,000 monthly limit
  • Cash deposits: Yes; MoneyPass ATMs and Green Dot Network
  • APY: 0.40-1.0% APY, depending on usage and other Axos accounts

nbkc

Formerly the National Bank of Kansas City (and before that Horizon National Bank), nbkc provides its users with a variety of banking services, primarily online checking accounts with competitive interest rates. It does have four local branches in (you guessed it) Kansas City — a bonus for those in the area, but not much in-person help for the rest of us.

The Everything checking account from nbkc currently offers 0.15% APY with no balance or spending requirements. It’s a good rate for the times with no strings attached.

The no-strings, or more specifically, the no-fees factor helps earn nbkc its spot on the best checking accounts list for March 2022. The Everything account has no overdraft or insufficient funds fees, no monthly maintenance fees, no non-network ATM fees and no foreign transaction fees. Nbkc also boasts about 37,000 ATMs nationwide via MoneyPass.

Along with online checking accounts, nbkc also offers CDs and money market accounts, but no standard savings account, so there are no integrated features like round-up savings built in to nbkc Everything. 

The Everything account does give users early paychecks and reimburses non-network ATM fees up to $12 a month. If losing your money to bank fees bums you out, give nkbc Everything a good look.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: None
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements: $12 per month
  • In-network ATMs: 37,000 (MoneyPass)
  • Direct deposit funds available early: Yes
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes
  • Cash Deposits: MoneyPass ATMs
  • APY: 0.15% on all balances 

Quontic Bank

Quontic bills itself as “the adaptive digital bank,” meaning that it adjusts its practices and policies to give customers what they need, specifically via the internet. Starting as an in-person bank in Astoria, NY, Quontic now serves online customers only.

Quontic offers three checking accounts — Bitcoin Rewards, Cash Rewards and High Interest. I selected High Interest for the best checking accounts collection because it offers an easy 1% back on balances up to $150,000, when you complete 10 debit card transactions over $10 each during a monthly billing cycle. While the interest requirements are more restrictive than Axos, they’re still reasonable for most checking account users.   

Quontic uses a reverse rate on its checking balances. You’ll get 1.0% back on your first $150,000. The rate on your balance between $150,000 and $1,000,000 gets you 0.45%. Over $1M, you are storing money interest free (If only we all had that problem).

The High Interest checking account has virtually no fees. There’s no monthly maintenance fee, no minimum balance, no overdraft fees and no non-network ATM fee.

Quontic supports Zelle for personal payments and provides cash from 90,000 ATMs using the AllPoint network, though it limits users to $500 in withdrawals daily. It does offer mobile deposits via iOS or Android; I could not find any listed mobile deposit limits.

Consumers’ Credit Union, which offers up to 4.09% on checking account balances, stands as the big competitor to Quontic in this category. Two factors to consider, however: Consumers’ Credit Union’s highest rates require associated credit-card purchases. Without minimum credit card purchases, the initial rate is 2.09%. After the first $10,000 in balance, Consumers’ Credit Union’s interest rate drops to 0.20% or less — meaning a $100,000 balance at CCU would earn you $389 a year, whereas Quontic would earn you $1,000.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: None
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements: No
  • In-network ATMs: 90,000 (Allpoint)
  • Direct deposit funds available early: No
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes
  • Cash deposits: No
  • APY: 1.0%

Charles Schwab

For more than 50 years, Charles Schwab & Co. has been providing investment advice for discount investors. In 2003, it launched Schwab Bank and is now one of the largest US banks by deposit amount.

Though Charles Schwab has thousands of brokerage offices in most states across the US, it does not provide any in-person banking services. All of its consumer financial banking products are managed online.

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking is a checking account that compares well to almost all competitors. The APY is 0.03% for all accounts, with no monthly balance or debit card spending requirements. 

There are no monthly maintenance or non-network ATM fees, and Schwab will reimburse unlimited amounts of other ATM provider fees. Schwab accounts work with the Visa and Visa Plus Alliance network, which includes over 1 million ATMs in more than 200 countries. The Plus Alliance network in the US also includes retail outlets like CVS, Target, CostCo and Walgreens.

You can’t deposit cash with Schwab, but it supports Zelle for personal payments and does not charge anything for foreign transactions — a great bonus for travelers using international ATMs.

A Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account requires a linked Schwab One brokerage account, which also costs $0 and has no balance requirements. Schwab’s checking account allows for scheduling automatic transfers to your brokerage account, a simple way for new investors to put extra money to work.

Schwab doesn’t charge traditional overdraft fees, and it will automatically cover any such transactions with money from other Schwab accounts. However, if you don’t have enough money in your accounts to cover a transaction, Schwab will reject it and charge a $25 insufficient funds fee.

Schwab offers standard mobile apps for iOS and Android, and no restrictions are listed for mobile deposits. The maximum daily ATM cash withdrawal limit is $1,000.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: None
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements: Unlimited
  • In-network ATMs: Visa/Visa Plus Alliance
  • Direct deposit funds available early: No
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes
  • Cash deposits: No
  • APY: 0.03%

JPMorgan Chase

Selecting the best checking account for those who want the option of banking services at a physical branch is a balancing act of weighing the best account terms against the number and location of brick-and-mortar bank offices.

While my runner-up choice, Capital One 360 Checking, provides better terms than Chase Total Checking, it doesn’t have nearly the number of branches or geographical coverage. Chase has more than 4,700 offices in 48 states (sorry, North Dakota and West Virginia), whereas Capital One has about 770, mostly on the East Coast, Texas and Louisiana, according to Branchspot.

Chase doesn’t provide any real interest on your checking — 0.01% — but it is offering a $225 signup bonus until April 20, 2022. If you’re a student 17-24, you can get an additional $100 on top of that, for a $325 total reward. Even though Capital One offers a more respectable 0.10% on your money, you’d need to have $325,000 in your account for a year to earn $325 in interest.

Chase has no minimum balance requirement nor any minimum initial deposit, though it does charge $2.50 for non-network ATM transactions. It accepts mobile deposits via its iOS and Android apps, with a daily limit of $10,000 and monthly limit of $25,000.

  • Monthly fee: $12
  • Requirements to avoid monthly fee: Monthly direct deposit of at least $500; or $1,500 daily balance; or $5,000 combined average balance
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: $2.50
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements: None
  • In-network ATMs: 16,000 ATMs, 4,700 branches
  • Direct deposit funds available early: No
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes
  • Cash deposits: Branches and ATMs
  • APY: 0.01%

Best checking accounts compared

Best digital checking account Best free-fee checking account Highest APY checking account Best checking for investors Best in-person checking
Bank/institution Axos NBKC Bank Quontic Schwab Bank Chase
Account Rewards Checking Everything Account High Interest Checking High Yield Investor Checking Total Checking
Branch access No Limited (4 branches) No No (361 brokerage branches) Yes, 4,700 branches
ATMs (number/network) 91,000 (MoneyPass) 34,000; MoneyPass 90,000 (Allpoint, MoneyPass) Visa/Visa Plus Alliance 16,000
Out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement (monthly) Unlimited $12 None Unlimited None
Overdraft fee $25 for insufficient funds None None $34 for insufficient funds $34 
Foreign transaction fee None None None None 3%
Monthly fee None None None None $12
Minimum opening deposit $50 None $100 $0 $0

FAQs

Do I need a checking account to manage my money?

Not always, but it can be difficult to pay bills or get approved for credit accounts without one. It may be helpful to think of a checking account as one part of a multifaceted personal financial system. Though it may require some management on your end, there are benefits to using an array of tools, with each serving a primary function: a checking account for receiving money and paying bills, a credit card for spending (and earning rewards or cash-back incentives) and a savings account for storing short-term savings or an emergency fund — with investment and brokerage accounts driving long-term savings goals such as college and retirement.

Do I need to pay fees to use a checking account?

No. Some banks may pass off fees as the normal costs of doing business, but with all of the free checking options available, you should avoid fee-heavy accounts. There are plenty of free checking options that will give you the tools you need to receive income and make payments, in addition to other benefits including mobile banking, without incurring any regular charges in the form of a monthly service fee.

How many checking accounts should I have?

For most people, the answer is one. Even if you can earn a little extra money by combining rewards or interest, it’s usually not worth the time and hassle. Your personal checking account should be simple, offer overdraft protection and mobile banking as well as be easy to use and easy to manage. If you run a business, you should look into opening a separate business checking account, which is different from a standard checking account.

How do the ATM networks like MoneyPass and Allpoint work?

An increasing number of financial institutions are online-only (like some of the banks profiled above), without their own branches or ATM networks. Given this, an online bank will partner with established networks like MoneyPass or Allpoint, which place ATM locations in popular retail establishments such as pharmacies, grocery stores and convenience stores. People with an online checking account can use a “Find a nearby ATM” feature on their bank’s website or mobile app before making an ATM withdrawal to insure they won’t incur an ATM fee if their financial institution does not offer ATM fee rebates.

What are overdraft fees?

For checking accounts, banks and credit unions may or may not charge “overdraft fees.” Overdraft fees are penalties levied when withdrawals or payments — cash from an ATM, automatic bill pay or paper check, for example — are bigger than the amount of your checking account balance.

In the case of a true overdraft, banks will process your payment or withdrawal and give you a negative balance. That’s when they may charge an overdraft fee, typically in the range of $30-40. Many banks now provide free overdraft protection — if you have another account with them, they’ll transfer money to cover your negative checking balance.

“Nonsufficient funds” fees, often abbreviated by “NSF,” are related to overdraft fees but slightly different. The most common example of NSF is the “bounced check.” In this case, your withdrawal is rejected, your checking account does not go into a negative balance, and you’re charged with a fee, usually around $25.

More and more banks are eliminating overdraft and nonsufficient funds fees entirely. Banks that don’t have any overdraft or NSF fees will generally reject payments and withdrawals that are more than your checking balance and not charge you anything.

How much interest can I earn with a checking account vs. with a savings account?

While many accounts use an APY as a selling point, it’s important to note that a checking account’s interest rate will rarely net you much. A balance of $2,500 at a 0.10% APY earns you roughly $2.50 annually. In contrast, savings accounts generally deliver between 0.60% and 1%, which would net you between $15 and $25 per year. So if you’re looking for an interest-bearing checking account, you’re not going to find a great or even good one. Go for a savings account instead.

Methodology

More than two dozen options were examined across a broad range of categories in both traditional and online-only banks in order to determine these picks for the best checking account. As with any financial account, a handful of key features rise above the rest: ATM and branch availability, overdraft protection, fees, bank bonus enticements and reimbursements, minimum deposit requirements and just how simple it is to move money in and out of an account — whether by direct deposit, mobile deposit or old-school cash deposit. Interest rate isn’t really a factor with a standard checking account (more on that below). 

Each financial institution’s online banking capabilities were taken into consideration. We also looked at some new, trendy features, such as banks making funds available a few days early to customers who’ve signed up to receive their paycheck via direct deposit. 

We paid close attention to bank account fees. Even if a bank touts a “free checking account,” that might not be the whole truth. If you’re considering a new checking account, scrutinize the fee schedule, which will reveal how much a bank charges for a “monthly maintenance fee,” using an out-of-network ATM, falling below a minimum balance requirement or spending more than you have (resulting in an overdraft fee). You don’t want to get hit with a $4 fee just for making an ATM withdrawal at the wrong machine for your bank account.

Though some fees may apply only in certain conditions — you haven’t set up direct deposit or you want to receive monthly paper statements, for example — such waivers should be carefully scrutinized. You won’t want to be in a position where missing your minimum deposit by a couple of bucks or keeping an account balance that’s slightly too low racks up a “monthly maintenance fee.”

We’re also a bit dubious of checking accounts that feature cash-back and rewards incentives. Though a 1% cash-back account could be moderately lucrative, this type of account may obligate you to hit a monthly spending threshold or maintain a certain minimum balance. If earning cash back or rewards is your priority, you’re better off using a cash-back credit card, the best of which offer significantly higher rates. And if you tend to maintain a high account balance in your checking account, consider putting some of that cash into a savings account, CD or money market with a higher annual percentage yield.

Checking accounts researched

  • LendingClub Rewards Checking
  • NBKC Bank Everything Account
  • Chase Total Checking
  • Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking
  • Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking
  • Chime Spending Account
  • Axos Essential Checking
  • Connexus Credit Union Xtraordinary Checking
  • Simple Simple Account
  • CIT Bank eChecking
  • Wells Fargo Everyday Checking
  • Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking
  • Discover Cashback Debit
  • Capital One 360 Checking
  • Aspiration
  • PNC Virtual Wallet with performance spend
  • Betterment
  • Fidelity Cash Management Account
  • HSBC Choice Checking
  • TD Checking
  • Current Bank
  • Varo Checking Account
  • Wealthfront Cash Account
  • Novo
  • BlueVine Business Checking
  • Ally Bank 

More personal finance advice 

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.