Updated May 2, 2021

Banks With Free Checking and No Minimum Balance

Read more about Banks with Free Checking
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Monthly service fees stink. Take a look at which banks offer totally free checking accounts (even with no opening deposit).

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Here are the top banks with free checking and no minimum balance:

What Is Free Checking, Really?

Many banks advertise free checking when they really aren't free. They often have conditions you must meet in order to get truly free services. Free checking should mean:

  • No monthly service fees
  • No minimum balance requirements

But note that a bank may still have other fees, such as fees for ATM transactions, overdrafts, checks, etc. Many checking accounts cost users hundreds of dollars each year, yet they don't realize it. If you want "as free as possible" checking, it's best to look to online banks because they typically charge fewer fees.

Read on for some of the best free checking options.

Can you open a bank account with no money?
Some banks allow you to open an account with no initial deposit. Ally, Discover, Chase, and Capital One are just a few of the banks where you can open a new checking account with no money.

But a checking account with no money essentially defeats the purpose. Eventually, you'll need to put money in the account to do things like make purchases, pay bills, etc.

Best Free Checking With No Minimum Balance

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Read on for some of the best free checking options. For each account, we have listed what is offered for free, and what kind of fees you may encounter.

Discover Cashback Debit: Best Fee-Free Checking

Discover Bank
Member FDIC

Online Checking Account - Earn Cash Back

  • 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month
  • No fees
  • Access to over 60,000 no-fee ATMs in the U.S.

How do no fees and 1% cash back sound for a checking account? Discover Bank's Cashback Debit checking account is as close to fee-free checking as you can get while giving you rewards at the same time.

The Discover Bank Cashback Debit account offers:

  • 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in Discover debit card purchases each month
  • Free standard checks
  • Free access at over 60,000 ATMs nationwide
  • $0 for stop payments
  • $0 for insufficient funds
  • $0 for incoming wires
  • $0 for official bank checks
  • $0 for replacement debit card

The only fees you may encounter are out-of-network ATM fees and outgoing wire transfers.

You can manage your account for free online or on the mobile app, including online bill pay, mobile check deposits, money transfers with Zelle®, and freezing your debit card on the spot.

Discover Bank is online-only, but it provides 24/7 customer service, making it easy to get the answers you need any time of day or night.

Axos Rewards Checking: Best Interest Checking

Axos Bank
Member FDIC

Rewards Checking - Up to 1.00% APY

  • Up to 1.00% APY
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No fees to open or maintain account
  • Overdraft Protection

Axos Bank is one of the top online banks available today. Their Rewards Checking offers the opportunity to earn up to 1% APY if you meet certain monthly direct deposit and debit card use requirements.

There is a $50 minimum deposit to open the account, but after that, there's no balance requirement.

Axos Bank isn't part of a national ATM network, but they provide unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements per month, allowing you to use any ATM that is convenient for you.

The Axos Bank Essentials Checking Account offers:

  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee refunds
  • $0 for overdrafts of non-sufficient funds
  • $0 for incoming wires and outgoing wires online
  • Free mobile deposits and online bill pay
  • Free overdraft protection transfer from a linked Axos savings account

You will pay for things like stop payments, returned checks, outgoing wires, and debit card replacement.

Chase Total Checking: Best Brick-and-Mortar Checking

Chase
Member FDIC

Chase Total Checking® - $225 Bonus

Expires 1/19/2022
  • New Chase checking customers enjoy a $225 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit
  • Access to 16,000 Chase ATMs and more than 4,700 branches
  • Chase Mobile® app - Manage your accounts, deposit checks, transfer money and more -- all from your device.
  • Open your account online now
  • Available online nationwide except in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. For branch locations, visit locator.chase.com.
  • Overdraft Services - no fee if you're overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day*
  • *We charge a $34 Insufficient Funds Fee per item during our nightly processing beginning with the first item that overdraws your account balance by more than $50 (maximum of 3 fees per business day, up to $102).

Chase Total Checking® isn't exactly free, but it's pretty easy to waive the monthly service fee. All you have to do is have at least $500 in direct deposits each month.

We love Chase Bank because it's a nationwide bank with 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches throughout the country. It's also known for exceptional customer service and a full range of banking services.

Chase also often offers a cash bonus for opening a new account. See the current promotions.

The Chase Total Checking Account offers:

  • $0 to open
  • Free Chase debit card with chip technology
  • Remote check deposit
  • Online bill pay
  • Chase QuickPay with Zelle® to quickly pay family and friends
  • Text banking and account alerts
  • Free overdraft protection transfer if you have a linked Chase Savings account

However, this account does have plenty of banking fees, so you'll want to be aware of those. There are fees for wires, overdrafts, and insufficient funds. And checks are not free either.

Ally Bank: Best Checking With Full-Service Bank

Ally Bank

Interest Checking

  • 0.10% APY for daily balances less than $15,000
  • 0.25% APY for daily balance over $15,000
  • Be reimbursed $10/month for ATMs outside of Ally Network
  • $0 Minimum Opening Deposit
  • No Fees to Open or Maintain Account
  • FDIC insured
  • Daily Compounding Interest

Ally Bank is an online bank that offers a free checking account with no minimum balance or monthly maintenance fees.

The Ally Interest Checking account offers:

  • $0 to open or maintain the account
    • 0.10% APY under $15,000
    • 0.25% APY $15,000 or more

  • Free access at 55,000+ Allpoint ATMs
  • Up to $10 ATM fee reimbursement per month
  • Mobile phone deposit
  • Fast transfers to family and friends with Zelle®

Ally does charge fees for things like returned deposit items, overdrafts (one maximum fee per day), expedited delivery, outgoing wires, and account research fees (hourly fee).

How can you avoid ATM fees?
ATM fees can eat away at your paycheck. Always find out the network the bank operates in so that you choose the right locations. If you need to use a non-network ATM, know if your bank reimburses non-network ATM fees.

Another way to avoid ATM fees is to get cash back when you make debit card purchases. This way, you can get cash without even visiting an ATM.

LendingClub Bank: Best Checking for $2,500+

LendingClub Bank

Rewards Checking

  • Earn 1.00% cash back on purchases when you use your LendingClub debit card.
  • Earn 0.15% APY on balances of $100,000 & up.
  • Earn 0.10% APY on balances of $2,500–$99,999.99.

LendingClub Bank, an online bank, offers one of the best rewards checking accounts on the market (with some conditions).

Though there's no balance requirement, the LendingClub Rewards Checking is best for those who can keep at least a $2,500 balance in their account. You only earn interest for balances of $2,500 and higher. And you can only earn 1% cash back on your debit card if you receive $2,500 worth of direct deposits each month OR keep an average balance of $2,500 or more.

The LendingClub Bank Rewards Checking account offers:

  • $100 to open; $0 to maintain
  • Free ATMs worldwide
  • $0 for first order of checks
  • Up to 2 days early access to direct deposit funds
  • Free online bill pay and mobile deposits

LendingClub Bank also offers free integrated personal finance tools. You can link external accounts, set a budget, track your spending, and make a debt payoff plan.

Capital One 360: Best Customer Experience

Capital One 360 offers a free checking account that charges no monthly fees and has no minimum balance requirements.

With good customer service, a top-of-the-line mobile app, and cafes, Capital One 360 ranks high in user satisfaction.

The Capital One 360 Checking account offers:

  • $0 to open or maintain the account
  • Mobile deposit for fast and easy deposits
  • Online bill pay
  • Free access at 39,000+ Capital One or Allpoint ATMs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Four options to cover overdrafts
  • Text alerts and balance notifications

One thing that makes this bank a standout is the Capital One 360 cafes. You can get help opening an account, meet with financial advisers, and attend events, all for free. This makes an online bank feel more personal.

The Capital One 360 account is virtually fee-free except for things like wire transfers, overdraft line of credit, stop payments, overnight checks, and bounced checks.

Personal Checking Account - $100 Bonus

Open a new 360 checking account. Use promo code SHARE100. Set up and receive 2 direct deposits each of $200 or more within 90 days of account opening.

Expires 1/11/2022

Varo Bank Account: Best Checking with Savings

Varo Bank offers a couple of unique features. You can get access to your direct deposits up to two days early. The No Fee Overdraft feature allows you to overdraft your account by up to $50, and Varo will cover it for free with no interest charges. Just repay the overdraft within 30 days (must qualify and opt into this service).

The Varo Bank Account offers:

  • $0 to open or maintain
  • Free Varo Visa Debit Card
  • Free access at 55,000+ Allpoint ATMs
  • Free mobile check deposit and bill pay
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No debit card replacement fees
  • Free over-the-counter cash withdrawals
  • Instantly transfer money to other Varo users
  • Free push notification alerts

Note: Varo does not allow paper check writing or wire transfers.

The checking account itself doesn't offer interest, but pairing it with the Varo savings account gives you the opportunity to earn a very high APY (if savings balance doesn't exceed $10,000). To get this rate, you must make at least 5 debit card purchases each month AND receive monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more.

Depositing Cash at Varo Bank
If you want to deposit cash in your Varo Bank account, you have two options:
  1. Deposit it in a local checking account and transfer the funds to your Varo account
  2. Visit a retailer that uses Green Dot Reload and deposit the cash (for a fee)

Alliant High-Rate Checking: Best Credit Union

Alliant offers a great High-Rate Checking account if you want to consider a credit union. Credit unions often offer better personalized service than traditional banks.

Alliant's checking offers a decent interest rate on all balances. To earn that interest, you must opt for eStatements and have a recurring monthly electronic deposit.

Anyone is eligible to join Alliant Credit Union by becoming a member of Foster Care to Success. Alliant will even pay a $5 membership fee to FC2S on the member's behalf.

Alliant High-Rate Checking other features include:

  • $0 to open or maintain account
  • $0 for the first box of standard checks
  • $0 for replacement debit card
  • $0 for incoming wires
  • Access to over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs
  • Up to $20 in ATM fee refunds per month
  • Free overdraft protection when you have an Alliant savings account linked

You will encounter fees for things like outgoing wires, insufficient funds, and stop payments. There is also an inactivity fee if the account has no activity for a year.

What Should You Look For?

Don't fall for the term "free" and think you'll get a checking account with absolutely no fees. Banks have a way of tacking on other service fees that can quickly add up. Make sure a bank is completely transparent about their fees.

The most common fees to watch out for include:

  • Overdraft fees
  • Returned item fees
  • Out-of-network ATM fees
  • Check writing fees
  • Paper statement fees
  • Use of a teller fees
  • Direct deposit fees

What the Experts Say

As part of our series on banking and saving, CreditDonkey asked a panel of industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions. Here's what they said:

Bottom Line

There are plenty of options for free checking with no minimum balance requirements. Your best bet is to look to online banks; they don't have the overhead that brick-and-mortar banks have, so they're able to have fewer fees and requirements.

Make sure you read the fine print and truly know what you're getting from a checking account before making a choice.

Write to Kim P at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

Read Next:

Free Online Checking Account

Free Online Checking Account

How to Open a Checking Account

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Best Online Bank

Best Online Bank

Chase
Member FDIC

Chase Total Checking® - $225 Bonus

Expires 1/19/2022
  • New Chase checking customers enjoy a $225 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit
  • Access to 16,000 Chase ATMs and more than 4,700 branches
  • Chase Mobile® app - Manage your accounts, deposit checks, transfer money and more -- all from your device.
  • Open your account online now
  • Available online nationwide except in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. For branch locations, visit locator.chase.com.
  • Overdraft Services - no fee if you're overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day*
  • *We charge a $34 Insufficient Funds Fee per item during our nightly processing beginning with the first item that overdraws your account balance by more than $50 (maximum of 3 fees per business day, up to $102).

Best Free Checking Accounts

Tips
Banking doesn't have to be expensive. Here is a list of good free checking accounts without outrageous fees or high balance requirements.

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*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

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