free checking account

What Is a Free Checking Account?

A checking account is a type of bank account that enables the deposit and withdrawal of funds. They can be obtained from banks with physical locations and an increasing number of online ones. 

Although many banks charge monthly maintenance fees for checking accounts, free checking accounts promise to do away with these costs. However, some fees, even on free accounts, are unavoidable. Make sure that you are familiar with the regulations that apply to your account.

Knowing which networks your bank participates in is vital because some banks waive (or repay) ATM charges. 

Top Free Checking Accounts with No Minimums

Here are some of the top free checking accounts that don’t need a minimum balance. Additionally, you don’t need to make a deposit to open these accounts. 

Ally Bank

No monthly maintenance fees or minimum initial deposits are required for the checking account offered by Ally Bank. Additionally, they offer 0.1% APY for accounts below $15,000 and 0.25 % APY for accounts having $15,000 as a minimum daily balance.

Freebies are also included with Ally’s interest checking account, including access to free Allpoint ATMs and free standard checks. With Ally Bank, you’ll get:

  • No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Have access to Zelle for quick and simple person-to-person payments
  • Free checks with unlimited refills.


With only $5 required to open, the NBKC Everything Account has one of the best APYs among free checking accounts.

In addition, you can get up to $12 in ATM costs incurred at machines not connected to the NBKC or MoneyPass networks reimbursed. You also have access to more than 37,000 MoneyPass ATMs in Puerto Rico and the United States.

Capital One

This checking account doesn’t cost anything to create or maintain and pays a small amount of interest on all balances. Additionally, it allows you to use its more than 70,000 Capital One, MoneyPass, and Allpoint ATMs without paying a fee. With Capital One, you have: 

  • Access to 306 branches
  • 70,000+ ATM access
  • Free checks of first orders

Discover Bank

This checking account offers a cash-back option and does not require a monthly maintenance fee. For every $3,000 in debit card purchases made with this checking account each month, the bank will give you 1% back in cash. 

With Discover, you won’t be perturbed about fees for:

  • Check reorders
  • Bill pay
  • In-network ATM transactions
  • Replacement debit cards
  • Insufficient funds
  • Bank checks

FNBO Direct

One dollar is all it costs to open the FNBO Direct Online Checking Account, which also allows you to earn interest. There are no monthly maintenance fees or charges for receiving wire transfers into the account. Through the Allpoint network, you can use this account to access surcharge-free ATMs. 

With FNBO Direct, you can also get:

  • An annual overdraft refund
  • 55,000 Allpoint ATM access
  • Cashback on returned items


Chime is a mobile-first financial app that combines the portability of true on-the-go banking with the affordability of online checking and savings accounts.

The perks of a Chime free checking account include:

  • No ongoing charges
  • Customers can use nearly 40,000 fee-free ATMs 
  • Rounding up the change automatically during each debit card transaction
  • There is no minimum initial deposit or daily balance requirement.
  • Exceptional returns on eligible savings balances

Alliant Credit Union

Although Alliant Credit Union has its headquarters in Chicago, almost anyone can become a member. You can start an account without a deposit required and receive a competitive annual percentage yield of 0.25% when registering for a monthly electronic deposit and e-statements.

Some of its benefits are:

  • Up to $20 monthly in ATM fee reimbursements
  • No minimum balance
  • Over 80,000 in-network ATMs
  • No monthly service fee

Standard Fees Associated with Free Checking Accounts

There may be additional charges for customers even with free checking accounts. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a checking account typically costs $9.87 per month ($118 annually). Here are seven standard fees you may have to pay: 

ATM Fees

Customers pay between $2 and $5 per withdrawal using an out-of-network ATM. ATM fees are charges from the bank to the customer and a surcharge from the owner of the ATM. 

How to avoid paying ATM fees: Use only the free ATMs that are part of the network operated by your bank or credit union.

Monthly Service Fees

A service charge fee is another name for this charge. It is a monthly fee for checking accounts that typically costs between $5 and $15. 

How to avoid paying monthly service fees: Many banks will waive this fee if a customer satisfies specific criteria. The conditions can include setting up direct deposits from an employer and having a minimum number of account transactions or ongoing deposits.

Overdraft Fees

Overdraft fees are imposed on customers who spend more money than is available in their checking accounts. Overdraft fees typically cost $35 per incident. Banks will charge a sustained overdraft fee if the checking account balance stays negative. Some banks impose a daily cap on the number of fees they can collect. 

How to avoid overdraft fees: Sign up for overdraft protection so that money can be transferred from another linked bank account. Although this protection usually costs, it is often cheaper than the overdraft fee. 

Non-sufficient Fund (NSF) Fees

The bank will charge this fee if a customer writes a check without enough funds to cover it. A “bounce” will occur, and the customer will receive their money back. Usually, in addition to any overdraft fees, the bank will impose a bounced check fee. The cost of an NSF fee might be between $20 and $40. 

How to avoid paying NSF fees: Make sure you have adequate money in your account before writing any checks. Additionally, think about signing up for overdraft protection.

Bank Statement Fees

Customers are being encouraged by banks to sign up for electronic statements. For the costs of printing and mailing each paper statement, some banks charge anything from $1 to $5. 

How to avoid bank statement fees: Enroll in paperless statements to read and print your statements at home without any fees. 

Foreign Transaction Fees

You’ll pay a percentage of the total value of the transaction in U.S. dollars when you use your debit card to make purchases or withdraw cash from an ATM outside of the country.

How to avoid foreign transaction fees: When traveling abroad, use a debit card or credit card that does not incur international transaction fees.

Account Closure Fees

You may be charged a $25 account closure fee if you close your account between 90 and 180 days after opening it.

How to avoid account closure fees: Check your checking account’s rules to determine how long your account must be open to avoid a fee.

Wrapping Up

Finding a checking account with minimum balance requirements and no charges is relatively easy. Many online banks provide them, and many customers find them convenient. To determine the best checking accounts, you must evaluate several factors, including fees, minimum balance requirements, and the proposed annual percentage yield (APY). 

Furthermore, choose a bank or credit union that the federal government supports to ensure your money is secure. Do not disregard the rules and guidelines laid out by the FDIC and NCUA.

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