The Best Checking Accounts of 2021

Best Checking Accounts of October 2021

Simon Zhen - Oct 01, 2021

As the center of your finances, a checking account is essential to money management.

With a variety of checking accounts to choose from, there are different fees and features to consider.

You want to find the best checking account that provides the services and convenience that you need without expensive costs.

Here are the top checking accounts that we believe are most worthy of your consideration:


Checking Accounts Compared


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Best Checking Accounts of 2021

  • Chase Total Checking
  • CIT Bank eChecking
  • Axos Bank Rewards Checking
  • Capital One 360 Checking
  • Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking
  • Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Based on how you've been conducting your everyday banking transactions, your preferences in a checking account may vary. From big banks to online banks to credit unions, you'll be able to find the right checking account for your financial lifestyle.

Here are the best checking accounts that you can choose from:

Chase Total Checking: Best for Welcome Bonuses

  • Earn a $200 bonus when you open a Chase Total Checking account and post a direct deposit to your account with 60 days of account opening
  • Earn another $150 when you open a Chase Savings account and deposit $10,000 or more in new money within 20 business days and maintain a $10,000 balance for 90 days

Chase has one of the best offers for new customers who are looking for a new checking account (and/or savings account). For a full-service, traditional checking account with widespread branch access, Chase Total Checking is the best option for the average consumer.

Read a full editor's Chase Total Checking Account Review.

CIT Bank eChecking Account: Best for Online Checking

CIT Bank eChecking Account Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
  • No monthly fees
  • Up to $30 in ATM fees reimbursed per month
  • Mobile banking apps available
  • No physical branches
  • No checking-writing

The CIT Bank eChecking account stands out as the top choice for an all-around online checking option that has no monthly fees and up to $30 per month in ATM fee reimbursements.

That is, you'll be able to use any ATM of your choice -- at your convenience -- knowing that you're not losing money to ATM fees.

Combined with a robust mobile banking app (which comes with mobile check deposits), you'll have everything you need to manage your account without ever having go to a physical branch.

Read the CIT Bank eChecking Account editor's review.

Axos Bank Rewards Checking: Best f0r High Rates

The best checking accounts can earn much more interest than the typical savings account. Even better, these accounts tend to have friendly fee policies.

  • Best Feature: Can earn a top-notch interest rate
  • No monthly fees
  • No overdraft fees
  • Unlimited ATM fee refunds

Axos Bank Rewards Checking deserves an award for its extremely high checking rate on all deposit balances when a few simple requirements are met. 

Additionally, its overall fee policy includes unlimited ATM fee refunds and no overdraft fees (plus, no monthly fees).

Read the full editor's Axos Bank Rewards Checking Review.

Capital One 360 Checking: Best for Free Checking

If a free checking account is your top priority, look no further.

  • Best Feature: No fees charged by the bank
  • Earns interest
  • A free overdraft line of credit (interest rate applies)

Capital One 360 Checking doesn’t charge any fees (including monthly fees) and customers also have surcharge-free access to 40,000+ ATMs in the U.S. via the Allpoint ATM network.

One great perk is access to an overdraft line of credit. Instead of paying expensive overdraft fees, you simply borrow from the bank -- much cheaper if you replenish your balance quickly.

Read the full editor's Capital One 360 Checking account review.

Schwab High Yield Investor Checking: Best for Foreign Trips

For frequent international travelers, debit card usage and ATM withdrawals abroad can be very expensive. Luckily, there's a checking account to eliminate those costs.

  • Best Feature: No foreign transaction fees
  • Unlimited worldwide ATM fee rebates
  • No monthly fee

The Schwab Bank High Yield High Yield Investor Checking account is a clear winner because you can withdraw cash from foreign ATMs for free.

It's a major convenience for international travelers who frequently visit countries that rely heavily on cash transactions.

Read the full review of the Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account.

Alliant CU High-Rate Checking: Best Credit Union Checking

Not everyone wants to conduct their finances with a bank. That's where credit unions come in. Luckily, credit unions checking accounts tend to be very consumer-friendly.

  • Best Feature: Up to $20 per month in ATM fee refunds
  • No monthly fee
  • Earn interest
  • Lenient membership rules

Alliant Credit Union takes top honors for its High-Rate Checking Account.

On top of having no monthly fee, this account will refund up to $20 per month in ATM fees, which should be more than enough. It doesn't stop there: deposits also earn a solid interest rate for a checking account.

For a credit union, the eligibility to become a new member isn't too restrictive. You make a small one-time donation to a partnered charity to become eligible for joining Alliant.

Read the full editor's Alliant Credit Union checking account review.

Need more help?: Learn How Checking Accounts Works: A Quick 101 Guide

How We Picked

How did we decide what makes a great checking account? We researched around 50 popular checking accounts from the top banks and financial institutions for this guide.

The Best Checking Account award is given based on widespread ATM access, branch locations, interest earned, perks, bonuses, fees, and the ease of waiving them.

The overall rank for each institution within a specific category is dependant on how many days in the quarter that institution’s score was among the top 10.

On the surface, checking accounts seem simple, but there are a number of things you need to pay attention to when picking a checking account.

Americans give high priority to low fees when selecting checking accounts and downplay customer service, rewards programs, even the financial health of the bank offering services, according to our survey.

MyBankTracker Checking Survey

Monthly Maintenance Fees

A monthly maintenance fee is common for checking accounts, especially those from banks that operate physical branch and ATM networks. Most of the time, you can avoid this fee if you meet one of these criteria:

  • Maintain a minimum balance requirement
  • Receive direct deposits each month (e.g., paycheck, government benefits, etc.)
  • Use your account in a certain way (e.g., perform 10 debit card transactions)

Not all banks charge this fee -- we track how to avoid these bank fees.

Read more on how to avoid checking account fees.

Basic Checking Account Fees at Top Banks

Account Monthly Fee Minimum Balance to Waive Fee Direct Deposit Amount to Waive Fee
Bank of America Advantage Plus $12 $1,500 $250 (single)
Wells Fargo Everyday Checking $10 $1,500 $500 (total)
Chase Total Checking $12 $1,500 $500 (total)
Citibank Basic Banking Account $12 $1,500 Any amount + one bill payment
U.S. Bank Easy Checking $8.95 $1,500 $1,000 (total)
PNC Bank Virtual Wallet® Account $7 $500 $500 (total)
Capital One 360 Checking® Account $0 $0 N/A
TD Convenience Checking $15 $100 N/A
BB&T Bright Banking $12 $1,500 $500 (total)
SunTrust Essential Checking $7 $500 $500 (total)
AVERAGE $9.60 $1,010 $468.75

Overdraft Fees

If you take out more money than you have in your checking account, either through a withdrawal, check, or debit purchase, the bank will charge an overdraft fee. This can be as much as $30 or more per transaction.

Overdraft Fees at Top 10 Banks

Banks Overdraft Fee
Bank of America $35
Wells Fargo $35
Chase $34
Citibank $34
U.S. Bank $36 (Free if item is $5 or less)
PNC Bank $36
Capital One $35
TD Bank $35
BB&T $36
SunTrust $36

ATM Fees

Banks let you take money out of their ATM network at no charge but if you use another company’s ATM, you’ll need to pay a fee of a few dollars.

The other company might charge you an ATM fee as well. So you could find yourself paying $5 or more just to make one withdrawal. To avoid ATM fees, use a bank that has many machines in your area and plan ahead to only use in-network ATMs.

Related: MyBankTracker Compared Out-of-Network ATM Fees at Top U.S. Banks.

Another option is to find a bank that charges no ATM fees, even if you use out-of-network machines.

Some checking accounts will refund you for the surcharges imposed by these ATMs too.

Read more on tips on how to avoid ATM fees.

Out-of-Network ATM Fees at the Top U.S. Banks

Bank Out-of-Network Withdrawal Fee* Foreign Exchange Fee Foreign Withdrawal Fee
Bank of America $2.50

fee waived for: no accounts
3% $5
Wells Fargo $2.50 (balance inquiry fee is $2.00)

fee waived for: Portfolio Checking accounts, the first transaction for Preferred Checking accounts, & the first 4 transactions when enrolled in Military Banking program
3% $5
Chase $2.50

fee waived for: Chase Premier Platinum Checking, Chase Premier Savings, & the first 4 transactions for Chase Premier Plus Checking
3% $5 (balance inquiry fee is $2.50)
Citibank $2.50

fee waived for: Citigold and Citi Priority members, if monthly balance requirements are met for all members, & if first listed account owner is 62+ for Basic Banking members
3% $5
U.S. Bank $2.50

fee waived for: Platinum Checking accounts & the first 2 transactions for Gold Checking
2% for U.S. dollars and 3% for international currency $2.50
PNC Bank $3

fee waived for: Performance Select Checking accounts & first 2 transactions for Performance Checking
3% $5
Capital One None

fee waived for: no accounts
3% $2
TD Bank $3

fee waived for: TD Relationship Checking accounts, TD Premier Checking, TD Preferred Savings accounts, Private Tiered Checking, & TD Private Tiered Savings
None $3
BB&T $3

fee waived for: BB&T Elite Work Checking accounts, BB&T Wealth Vantage accounts, & the first 10 transactions for BB&T Private Vantage, the first 8 for BB&T Asset Management accounts, the first 4 for Elite Gold accounts, & the first 2 for BB&T Student Banking
3% $5
SunTrust $3

fee waived for: Signature Advantage Checking accounts & the first 2 transactions for Select Checking
3% $5
Citizens Bank $3

fee waived for: the first 4 transactions for all accounts
2.8% or 3%, depending on whether transaction is made in U.S. dollars or a foreign currency $3
Fifth Third Bank $2.75

fee waived for: the first 10 transactions Military Checking accounts & the first 5 for Student Checking accounts
3.2% (3% for transaction + .2% for currency conversion) $5
KeyBank $2.50

fee waived for: Key Privilege Select Checking accounts & reimbursement up to $6/month for Key Advantage Checking accounts, Key Privilege Checking accounts, & Key Student Checking accounts
2% $5
Regions Bank $2.50

fee waived for: the first 2 transactions for Preferred Checking accounts & the first 2 transactions if you provide your Military ID for any Regions Checking accounts
3% $5
M&T Bank $3

fee waived for: no accounts
$0.50 or 3% of the U.S. dollar amount, whichever is greater, of any Visa transaction $5 or 3% of the U.S. dollar amount, whichever is greater, of the transaction
Comerica Bank $2.50

fee waived for: no accounts
3% $5
HSBC Bank $2.50

fee waived for: no accounts
3% $2.50
BBVA Compass $3

fee waived for: option to pay $5 extra to have fee waived, plus up to 4 rebates of ATM fees charged by other banks
1% of transaction amount at BBVA ATM and 3% of transaction amount at non-BBVA ATM $3
Santander $3 (student value checking is $2)

fee waived for: Santander Premier Plus Checking accounts & Santander Select Checking accounts
3% when you use your ATM card and 4% when you use your debit card $6
BMO Harris Bank $2.50

fee waived for: accounts with a college student member & Premier accounts, plus will rebate up to $25 in fees charged by other banks ATM's
3% $3

Other Checking Account Fees

If you want the bank to mail paper account statements to you each month, they might charge a paper statement fee.

If you bounce a check, meaning you give someone a check and don’t have enough money, you could pay a returned check fee.

If your checking account limits monthly withdrawals, you would pay a fee for every withdrawal made over the monthly limit.

Other Important Features & Services

Online Banking

Online banking is virtually found with every bank in the U.S. with online banking, you can usually review your account details, view balances, and transactions, pay online bills, perform fund transfers, and much more.

There are great opportunities to save and get great rates through virtual online banks.

These banks can offer customers some advantages in lower fees or better rates, however, it’s important to evaluate how convenient or cost-effective these are if you need to conduct physical transactions.

See MyBankTracker best online banks picks.

Mobile Banking

Mobile banking lets you manage your accounts directly through a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet device.

Many banks offer their own mobile applications on these devices.

Mobile banking features will be very similar to the bank's online banking features.

However, you could gain access to additional features such as mobile check deposit, which allow you to deposit a check without going to a bank branch or ATM.

Check Printing & Free Checks

While online banking gives you more options to pay bills and transfer money, it’s still nice to have some regular checks. Some companies and government agencies won’t accept online transfers and only accept paper checks.

Make sure your bank at least gives you the option to buy checks for your account. If they offer free checks, that’s a nice bonus but it’s inexpensive enough to buy checks yourself.

Bank Customer Service

It's important that checking account you choose offers a comfortable level of customer service.

If you prefer dealing with everything in-person, you most likely need to work with a traditional bank that has branches in your area.

If you want a phone service, make sure your bank has convenient hours to call for help; many offer at least some kind of 24-hour service.

Online customer service is also becoming popular. This is a way to chat with a representative online as you go over your online banking account.

Types of Checking Accounts We Track

Checking accounts are the most common type of bank accounts. They let you make withdrawals and deposits out of ATMs, write checks to other people, transfer money with online banking, or make purchases at stores with a debit card.

Banks also let you make many transactions per month with a checking account. Other bank accounts, like savings accounts, usually have a strict limit on the number of times you can take money out of your account each month.


Basic checking accounts are designed for core financial activities. With these accounts, you usually get access to a debit card and online banking.

They usually won’t pay interest on your savings, and if you want anything else like write checks or use a safety deposit box, you’ll need to buy them separately.

You're likely to face a low monthly account fee with simple fee-waiver requirest --some checking accounts will not charge any monthly fees at all.


Premier checking accounts come with more perks. They can offer free checks, access to a safety deposit box, waived fees when you use out-of-network ATMs, and higher interest rates than basic checking accounts.

In exchange, the monthly service fees and minimum balance requirement to waive those fees are likely to be much higher.

If you like to learn more about premier accounts, MyBankTracker compared premier checking accounts benefits and fees.

Interest Checking & Brokerages

High-interest checking accounts allow your balance to earn interest. Usually, the rates are significantly lower when compared to a savings account.

However, you can find some great interest rates with online banks. Another option is to open a brokerage checking account with your stockbroker.

Some brokerage firms let their clients open checking accounts that earn more interest, though there might be more restrictions on how often you can take out your money.

Second Chance Checking

If you've mismanaged a checking account in the past, banks could refuse to give you a regular checking account. A second chance checking account can help you repair your reputation with banks.

These accounts tend to carry a monthly fee and could have a higher minimum balance requirement. However, after using one of these accounts responsibly for a few months, you’ll likely be able to upgrade to a regular checking account.

Read more about second chance checking account fees and benefits.

Student Checking Accounts

Student checking accounts are basic accounts targeted to students in high school or college. They usually waive the minimum balance requirements and service fees until the student graduates or reaches a certain age.

How To Pick A Checking Account

A checking account is one of the safest places to keep your money. Your deposits are insured by the government so you can’t lose the money you put in your checking account.

Checking accounts also make it easier to manage your finances.

You can pay bills with checks or online banking, have your employer automatically deposit your paycheck into your account, and take out money around the world with your debit card.

When you manage everything with cash, there’s always the chance you could misplace money, and some companies don’t accept cash payments. With a checking account, you’ll have a more convenient way to handle your finances.

Check Your Banking Needs

How much money do you plan on keeping in your checking account? For most people, this is the biggest factor when they compare checking accounts.

A premier account with free checks and other features are nice, but unless you really need to keep thousands of dollars in your checking account, it makes more sense to use a basic account and buy these extras separately.

Your Lifestyle

How often do you plan on making withdrawals? If you like to make multiple small withdrawals every week, make sure your checking account doesn’t have a low limit for transactions.

When it comes to the best checking accounts,  it's important to pick an account with a high-interest rate and low fees.

You should choose a checking account that reimburses you for ATM fees, so you don’t get stuck paying $5 or more every time you take money out.

If your financial activity is likely to lead to many fees, consider checking accounts with friendly fee policies. Incorporating your lifestyle into your decision is the best way to ensure you're getting the best checking account for you.

Online vs. Traditional Banks

Traditional bank accounts can be more convenient especially if you like being able to talk to a bank teller in person. You usually have access to more branches ATMs and can get money out of a traditional checking account more quickly. 

Related: See MybankTracker Best National Banks Picks.

Online bank accounts usually pay a higher interest rate on your savings and checking and have lower account minimums and fees. It can take a little more planning to move money in and out of your online account, but this approach can be more cost-effective.

Another solution is to open a checking account at your bank for daily transactions while having most of your money in an online account.

When searching for the best online checking account for you, banking convenience is one of the most important features to keep in mind.

For a simple, guided approach to choosing a new checking account, our personalized quiz will find the best checking account for your specific needs.

Checking Accounts We Analyzed

Financial Companies We Surveyed

Alliant Credit Union Ally Bank
Aspiration Summit Account Bank of America Core Checking
Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking BankDirect Checking with Interest
Bank of Internet USA Rewards Checking Bank of the West
BMO Harris Bank BB&T
Capital One 360 Checking Charles Schwab Checking
Chase Total Checking Citibank
Discover Bank Cashback Checking EverBank Yield Pledge Checking
Fidelity Investment Cash Management Account First Internet Bank Interest Checking
Fifth Third Bank Regions Bank
First Republic Bank ATM Rebate Checking FNBO Direct Online Checking
HSBC Advance Huntington Bank
Incredible Bank Checking Account Investors Bank YourStyle Checking
KeyBank Union Bank
M&T Bank EZChoice Checking MemoryBank EarnMore Checking
MYCBB PNC Bank Standard Checking
Navy Federal CU Consumers CU
Radius Santander Bank Simply Right Checking
Simple TD Bank Convenience Checking
SunTrust Bank Pentagon Federal CU
TIAA Bank Chime
USAA Classic Checking Valley National Bank My Choice Checking
Wells Fargo Everyday Checking Axos Bank