The Best Checking Accounts in North Dakota for 2023
People bank in different ways, so banks offer various checking accounts. No matter how you bank, chances are you want to avoid pointless fees.
Several banks charge these fees, such as monthly maintenance fees or service charges. They do this because customers let them and it helps their bottom line. Thankfully, you have options.
Other banks focus on putting the customer first when it comes to their checking accounts. In fact, many checking accounts have no fees for day-to-day activities and only charge fees for specialty services, such as wire transfers.
We researched bank accounts in North Dakota to find the best options for you. Here’s what you should know.
The Best Checking Accounts in North Dakota
Bell Bank - America's Best Checking
Our favorite checking account at Bell Bank is their self-proclaimed America’s Best Checking account. This account has no monthly service fees and no minimum balance requirements. To open an account, you need a $50 initial deposit.
Once you have an account, you get the following features for free:
- Bell Bank ATM transactions, including up to 4 ATM fee refunds charged by non-Bell Bank ATMs
- Mobile app and online banking
- Personalized debit card
- Standard checks
- Paper statements
Gate City Bank - Totally FREE Checking
Gate City Bank’s Totally FREE Checking account is our top choice out of their three checking account options. The account has no monthly service charge and no minimum balance after meeting the minimum opening deposit of $50.
This particular checking account offers the following free features:
- Receive direct deposited paychecks up to two days early
- Mobile app with mobile deposit
- Online banking
- Custom debit card
- Zelle person-to-person payments
- Debit card rewards
Bremer Bank - Bremer Select Banking
Bremer Bank offers three checking accounts which all potentially charge a monthly service fee. Our favorite is the Bremer Select Banking account which has a $3 monthly fee. You can waive it if you sign up for free online statements, maintain an average balance of $1,500, are under age 21, or are 65 or older.
Once you have an account open, you get the following benefits:
- Free debit card
- Free online and mobile banking
- Free bill pay
- Complimentary financial plan
- Complimentary personal insurance evaluation
- Free first order of Bremer Bank wallet checks
Choice Bank - Choice Basic
Choice Bank makes life easier for customers by only offering two checking accounts. We prefer their Choice Basic account, which has no minimum balance and a $100 minimum opening deposit.
As an account holder, you get access to:
- Over 32,000 MoneyPass ATMs
- Rebates on your first two non-MoneyPass ATM transactions per statement cycle
- eStatements (Paper statements cost $2 per month)
- Online banking with Bill Pay
- Mobile app with mobile check deposit
- Free first pack of checks
- Debit card
Bravera Bank - Free Checking
Bravera Bank’s Free Checking account was our top choice out of the three checking accounts options they provide. It is their only checking account with no monthly service charge and no minimum daily balance requirements at this bank.
After signing up for an account, you get the following:
- Free debit card
- Free online, mobile, and phone banking
- Free bill pay
- Free eStatements
How we picked these accounts
We decided on the top North Dakota checking accounts by first identifying the top 50 banks by deposit market share using the FDIC’s June 2022 data -- with availability in major cities including Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, Minot, and West Fargo.
We then evaluated each bank’s accounts based on their monthly maintenance fees, easy ways to waive monthly maintenance fees if they exist, the bank’s ATM network, and convenience features.
Online Banks vs. Big Banks
Local banks can be helpful and may meet all of your banking requirements. However, big banks and online banks are other types of banks that may better fit your needs. Here’s what you should know about these types of banks.
Pros of Online Banks
Online banks allow you to access your money at ATMs, through online banking, and mobile banking as long as you have an internet connection and a device.
All FDIC-insured banks offer the same insurance, whether they’re online or brick-and-mortar banks.
Online banks cut costs by not having branches. They usually pass some of these savings along by having fewer fees that cost less than traditional banks.
Online banks tend to offer interest on checking accounts more often than traditional banks. The interest rates they pay are usually several times the national averages.
Online banks know customers mainly interact through technology. For this reason, they make sure they offer user-friendly solutions that have features customers want.
Cons of Online Banks
You can’t walk into a branch and deposit cash. Other options may exist but may require more effort.
Without the internet, accessing your money is more complicated. This can be a problem during natural disasters or if you don’t get data service on your cell phone in some areas.
Online banks don’t provide physical branches. If you have a problem you want to deal with in person or prefer the in-person banking experience, this is an issue.
Pros of Big Banks
In-person customer support
If you prefer fixing problems in person rather than on the phone, you can visit a branch for help.
Many account types and loan options
Big banks may offer more account and loan types to meet the needs of a variety of customers. Some of these may be niche accounts that perfectly fit your needs.
Online banking options
Even though big banks aren’t online banks, they still offer online and mobile banking options.
Vast branch network
Big banks often have an extensive list of branch locations in the areas they serve. This can make banking in your community more convenient than driving to a bank with a single branch in your area.
Cons of Big Banks
Big banks come with corporate oversight and several layers of management. This can slow down certain processes.
Burdensome fee waiver requirements
You may be able to get a fee waived on your account, but you typically have to meet steep requirements to do so.
To support an expensive branch network, expect a long list of fees that generally come at higher costs than online banks.
Most checking accounts at big banks pay no interest or an interest rate so close to no interest it isn't worth mentioning.
Finding a Checking Account That’s a Good Fit
Each person manages and spends their money in a unique way. For this reason, banks have built several types of checking accounts to meet different customers’ needs.
When looking for a checking account, you should focus on what is most important to you. Here are a few categories you may want to consider if you need help coming up with ideas.
You should have ways to access funds in your account that make the most sense for you. If you only use an ATM and online or mobile banking, an online bank may work fine for you. If you plan to use a branch, a big or local bank is likely necessary since online banks don’t have branches.
You’re shopping for a checking account, but you shouldn’t discount the convenience of other products a bank offers. If these other products and features are more beneficial overall, you may find paying a small fee for a less than perfect checking account is worth it.
Other products and features come in many varieties. You may want to look at the following:
- Savings accounts and their interest rates
- Certificates of deposit and their interest rates and flexibility
- Loan options, their interest rates, and the availability of an on-site loan officer
- Investments, their fees, and the availability of an on-site investment advisor
- Cost and availability of money orders, cashier’s checks, safe deposit boxes, and other minor services
Fees and fee amounts
Fees and the cost of the fees can hurt your bank balance. You likely want to consider the list of fees an account may charge before opening an account.
You can see which fees you may incur and how often you’ll incur them. Then, you can compare accounts based on the cost to have the account over an average month or year.
Interest isn’t often a significant factor in most checking accounts, but online banks and rewards checking accounts make this worth considering.
Brick-and-mortar banks usually offer no or meager interest rates. Online banks may offer rates several times higher than the national average, but they’re still often below 1%.
Rewards checking accounts are another story. If you meet monthly requirements, they may pay interest rates over 1% on balances up to a specific limit. These could include making 12 debit card transactions, using bill pay, and logging into online banking once per month.
If you don’t qualify for the higher rate, you may not earn interest or instead earn a lower rate.
The last thing you want to do is open a checking account to find out that the bank’s mobile app doesn't have the features you need. Verify feature availability before opening an account if a feature, such as mobile check deposit, is essential to you.
You can also look at a bank app’s reviews to see if the app is easy to use or may be missing features many users would expect to find.
Taking the Next Steps
After identifying what’s most important to you in a checking account, you can compare your priorities to our list of the top checking accounts in North Dakota. If online banks and big banks may be an option, you can compare your top North Dakota checking account to these other options.
Finally, take action and open a new checking account. If you move from a high fee checking account to a low or no-fee checking account, you can start saving money very quickly.