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Are you unhappy with your current bank and looking to update your finances? Or maybe you're opening your first checking account and want to make sure you're getting the best benefits out there? Finding the right place to keep your money is a difficult decision, and it's important for your financial security.
Whether you're shopping for better benefits, a new bank, or it's your first time opening a checking account, it can be hard to sift through all the financial information out there. A checking account is meant for someone that makes frequent withdrawals and deposits. Checking accounts are liquid or easily accessible, and you can withdraw money with a check, at an ATM, and via electronic transfers.
Monday, December 11th
SoFi is a fully online banking service that opened in 2011 and became a chartered bank in early 2022. SoFi offers a combined checking and savings account with no monthly fees.
Direct deposit is a requirement
The only requirement to open the account is to have a qualifying direct deposit with the bank. On top of overdraft coverage, the combination accounts earn interest. However, it's important to note that the savings and checking (despite being a combination account) do earn different APYs. You can deposit cash into your account, but only through a GreenDot retailer and there is a $5.95 charge for this service.
One combination account with great APYs
SoFi's Checking and Savings account is a combined account. However, when you set up direct deposit you will earn different APYs depending on where you keep your money. Your checking account will earn 2.50% APY on the balance whereas the savings will earn 3.75% APY. If you don't set up a direct deposit you will only earn 1.20% across both balances. On top of that, some of the other benefits of the SoFi combination account include:
Dedicated customer service hours
Since SoFi is an online-only bank, they promise to offer strong remote customer service. The company's business hours are 7 days a week for phone calls between the hours of 5a-7p on weekdays and 5a-5p Friday-Sunday Pacific time. You can contact a representative on Twitter to handle basic questions. There is also a virtual assistant chat on the SoFi website. And, as with any online banking service, SoFi has a dedicated mobile app. The app has good customer ratings in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
Happy customers on average
The reviews for SoFi average around 3 stars across customer review sites. The company's reviews are 79% 5 stars, and with almost 5,000 reviews, that's a decent score. On top of that they have an "A-" rating with the BBB. Happy reviewers noted that signing up for the combination account was easy and quick. Multiple reviews noted that the site and app are easy to navigate and that they love the easy access to their accounts. Several reviewers mentioned the high APYs for savings and checking accounts were contributing factors to their 5-star reviews. Customers love earning interest on their money no matter if it's a savings or checking account.
A few grumblings
For the lower-scored reviews, customers mentioned that they were frustrated about being denied on their application. Others complained that there was some confusion about identity, and one customer didn't get the bonus that they were promised on sign-up.
Best APY value
Offering some of the highest APYs in our review, SoFi stands out among competition. With a free account, they offer a minimum of 1.20% APY with options to get even more interest. On top of this, they provide regular customer service hours, and their site and app are easy to navigate. We were especially impressed as this company is fairly new (compared with some of the more "old guard" big banks out there). SoFi definitely has the best interest rates for a free account, making it the top option for most banking customers.
Chime is a fully online banking system that's been in business for 10 years. Promising no fees and no minimums, Chime's banking motto is "Your account shouldn't cost you money."
The service is simplified down to a single savings account and a single checking account. If you just want the basics of banking, Chime is a great option for you. There is no credit check to open your Chime account, and you can use a Chime debit card anywhere Visa is accepted. And, as promised, there are no fees to start or to maintain your account. On top of this, your money is insured with Chime. Funds are FDIC insured up to $250,000.
The Chime Checking Account is fee-friendly and has some bonuses for you if you meet certain financial thresholds. Chime offers a SpotMe service that allows you to overdraw your account by up to $200 on debit card purchases without a fee. In order to qualify for this service, you need to deposit at least $200 in the checking account per month. And, if you don't want this service, you don't have to worry about it.
When they say no fees they mean it
Chime checking is adamant about fees. Specifically they have:
The only two limits and costs associated with Chime are a $2,000 monthly limit on sending money to family and friends (after which there will be fees) and a $2.50 ATM fee if you use an out-of-network ATM machine.
Well-designed mobile app
As a fully online banking service, Chime was designed to be used through its mobile app. The app has standard banking features, and the app itself is rated 4.8 stars on the App Store and 4.7 stars on Google Play. Some of the features you will find on the Chime app include:
Very happy customers overall
Across review sites, Chime ranks 4 stars on average. With 73% of the reviews at 5 stars, there are a lot of happy customers with Chime. Some of the positive feedback for Chime includes customers who are very happy with the features like overdraft protection or the help they get with building credit with Chime's credit cards. Many customers liked that they were able to process their direct deposits 2 days early. Multiple customers felt that Chime helped them by preventing scams.
A few issues with dispute resolution
In contrast, unhappy customers noted that they felt that Chime didn't assist them enough with disputes for charges. One customer noted that it took well over 2 months for the dispute to be processed. Several customers said that their account was closed without notice, which lost their access to their funds.
Great no-cost option
If you're looking for a no-cost checking account, Chime is the one for you. There are no fees and no minimums with Chime. However, Chime also takes a bare-bones approach to banking. While you get the usual online banking features, there are only two types of accounts with Chime and only one checking account. If you're looking for account features or the ability to earn interest, this won't be the account for you. However, if you're looking for a no-cost easy-to-open account, Chime is a great place to look. Only the low reviews about suddenly closed accounts keep Chime from being a top option in our rankings.
Chase, also known as JPMorgan Chase & Co., has been in business for almost 200 years as a brick-and-mortar bank. Chase offers everything you'd expect from a traditional bank, including savings and checking accounts, but they also offer fully online services.
Lots of choices
In terms of checking, Chase offers three tiers with multiple options inside each tier. These tiers consist of Everyday checking accounts, Kids & Students checking accounts, and Premium checking accounts. While many of the options allow customers to waive fees, almost all of the Chase checking accounts have monthly fees associated with them starting at $4.95.
8 options within 3 tiers
Chase has a lot of options. There are 8 different checking account types with this bank. There are three types that fall under Everyday Checking accounts, three types that fall under Kids & Students Checking accounts, and two that fall under Premium Checking accounts. These options include:
Kids and Students Checking
Accrue interest with Chase checking
One of the stand-out features at Chase is that customers can earn interest with the Chase Premier Plus Checking account. Not many checking accounts accrue interest, so this feature was exciting. The account has a $25 monthly service fee, but you can get that waived if you have at least $15,000 in the checking account or in linked accounts that qualify. So, if you're looking for benefits, Chase is a great place to browse. What's better than watching your money make more money while you do nothing? And with their mobile app, it's super easy to check on your accounts online any time you want.
Happy customers overall, but customer service is lacking
Chase's reviews are all over the place, but the good news is there are lots of happy customers. With a 66% 5-star rating on one site, Chase has a good reputation as a banking institution. Some of the positive reviews noted that the mobile app was a breeze to use and that customers like the rewards and bonuses for using their Chase cards. Keywords for the positive reviews include "user-friendly," "competitive rates," and "good security."
For the lower reviews, customers felt that they struggled to get what they needed from customer service. When they had problems with fees or payments, Chase didn't support them. Some customers were frustrated that the Chase card wasn't accepted as often as other banks'.
Good price and family friendly
Chase is a great "big bank" option for your next checking account. With the ability to open an account for you and one for your child at the same time, even on some of the basic account types, Chase stands out as an option that supports family life. While most checking accounts have fees, Chase also offers a variety of ways to waive them. Some clients felt that the customer service with such a large company left something to be desired, so if that's a primary concern for you, you might want to look elsewhere. But if you're looking for a family-friendly checking account option with low or no fees, Chase has a lot to offer.
CiT Bank is a company owned by CiT Group, Inc which has been open for 114 years, but CiT Bank was founded in 2009. CiT Bank is an online service that offers a single type of eChecking account.
CiT requires $100 transferred to the account in order to open with them - but no matter how much money you have in the eChecking account you'll be earning interest. For all accounts with balances under $25,000 you will earn 0.10% APY in interest. For all accounts with balances greater than $25,000, you will earn 0.25% APY in interest.
No regular fees with CiT Bank
One of the things we liked best about CiT Bank is that they have no monthly or overdraft fees. They don't charge you to mail a check for you or to make online or wire transfers. The only initial cost is putting $100 into the checking account you want to open. Other than that there are only a handful of ways that CiT will ever charge you for their services. These include:
Secure and award-winning service
One of our favorite things about CiT Bank is how they put the insurance for your money front and center on the website. CiT Bank is a member of the FDIC, so checking accounts are insured for up to $250,000 per depositor for each account. On top of federal security, CiT Bank is also an award-winning service, selected as a top banking service by GoBankingRates, Fintech, NerdWallet, and Bankrate among others.
Competitive mobile app - on iOs
As with most online services, CiT Bank provides a mobile app. The app offers ways for you to take care of the basics of online banking like checking transactions, transferring funds between CiT Bank accounts, and mobile check deposits. The app has a 4.6 rating on iOS and a 3.3 rating on Google Play, so keep that in mind if you're an Android user.
High ratings with bank professionals, but not customers
While the interest-earning checking account and security sound great with CiT Bank, the company isn't as popular with customer reviews as CiT Bank is with financial review sites. CiT Bank ranks at an average of 2 stars across customer review sites. However, there aren't many reviews to go by with only 18 total customer reviews at the BBB, for example. From Trustpilot, which has 325 customer reviews, the happy customers noted that they deeply appreciated the customer service provided by CiT Bank. The majority of 5-star reviews reference a specific customer service member by name, with a discussion about how CiT Bank was able to help customers through a variety of issues including loan processes, help opening accounts, and security.
A few criticisms
Not everyone was happy, of course. Some customers said that they were frustrated with the loan process. Some referenced customer service - but none of the reviews specifically mentioned anything negative about checking accounts.
Not the cheapest, but good features
If you're looking to open a new checking account with CiT Bank, it requires $100 to open your account - but after that, you're home free regarding fees. It has a decently-rated mobile app, and the negative reviews are focused on loans, rather than the experience of the checking account. This company is a strong contender as they offer an account that earns interest even at the free tier. Since this company is highly rated by banking professionals, it's definitely worth looking into despite the $100 initial deposit.
Current is an online banking app with no monthly fees. In business for only 7 years, the company offers a Visa debit card and free withdrawals at 40,000+ ATMs. Current itself is a financial technology company and their banking services are provided by Choice Financial Group.
No minimum balance
There is currently no minimum balance or monthly fees when you open an account with Current, and there are options for overdrafts with no fees up to $200. However, you can't see the account types or information unless you enter your mobile number to sign up. There is only one type of checking account with Current, but you can use it to link a teen to your account with their own card if you need a family option.
One account, but they do offer features
Current's only checking account doesn't charge a monthly fee and there are no minimum balance requirements. You can withdraw more than $40,000 fee-free from in-network ATMs. You can't write checks with Current's checking account, but you can pay bills through transfer or through your debit card. Deposits for checks on mobile are free through the Current app which is offered on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. However, if you want to make cash deposits it will cost you $3.50 per transaction and you have to go into a retail store and have a cashier help you in order to process the deposit.
High security and cashback too
While depositing cash is a hassle with Current, they do a lot of things that are worth talking about. First, Current is a member of the FDIC, so your checking account and funds are able to be insured for up to $250,000. On top of the security, you will also earn rewards by using your debit card at select retailers. The points can be redeemed for cash or items.
Mixed reviews for customer service
Reviews are all over the place for Current. They rank as low as a 1.7-star average with the BBB and up to a 3.8-star average with Trustpilot. Around 65% of customers rated Current 5 stars, but the reviews are still lower overall than we would like.
Some of the high points
Across the 5-star reviews, customers noted that they love the ease of navigation with the Current online banking service and app. They also said that they felt the customer service with Current helped them handle their problems quickly and efficiently. Reviewers also loved the points system and rewards for using their debit cards.
And some of the lows
As for the 1-star reviews, customers remarked that they had problems disputing charges with Current. Multiple customers complained about lost checks and lost direct deposits, and several customers said it was impossible to reach a representative, contrasting with the 5-star reviews that celebrated Current's customer service.
Decent no-cost option
We love a lot of the features with Current, like their rewards for using your debit card, and the financial insurance. However, with conflicting reviews on their customer service and low reviews overall, Current definitely won't be the top pick in this list. However, if you're looking for a no-cost account that offers a few benefits like rewards, it might be worth it to check out Current for yourself.
Varo is a completely online banking company that has been open for 7 years. Accredited by the BBB with an "A" rating, this is one of the better-rated online banking initiatives in our review.
Keeping it simple
There is only one checking-style account with Varo, but they simply call it the Varo Bank account. There is no monthly fee or minimum balance required to open a Varo Bank account, and you receive a Visa debit card when you open it. Varo is part of the Allpoint ATM network, which provides you with access to 55,000 fee-free ATMs in the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and the UK.
Good for direct deposits, not ideal for cash
With the Varo Bank account, you don't have fees or minimums, but you do get a variety of benefits which include early deposits of your direct deposit paychecks, up to two days ahead of schedule. However, cash deposits are a bit of a problem. Without in-person branches, you will have to go to a Green Dot network retailer like CVS or Walgreens in order to deposit cash. On top of this, there is a $5.95 fee and you are limited to deposits between $500 and $1,000 depending on which retailer you use. Further, if you use a non-Allpoint ATM, there is a fee of $2.50 from Varo which does not include any fees charged by the ATM owner.
Great if you want to travel without extra fees
One of the features we liked about Varo was that they don't charge you for foreign transaction fees on ATM withdrawals or debit card purchases. So if you're traveling in another country, you only pay the difference in currency and no fees for changing that currency over. For the actual exchange rate, Visa (who manages the debit cards for Varo) will determine the specific rates.
Very successful overall with customers
Across review sites, Varo has been rated an average of 3.75 stars with around 77% of those reviews at 5 stars total. The company is accredited by the BBB and has an "A" rating there. In general, the 5-star reviews note that Varo has amazing customer service despite not having in-person bank branches, that customers appreciate the early access to their direct deposit paychecks, and the mobile app is user-friendly.
Some difficulties identified
In contrast, some of the 1-star reviews complain that it is difficult to transfer your money between accounts (savings and checking) and some users noted that they had difficulties reaching customer service, while others felt that customer service wasn't trying to assist them in any way.
A good option for travelers
Varo is a very good option for completely online banking. Although it's not as feature-rich as some options on our list, it is completely free, and the complete lack of fees for foreign transactions is a plus if you like to travel. Despite a few bad reviews about customer service, the company is, overall, a success with clients.
Axos has been a self-proclaimed leader in technology and finance since 2000. The company promises access to your funds at any time and provides 3 options for personal checking accounts.
The company is completely online, so you don't have to worry about fees that are set up to support brick-and-mortar locations. Axos is free to start at the lowest tier, but you need to have a minimum balance of $250 to open the account.
Three tiers of personal accounts
Axos offers three tiers of personal checking accounts which include essential, rewards, and cashback options. All of them provide service without monthly maintenance fees, but if you're looking to earn interest or get cash back you'll need to look at the reward and cashback options. Some of the benefits include:
The company also offers accounts that are available for small businesses and large commercial groups.
Access anytime, anywhere
Since Axos is an online bank, you access your funds either online or through the company's mobile app. The app is available on iOS and Android and you can deposit checks, pay your bills, transfer funds, as well as monitor your account balances and track your transaction history. The mobile app is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store and 4.5 out of 5 stars on Google Play.
Despite being an online bank, you do get an ATM card with Axos. There are around 91,000 no-fee ATMs that work with the Axos network. Some Axos accounts also offer free reimbursement if you use an ATM that is out of the Axos network.
Mixed reviews on tech performance
Despite the high reviews for the mobile app, the bank itself doesn't rate very highly across review sites. On average Axos has a 1.3-star rating and we struggled to find many 5-star reviews. However, Axos does have an "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB, so higher reviews on the Axos site might be warranted.
Some customer frustrations
Unhappy customers have commented that they struggled to get access to their accounts. Since this is a fully online bank, the customers expected easier access, but multi-factor authentication makes it extremely difficult to get access to their money. Other customers noted that when they wanted to close an account with Axos, it was frustrating to get the closed account processed. Some of the keywords in negative reviews include "scam," "frustrating," and "bad technology."
Some positive notes too
Some of the positive reviews on the site noted that customers were happy with specific services, like applying for mortgages. Others noted that they felt Axos went the extra mile to help with fraud prevention and security. The company was top-rated by GoBankingRates in 2020.
Ups and downs with Axos
While there are some concerning reviews with Axos, especially since it's a completely online bank, there are good options for checking accounts to balance out the negatives. If you're looking for a low or zero-cost option, Axos is worth looking into. However, some users are having trouble with the tech, which could be a problem if you want easy access to your funds. Balancing the potential stress with the potential benefits lands Axos right in the middle of the pack among online checking account options.
Citi is a traditional bank that is now providing online services. With over 200 years in business, the company has a long-standing reputation as a financial institution.
Large network of fee-free ATM's
When you open a checking account with Citi, they promise that you'll receive secure online banking, easy access to cash, and one of the largest networks of fee-free ATMs with every account. Across their options, they offer two main types: Everyday accounts and Premium accounts. The cheapest account starts at $10 per month for a service fee. However, with most of the options, there are ways to waive the fee completely, and there are no overdraft fees with Citi at all. They eliminated them in 2022.
6 different account types
The different types of accounts are split into 6 total options. Three of those options fall under Everyday accounts and three fall under Premium accounts.
Service online and in-person
One of the things we like about Citi is that the Citigroup company has tons of brick-and-mortar locations throughout the US. If you ever need to go into a bank for any reason, you'll have no trouble finding a Citi to serve you. There are more than 675 Citibank branches in the U.S. and Citi even has branches in more than 160 countries around the world. On top of this, Citi provides their account holders with access to over 65,000+ fee-free ATMs in the U.S. and overseas.
Customer service at Citi is spotty
There are only a handful of reviews for Citi, and none of them are very good from customer review sites. However, from financial review sites, the company averages about 4.5 stars. Across customer reviews, the negative feedback is at about 90%. The majority of customers feel that Citi has terrible customer service. Review after review notes that they struggled to get in touch with Citi, that the Citi call center was impossible to navigate, and that they couldn't get their problems resolved with customer service.
Some customers were happy too
However, the few 5-star reviews noted that they had no trouble with customer service and that they enjoyed the benefits of being cardholders with Citi. So, it may be important to reach out to their customer support to see how you feel for yourself before opening an account with Citi.
Mid-tier option with poor customer service
This option is neither the most nor least expensive. You can get a no-monthly fee account, but you have to make sure that you keep the correct minimum balance or you will be charged. While having lots of branch locations can be a benefit, if the customer service is as bad as people say, there might be some trouble getting what you need from Citi. For that reason, Citi rates as "just average" among options for online checking accounts.
Open for over 90 years, U.S. Bank is an in-person and online banking option that offers a full range of products and services. These services include checking and savings accounts.
U.S. Bank has branches in 26 states as well as offering fully online accounts. There are two checking account options with U.S. Bank: U.S. Bank Smartly Checking for $6.95 per month and the Safe Debit account which starts at $4.95 per month. However, the fees for the Smartly Checking can be waived.
Low or no costs if you qualify
U.S. Bank's Smartly Checking has a range of benefits including interest. The account requires you to put $25 into the account to open it and has a monthly maintenance fee of $6.95. However, this fee can be waived by making direct deposits of $1,000 or more, maintaining an average balance of at least $1,500 per month, or by holding an eligible U.S. Bank credit card. You can also get the fee waived by qualifying for one of the U.S. Bank Smart Rewards tiers or if you are in the military, under 24, or over 65.
Benefits of Smartly checking
Some of the benefits you receive from the Smartly checking account are:
With the Safe Debit account, you earn no interest, though you get the same benefits otherwise. However, the $4.95 monthly fee can't be waived if you choose this account type.
Has a decent network of bank branches
While it's not the widest bank location network on our list, the U.S. Bank operates branches in 26 states. You can access ATMs with the MoneyPass ATM network, along with 10,000+ ATMs nationwide within the U.S. Bank network. On top of the in-person service, they have full online services with online banking and a well-rated mobile app.
Not anyone's favorite in reviews
Unfortunately, the reviews for U.S. Bank aren't stellar. With an average of 1.3 stars from the BBB, we don't feel super confident about the U.S. Bank service. The 5-star reviews for U.S. Bank covered the good customer service or bank employees that reviewers found particularly helpful. What's interesting, however, is that many of the 5-star reviews had negative comments that sounded like they belonged in the 1-star category, which means the rating for U.S. Bank might be lower than initially shown by the average ratings.
Hard to use
The 1-star reviewers complained that the U.S. Bank app "wasn't accurate" and that it was hard to use for their mobile banking needs. Several banking customers noted that despite the promise to work with military families, U.S. Bank didn't actually support them in their banking needs. People reported having trouble accessing their funds through an ATM and there are multiple reviews of U.S. Bank "holding money" over inaccurate fraud reviews.
Not the best in-person or online branch
Although there are some good features with U.S. Bank, there aren't enough to make this company truly competitive with some of the options for online checking that we evaluated. Along with low reviews, U.S. Bank just isn't the best example of an in-person and online banking initiative, especially since many customers had problems with the U.S. Bank mobile app, which is a primary way many online customers access their funds. It might be worth looking into if you can avoid the monthly charge of $6.95 per month, but otherwise, you might want to look at one of the higher-rated options in our review.
A checking account allows you to make more withdrawals than a savings account, and usually it comes with unlimited deposits. You can apply for a checking account online or at a bank branch location.
There are a few types of checking accounts including free, interest-bearing, and premium. Free checking accounts have no monthly fees or minimum balance, interest-bearing accounts allow you to earn interest, and premium accounts usually have a monthly cost or a minimum balance requirement to qualify. Across the US the average fees for checking accounts include:
So, how do you find the best online checking account for your needs? There are a lot of things to consider. If you're not sure where to start this financial journey, here are a few things to help you sift through the options:
To help you find the right online checking account for your needs, Top Consumer Reviews has evaluated and ranked the most popular options on the market. We hope this will make it easy to find your perfect financial institution and get you saving and spending as much as you like!
Select any 2 Online Checking Accounts to compare them head to head