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The Best Checking Accounts

March 15, 2019
9 min read
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Your checking account plays a big role in how you manage your household finances each month. It's your financial hub, the place where the money you earn goes in and where the money you spend goes out — hopefully, in part, to pay off travel credit cards that earn you valuable points and miles.

Are you using the best checking account available? If you can't answer that question with a resounding yes, it may be time to take a look at what else is available.

If you're not sure where to start your search, I've got you covered. Here are my reviews of the best checking accounts currently.

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account

Think Charles Schwab only provides investment accounts? Think again. Charles Schwab Bank offers an attractive online checking account for people who are willing to sacrifice face-to-face banking for earning higher interest and lower fees. Here's how the features of this account stack up.


  • Earn 0.40% APY on your account balance
  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates both in the US and abroad (see terms and restrictions for qualifying transactions).
  • No monthly fees
  • No account minimums
  • Receive free standard checks
  • Free bill pay online and through the Schwab Mobile app
  • Deposit checks remotely


  • You can't deposit cash
  • You might earn higher interest rates on your money elsewhere if you maintain a large balance ($15,000 and up) in your checking account

This account may be best for people who enjoy free ATM access, either within the US or overseas. Also, people who maintain smaller checking account balances can still earn a higher interest rate on this account when compared with many traditional banks.

(Photo via Charles Schwab)
You can earn higher interest using Charles Schwab for your checking account. (Photo via Charles Schwab)


According to Ally's tagline, "better banking starts here." Although that's a pretty ambitious statement, Ally Bank's Interest Checking account seems to live up to the hype with some hard-to-beat features.


  • Earn a competitive interest rate of up to 0.60% APY on your balance (APY is 0.10% with less than a $15,000 minimum daily balance)
  • Pay no monthly maintenance fees
  • 24/7 live customer service support
  • Use Allpoint ATMs for free in the US
  • Receive up to a $10 reimbursement per statement for ATM fees charged by other US ATM networks
  • Deposit checks remotely


  • You need to have a minimum daily balance of $15,000 or higher in order to earn .60% APY
  • You can't deposit cash
  • The $10 "excessive transactions fee" is charged per transaction if you exceed more than six outgoing transfers (including auto transfers) from your money market account within a given month
  • $9.95 fee for same-day bill pay

This account is probably best for people who maintain an average daily checking account balance of more than $15,000, don't need to deposit cash, and are interested in earning higher interest rates on their money.

(Photo courtesy of Ally)
You can also set up "Splurge Alerts" with Ally Financial's mobile app. (Photo courtesy of Ally)

Capital One 360 Checking

Depending on where you live, Capital One offers a nice hybrid between many of the online checking features people love and the option to deposit cash plus and other in-branch services.

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  • Fee-free online and mobile checking
  • Earn 0.20% APY on your account balance (and higher APYs if your balance exceeds $50,000)
  • App lets you track spending and savings goals, transfer money and manage accounts on the go
  • Your first book of checks is free
  • No minimum deposit required to open an account
  • Access over 39,000 Capital One or Allpoint ATMs free of charge
  • Take advantage of mobile check deposits
  • Deposit cash at ATMs or at Capital One branches (called Capital One Cafes)


  • Although Capital One does offer some in-person branches, there's still limited availability at this time and you might not have a convenient location.
  • You can earn higher interest on your balance elsewhere.

People who want the ability to deposit cash while still earning some interest may like Capital One 360 Checking. The account is essentially an online checking account with some traditional perks added in. Although the APY isn't the highest on the market, the fact that it is fee-free and provides highly rated online tools still makes it a good option.

Capital One branches are called Capital One Cafe's. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Capital One branches are called Capital One Cafés. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Chase Total Checking

Do you prefer to have access to traditional face-to-face banking, or need the ability to deposit cash into your account? If so, Chase Total Checking, currently with an attractive sign-up bonus offer, is an account you might want to consider.


  • Get a $200 sign-up bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit
  • The $12 monthly service fee on your account can be waived in any of the following three easy ways:
  • You receive $500 or more in direct deposits each month OR
  • Your balance remains at $1,500 or above each day throughout the month OR
  • You have an average balance of $5,000 each month in your linked Chase checking and savings accounts
  • Students are eligible for a reduced monthly fee of $6 which can also be easily avoided
  • Mobile check deposits
  • Access 16,000 ATMs and 5,000 branches for your banking needs


  • You do not earn interest on your balance (Chase does have two other checking options where 0.01% APY may be earned. However, these accounts come with higher fees and a higher balance criteria must be met to have those fees waived)

This account might be best for people who are willing to sacrifice interest earned or rewards on their checking accounts in order to access traditional, in-branch banking services.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
With Chase, you can access 16,000 ATMs and 5,100 branches. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Discover Cashback Debit Checking Account

Everyone loves to earn rewards or cash back on their purchases. While many credit cards come with them, getting rewards on debit card transactions isn't as common. If you want to find a checking account with cash back, Discover's Cashback Debit has an offer you might like.


  • Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases every month
  • Earn 0.40% APY on your account balance
  • Pay no monthly fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No-fee online bill pay
  • Access over 60,000 no-fee ATMs in the US


  • You can't deposit cash
  • You might earn higher interest rates on your money elsewhere if you maintain a large balance ($15,000 and up) in your checking account

This account may be best for people who prefer to use debit cards for many of their monthly expenses, since the account comes with the opportunity to earn cash back on these transactions.

Discover's Cashback Debit offers much lower fees than other accounts. (Photo via Discover)
Discover's Cashback Debit offers lower fees than other checking account programs for similar features. (Photo via Discover)

Bonus Picks: Chase Private Client and Chase Sapphire Banking

If you can maintain a balance of at least $75,000 (to waive monthly fees and earn a new member bonus), one of these premium checking accounts from Chase could make sense. The real draw here is the opportunity to earn a sizable sign-up bonus, but they have some nice perks as well.

Chase Sapphire Banking

If you can bring in $75,000 in new assets, have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or a Chase Sapphire Reserve and have an offer code, you can earn 60,000 points when you sign up for a Chase Sapphire Banking account. Based on TPG's valuations, that's worth $1,200.

Chase Sapphire Banking benefits include:

  • No ATM fees
  • No exchange rates
  • No fees on outgoing wire transfers
  • Access to exclusive experiences including lounges at sporting events and concerts and access to early ticket sales for certain events
  • Free online stock and ETF trades with You Invest by J.P. Morgan

Note that the APY is just 0.01% (effective as of 5/29/19). Interest rates are variable and subject to change.

Chase Private Client

This top-of-the-line premium Chase checking account is available to customers with a total balance of $250,000 or more (including cash and qualified investments). If you can meet that hefty requirement, you can earn a bonus of $1,250 when you transfer over at least $250,000 in qualifying new money or security to Chase Private Client. Like with Sapphire Banking, the APY is just 0.01% (effective as of 7/16/19; interest rates are variable and subject to change), so you could do better with another product offering a higher return.

How Do You Choose the Best?

There's probably no single "best" checking account for everyone. However, there is a checking account which is best for you.

Figure out which features are the most important to you and go from there. Whether you're interested in great customer service, cash back rewards, no fees, higher interest rates, convenient mobile-app capability, or something else entirely, there's probably a bank out there which will give you exactly what you want.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.