7 Best free checking accounts - Roost
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7 Best free checking accounts

Checking accounts that don’t charge you monthly maintenance fees!

Nowadays, there are a ton of banks out there, and lots of different kinds of accounts, so, with a little research, you can find yourself a great checking account that’s free of fees. And, since you’re probably pretty busy, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. 

Here’s a list of free checking accounts we think you should check out, and read below to learn more about how free checking accounts are a great alternative to the ones with all those fees.

Banking product 
chime-logo ~ Breaking Money SilencePros:
No minimum to open
No minimum balance
No monthly fees
No overdraft fees
Great mobile app + notifications  Get paid 2 days early
Automatic savings
No fee for replacement debit card
Cons:
• No cash deposits, no checkbooks and no physical locations
Learn more
Varo News and PressPros:
No minimum to open
No minimum balance
No monthly fees
No overdraft fees
Mobile app, mobile check deposits, bill pay, push notifications available
Get paid 2 days early
Automatic savings
$50 referral bonus
Cons:
• Doesn’t earn interest, no physical locations, $25 fee for replacement debit card
Learn more
Simple | Online Banking With Built-In Budgeting & Saving ToolsPros:
No minimum to open
No minimum balance
No monthly fees
No overdraft fees
No fee for replacement debit card
Mobile app, mobile check deposits
Safe to spend budgeting tool Push notifications available
Cons:
• Joint accounts only possible if both people have individual accounts with Simple. Cash deposits take work, no checkbooks 
Learn more
File:Discover Card logo.svg - Wikimedia CommonsPros:
No minimum deposit
No minimum balance
No monthly fees
No overdraft fees
Earn 1% cashback on $3000 debit purchases each month
60,000 Free ATMs
Cons:
• Only one physical location, No fee for replacement debit card
Learn more
File:Axos Financial Inc Logo Color.svg - Wikimedia CommonsPros:
No minimum to open
No minimum balance
No monthly fees
No overdraft fees
Mobile app, mobile check deposits, bill pay
Earns interest at 1.25% APY
Cons:
• Hard to qualify for the interest earning, notifications not available, no physical locations, $5 fee for replacement debit card
Learn more
Our Announcements | Radius BankPros:
No minimum balance
No monthly fees
No overdraft fees
Mobile app, mobile check deposits, bill pay
Get paid 2 days early
Unlimited cash bank on Radius debit card 
Cons: 
• $100 minimum opening deposit, extended overdraft penalty of $5 per day, app notifications not available, only one physical location, $35 fee for replacement debit card
Learn more
NBKC Personal Account checking review July 2020 | finder.comPros:
No minimum deposit
No minimum balance
No monthly fees
No overdraft fees
Mobile app
Cons: 
• Few physical locations, No fee for replacement debit card
Learn more

What fees do banks usually charge?

The Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC) lists up to EIGHT different fees that a bank may charge you just for keeping your money in your checking account! From monthly service fees to ATM charges to overdraft fees to a phone inquiry fee, the bank can hit you from multiple angles and suck away plenty of your hard-earned dollars with their fees (some hidden, some out in the open). For some checking accounts, you can be charged for seemingly everything. Here are nine common fees that you might encounter when you’re looking at different checking accounts:

  1. Monthly service fee: Just like it sounds. Some banks charge you a set amount each month for the privilege of using your account! This is also known as a maintenance fee and was once the most common fee associated with checking accounts, but thankfully, there are more and more free checking accounts out there.
  2. ATM-usage fee: Your bank may charge you a fee every time you use an out-of-network ATM to make a transaction.
  3. Overdraft fee: If you try to make a purchase and you don’t have enough money in your account to cover it, your bank will let the purchase go through, dropping your account into a negative balance and charging you a fee on top of that. Not all accounts do this, and, if you think you’re in danger of overdrafting from time to time, we can help you find a checking account that doesn’t charge you overdraft fees. These are also known as NSF (non-sufficient funds) fees.
  4. Returned-deposit fee: If you try to deposit a check in your account and that check bounces, your bank will charge you a fee.
  5. Per-check fee: If you’re in the habit of writing a lot of checks (though these days, that seems unlikely), you want to be wary of this. Your bank will ding you with a surcharge every time you write a check (though some checking accounts allow for a few free checks a month before this fee kicks in).
  6. Check-printing fee: This is how much you pay to actually get your checks from the bank. You can get plain or fancy ones (those Avengers checks are pretty sweet, especially the ones with Cap and Iron Man), though the fancy ones usually cost more. The bank typically deducts the cost of the checks right from your account.
  7. Stop-payment fee: Sometimes, you need to stop a check in its tracks. Maybe you lost a check from your checkbook, or maybe you changed your mind after you wrote out a check and gave it to someone. If you need to stop payment on a check, your bank will charge you a fee.
  8. Phone-inquiry fee: Now that you have the ability to check your account balance online or through an app, banks are trying to push customers to self-service through these tools. For that reason, some checking accounts charge you a fee if you call the bank to find out if a check has cleared. If you’re comfortable using online and mobile banking tools, you may not have to worry about this fee.
  9. Debit-card replacement fee. That’s right, if you lose your card or forget about it in your favorite jeans and it takes a wash, they charge you to mail you a new one.  Many banks don’t charge, but some it can be as much as $35!

As you can see, these fees can really start to add up, especially if your account has many of them!

How much do banks charge?

The fees for the above can vary quite a bit depending on the bank, but, generally, you’re going to be looking at around $35 for an overdraft fee, $2 or so per transaction for an ATM-usage fee, about $10-$12 per month for a monthly maintenance fee, and the rest can range from $5 to $25 or more depending on circumstances. All of those fees can really add up. You might think you have a few hundred dollars left in your account only to realize your actual balance is a lot lower because of all these fees. That could be quite a shock to the system!

Why free checking?

You can see how the above fees could add up. The monthly fee alone is like buying yourself lunch once a month and then tossing it right in the garbage! Also, think about how you have or would use your checking account: if any of the fees described above seem like they’d be a problem for you, you should treat that as a red flag. Some of them may not be an issue (not many people call their banks when they could just open their banking app), or some could be a serious problem (you’ll probably know if you’re going to be flirting with overdraft fees on a regular basis. Either way, finding a feeless checking account is a great idea so you don’t even have to worry about any of these things. You put your money in and you take it out. It’s like the hokey pokey — this is what it’s all about!

Choosing the right free checking account

You know you don’t want to pay any fees, so that can help you begin the process of honing in on the right account for you. After that, well, you have a few choices. You may want a big bank or a new financial startup. It’s up to you. Check out our chart above. Explore some of the links and read up on the available accounts. See what options appeal to you. Try to narrow it down to just a few accounts so you’re not overwhelmed and then decide. As long as there are no fees, you’ll start out in a good place. You’ll be able to use your new checking account freely and easily and you won’t have to worry about any hidden fees getting in your way!

A quick note! Our goal is to gather and share info that’s up-to-date and helps you make great decisions as a renter. That said, the information you get directly from a provider could be a little different. Make sure to review their terms and conditions directly; and, if you see anything here that needs to be updated, please let us know! Advertising disclosure
Last Updated: November 25th, 2020