The 10 best free checking accounts for March 2023


As banking matters develop, we will consider how they affect our stories. If we deem any changes to our stories appropriate we will note them. (Read our full methodology here.)

Fees can have a way of eating into your budget if you’re not paying close attention to them. A few dollars here and there can add up and make it difficult to save or have extra funds available to set aside for your longer-term financial goals. 

One common fee you may be charged each month: a monthly maintenance fee for your checking account. Many checking accounts charge a monthly service fee, sometimes referred to as a monthly maintenance fee, which is a charge by your financial institution for day-to-day operations. Add this to potential overdraft fees, ATM fees, transfer fees, and more—it can take a serious toll on your balance. One way to save: a free checking account. 

Choosing the right checking account can be challenging, and the right account for your financial needs will depend on a few different factors. To help make your decision a little easier, the Fortune RecommendsTM editorial team ranked over 30 free checking accounts and came up with a list of the top 10 picks. We weighed minimum balance requirements, annual percentage yields (APYs) for interest-earning checking accounts, branch and free ATM access, mobile and online banking platforms, overdraft fees, and customer service options. (Read our full methodology here.) 

  1. Consumers Credit Union: 5% APY
  2. Wealthfront: 4.05% APY
  3. NBKC Bank: 1.50% APY
  4. SoFi: 2.50% APY
  5. Customers Bank: 2% APY
  6. Quontic Bank: 1.10% APY
  7. Amalgamated Bank: 0.80% APY
  8. Ally Bank: 0.25% APY
  9. Axos Bank: 1.25% APY
  10. Landmark National Bank: 1.25% APY

The top 10 free checking accounts  

Here’s our rundown of the top 10 free checking accounts, including the key figures you should know before you open an account. (Note: APYs and fees are up to date as of Feb. 22, 2023 but are subject to change.)

1. Consumers Credit Union: If you’re looking to earn a high APY on your account balance 

Consumers Credit Union is an Illinois-based credit union that offers a wide range of financial products and services including checking, savings, debit and credit cards, vehicle and consumer loans, money market accounts, certificates, and more. Anyone can become a member of Consumers Credit Union by becoming a member of the Consumers Cooperative Association and making a one-time payment of $5.00 for the membership fee. 

Key numbers
Minimum balance to keep account open: $5
APY: 5%

Our top pick offers a solid 5% on balances up to $10,000 when you spend $1,000 or more in Consumers Credit Union (CCU) Visa Credit Card purchases each month. But while there are no minimum number of transactions required to get that APY rate it has a number of other requirements to earn that APY: You must sign up to receive eDocuments, make at least 12 debit card purchases each month, and have direct deposits, mobile Check Deposits, or ACH credits totaling $500 or more monthly.

Overdraft fee: $30

Why we picked it

This account took the top spot on our list for having the highest APY compared to other competitors we ranked. Just keep in mind that there are certain requirements to qualify for this higher APY, and it only applies on balances up to $10,000, which we mentioned above. Consumers Credit Union also offers online and mobile banking platforms, the mobile app is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Customers can speak to a representative by visiting a physical branch, calling the credit union between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST. There is also a 24/7 live chat option available on the credit union’s website. 

2. Wealthfront: If you want to dabble in investing

First launched in 2011 in California, Wealthfront is an online investment management service that offers portfolio management services, a high-interest cash management account, portfolio lines of credit, and more.

Key numbers
Minimum balance to keep account open: $1
APY: 4.05%
Overdraft fee: $0

Why we picked it

This account made second in our list for its robust APY and a minimum balance of just $1. Plus, for users hoping to start investing or become more consistent investors, they can make almost immediate transfers from their cash account to their Wealthfront investment accounts. The Wealthfront app is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play and has just under a 5-star rating on both platforms. Wealthfront offers support via email and phone on weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT. 

3. NBKC Bank: If ATM access is your top concern 

Founded in 1999, NBKC Bank is an online bank with a few physical branches in Kansas. Its product offerings include home loans, checking accounts, money market accounts, and more.

Key numbers
Minimum balance to keep account open: $0
APY: 1.50%
Overdraft fee: $0

Why we picked it

NBKC also has a large network of more than 37,000 free MoneyPass® ATMs and up to $12/month in reimbursement for any fees you may be charged for out-of-network ATM use. Another big reason we picked this bank: Its free checking account boasts a 1.50% APY, which is 25 times the national average. 

NBKC Bank offers mobile and online banking for Apple and Android users, and customer service representatives are available to assist customers via email and telephone Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST. It also offers chat support on its website Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. CST.

4. SoFi: If you’re looking for a checking account that sweetens the deal with a bonus 

SoFi is an online bank headquartered in San Francisco that offers checking, savings, investing products, and more. SoFi has just three physical locations in the U.S., but customers have access to a network of over 55,000 ATMs nationwide.

Key numbers
Minimum balance to keep account open: $0
APY: 2.50% for account holders who sign up for direct deposit 
Overdraft fee: $0

Why we picked it

SoFi’s free checking account scored a spot on our list for its $0 minimum balance requirement and $0 overdraft fee. We also like that SoFi offers checking account holders a 2.50% APY on their balance—that’s more than 40 times the national average. What’s more—signing up for direct deposit can score you a $250 cash bonus. 

SoFi also offers online and mobile banking platforms available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Customers can request assistance by reaching out to SoFi via phone, chat, email, and even sending general questions to the Twitter account at @SoFiSupport.

5. Customers Bank: If you keep a strict budget and never overdraft your account 

Customers Bank is a community bank founded in 2009 with banking and loan services across Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas.

Key numbers
Minimum balance to keep account open: $50
APY: 1%–2%
Overdraft fee: $20

Why we picked it

Its personal checking account offers a 2.00% APY (a base APY of 1.00% with an additional 1.00% when using direct deposit or bill pay). There are no minimum or maximum balance requirements tied to this account, but there is a fee of $20 for overdrafting your account. Customers Bank offers online and mobile banking on the Apple App Store and Google Play, and customer support is available every day of the week from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET.

6. Quontic Bank: If you swipe your debit card at least 10 times per month

Quontic is a digital bank that began as a community bank based in New York City over 10 years ago. Quontic offers both checking and savings account options, mortgage loans and refinancing.

Key numbers
Minimum balance to keep account open: $100
APY: 1.10%
Overdraft fee: $0

Why we picked it

Quontic’s interest-earning checking account offers account holders a 1.10% APY on all balance tiers when you make at least 10 qualifying debit card transactions of $10 or more per statement. Interest is compounded daily and deposited into your account each month. Customers also have access to a network of over 90,000 fee-free ATMs across the nation and Quontic offers online and mobile banking platforms. The mobile application is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play and has a rating of 4.4 and 3.2 stars, respectively. 

As far as customer support goes, customers can contact a customer service representative via live chat, email, and telephone Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. EST. 

7. Amalgamated Bank: If customer service is your top priority 

Amalgamated Bank is a New York City-based bank whose roots can be traced back to 1923 when it first began as a means of serving a clothing workers union. Over the years, the bank has grown to offer a wide range of new programs and financial products that provide access to banking regardless of customers’ socioeconomic status. These products include personal, small business, and commercial banking products and services. 

Key numbers
Minimum balance to keep account open: $100
APY: 0.80%
Overdraft fee: $34

Why we picked it

Amalgamated Bank’s online checking account made our list for its competitive APY and stellar customer service. The bank offers customers support via telephone Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET. The bank also has a live chat feature that connects customers with a representative Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, and a contact form for email assistance. 

8. Ally Bank: If you want an online bank with a long list of products and services apart from a checking account 

Ally is an online-only bank that offers a wide range of financial products and services including checking and savings accounts, credit cards, auto loans, and more. While Ally does not have any physical branches, customers can enjoy free access to a network of more than 43,000 ATMs and 24/7 live chat, email, and phone support.

Key numbers
Minimum balance to keep account open: $0
APY: 0.25%
Overdraft fee: $0

Why we picked it

Ally’s free checking account offers a lower APY compared to other accounts on our list, but the zero-fee policy and unlimited customer support could be a major selling point for consumers on the hunt for a new checking account. One drawback for cash carriers: Ally does not accept cash deposits, so customers will need to make deposits via mobile deposit, online transfers, direct deposit, wire transfers, or via mail.

9. Axos Bank: If you want an online bank with all of the bells and whistles

Founded in 2000, California-based Axos Bank is an entirely online bank offering numerous account options for individual and business customers. Axos prides itself on its tech-driven platform and well-developed mobile app that allows for banking around the clock, 24/7 chat support, analyzing spending patterns, and syncing all financial accounts—even those outside of Axos. 

Key numbers
Minimum balance to keep account open: $50
APY: 1.25%
Overdraft fee: $0

Why we picked it

Axos Bank’s rewards checking account took a spot on our list for its lucrative APY and lack of fees. At 1.25% the APY associated with this account is more than 20 times the national average. What’s more, the account doesn’t charge any monthly fees and offers unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements. The mobile app provides a 24/7 automated chat and customers can also send secure messages to the bank. Bank representatives can also be reached by phone 24/7. 

10. Landmark National Bank: If you’re searching for a national bank with a community bank feel 

Landmark National Bank first began in 1885 as the Manhattan Buildings & Savings Association headquartered in Manhattan, Kansas. Landmark’s products include (but are not limited to) checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards, as well as business banking products and home loans.

Key numbers
Minimum balance to keep account open: $50
APY: 1.25%
Overdraft fee: $19

Why we picked it

Landmark National Bank’s Smart Money checking account requires a minimum opening balance of $50 and does not charge a monthly service fee.

This bank also offers up to $30 in ATM refunds each month, as well as free online banking, online bill pay, and mobile banking for Apple and Android users. The checking account boasts a 1.25% APY–more than 20 times the national average. To speak with a representative, customers can call Landmark’s customer service center Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Landmark offers live chat and email support as well.

What is a free checking account?

Free checking accounts typically do not charge monthly maintenance and transaction fees or impose minimum balance requirements. These accounts are typically offered by brick-and-mortar banks, credit unions, and online-only financial institutions.

The specific fee schedule for free checking accounts is likely to vary somewhat from one financial institution to another, but according to U.S. laws, banks are not allowed to promote an account as “free” if maintenance or activity fees are applied.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) explains that banks “can offer a free account and still charge for certain services,” however. These charges could include fees associated with using your ATM or overdraft fees, among other things.

Are free checking accounts truly free?

Generally, yes. But it’s important to understand that “free” doesn’t necessarily mean there will be no fees whatsoever associated with the account.

But just because a checking account is advertised as free doesn’t mean it doesn’t have fees. Sometimes, banks may offer accounts without a monthly fee but charge for a variety of activities, such as falling below a certain balance, receiving paper statements, or using ATMs outside of a specified network.

Financial institutions are required to disclose all fees and charges associated with an account. But it’s up to you to review the account disclosures and agreement when you establish an account.

Depending on which institution you open a free checking account with, there still could be hidden fees. So make sure to do your research prior to opening a free checking account and understand what fees are associated with your account.

Pros and cons of free checking accounts to consider 

There are many upsides to free checking accounts, the most notable of which is keeping more money in your pocket. But you’ll also want to consider the trade-offs that come with this type of account, as they may be bare bones accounts that offer little in the way of services or they may implement additional fees for services. Here’s a closer look at some of the potential benefits and drawbacks to consider.


  • No monthly maintenance costs
  • No minimum balance required
  • No ATM fees


  • Card must be used a certain number of times each month
  • Opening deposit requirement
  • Direct deposit required to have the account


  • No monthly maintenance costs: First and foremost, free checking accounts should not include monthly maintenance fees. “While you might still be charged other fees, a free checking account offers the benefit of no monthly maintenance cost,” says Sexton.
  • No minimum balance: In many cases, free checking accounts also do not require that account holders maintain a minimum daily balance. “Average big banks will often charge you a fee if your checking account dips below their minimum balance. You won’t have to worry about this when it comes to most free checking accounts,” says Sexton.
  • No ATM withdrawal fees: Depending on the financial institution, freedom from ATM fees, such as out-of-network fees, may be another perk. “Most free checking accounts offer access to a network of free ATMs, which can save you money on hefty fees in the long run,” explains Sexton.


  • Minimum debit card usage: Some financial institutions may require that you use the debit card associated with an account a minimum number of times per month in order to avoid fees.
  • Opening deposit requirements: It’s not unusual for financial institutions to require minimum opening deposit requirements, such as $50 or more.
  • Direct deposit required: In addition to requiring a minimum deposit to open, some free checking accounts also stipulate that you have a certain number of direct deposits to the account each month. 

Are there special qualifications to open a free checking account? 

The requirements to open a free checking account may vary depending on the type of financial institution you’re considering. Credit unions, for instance, typically require that you meet certain qualifications in order to become a member and open an account. Traditional banks and online lenders generally do not have such requirements.

You’ll also be required to provide a variety of documentation to establish the account. This typically includes documentation of identity such as a Social Security number, driver’s license, or other official government identification. A birth certificate or passport may also be required. You will also be asked for information documenting your address, which could be a mortgage, a utility bill, or a rental lease. Some banks may also have age minimums to open accounts, such as being at least 18 years old. 

In addition, some financial institutions require a minimum deposit to open an account.

How to choose a free checking account

As you search for the right free checking account for your needs, consider a number of variables and questions before making a final decision:

1. Review fees

While the account may be presented as “free”—as in, there’s no monthly maintenance charge—it’s important to specifically ask about or read the fine print on the financial institution’s website regarding other fees associated with the account. You’ll want to find out whether there are ATM usage fees, wire fees, stop payment fees, and returned check fees, to name a few. Make sure you consider all of these costs to determine whether the account truly makes sense for your budget and lifestyle.

2. See what benefits come with the account

It’s not unusual for bank accounts to provide helpful financial management tools that can help you stay on top of your day-to-day spending. But bare-bones accounts may not offer such extra benefits.

But before you start looking for a new checking account, spend some time thinking about what features might be important to you now or in the future. For example, do you need tools that help you manage your cash flow? Some checking accounts offer helpful features in case things don’t go exactly as planned and help you make more informed spending choices. 

3. Research the types of customer service options available
Having easy access to customer service is critical when it comes to managing your money or in the case of fraud or any other needs. Check the financial institution’s website to find out what type of customer service is available with your account.

4. Research how much ATM access you will have 

Having a robust ATM network available to access your account is a particularly important convenience factor, especially if you make frequent cash withdrawals or regular deposits. In some cases, the bank, credit union or financial institution offering the free checking account may partner with other providers to broaden the ATM network that its customers are able to access without a fee. But it’s important to specifically ask about this before selecting an account.

5. If everything checks out: Open an account 

Once you’ve sorted through all of these questions and any others that are important, it’s time to confirm your eligibility with the specific financial institution you’ve chosen and open the account. To complete this step, make sure to gather all required documents together. In many cases, you can open an account online. But for some traditional banks, you may need to visit the bank in person.

Our methodology

The Fortune RecommendsTM team compared over 30 no-fee checking accounts across major banks, credit unions, and online-only banks. Our top picks are available to customers across the U.S. no matter where you’re located, subject to the terms of each checking account. 

For our best free checking accounts, we ranked the best accounts on the following categories and weighted each category as set forth in the percentages below:

  • Minimum opening deposit requirement (25%): Some financial institutions require that account holders deposit a certain amount to open an account. We thought that a lower minimum was preferable and rated banks with lower minimum requirements higher. 
  • Annual percentage yield (APY) on your account balance (25%): This percentage represents the real rate of return on your balance; the higher the APY, the better. 
  • Branch and free ATM access (20%): Accounts belonging to financial institutions that have physical branches and fee-free ATMs ranked higher on our list than alternatives that were online-only or charged fees for ATM use. 
  • Mobile and online banking platforms (15%): Accounts that can be accessed and managed via online or mobile banking platforms scored higher on our list than accounts that did not have digital banking platforms. 
  • Overdraft fees (10%): Overdraft fees are charged when there isn’t enough money in your account to cover your transactions. We favored accounts with lower overdraft fees. 
  • Customer service (5%): Top picks offer customers three ways to get in contact: chat support, by phone, or even email. Among the three options, we gave phone support the most weight. 

We think that the best free checking accounts offer a low or zero monthly service fee, minimum opening deposit requirements, and a lucrative APY, among other perks. We also ranked accounts with physical branches and free ATM access higher on our list. The rates, fees, and minimum balance requirements on these checking accounts are available for limited time periods, and APYs are subject to fluctuation, which could impact how much interest you earn. All the banks and credit unions on this list are insured by the FDIC and NCUA respectively.