Best Checking Accounts in 2019

Your checking account is where it all happens. It’s the center of your financial universe, some might say!

best banks for checking accounts

The problem is that, after you’ve opened the account, things are often done and dusted. You use it daily – yet you rarely question whether you could be getting more from your checking than you currently do.

There are some pretty awesome checking accounts on the market – and it would be a shame to miss out. I’m talking accounts that are completely free (if you still pay for yours!) or that pay you a pretty penny just to use them.

Yes, that’s right – you could be making money just by keeping your account open (and keeping some money there).

So, let’s forget for a moment that you most likely already have a checking account – and see what the best checking accounts of 2019 are. Perhaps these accounts have more to offer than your current one – in which case, you may want to rethink your choice!

6 Best Checking Accounts

Here are 6 checking accounts which I consider some of the best because of their excellent features:

Chime

Chime’s Spending Account is awesome for multiple reasons. Firstly, there are no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements. Secondly, there are more than 38,000 fee-free ATMs. Thirdly, the whole checking account experience is very neat, thanks to Chime’s highly-rated mobile app.

Pros

  • No maintenance fees
  • No minimum account balance
  • Over 38,000 fee-free ATMs
  • You can get paid up to 2 days early with direct deposit
  • Automatic Savings feature helps you save automatically
  • Highly rated mobile app (4.8 on the App Store, 4.7 on Google Play)

Chime Chime bank offers no hassle online banking with a quick and easy to use app that allows you to manage all or your accounts in one place, and best of all, there are no fees to worry about. Learn More Chime

Discover

With Discover Bank’s Cashback Debit checking account, you can get 1% cash back on up to $3,000 qualifying purchases each month. Plus, forget having to pay for your checking account – there are no maintenance fees, no insufficient fund fees, nor ATM fees (at over 60,000 ATMs in the U.S.)

Pros

  • No account fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases each month
  • Access over 60,000 free ATMs nationwide
  • Highly-rated mobile app (4.8 on the App Store, 4.7 on Google Play)

Discover Discover Bank offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month along with no monthly fees or balance requirements. Learn More Discover

Chase

chase bank logoChase Total Checking account is another excellent option, especially if you’re after a bank that has a physical branch you can pop into on every corner. Chase has one of the biggest bank networks of branches in the U.S. (yup, nearly 5,000 branches!).

The account isn’t free (there’s a $12 maintenance fee) – but you can avoid it by receiving at least $500 in direct deposits a month and keeping a daily balance of $1,500. There’s also a $200 welcome bonus offer if you meet the qualifying requirements.

Pros

  • $12 maintenance fee can be waived
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Access to over 16,000 ATMs
  • Access to nearly 5,000 bank branches
  • Highly-rated mobile app for smooth banking on-the-go (4.6 on the App Store, 4.4 on Google Play)

Simple

simple bank logoSimple is another online-only bank that also has an excellent checking account option. Simple’s online account doesn’t charge any maintenance fees and comes with plenty of handy budgeting tools. You can also save automatically towards your goals – and get access to over 40,000 fee-free ATMs.

You can also earn 2.15% APY on balances of $10,000 or more – and a $500 bonus!

Pros

  • No maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Earn 2.15% APY on balances of $10,000 or more (+$500 bonus)
  • Offers useful budgeting tools
  • Highly-rated mobile app for smooth banking on-the-go (4.8 on the App Store, 4.2 on Google Play)

CapitalOne

capital one bank logoCapitalOne 360 Checking Account ticks many of the most important boxes – and has some pretty exciting perks. There are no fees, no minimum opening deposit, and you also earn an APY on your balances.

On top of that, CapitalOne’s mobile app receives excellent ratings – and the company prides itself on user-friendly digital tools.

Pros

  • No maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Earn APY (0.20% APY on balances of $0 – $49,999.99, 0.50% APY on $50,000- $99,999.99, and 0.75% APY on balances of $100,000 or more)
  • Highly-rated mobile app for smooth banking on-the-go (4.7 on the App Store, 4.6 on Google Play)

Ally Bank

ally invest logoAlly Bank, pretty much all you could want from a checking account: no maintenance fees, no minimum opening balance, and your money grows without you having to move a finger!

Ally Bank also offers strong rates – and, while you can probably find some cheaper rates elsewhere, the fact that it is accessible to everyone without a minimum deposit nor monthly fee makes it jump straight to the top for me.

Of course, it is an online-only bank, so you have to be comfortable with managing your account digitally (only), but from my experience, most millennials don’t have a problem with that.

Pros

  • It’s free ($0 monthly fee)
  • Top-rated mobile app (4.8 on the App Store, 4.3 on Google Play)
  • The account is interest-bearing (0.10% APY on balances of less than $15,000, and 0.60% APY on balances of $15,000 and more)
  • There’s no minimum deposit
  • Access to over 43,000 free ATMs

Which Bank has the Highest Interest Rate for Checking Accounts?

Now, when it comes to the highest interest rate, Axos Bank is the winner. The bank’s Rewards Checking account is an excellent choice for anyone looking to earn high interest on their checking account.

You can earn up to 1.25% APY in the following ways:

  • Earn 0.4166% by receiving monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more
  • Earn 0.4166% by using your Axos Visa Debit Card for at least 10 transactions per month (min $3 per transaction)
  • Earn 0.4166% by using Axos Visa Debit Card 5 more times, a total of 15 transactions per month (min $3 per transaction)

Axos Bank hits the spot in other areas too – like no maintenance fees, monthly minimums, or overdraft fees. There’s a $50 minimum opening balance, but that’s pretty easy to hit.

Also, with Axos Bank, you get unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements, which is pretty awesome.

Pros

  • Earn up to 1.25% APY on any balance (if you meet the qualifying activities)
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements in the U.S.
  • No overdraft fees
  • No minimum account balance
  • Only $50 to open an account

Axos Bank Axos Bank offers user-friendly online banking tools and customized business banking solutions. Learn More Axos Bank

Which Credit Union has the Highest Rate for Checking Accounts?

Alternatively, Consumers Credit Union also offers stellar checking account interest rates.

Its Rewards Checking account has no minimum balance, no maintenance fees, no ATM fees, and jaw-droppingly high yield.

You can earn as much as 3.09% APY on balances of up to $10,000, and 5.09% APY on balances of $10,000 or more. To earn 3.09% APY, you’ll need to make at least 12 debit card purchases (a total of $100 or more each month).

To earn the 5.09% APY, you’ll need to meet the requirements to earn 3.09% APY + spend at least $1,000 in CCA Visa Credit Card purchases each month.

Consumers Credit Union also has a highly-rated mobile app, making it easy to manage your account on-the-go.

Pros

  • Excellent APY (3.09% APY on balances of up to $10,000, and 5.09% APY on balances of $10,000 or more)
  • Unlimited reimbursement of ATM fees
  • No maintenance fees
  • No minimum account balance
  • Excellent mobile app

What Banks Offer Free Checking Accounts?

If you’re still paying for a checking account, it better be because your bank account offers benefits worth paying for that you couldn’t otherwise get from a free bank account.

However, if you are paying for a bank account and not making the most of the benefits it offers, or simply looking to direct that money towards other areas, then you may want to look for a free bank account.

Luckily, there are plenty of excellent banks that offer free checking accounts to customers who would rather not pay to keep their accounts open.

To find out what they are, check out our list of the best free checking accounts of 2019.

Is it Bad to Have Multiple Checking Accounts?

So, you’re seeing these fantastic checking accounts and thinking… why can’t I just have multiple accounts – and reap ALL the benefits you’ve just mentioned? While that’s a very valid question that has crossed the minds of many (including mine!), there are a few reasons why having multiple checking accounts can be a bad thing.

There are, of course, pros and cons to both – and having one or two accounts won’t do too much damage. Especially if you own a small business or side hustle and want to keep your personal finances separate from work.

That’s the right thing to do – and if you’re looking for a bank to become a customer of, check out this list of best business checking accounts for 2019. But if you decide to open three or four – that’s when it may no longer be worthwhile. Here’s why:

Managing your accounts could be tricky

If you have multiple accounts, keeping track of your accounts, their passwords, and other sensitive information can be difficult. You always have to keep an eye on your account to prevent identity fraud or be able to identify it as soon as possible.

If you have 1-2 accounts – that’s an easy task. Having 3-4, on the other hand, can mean things get a little overwhelming, and you’re aren’t able to protect your private information as well as you should.

Fees add up

If you have multiple accounts, you’ll also need to keep track of how much you’re being charged for each. You may open an account that’s free – but fees can be introduced at a later date, or you could incur fees for certain transactions that you may not have known before.

Having multiple accounts means staying on top of bank fees becomes a challenge. And I know what you’re thinking – it’s just a dollar or two, but if you have many accounts, those fees can quickly add up!

Difficult to meet requirements for interest/ promotions

The bank accounts that offer interest and exciting promotions often come with caveats, like having to deposit a certain amount into your account right away, or having to maintain a high enough balance for a while. If your funds are distributed across multiple accounts – meeting those requirements could be harder.

However, of course, if you’re willing to invest some time and energy into this, you could open and manage at least a couple of checking accounts – and reap their unique benefits.

I know a lot of people who do that – and use certain accounts for cash back, others for spending abroad, and others for earning interest. It will require some calculations and being wise with your money, but it can certainly be done.

What to look for in the best checking account?

Ultimately, what you want from your main checking account is low fees (or no fees at all), free ATMs (or multiple reimbursements), and good customer support. These are the very basic elements you should look for – but you could demand even more from your checking account!

Many banks allow you to earn interest on your cash, which is awesome. Make sure you know how much you need to deposit and keep in your checking account to earn interest – sometimes that can be a pretty hefty sum!

Grant Sabatier

Creator of Millennial Money and Author of Financial Freedom (Penguin Random House). Dubbed "The Millennial Millionaire" by CNBC, Grant went from $2.26 to over $1 million in 5 years, reaching financial independence at age 30. Grant has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, NPR, Money Magazine and many others. He uses Personal Capital to manage his money in 10 minutes a month.

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Posted in: Banking, Checking

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