Online banks are an excellent source for checking accounts that are free. With more people looking for ways to save during this time of runaway inflation, a free checking account is a good place to start.
One of the primary ways banks make money is by charging fees. Some common fees include monthly service charges, ATM fees, overdraft fees, and foreign transaction fees.
Online banks can offer lower or no fees than traditional banks because they don't have to maintain the costs of running branch locations.
If you're looking for the best online checking accounts that are free plus have added perks, review the below options.
Best Free Online Checking Accounts of 2023
1. SoFi Checking & Savings Account
2. Axos Bank® Rewards Checking
3. Consumers Credit Union
4. Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus
5. Quontic Bank High Interest Checking
Benefits of Online Checking Accounts
Here are five advantages of online checking accounts:
- Online checking accounts provide full access to checking account features which eliminates the need to visit branch locations. You can access your account 24/7 from anywhere with an internet connection.
- Online checking accounts often have no to lower fees compared to traditional banks. This can save you money in the long run.
- Online banks typically offer higher interest rates on their checking accounts compared to traditional banks allowing you to maximize your savings.
- Most online banks offer state-of-the-art mobile apps that allow you to manage your account from your smartphone or tablet. This is a great way to manage your account, transfer funds, categorize transactions, receive real-time alerts, gain insights into your spending habits and pay bills on the go.
Drawbacks of Online Checking Accounts
Here are three disadvantages of online checking accounts:
- No in-person guidance or problem resolution
- Wait time when you need an official bank check, cashier's check or money order.
- May cost a fee to make cash deposits at bank-partner locations.
Banks typically make money in three ways: net interest margin, interchange fees, and banking fees. The average monthly service charge for non-interest-bearing accounts averaged $5.61, according to Bankrate. If you want to earn interest on your checking account, you'll shell out around $15 per month.
When you open a free checking account you can avoid monthly service fees but there are other fees to watch out for like:
- ATM Fees
- Insufficient Fund Fees
- Overdraft Fees
Avoid ATM Fees: When you use an ATM that's not part of your bank's network or affiliated network on average you could pay $4.35 per transaction. But, most online banks offer limited monthly ATM fee reimbursements for ATM owner’s fees if you do need to go out-of-network for cash.
Avoid Insufficient Fund Fees: An insufficient funds or returned-item fee could be as high as $38. When you make a purchase or other transaction that is more than the amount in your checking or savings account, and you haven’t opted into an overdraft program, the bank may decline the charge or return it unpaid.
Avoid Overdraft Fees: Overdraft coverage or protection allows purchases to go through, for a fee, even if you don’t have enough funds in your checking account. To avoid overdraft fees, consider signing up for overdraft protection via automatic transfers from your savings to your checking account when your balance is low.