Best Online Checking Accounts

Best online checking accountsThanks to technology and the increasingly-digital nature of our money, it’s possible to do your banking with an free online checking account — no need to walk into a branch location tied to a specific geographic area.

Plus, many online accounts offer perks that you won’t find with traditional brick-and-mortar banks, including interest-bearing checking accounts.

Online checking accounts can be convenient, and many of them come without the fees that are starting to crop up at “regular” banks.

Online banks tend to have lower overhead, and can offer to pay interest, or even to provide rewards.

Most online banks will also send you debit cards and checks so that you can access your money at ATMs around the country and make paper check payments.

Compare Best Online Checking Accounts

But with so many online checking account options, how do you know which bank to choose? Here are some of the absolute best online checking accounts:

Capital One 360 Checking Account

Click here to start saving with ING Direct!Capital One purchased ING Direct and converted the brand name over to Capital One 360 in 2013. ING Direct was one of the most beloved online banking institutions out there because they were one of the first online accounts that paid great interest on savings. Over time the bank branched out and offered an online checking account called ING Electric Orange.

That account is now called Capital One 360 Checking.

Here’s what you get with this account:

  • $50 bonus
  • Competitive interest rate
  • Free online bill pay
  • Free unlimited check writing (Capital One 360 prints and mails the check for you!)
  • 35,000+ free ATMs
  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • Incredibly low overdraft costs

If you open an account today, Capital One 360 will give you $50 just for using your debit card 3 times in the first 45 days. (Alternatively, you can use the free Person2Person payment system 3 times, or any combination of the two.) That’s a free $50 just for trying out the account.

The overdraft protection is called an Overdraft Line of Credit. Instead of hitting you with massive fees for each charge you overdraft, Capital One 360 gives you a $165 line of credit to pull against if you need to. Let’s say you have $500 in your account, but need to spend $600 during an emergency. The charge will go through and you will draw down your line of credit from $165 to $65. The $100 you borrowed is now charging you interest for borrowing the money, but we’re talking pennies on the dollar for the overdraft. If you borrowed $100 for 10 days on overdraft your total fee would be approximately $0.31. Compared to the $30 to $35 a normal bank would charge you for each overdraft charge you’re looking at a 99% savings for the overdraft.

Capital One 360 also provides an extensive network of free ATMs, and doesn’t force you into account minimums (although you do need a minimum deposit to open an account) or activity requirements. A great perk of using a Capital One 360 Checking account is you can easily connect to all of your other Capital One 360 accounts like savings, CDs, and even Capital One ShareBuilder. Capital One 360 offers free online bill pay, and will send out paper checks if that is needed. You can receive a debit card and order checks from the bank. Additionally, it’s possible engage in Person2Person banking transactions — sending payments to any bank account.

Capital One 360 Checking is a solid option for your online checking needs and we highly recommend this account. Earn interest while enjoying low overdraft charges and great bill pay options. Open an account today.

EverBank

free online checking accounts - everbankThis is a popular choice among people who can maintain a higher account balance. EverBank promises that it will pay a yield in the top 5% of banks nationally, but that high yield also comes with strings attached.

First of all, you need $1,500 to open an account. You will pay a fee unless you keep $5,000 in your account. Once you reach that $5,000 threshold, you will be able to take advantage of free bill pay and ATM reimbursement. EverBank also allows online check deposit.

EverBank’s interest rates are set up in five different tiers. The lowest tier is everything under $10,000, but the rate is still competitive. In order to get the absolute best available rates, you need to have more than $100,000 on deposit. (However, the middle tiers do pay competitive rates compared to other online checking accounts.)

  • Competitive interest rate
  • Free online bill pay (if your average monthly balance is > $5,000; otherwise $8.95)
  • Free ATM reimbursement (if your average monthly balance is > $5,000)
  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • Deposit checks from home

EverBank also has a $50 guarantee. The bank rates highly for customer service, and is willing to back it up. If you close aren’t satisfied after three months, EverBank will send you $50. Of course, there are requirements you have to meet, such as using online bill pay, as well as providing proper notice of account closing, within three months of opening your account.

If you can maintain a high average monthly balance and want to earn great interest rates, EverBank is a great choice. Open an account and see how high the rates are.

Mutual of Omaha Bank Online Advantage Checking

Another great option for those with smaller balances that still want to earn interest on those balances is Mutual of Omaha Bank’s Online Advantage Checking.

Where other banks require you to have tens of thousands of dollars on deposit to earn the highest interest rate offered (usually between $25,000 to $50,000), Mutual of Omaha Bank’s interest rate kicks in at of balances of $1,500. Unfortunately this great account is only available in 11 states: NY, NJ, CT, IL, MA, MD, NC, OH, PA, SC, and VA.

  • Low opening deposit of just $100
  • Interest begins to accrue on balances of $1,500 or more
  • Free online banking and bill pay
  • Access to 22,000 free ATMs nationwide
  • Your first box of checks is free

As great as this account is — who doesn’t love earning interest without having to have thousands of dollars on deposit? — there are two fees to be aware of:

  • $5 dormant account fee per month
  • $1 inactive card fee

In short if you don’t use the account and don’t swipe your debit card, you pay a fee. You shouldn’t run into this problem, but it is something to be aware of.

Looking to earn interest on your checking balances of $1,500 or more? Try out Mutual of Omaha Bank.

Ally Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank was built on the premise of getting rid of all the crazy fees that normal banks charge while giving customers great rates and great customer service.

They have been winning points for customer service and convenience for quite some time, and the interest checking account is another popular product. This is because Ally offers a bunch of freebies with its account. These are freebies that have largely disappeared from the world of brick-and-mortar banking. When you have an interest checking account from Ally, you get:

  • Industry-leading interest rate
  • Free online bill pay
  • Free unlimited check writing
  • Unlimited free checks
  • Free ATMs (you are reimbursed for fees)
  • No monthly maintenance fee

One of the last strongholds of brick-and-mortar banks was the question of “What do I do if someone gives me a paper check?” The answer used to be: go to the brick-and-mortar bank. You don’t need to do that anymore.

Ally now offers free eCheck Deposit. You simply can scan your check in to your computer and then upload it to the bank’s web site. You don’t have to go in to the bank to deposit checks if you have an Ally online checking account – you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

You can open an account with no deposit, and there are no minimum balance requirements. If you slip up and overdraft your account the fee is only $9. Not $9 per overdraft charge (which is how normal banks make a killing off of customers), but one $9 fee per day you have an overdraft, even if you had 10 overdrafts that day. A normal bank would charge you $35 per overdraft for a total of $350 for the same number of overdrafts. That’s unbelievable.

Ally Bank’s Online Checking is one of our best in class for online checking accounts. From high interest rates to convenience to low (or no) fees, there simply isn’t a better choice. Open an account today – there is no minimum balance requirement.

Schwab High Yield Investor Checking

The brokerage giant Schwab actually offers banking services as well. This account is linked to a Schwab One brokerage account, and you don’t pay any fees to maintain either account. The checking account earns a yield (variable) of 0.10% at the time of this writing. There are no account minimums, and there is no minimum opening deposit for this account. You are issued free standard checks as well as a debit card.

One of the great perks of Schwab’s checking account is that you get free ATM access worldwide. No matter where you go, you will receive a rebate for the ATM fees you pay. If you are a frequent traveler, this can be quite useful, as can the fact that your debit card is a Visa branded platinum card that can be swiped as a credit card in most businesses around the world.

Choosing an Online Checking Account

First and foremost, you want to make sure that any online checking account you open is insured by the FDIC. All of the banks above are FDIC-insured, so your deposits are insured for up to $250,000.

Next, consider your own needs and requirements. For those who are looking for a safe place to park a large emergency fund, EverBank can be a good choice, since you can maintain the $5,000 minimum to keep the fees at bay. However, if you are using your online checking account as a primary account, you’ll want an account that has no minimum balance requirements.

You should also consider the perks available, and the interest yield paid. Figure out which bank will help you get the most bang for your buck, and which is likely to provide you with all of the services that you need.

If you are looking for an online checking account, Capital One 360 Checking is a fantastic choice. Their interest rates are either beating or at least close enough with the rest of the accounts to make them a top contender. All of the perks you get: no fees, online bill pay, free checks, electronic check deposit… it all adds up to being one of our Best in Class for Online Checking Accounts. PerkStreet Financial is a close second. You can actually use a PerkStreet account in conjunction with an Capital One 360 checking account to get the most bang for your buck — earn cash back on your spending and keep the rest of the money earning interest in Capital One 360.
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Comments | 12 Responses

  1. AJ says

    What about TIAA-Direct? Any thoughts? I’ve been considering them for a separate high yield savings account.

    • Jeff Rose says

      @ A.J.

      I’m not really familiar with TIAA Direct’s online checking account to give a fair assessment. If you do decide to go that route, please report back so others may benefit.

      • AJ says

        Well I opened the account and so far so good. I will have to check back later when I have had more time to experience the good and the bad.

  2. Renee says

    I love ING because of the ability to set up sub-accounts. ING now also offers the ability to e-deposit checks.

    • Jeff Rose says

      @ Renee

      Thanks for the feedback from ING’s online checking account. Do you happen to know how they handle multiple business checking accounts?

  3. Toni says

    Yes agree with Renee. I have both a savings and checking with ING. You can also link a Sharebuilders account to your Orange Checking account.

  4. Miss Anon says

    Ally and Perk? I’ve never heard of some these. Do these banks have brick and mortar facilities? With all that’s been going on, I feel safer placing my money in a credit union.

  5. Monie Valentine says

    I used to have auto insurance with USAA but they also have great online banking. Once only available to service members, they have opened it up to the public (with some restrictions). There’s no minimum balance, free interest checking accounts, easy check deposit through UPS stores and free checks for life.

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