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Best Checking Accounts for March 2023

Store your money without fees and earn interest on your balance.

The best checking accounts provide a wide range of deposit and payment services with no fees for monthly maintenance or minimum balances. They won't charge for ATM withdrawals and will reimburse for non-network ATM fees charged by other banks, and the very best provide you with reasonable interest on your checking account balance. Whether you're looking for no fees, high interest or physical branches, our picks for best checking accounts have you covered. 

CNET's picks for top checking accounts

CNET's list of checking accounts have you covered on a variety of factors, whether you're looking for checking accounts from banks or credit unions that are federally insured, offer high interest rates or looking for banks with physical branches.

Top checking accounts

Bank/Institution Account Branch access ATMs (number/network) Out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement (monthly) Overdraft fee Foreign transaction fee Monthly fee Minimum opening deposit
Axos Rewards checking No 91,000 (MoneyPass) Unlimited $25 None None $50
NBKC Bank Everything Account Limited (four branches) 34,000 (MoneyPass) $12 None None None None
Quontic High Interest Checking No 90,000 (Allpoint, MoneyPass) None None None None $100
Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking No (361 brokerage branches) Visa/Visa Plus Alliance Unlimited $34 None None None
Chase Total Checking Yes, 4,700 branches 16,000 None $34 3% $12 None

Featured checking account offers

Axos Bank

Axos' Rewards Checking offers relatively high interest rates with reasonable requirements. If you receive $1,500 a month in direct deposit payments, you automatically earn 0.40% interest on your checking balance. 

Use your debit card 10 times a month ($3 minimum purchase) and you'll add another 0.30% interest on top, for an easy 0.70% return on your money. A minimum $2,500 balance in an investment and/or trading account will each add another 0.20% interest onto your checking balance, and paying off an Axos loan adds 0.15%, bringing your maximum APY up to 1.25% -- more than most "high-yield" savings accounts.

One of the features that separates Axos from Ally, my other top digital banking choice, is the ability to deposit cash. Axos uses the Green Dot Network, which lets you deposit cash or even pay bills with cash using stores like CVS, Kroger, Safeway and Walmart, though fees may apply.

Axos has no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirement. Rewards checking requires a $50 minimum deposit to open an account. Also, Axos provides unlimited reimbursements on non-network ATM fees, whereas Ally is limited to $10 per month. Unfortunately, unlike Ally, Axos doesn't yet support Zelle, the free person-to-person electronic payment system.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: None
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements: Unlimited
  • In-network ATMs: 91,000 (MoneyPass)
  • Direct deposit funds available early: Yes
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes; $10,000 daily limit; $50,000 monthly limit
  • Cash deposits: Yes; MoneyPass ATMs and Green Dot Network
  • APY: 0.40%-1.25% APY, depending on usage and other Axos accounts

Formerly the National Bank of Kansas City (and before that Horizon National Bank), NBKC provides its users with a variety of banking services, primarily online checking accounts with competitive interest rates. It has four local branches in (you guessed it) Kansas City -- but not much in-person help for the rest of us.

The Everything checking account from NBKC currently offers a 1.26% APY with no minimum balance required to open an account or spending requirements. It's a decent rate with no strings attached. This account also boasts no overdraft or insufficient funds fees, no monthly maintenance fees, no non-network ATM fees and no foreign transaction fees. And NBKC offers access to about 37,000 ATMs nationwide via MoneyPass.

Along with online checking accounts, NBKC also offers CDs and money market accounts, but no standard savings account, so there are no integrated features like round-up savings built in to NBKC Everything. 

The Everything account does give users early paychecks and reimburses non-network ATM fees up to $12 a month. If losing your money to bank fees bums you out, give NBKC Everything a good look.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: None
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements: $12 per month
  • In-network ATMs: 37,000 (MoneyPass)
  • Direct deposit funds available early: Yes
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes
  • Cash deposits: MoneyPass ATMs
  • APY: 1.26% on all balances
Quontic Bank

Quontic is a fully digital bank with three checking account options -- Bitcoin Rewards, Cash Rewards and High Interest. I selected High Interest for the best checking accounts collection because it offers an easy 1.10% back on balances up to $150,000, when you complete 10 debit card transactions over $10 each during a monthly billing cycle. While the interest requirements are more restrictive than Axos, they're still reasonable for most checking account users.

Quontic has eliminated its reverse rate on checking balances. Now all balances receive 1.10% back in annual interest (provided you complete those 10 qualifying debit card transactions). It also has virtually no fees -- no monthly maintenance, minimum balance, overdraft or non-network ATM fees.

This checking account supports Zelle for personal payments and provides cash from 90,000 ATMs using the AllPoint network, though it limits users to $500 in withdrawals daily. It does offer mobile deposits via iOS or Android; I couldn't find any listed mobile deposit limits.

Consumers Credit Union, which offers up to 4.09% on checking account balances, stands as the big competitor to Quontic in this category. Consider, however: Consumers Credit Union's highest rates require associated credit card purchases. Without minimum credit card purchases, the initial rate is 2.09%. After the first $10,000 in balance, Consumers Credit Union's interest rate drops to 0.20% or less -- meaning a $100,000 balance at CCU would earn you $389 a year, whereas Quontic would earn you $1,100.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: None
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements: No
  • In-network ATMs: 90,000 (Allpoint)
  • Direct deposit funds available early: No
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes
  • Cash deposits: No
  • APY: 1.10%
Charles Schwab

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking is a fully online checking account that compares well with almost all competitors. The APY is 0.45% for all accounts, with no monthly balance or debit card spending requirements. While Schwab does have physical brokerage locations, it does not offer in-person banking. 

There are no monthly maintenance or non-network ATM fees, and Schwab will reimburse unlimited amounts of other ATM provider fees. Schwab accounts work with the Visa and Visa Plus Alliance network, which includes over 1 million ATMs in more than 200 countries. The Plus Alliance network in the US also includes retail outlets like CVS, Target, CostCo and Walgreens.

You can't deposit cash with Schwab, but it supports Zelle for personal payments and doesn't charge anything for foreign transactions -- a great bonus for travelers using international ATMs.

A Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account requires a linked Schwab One brokerage account, which also costs $0 and has no balance requirements. Schwab's checking account allows scheduling automatic transfers to your brokerage account, a simple way for new investors to put extra money to work.

Schwab doesn't charge traditional overdraft fees, and it will automatically cover any such transactions with money from other Schwab accounts. However, if you don't have enough money in your accounts to cover a transaction, Schwab will reject it and charge a $25 insufficient funds fee. It also offers standard mobile apps for iOS and Android, no restrictions are listed for mobile deposits and it has a maximum daily ATM cash withdrawal limit of $1,000.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: None
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements: Unlimited
  • In-network ATMs: Visa/Visa Plus Alliance
  • Direct deposit funds available early: No
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes
  • Cash deposits: No
  • APY: 0.45%
Chase Bank

Selecting the best checking account for those who want the option of banking services at a physical branch is a balancing act of weighing the best account terms against the number and location of brick-and-mortar bank offices.

While my runner-up choice, Capital One 360 Checking, provides better terms than Chase Total Checking®, it doesn't have nearly the number of branches or geographical coverage. Chase has more than 4,700 offices in 48 states (sorry, North Dakota and West Virginia), whereas Capital One has about 770, mostly on the East Coast, Texas and Louisiana, according to Branchspot.

Chase doesn't provide interest on your checking, but it's offering a $200 bonus when you open an account and set up direct deposit. Even though Capital One offers 0.10% on your money, you'd need to have $200,000 in your account for a year to earn $200 in interest.

Chase has no minimum balance requirement nor any minimum initial deposit, though it does charge for non-network ATM transactions. It accepts mobile deposits via its iOS and Android apps, with a daily limit of $10,000 and monthly limit of $25,000.

  • Monthly fee: $12
  • Requirements to avoid monthly fee: Monthly direct deposit of at least $500; or $1,500 daily balance; or $5,000 combined average balance
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Out-of-network ATM fees: $3
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements: None
  • In-network ATMs: 16,000 ATMs, more than 4,700 branches
  • Direct deposit funds available early: No
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes
  • Cash deposits: Branches and ATMs
  • APY: No

How to choose the best checking account

Before selecting a checking account, familiarize yourself with all of the fees required for various services. A checklist of features to consider includes:

  • APY: The annual percentage yield is the interest rate you earn on your deposit over a year, which includes compounded interest.
  • Minimum balance: The minimum amount you're required to deposit when opening the account and the minimum amount required to avoid monthly service fees.
  • ATM fees: These are charges an account holder will incur to access money through an ATM. Some banks participate in a network of surcharge-free ATMs and provide locators to find the nearest free ATM. 
  • Monthly fees: These are regular charges applied to an account. Sometimes the fees are imposed if balances fall below a certain threshold. Many free checking accounts don't charge any fees.
  • Foreign transaction fees: Generally, a percentage of the transaction when purchases are initiated in physical locations outside of the US. For those who travel internationally, accounts with foreign transaction fees can add up quickly.
  • Overdraft fees: Fees charged if a purchase exceeds the available balance in the account.

Make a note of how much interest a checking account pays. When opening a new account, also consider bank account bonuses or other available rewards to help you decide on the best option.

Which is better: An online or brick-and-mortar checking account?

It depends on which banking features you value most. Many big banks that operate physical branches don't offer competitive rates on checking accounts, but they do offer attractive bank bonuses for new accounts. Online checking accounts can be opened from anywhere and can offer higher yields on deposit accounts because they don't have the overhead required to run physical branches, but they lack the in-person customer service option. In either case, compare all fees associated with the checking account and minimum balances required to determine the option that best suits your needs.

What is a checking account bonus?

Some banks offer a financial incentive to open a new account. These banks can pay big cash bonuses to attract new customers ranging from a few hundred dollars to $500. Many of these bonuses, however, require you to jump through several hoops before you receive your bonus. For instance, you may be required to make a direct deposit of at least $1,000 for three months before receiving the bonus. A new account bonus is an effective way to improve the annual percentage yield that an account earns, at least in the first initial year the account is opened. 

What is a debit card?

A debit card is issued by the bank that's linked to a checking account allowing the owner to make electronic purchases and deposit or withdraw money from ATMs. Debit cards have a spending limit that's tied to the balance available in the checking account. When using a debit card for purchases, funds are withdrawn from the account in real time so there's no interest added to the purchase as with credit card purchases. 

What's the difference between a checking and savings account?

Checking accounts are designed to be used for managing routine transactions associated with daily life, such as to pay for monthly bills, routine purchases and entertainment expenses. 

A savings account should be used to store money in order to reach financial goals or to save for unexpected expenses. The number of transactions on a savings account are generally less than that of a checking account because the money in a savings account is generally used for unexpected emergencies or longer-term savings goals like a vacation.

How to open a checking account

Opening a checking account is a straightforward process. It's the same whether you're opening an account online or in person.

  1. Complete the application process at your bank or credit union. Many financial institutions have features that allow you to complete the application process online. A customer service representative may take the information and complete the application for you if you visit a physical branch to open an account.
  2. Provide a government issued form of ID to verify your identity, such as a state-issued driver's license or passport.
  3. Deposit at least the required minimum amount to fund your account.


Do I need a checking account to manage my money?

Not always, but it can be difficult to pay bills or get approved for credit accounts without one. It may be helpful to think of a checking account as one part of a multifaceted personal financial system. Though it may require some management on your end, there are benefits to using an array of tools, with each serving a primary function: a checking account for receiving money and paying bills, a credit card for spending (and earning rewards or cash-back incentives) and a savings account for storing short-term savings or an emergency fund -- with investment and brokerage accounts driving long-term savings goals such as college and retirement.

Do I need to pay fees to use a checking account?

No. Some banks may pass off fees as the normal costs of doing business, but with all of the free checking options available, you should avoid fee-heavy accounts. There are plenty of free checking options that will give you the tools you need to receive income and make payments, in addition to other benefits including mobile banking, without incurring any regular charges in the form of a monthly service fee.

How many checking accounts should I have?

For most people, the answer is one. Even if you can earn a little extra money by combining rewards or interest, it's usually not worth the time and hassle. Your personal checking account should be simple and easy to manage, and should offer overdraft protection and mobile banking. If you run a business, you should look into opening a separate business checking account, which is different from a standard checking account.

How do the ATM networks like MoneyPass and Allpoint work?

An increasing number of financial institutions are online-only (like some of the banks profiled above), without their own branches or ATM networks. Given this, an online bank will partner with established networks like MoneyPass or Allpoint, which place ATM locations in popular retail establishments such as pharmacies, grocery stores and convenience stores. People with an online checking account can use a "Find a nearby ATM" feature on their bank's website or mobile app before making an ATM withdrawal to insure they won't incur an ATM fee if their financial institution does not offer ATM fee rebates.

How do I close a checking account?

You'll first need to transfer any existing balances to a new account. You'll then need to contact your specific financial institution to determine the process required to close the account. Before closing your account, make sure that the account has been opened long enough to avoid any fees for early closure, especially if you received any new account bonuses.

How much does it cost to open a checking account?

The cost varies based on the minimum deposit required to open an account. The banks on our list have minimum deposit requirements ranging from zero to $100. An account may also have minimum balance requirements to maintain once the account is opened. Be aware of any fees charged if your balance falls below a minimum amount before establishing a new account. If so, you should consider accounts that don't charge monthly fees.

What is overdraft protection?

Overdraft protection is a service offered by banks and credit unions to cover the cost of transactions that exceed an account's available balance. Banks can charge a monthly or per-transaction fee for this service. Some banks that offer no-fee checking accounts will include overdraft protection at no additional cost. Others waive one overdraft fee per year as an overdraft forgiveness service.

An overdraft protection service can be valuable as the average overdraft fee of $30 per transaction can add up quickly.


More than two dozen options were examined across a broad range of categories in both traditional and online-only banks in order to determine these picks for the best checking account. As with any financial account, a handful of key features rise above the rest: ATM and branch availability, overdraft protection, fees, bank bonus enticements and reimbursements, minimum deposit requirements and just how simple it is to move money in and out of an account -- whether by direct deposit, mobile deposit or old-school cash deposit. Interest rate isn't really a factor with a standard checking account (more on that below). 

Each financial institution's online banking capabilities were taken into consideration. We also looked at some new, trendy features, such as banks making funds available a few days early to customers who've signed up to receive their paycheck via direct deposit. 

We paid close attention to bank account fees. Even if a bank touts a "free checking account," that might not be the whole truth. If you're considering a new checking account, scrutinize the fee schedule, which will reveal how much a bank charges for a "monthly maintenance fee," using an out-of-network ATM, falling below a minimum balance requirement or spending more than you have in the account (resulting in an overdraft fee). You don't want to get hit with a $4 fee just for making an ATM withdrawal at the wrong machine for your bank account.

Though some fees may apply only in certain conditions -- you haven't set up direct deposit or you want to receive monthly paper statements, for example -- such waivers should be carefully scrutinized. You won't want to be in a position where missing your minimum deposit by a couple of bucks or keeping an account balance that's slightly too low racks up a "monthly maintenance fee."

We're also a bit dubious about checking accounts that feature cash-back and rewards incentives. Though a 1% cash-back account could be moderately lucrative, this type of account may obligate you to hit a monthly spending threshold or maintain a certain minimum balance. If earning cash back or rewards is your priority, you're better off using a cash-back credit card, the best of which offer significantly higher rates. And if you tend to maintain a high account balance in your checking account, consider putting some of that cash into a savings account, CD or money market with a higher annual percentage yield.

Checking accounts researched

  • LendingClub Rewards Checking
  • NBKC Bank Everything Account
  • Chase Total Checking®
  • Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking
  • Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking
  • Chime Spending Account
  • Axos Essential Checking
  • Connexus Credit Union Xtraordinary Checking
  • Simple Simple Account
  • CIT Bank eChecking
  • Wells Fargo Everyday Checking
  • Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking
  • Discover Cashback Debit
  • Capital One 360 Checking
  • Aspiration
  • PNC Virtual Wallet with performance spend
  • Betterment
  • Fidelity Cash Management Account
  • HSBC Choice Checking
  • TD Checking
  • Current Bank
  • Varo Checking Account
  • Wealthfront Cash Account
  • Novo
  • BlueVine Business Checking
  • Ally Bank 

More personal finance advice 

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.