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Best Online Checking Accounts for December 2022

Many online-only checking accounts offer competitive interest rates, low fees and benefits such as new account bonuses.

Online checking accounts are similar to traditional checking accounts at brick-and-mortar banks. The key difference is you will never visit a physical bank branch. All financial transactions are handled through a website or mobile app. 

While many traditional brick-and-mortar banks offer digital services, CNET's list of online checking accounts focuses exclusively on accounts offered by online-only banks. All banks included in our survey are insured by either the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for up to $250,000. They also offer mobile check deposits and provide access to telephone or chat support. Online-only banks are safe places to store your money and have less overhead than traditional banks, which means they can pass savings on to their customers in the form of fewer fees and higher annual percentage yields, or APYs.

To make our list of best online checking accounts, we looked for banks that offer high interest rates, low fees and other added benefits such as new account bonuses. If you're in the market for a new, online-only checking account, read on.

CNET's picks for the top online checking accounts

Top Online Checking Accounts

Bank APY Min deposit required Monthly fees Top feature
SoFi 2.50% $0 $0 $50 to $300 new account bonus
Axos Bank 1.25% $0 $0 Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements
Quontic Bank 1.10% $100 $0 Innovative products
Alliant Credit Union 0.25% $25 $0 $100 new account bonus
Ally 0.25% $0 $0 Innovative digital tools
iGOBanking 0.25% $100 $0 Easy access
LendingClub 0.15% $25 $0 1% cash back
CIT Bank 0.10% $100 $0 Simple travel alert features
Discover 0% $0 $0 1% cash back
Chime 0% $0 $0 24/7 live human support

More details on the top online checking accounts

SoFi
  • APY: 2.50%
  • Minimum deposit required: $0
  • ATM fees: 55,000+ fee-free ATMs through the Allpoint network
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: 2%
  • Overdraft fees: $0

SoFi, or Social Finance, Inc., was the brainchild of Stanford Business School graduates who created an alumni-funded lending source in 2011 that focused on refinancing high-interest rate student loans. Since then, SoFi has branched into a variety of loan categories and now offers online checking and savings accounts. A new account bonus is available with direct deposit of up to $300 with $5,000 or more in deposits in the first month.

  • APY: 1.25%
  • Minimum deposit required: $0
  • ATM fees: Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: 1%
  • Overdraft fees: $0

Axos Bank offers checking, savings, money market accounts and CDs. Of the three types of checking accounts, the Rewards Checking account will pay up to 1.25% APY with direct deposit totals of $1,500 or more a month, a minimum of 10 debit card purchases, and a minimum of $2,500 in Axos investment accounts. The APY is paid on balances of up to $50,000. Neither account charges a monthly fee but they all provide ATM fee reimbursement.

Quontic Bank
  • APY: 1.10%
  • Minimum deposit required: $100
  • ATM fees: No fees when using the 90,000+ Allpoint ATM network.
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: $0
  • Overdraft fees: $0

Quontic Bank pays a competitive APY on the online checking account when you make 10 debit card purchases per month of $10 or more. The interest rate drops to 0.01% if qualifying transactions are not met. The bank offers a Quontic ring with each account that allows contactless purchases with a tap of your ring finger.

Alliant Credit Union
  • APY: 0.25%
  • Minimum deposit required: $25
  • ATM fees: $20/month in ATM fee rebates
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: 1%
  • Overdraft fees: $0

High-Rate Checking accounts opened by Oct. 7, are eligible for a $100 bank bonus and $100 donated to a charitable organization if a $100 minimum balance is maintained through the end of February 2023. High-Rate Checking customers also have access to more than 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs and up to $20 per month in ATM fee reimbursements. Membership is open to current or former employees of Alliant's US partner businesses. Visit Alliant for a complete list of businesses.

Ally
  • APY: 0.25%
  • Minimum deposit required: $0
  • ATM fees: $10/month in ATM fee reimbursement
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: 1%
  • Overdraft fees: $0

Ally's Interest Checking pays a competitive APY without charging any fees for minimum balances, overdrafts or official checks. The APY is paid according to tiered balance levels. Account holders will be pleased with the surcharge fee network of more than 43,000 ATMs and the $10-per-month ATM fee reimbursement. Ally doesn't accept cash deposits.

  • APY: 0.25% 
  • Minimum deposit required: $100
  • ATM fees: 55,000 fee-free ATMs with Mastercard iGOdebitcard
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: 1%
  • Overdraft fees: $0

New York-based Flushing Bank launched iGOBanking as its online banking division. The online-only bank offers a robust suite of banking services, but doesn't offer check writing privileges. In addition to mobile banking options such as mobile check deposits, customers have access to 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs through the Allpoint network.

LendingClub
  • APY: 0.15% on balances from $2,500 to $100,000
  • Minimum deposit required: $25
  • ATM fees: Unlimited ATM rebates
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: 0.90%
  • Overdraft fees: $0

LendingClub acquired Radius Bank in 2021, and began offering online banking services. The Rewards Checking account earns 0.15% APY on balances of more than $2,500 to $100,000. Balances over $100,000 earn an additional 0.05% APY. Customers don't pay any ATM fees, with all fees reimbursed by LendingClub. Account holders also earn 1% cash back on qualified debit card purchases.

Cit Bank
  • APY: 0.10% 
  • Minimum deposit required: $100
  • ATM fees: $30 per month out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: 1%
  • Overdraft fees: $0

CIT Bank is the online division of First Citizens Bank. Its eChecking account doesn't charge a monthly maintenance fee, nor does it require a monthly balance to avoid fees or charge for services such as wire transfers or certified checks. Customers receive up to $30 per month in reimbursements for out of network ATM fees. Balances of more than $25,000 can earn a 0.25% APY. 

Discover
  • APY: 0% 
  • Minimum deposit required: $0
  • ATM fees: 60,000 fee-free ATMs
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: 0%
  • Overdraft fees: $0

Discover is an online financial services company that offers products such as deposit accounts, credit cards, personal loans and student loans. It eliminated fees on deposit accounts in June 2019. The Discover Cashback Debit is a completely free checking account that pays 1% cash back on debit card purchases of up to $3,000 per month. The ATM network of more than 60,000 surcharge-free ATMs provides more access to cash nationwide. 

Chime
  • APY: 0% 
  • Minimum deposit required: $0
  • ATM fees: 60,000 fee-free ATMs
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fees: 0%
  • Overdraft fees: $0 (Up to $200 per month)

Chime is considered a neobank founded by a financial technology company which offers a specific set of functionality. In Chime's case, the focus is on checking, debit card and secured credit card services. Chime includes overdraft protection of up to $200 per month. Chime account holders can also receive their paychecks two days earlier than the scheduled payday with direct deposit. 

How to shop for an online checking account

When comparing online checking accounts, pay attention to fees required for various services. Make note of how much interest a checking account pays. When opening a new account, also consider bank account bonuses or other rewards available to help you decide on the best option.

A checklist of features to consider includes:

  • APY, the annual percentage yield is the rate you can earn over a year which includes compound interest.
  • Minimum balance, the minimum amount you are required to deposit when opening the account and the minimum amount required to avoid monthly service fees.
  • ATM fees 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 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 are 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 are fees charged if a purchase exceeds the available balance in the account.

Pros and cons of an online checking account

Pros

  • Accounts can earn higher interest rates, charge lower fees and provide more innovative technology services than some brick-and-mortar banks because the lower overhead can be passed to customers.
  • Online checking accounts can be accessed from anywhere, globally.
  • Online checking accounts allow customers to manage their financial affairs from any location without having to visit a branch or speak to someone on the telephone.

Cons

  • Customers don't have access to in-person customer service if desired.
  • Keeping your digital devices free of malware and viruses is paramount to maintain banking security.

FAQs

What do you need to open an online checking account?

Opening an online checking account is generally a simple process. A financial institution will provide an online application process and require identity verification with a government-issued form of ID. You will also need to provide a Social Security number.

Are online checking accounts safe?

Online checking accounts can also be insured by either the FDIC or NCUA for up to $250,000. Online security is also a major concern for any banking institution. Verify the security protocol for any institution you are considering. Safeguarding your digital devices with passwords or biometric security features will also help protect your account access.

How do I deposit and withdraw funds from an online bank?

Online banks allow you to access funds in one of three ways:

  • Mobile check deposits
  • Online transfers
  • ATM withdrawals and deposits

Should you own more than one online checking account?

Determining whether multiple checking accounts is beneficial will vary based on individual needs. Some accounts pay a competitive APY only up to a maximum balance. You may want to keep any money over that balance in a separate account. Opening more than one checking account can also help manage your money better by separating your cash for routine bills and other wealth building goals. If you have a balance of more than $250,000 in one bank, you should open an account at another bank. The FDIC and NCUA each only insured accounts up to that amount per depositor. 

Methodology

CNET reviewed online checking accounts based on the latest APY information, fees charged and services offered from issuer websites. We evaluated online checking accounts from among more than 50 banks, credit unions and financial companies. We selected the accounts with the highest APY and were insured up to $250,000 from among the organizations we surveyed.

Banks surveyed include: Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express National Bank, Axos Bank, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Bank5 Connect, Barclays, BMO Harris, Bread Savings, BrioDirect, Capital One, CFG Community Bank, Citizens Access, Colorado Federal Savings Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Credit One Bank, Discover Bank, First Internet Bank of Indiana, First Tech Federal Credit Union, FNBO Direct, GO2bank, Golden 1 Credit Union, HSBC Bank, Huntington Bank, Lake Michigan Credit Union, LendingClub Bank, Live Oak Bank, M&T Bank, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Merrick Bank, Nationwide (by Axos), Navy Federal Credit Union, NBKC, OneUnited Bank, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, Popular Direct, PurePoint Financial, Quontic Bank, Rising Bank, Salem Five Direct, Sallie Mae Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Synchrony Bank, TAB Bank, TD Bank, TIAA Bank, Truist Bank, U.S. Bank, UFB Direct, Union Bank, USAA Bank, Vio Bank, and Wells Fargo.

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.