When it comes to getting a good deal on checking, it seems as though your options are few and far between. Recent news has been heavy on rising account fees and declining service.
While this might be the case at some of the more traditional brick and mortar banks, the Internet is providing a number of options. Thanks to technology, you don’t have to rely on the neighborhood bank for your needs. There are online checking accounts that provide you with the money management help you need, and a number of perks — without charging monthly maintenance fees or requiring high minimum balances.
Here are a few of the better online checking accounts, all of which feature FDIC protection:
When ING Direct became Capital One 360 not too long ago, many people were concerned about the fallout. So far, though, Capital One 360 hasn’t done a lot of changing. The interest-bearing checking account still requires no monthly fee and no minimum balance. The interest rate isn’t anything to write home about (currently % APY) but most of us should be happy with any checking account that pays interest.
Capital One 360 provides you the option to deposit checks remotely with the help of the mobile app and CheckMate, and you can use billpay to manage your finances. Additionally, there are 38,000 Allpoint ATMs that won’t result in surcharges. You won’t receive a fee reimbursement for non-qualified ATMs, though.
One of the nice touches, though, is that Capital One is known for not charging foreign transaction fees, so if you travel frequently and want to use your debit card, this can be a bonus. Capital One also doesn’t charge a flat overdraft fee; instead, you are charged a small interest rate on the balance until it’s paid off. The bounced check fee, if applicable, is a low $9.
The FNBO Bill Pay option works as an alternative to a checking account, if you are interested in making it easy to set up automatic and recurring payments. There is no minimum balance, and no monthly fees with this account. One of the bonuses offered by the FNBO Bill Pay account is that you can earn an APY of 0.65%, which is very competitive for an online checking account.
While you don’t have to worry about minimums, there are some bonuses if you maintain a higher balance. You get four free foreign ATM fees every statement period when you have a balance $25,000. Additionally, you get one overdraft forgiveness every 12 months. On top of that, you can stop payments for free with this account, which is useful since the selling point is bill pay.
Finally, FNBO Bill Pay enrolls you, for free, in My Deals, which provides exclusive money saving offers at a variety of popular merchants.
USAA is a financial services company available to members of the Armed Forces (past or present) and their family members. USAA is among the most respected of financial institutions both for customer service and online services. However, their checking account doesn’t pay interest. You won’t have to pay a monthly fee if you get the Secure Checking option. You can use your smartphone to deposit checks, and you will be reimbursed for ATM fees that you incur. It’s also a nice bonus that you receive alerts if there is suspicious activity on your account.
USAA also offers an online checking account that comes with a monthly fee. The Secure Checking Plus costs $9.95 per month, and comes with a little extra protection. You can receive three bureau monitoring, with daily alerts, as well as services that scan your credit cards and Social Security number for fraudulent activity. The Plus account also includes debit card bonuses that include Extended Warranty, Purchase Assurance, and even travel benefits. The fee checking account might be worth it if you are interested in identity theft monitoring.
Even though Ally Bank is associated with the bailed-out GMAC, the reality is that the rebrand has resulted in an online interest-bearing checking account that many consider superior. Ally is known for its good customer service, and for its ease of use. It’s easy to open an online checking account and start banking via the Internet.
Ally’s interest checking comes with no monthly fees, and it doesn’t require a minimum balance. It’s true that the interest you earn is relatively low, at 0.25% APY, but that is competitive with other interest checking accounts. Plus, if your balance reaches $15,000, your interest rate increases.
You won’t have to pay ATM fees, no matter where you access your Ally account, and Ally will reimburse you for fees charged by other banks for using their ATMs. This reimbursement happens automatically with each statement, so there is nothing you need to do to claim your ATM fee refund.
Ally does charge a fee for overdrafts, but it is relatively low at $9. (Consider that many other banks charge between $25 and $45 for overdrafts and the national average as of this writing is $34.) The foreign transaction fee is 1%, which is lower than the common 3% charged by many traditional banks.
The simply-named Bank of Internet offers its own rewards checking account. Many of the other online checking accounts don’t offer rewards. This account requires that you activate offers places you like to shop, and you receive discounts, as well as getting cash back deposited automatically into your account. Bank of Internet also has a tiered interest system, based on whether or not you use direct deposit to add to the account, use bill pay, and how often you use your rewards debit card. If you complete all of the actions, you can receive an APY of up to 1.25%. This beats many online savings accounts and short-term high-yield CDs.
You don’t have to worry about monthly fees or a minimum balance with this account. As with the Capital One 360 checking account, Bank of Internet handles overdrafts with an interest charge on the balance, rather than charging a flat fee. Returned deposited items cost $10, which is relatively low, but the stop payment fee is steep, at $35. Bank of Internet is one of those that waives ATM fees and reimburses for third-party fees.
Consider your needs, and research your options, and then choose the online checking account that works best for your situation.
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