Millennials are taking their banking online for all kinds of reasons. COVID-19 has curtailed in-person customer service at lots of establishments, and these days the Internet is where everything happens anyway.
Online checking accounts are getting increasingly popular, and they’re adding more perks to keep customers on board. Some of these accounts even earn interest — at enviable rates, too.
Best online checking accounts overview
Checking account Best for
Juno No hidden fees
Chime No credit check
Discover Fee-free ATMs
Aspiration Social impact
LendingClub Bank Cash back rewards
FNBO Direct Interest rate
Novo Freelancers and small business owners
Capital One 360 Overdraft options
Ally Fund transfers
- Minimum opening deposit: $0.
- APY: 1.20% Bonus.
- Account minimum: $0.
- Monthly fees: None.
Juno is an example of what’s so great about online checking accounts. You’ll get an impressive 1.20% Bonus on your checking deposits up to $5,000. Even once you exceed $5,000, you’ll get a competitive checking APY, at 0.25% until you reach $100,000. An important note here: Juno reserves the right to change this bonus at any time.
The account itself is pretty impressive, too. Your Juno online checking account comes with no hidden fees and a full-featured mobile banking app. There’s no credit check required to open an account and the application process is immigrant-friendly. All new residents need to apply for an account is a Social Security Number and a passport.
Juno’s features are completely online, but if you ever need cash, you’ll have fee-free access to more than 85,000 ATMs. For those who still receive paper checks, making a deposit is as easy as snapping a photo of the front and back.
Your account also comes with a virtual and physical debit card that you can use for online and in-person purchases. Plus, Juno will give you the option of two different account types. The Basic account is free with no requirements, while the Metal Membership requires at least one $500 direct deposit each month.
Juno’s most appealing feature is, perhaps, their cash back rewards program. You’ll get 5% cash back on up to $500 in yearly transactions for every purchase you make at a qualifying merchant. Plus, you can choose up to five retailers from Juno’s list, which includes Target and Walmart, along with top restaurants and popular streaming services. Purchases made at these retailers will also land you 5% cash back.
Chime’s online-only Spending Account makes everyday spending easy with a Chime Visa® Debit Card. Overall spending on the card is limited to $2,500 a day, so this isn’t an account for bigger-ticket purchases — but it’s a great place to store money for regular use.
No credit check is required to open an account. This is a huge bonus, since it’s hard to find a legitimate checking account that doesn’t use credit reporting to screen new customers. If you have a history of closed accounts or less-than-great credit, you can start over with Chime.
Account-holders get a linked savings account with Chime as well. If you want to, you can set Chime to round up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and drop the remainder in savings; a “spare change” savings approach.
With direct deposit, you can get paid two days early. Not everyone can access this feature — your employer needs to allow it — but it’s one of the best parts of Chime. Access your money as soon as the deposit is received, instead of waiting two days for the check to clear.Chime Disclosure - *Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
(1)Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your Checking Account into your savings account.
^Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer the round up from your Chime Checking Account to your savings account.
Discover Cashback Debit Account
An online outpost of a well-established bank, Discover Cashback Debit account has a solid reputation. It’s remarkably low on fees — Discover doesn’t charge for checks, returned deposits, account inactivity, OR expedited replacement debit card delivery.
As Discover hints in the account name, there are cashback rewards! The structure is simple: 1% on up to $3,000 worth of purchases a month (debit card purchases only, not ATM withdrawals, loan payments, or peer-to-peer transactions). You can earn up to $360 in cash rewards per year, and points don’t expire.
If you use cash — and sometimes you do need to use cash — another benefit to Discover is the ease of finding a no-fee ATM. Discover boasts over 60,000 branded ATMs around the world.
Discover also has easy paper check deposit, a well-rated mobile app, and award-winning customer service; you really can’t go wrong here.
- Minimum opening deposit: $0.
- APY: 0.25%-1.00% APY.
- Account minimum: $10.
- Monthly fees: Pay what you can (Spend and Save)/$7.99 per month (Aspiration Plus).
Aspiration Spend & Save accounts reward you for spending money at socially conscious companies. Plus, they’ll reward you for just opening an account.
When you buy from the vendors on Aspiration’s list of Conscience Coalition partners, you’ll get pretty impressive cash back rewards — between 3% to 10% on each purchase, depending on the account you have.
Aspiration’s fee model works on the honor system. You pay what you think is fair. Chipping in a small amount — which you can change at any time — is a good-faith gesture. There are a few other fees for things like wire transfers and expediting a debit card, but Aspiration keeps charges light.
A basic Aspiration Spend and Save account comes with 3% to 5% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases, no balance requirements, and an honor system fee. If you want to upgrade to Aspiration Plus, this high-yield account does have a fixed monthly fee of $7.99 when you pay month-to-month, or it drops to $5.99/month when you pay for the year ahead. But it comes with a starting APY of 0.25%, and you can qualify for a hefty 1.00% APY if you meet spending requirements — plus 10% cash back rewards for Conscience Coalition purchases.
There are cash back rewards for everyday spending outside of Conscience Coalition companies; 0.25% for all purchases, and 0.5% or more for purchases from vendors with a high social impact score on Aspiration’s “Impact Management” metric.
- Minimum opening deposit: $100.
- APY: 0.10% APY.
- Minimum balance: $0.
- Monthly fees: $9 (Essential Checking)/None (Rewards and Superhero Checking).
Boston-based, online-only LendingClub Rewards Checking has one of the highest-yield online checking accounts out there. Deposits are unlimited, which is an unusual feature, and you can easily transfer money to and from any linked account.
The Essential Checking account is a no-frills option for anyone without the credit or banking history to qualify for LendingClub’s fancier accounts. There’s a steep $9 monthly fee and a daily $500 debit card limit, so this is ideally a temporary account to build a positive banking record. After 12 months you’ll be able to upgrade.
Rewards Checking (formerly Hybrid Checking) is the real draw of LendingClub. There are no monthly fees, a decent 0.10% APY, and cash back rewards of 1% if you maintain at least a $2,500 balance.
You can also opt for a Superhero Checking account, which has most of the perks of Rewards Checking. The APY is a bit lower at 0.05%, but LendingClub matches your earned interest and donates the matched amount to the March of Dimes monthly.
LendingClub Rewards and Superhero account holders get unlimited ATM rebates, which extend to foreign ATMS. And LendingClub, like Chime, lets direct deposit recipients access their paychecks two days early.
FNBO Direct is the online extension of the brick-and-mortar First National Bank of Omaha. Account-holders get a free bill-pay system and direct deposit as well as free fraud monitoring.
The standout feature is FNBO Direct’s 0.65% APY. It’s uncommon to find an interest-bearing online checking account at all, let alone one that doesn’t have a balance requirement or tiered interest rates.
All account holders get a Visa debit card, but with good credit you can apply for the ExtraEarnings Visa. This upgrade gets you cash back rewards on a points system — 2% on all purchases in the first 12 months and 1% afterward — which you can redeem for credit.
If you opt in to overdraft protection, you’ll get a $33 fee each time you overdraw the account (though FNBO Direct waives your first overdraft fee in a calendar year). If not, any transactions that exceed your account balance will be declined.
Novo accounts are designed for business use, not personal funds — they don’t earn interest. You’ll need to prove you’re working as a freelancer or operating a small business before qualifying for Novo online checking.
But once you get approved it’s a great resource for everyday cash flow. The only fees you’ll pay are the $27 “Insufficient Funds” charges in case you send or deposit a bad check.
Novo partners with a few popular business platforms like Slack, Xero accounting, and TransferWise for easy digital integration. You can communicate with clients, transfer funds, and review your business finances without skipping a beat.
Though Novo lacks its own branded ATMs, it reimburses you for domestic and international ATM fees. And you can move funds back and forth between Novo and personal accounts, which can be especially helpful if you’re paying yourself a salary from your earnings.
Capital One 360
- Minimum opening deposit: $0.
- APY: 0.10% APY.
- Minimum balance: $0.
- Monthly fees: $0.
Big bank service providers like Capital One are getting in on the online checking account craze. This gives customers a few more options — you can do everything digitally, or you can go analog with a paper checkbook. There are other perks to using an established bank, like plenty of fee-free Capital One ATMs to choose from.
Capital One 360 does have a few fees other online banks don’t charge, including fees for stopped payments, physical checks, overdrafts, and overnight debit card delivery. But as long as you keep fee-based transactions minimal, you’ll earn some serious interest with an 0.10% APY.
This account offers three overdraft options, more than most of its competitors.
Auto-Decline simply declines any transactions you can’t afford (this is the default of most banks).
Next Day Grace gives you one business day to add enough funds to cover the overdrawn balance, with a $35 charge.
Free Savings Transfer applies if you have a linked Capital One 360 savings account. Transfer money from checking to savings automatically to cover any overdrafts.
Ally’s interest-earning online checking account is easy to fund and use. Transfer to and from an external account for free, use eCheck Deposit to enter a check (you can upload a photo of physical checks), use a wire transfer (with a fee), or enable direct deposit.
They do have some fees, but they’re upfront about it — you’ll pay for expedited debit card delivery, stop payments, same-day payments, and returned deposits.
Balances under $15,000 earn an 0.10% APY. If you can maintain a $15,000 balance or above, you can really earn high yields at 0.50% APY.
Allpoint ATMs are free for Ally checking account holders, and Ally even reimburses you for using out-of-network ATMs up to $10 per statement cycle.
Ally’s overdraft fee is $25, but you’ll only get hit with one fee per day, and there are no extra fees for extended negative balances. If you have another linked Ally account (savings, for instance) you can use Ally’s free overdraft transfer service.
Summary of the best online checking accounts
Checking account Best for APY Overdraft fees Account minimum Withdrawal limits Rebates for out-of-network ATM charges Cash back rewards Physical branches
Juno No hidden fees 1.20% Bonus None None $10,000/day ACH, $500/day cash Yes (one a month) 5% on $500-$3,000 per year in purchases No
Chime No credit check None None $500/ day ($200 daily transfer limit) No No No
Discover Fee-free ATMs N/A None None $510/ day No 1.00% (up to $3,000/month) Yes
Aspiration Social impact 0.25% -1.00% (with fees) None $10 $1,000/day (after first 30 days) Yes 0.10%-0.50%; Conscience Coalition purchases earn 3%-10% No
LendingClub Bank Cash back rewards 0.10% ($2,500 minimum) $25; $5/day after five days $100 to open account; no minimum balance $500/day (for essential checking) Yes 1.00%-1.50% Yes (Boston only)
FNBO Direct Interest rate 0.65% $33 (with overdraft protection) $1 $10,000 (bill payment limit) No 1.00% (only with ExtraEarnings card) Yes
Novo Freelancers and small business owners N/A $27 $50 to open account; no minimum balance Varies by account No No No
Capital One 360 Overdraft options 0.10% $35 No minimum to open (deposit required within 60 days) $1,000/ day No No Yes
Ally Fund transfers 0.10%-0.50% $25/day None $1,000/ day Yes No No
How I came up with this list
I looked for online checking accounts that were easy to set up and maintain. Convenience and simplicity are priorities for each of these banks.
If you’re new to online banking or managing money through mobile apps, an online checking account will get you started without the stress of moving hundreds of dollars around—that’s why I picked accounts with smaller opening deposit requirements.
And if you’re an expert at banking via smartphone, these accounts will integrate seamlessly into the rest of your financial life. Most will link to online payment systems like Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Best of all, each account offers some perk or reward that stands out from the competition. FNBO Direct and Aspiration offer competitive interest rates, LendingClub, and Discover reward you for spending with cash back…just to name a few.
How to use online checking accounts
You can set up your account from any device with an Internet connection. Going forward, though, it’s easiest to download the mobile app associated with the account. Most platforms can be accessed in a web browser if necessary, but the apps often have more features and make transactions faster.
Though most of these picks don’t have minimum balance requirements, you do need some funds to get started. You can transfer from another account or deposit a check.
In many ways, online checking accounts aren’t that different from traditional checking accounts (some even come from banks with physical branches). You’ll get a debit card and free access to in-network ATMs. Some accounts, like Discover, add a handy ATM locator.
And most accounts will let you set up online bill pay for easy electronic transfer. If anyone’s still mailing checks to the landlord or the electric company, online payments might simplify your life and save you money on stamps.
What to look for in an online checking account
FDIC insurance and security
Some of the options here, like Aspiration and Chime, aren’t traditional banks themselves. If that’s the case, they partner with a bank to give customers FDIC insurance and keep your money secure against theft. A good account also has strong encryption to protect information privacy.
Low or minimal fees
A low-fee guarantee helps keep online banks competitive in a growing marketplace. Though most providers charge some fees in the fine print, the big ones—like monthly maintenance—are absent. The fees you’re willing to accept may depend on your account use. If you’re concerned about overdrawing your account, a bank without overdraft fees (or better yet, overdraft protection) might be a good choice.
Good customer service
All banks claim they have great customer service, and many offer this support 24/7 through phone, email, and messenger. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Look for quick response, representatives who take time to listen and solve your problems, and strong follow-up.
Pros of online checking accounts
They’re accessible 24/7
You can bank online anywhere you have an Internet connection. This means you can deposit checks as soon as you get them, which is essential since checks often take some time to clear. And you can see your balance immediately so you know what you’re working with.
They make automated payments simple
Have you ever been charged a late fee because life got busy and you forgot to pay a bill? Me too. Automatic payments are a saving grace, especially if you’re paying multiple bills. Set up auto-transfers from checking to savings if you want to hit savings goals faster.
They have low (or no) minimum balances
On the other hand, if you don’t have the cash to cover those auto-payments, you can keep your account humming along without a fee or cancellation (don’t forget to cancel the auto-payments, though). Low minimum balances are great if you’re starting small or planning to keep most of your earnings in a higher-yield account.
Cons of online checking accounts
They don’t have in-person customer service
If you prefer to take your banking queries to a human being, or if you want to get to know the staff at your bank, choose an account from a provider with physical branches. When a bank is wholly online, you never see the faces at the other end of the phone, which can be alienating.
They don’t accept cash deposits
Most online checking accounts don’t take cash deposits — this could be an inconvenience if you work in an industry where cash payments are the norm. You may be able to take the long way around by converting the cash into a money order.
They’re vulnerable to internet outages
Websites and apps do crash, and Internet service is almost — but not quite — everywhere. If you can’t access the Internet, you can’t access your bank.
Online checking accounts are the wave of the future. And with no minimum balance and (almost) no fees, you don’t have much to lose by opening one.