The Best Free Checking Account in 2020

Whether this is your first account ever or you’re looking to move your money to a new bank, knowing where to get the best checking account is a significant step in your financial journey. For many, this will be your highest traffic financial account where you deposit paychecks, withdraw money from ATMs, pay bills and spend on entertainment. It’s essential you choose the right bank or financial institution with the right option to handle your money.

The best free checking accounts of 2020

Compare the best free checking accounts of 2020

Discover: Best for cashback

Discover offers a free checking account that gives users 1% cashback monthly on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases.

Interest APY: 0%

Overdraft protection: Auto transfer from a savings account

Customer satisfaction: 5/5 from J.D. Power

SimpleScore: 3.6/5

Discover’s free checking account may not deliver interest like some other checking accounts, but it does offer up to 1% cashback every month on purchases up to $3,000. Typically, cashback is reserved for credit card accounts, but Discover is trying to change the game. Discover free checking accounts come with no monthly fees, no account minimums and no fees for online bill pay, check orders or debit card replacement. This is on par with some of the other top free checking account options available.

Our Two Cents: For checking account users who plan to make several thousand dollars in purchases throughout the month, Discover’s free checking product is attractive. If your checking account activity is low, though, you could look into an account with a higher interest yield.

Ally: Best customer satisfaction

Ally’s free bank account comes with a competitive APY, a 5/5 rating from J.D. Power, and no monthly maintenance fees.

Interest APY: 0.10% – 0.50%

Overdraft protection: Auto-transfer from other account

Customer satisfaction: 5/5 from J.D. Power

SimpleScore: 4.4/5

Ally’s FDIC insured interest checking accounts offer APYs on account balances between 0.10% and 0.50%. The higher-end rate is for accounts over $15,000, while the lower-end rate is for accounts under that threshold. A concern at times with online banks is access to customer service. Ally puts this to rest with seven different ways to contact a live agent for help. What stands out the most about this company is its interest-bearing checking account a 5/5 J.D. Power satisfaction rating.

Our Two Cents: You won’t find many free checking account rates as good as or better than what Ally is offering or as many customer service support channels.

N26: Best customer satisfaction

N26 is an FDIC-insured online bank that gives account holders unique savings perks and an industry-leading mobile application.

Interest APY: 0%

Overdraft protection: Overdraft automatic loan program

Customer satisfaction: N/A

SimpleScore: 2/5

N26 is an online bank exclusively dealing in free checking accounts. However, unlike some other online banks, the company does not offer additional financial products. All account features can be managed through the company’s website or the technology-forward mobile app. While you’re not going to get interest or cashback on all purchases on your account, you will get N26 perks. These perks include savings at many retailers and limited cashback from designated subscription services like Headspace, Tidal, Blinkist and Babbel.

Our two cents: It would be nice to see some interest or account-wide cashback with an N26 account. However, if you frequent the retailers that offer discounts and cashback to N26 customers, it could be worth it.

Sofi Money: Best hybrid account

SoFi Money’s hybrid free checking account comes with perks like unlimited ATM reimbursement, a .20% APY regardless of account balance and exclusive SoFi members-only benefits.

Interest APY: .20%

Overdraft protection: Auto-decline

Customer satisfaction: N/A

SimpleScore: 3/5

Sofi’s free online checking account offers extensive flexibility that can’t be ignored. The account allows P2P transfers, hold a joint account, manage your cash, get unlimited reimbursed ATM fees and access to exclusive SoFi members-only services, event, and experiences. All of this is available for no account fee.

Our Two Cents: With the APY rate offered and the flexibility of the account, SoFi money should be a serious contender in your list of choices of banks with free checking accounts.

Capital One 360: Best for overdraft protections

Customers looking to bank where they have access to a wide range of other products should consider the fee-free checking option from Capital One — Capital One 360.

Interest APY: 0.10%

Overdraft protection: 4 protection options

Customer satisfaction: 2/5 from J.D. Power

SimpleScore: 4.25/5

The free checking account option from Capital One offers 0.10% APY regardless of your balance. For those with larger account balances, this may be lower than what you can get elsewhere. However, customers with smaller balances will enjoy a higher rate than many other banks with free checking accounts. Of all options. Capital One 360 has the most robust plan for dealing with overdrafts. The company has four separate options to protect consumers, including next-day grace periods, auto decline of charges, free savings auto transfers and overdraft lines of credit.

Our Two Cents: Those with smaller account balances will benefit from the APY rates with Capital One. Additionally, those looking to take advantage of multiple banking products under one roof will enjoy the options available through Capital One.

Betterment: Best for investors

Betterment is delivering a no-fee, no-minimum checking account option.

Interest APY: 0%

Overdraft protection: Auto-decline

Customer satisfaction: N/A

SimpleScore: 2.5/5

Betterment’s free checking account product comes with no monthly account fees, no maintenance fees, no withdrawal fees, no account minimums, and never any ATM fees. Currently, the Betterment checking account is on a waitlist as the product has still not been released. As the company deals heavily with investing accounts, investors looking to manage their cash and investments under one roof may be attracted to this offering.

Our Two Cents: Unless you’re looking to open investment accounts as well, you may be able to find a better free checking account option online. That said, the simplicity of managing cash and investments together is something to be considered. However, if you need a free checking solution now, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

The bottom line

Free checking accounts are great for consumers regardless of balance size, account activity, or financial goals. As banks continue to compete for your business, the perks, savings, and rates you’ll see will continue to get better. Take the time to determine the best free checking account for you. Your money should always be working for you, not against you.

Additional Banking Guides

If you’re looking for other banking services to go with your checking account, here are some other useful guides on important banking accounts and services:

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