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An online checking account beats a traditional checking account for the same reason as email beats the postal system and online shopping beats brick-and-mortar stores. Online checking accounts are based on traditional checking accounts, but with more convenience, less cost, and less hassle.
Online checking accounts have been around since the early days of the internet, but at first were quite limited in terms of functionality. In recent years online checking accounts have become more sophisticated. In fact, many online checking accounts now include a free mobile app that lets people do their banking from their phone.
These days, consumers can do virtually all their banking online or on their mobile banking app, from bank-to-bank transfers, to depositing checks, to scheduling bill payments. Many online banks even offer add-ons like ID theft insurance, roadside assistance, and retail rewards programs.
|Savings Account||Checking Account||Money Market Account (MMA)|
|Earns interest||✓||✓ (varies by bank)||✓|
|ATM access||✓ (varies by bank)||✓||✓|
|Debit card & check writing access||✓||✓||✓ (with federal limits)|
|Higher yield potential||✓||✗||✗|
|Our Top Choice:|
No 2 checking accounts are equal, so it’s worth doing a comparison shop before settling on an online bank. The following is a checklist of things to focus on when comparing online checking accounts.
Customer service: Some online banks have physical branches, while others operate exclusively online. Some offer personalized customer service (usually for a monthly fee) while others make you wait on the phone with everyone else. Some offer live chat straight from your online or mobile bank account, others don’t. Many online banks offer round-the-clock customer service.
Savings accounts: Some banks only offer checking accounts. Others offer a selection of checking accounts, savings accounts, and certificates of deposit. Better yet, some banks offer hybrid checking-savings accounts that let the customer simultaneously have everyday access to their account and save money.
Credit or debit cards: Like regular checking accounts, online checking accounts usually come with the option of linking a credit or debit card to the account. Online banks are increasingly offering customers a choice of credit card plans, each with a different rate and different set of features and benefits.
Loans: Another benefit of opening an online checking account is it can give you easy access to loans. Depending on the bank, there may be personal loans, home loans, auto loans, and many other types of lending products. Online loans offer the same benefits as online checking accounts: greater convenience, lower fees, and quicker applications.
|Bank||APY/Rewards earning||24/7 Support||Explore|
|Up to 2% cashback||Yes|
Online checking accounts offer all the same functions as traditional checking accounts—and more. Online checking accounts have revolutionized banking, allowing users to do everything they would have previously done in-branch from the comfort of their own home, or from on the go.
Here are some of the features usually offered with an online checking account:
Domestic and international wire transfers - Send and receive money between your account and another person’s account.
Transfer money between accounts - Transfer money between your own checking and savings accounts.
Multiple account integration - Keep your accounts organized and easy to access.
Bill payment - Stay on top of your bills and set reminders so you never miss a beat.
Digital check deposit - Instantly scan and deposit a check with your smartphone and get access to the funds straight away.
Digital/downloadable account statements - Great for managing your budget, and for instantly sending records to your accountant.
Mobile banking app - Manage your accounts from your mobile device.
Mobile payments - Make purchases straight from your account with Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay.
Sophisticated security and encryption - Keep your data safe with multi-factor authentication and extra-strong encryption.
FDIC Insurance - Deposits insured up to at least $250,000 (and sometimes as high as $1.5 million, depending on the bank).
SMS / email alerts - Notifications whenever any unusual or suspicious activity occurs in relation to your bank account.
ATMs - Withdraw money from thousands of ATMs in the US and around the world, and get reimbursements from third-party ATM withdrawals.
Credit card rewards - Get points for making purchases with your account-linked credit card
Chime is an award-winning financial app and debit card for individuals who want to enjoy fee free˜ services and ramp up their savings. Chime's checking account comes with a Chime Visa® Debit Card, and provides an easy to use and enjoyable mobile app and online experience.
*Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
Upgrade is an online bank which offers a checking account, credit card, personal loans, and a credit monitoring and education center. The rewards earning checking account has no account fees, no minimum balance requirements, and no ATM fees. .
*Earn up to $400 when you open a new eligible U.S. Bank consumer checking account and complete qualifying activities. Offer valid through June 13, 2022 and is subject to certain terms and limitations. Member FDIC. Applicant must reside in AZ, AR, CA, CO, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MN, MO, MT, NV, NM, NC, ND, OH, OR, SD, TN, UT, WA, WI, WY to be eligible for checking account.
1 Annual Percentage Yields (APY) are accurate as of December 1, 2022. Rates may change at any time without prior notice, before or after the account is opened. You can earn 5.00% on your first $5,000 if you meet these requirements: Make sure that you Varo account balances are above or equal to $0 at the close of the month. Receive total direct deposits of $1,000 or more each qualifying period. Additional balances over $5,000 will earn 3.00% APY. The requirements must be met within the Qualifying Period which begins on the first calendar day of the month and ends at the close of business (4:25 pm MST/ 3:25 pm MDT) on the last business day of the month. Meet the requirements in the current month to qualify to earn 5.00% APY for the following month. Qualifying direct deposits are electronic deposits of your paycheck, pension or government benefits (such as Social Security or unemployment) from your employer or government agency. Tax refunds and government stimulus payments, Person-to-Person payments (such as Venmo) and funds deposited using a Varo routing number are not considered a direct deposit. Be aware that interest is paid in whole cents only.
Eligibility requirements apply. Free instant delivery is available for eligible Empower Checking Account customers with an activated debit card. Empower is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC.
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. Chime Spending Account is required to be eligible for a Savings Account. ˜ Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM. Cash deposit or other third party fees may apply. *Eligibility requirements apply. Overdraft only applies to debit card purchases and cash withdrawals. Limits start at $20 and may be increased up to $200 by Chime. See chime.com/spotme. ^Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date. ⁺The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is accurate as of October, 25th, 2022. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest. ¹ Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer the round up from your Chime Spending Account into your savings account. Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more into your savings account. ² FDIC deposit insurance limit to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, per ownership category. For Stride Savings Account depositors, funds are eligible for FDIC insurance when it arrives at the bank. Please visit www.chime.com/savings-apy-and-program-banks/ for more details on FDIC insurance. ³ Sometimes instant transfers can be delayed. The recipient must use a valid debit card to claim funds. See your issuing bank’s Deposit Account Agreement for full Pay Friends Transfers details. ⁴ The average national savings account interest rate of 0.17% is determined by FDIC as of September 19, 2022 based on a simple average of rates paid (uses annual percentage yield) by all insured depository institutions and branches for which data are available. Visit National Rates and Rate Caps to learn more. ⁵ Chime will be offering members a chance to get their federal tax refund up to 5 days early when they file directly with the IRS and direct deposit with Chime. Getting your federal tax refund early is simple, just sign up for a Chime Checking Account, file your return with the IRS, and set up your tax refund to direct deposit into your Chime Checking Account. After setting up direct deposit, members will also be eligible to get regular paychecks up to 2 days early^.
*CIT Bank's eChecking account offers 0.25% APY with $25,000 minimum balance
0.10% APY on balances under $25,000
The Annual Percentage Yields (APY) and interest rates are effective as of Feb 8th 2023. Fees may reduce earnings. Checking APYs and interest rates are variable and may change at any time without prior notice, including after account opening. The minimum opening deposit for eChecking is $100. See Fee Schedule and Agreement for Personal Accounts for details.
To obtain the interest rate and APY disclosed, the minimum balance for the applicable balance tier must be maintained.
The Annual Percentage Yield (APY) PenFed offers on all its products are variable rate accounts and subject to change. The rates stated are current as of June 2021 unless otherwise noted are subject to change. The fees on your PenFed account can reduce earnings. This credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Premium Online Savings account holders must agree to electronic delivery of account opening disclosures and monthly statements.