7 best free online checking accounts

free checking accounts ATMs

Quick top pick: BBVA. Free checking, ATMs, cash-back debit card rewards, bill pay and mobile deposit. Plus: BBVA also has a high-interest savings account.

Sign up for a free BBVA checking account >>

Whether you’re tired of being charged a monthly service fee, or looking for a fresh start with a new bank, or want an account that will travel where ever you go, a free online checking account can be a great option.

Free, after all, is almost always a great option!

After all, many banks charge a service fees of $3 to $25 a month. Um, you are charging me to use my money? Get out of here!

Add in unexpected charges such as an overdraft, ATM fees and wire transfers — you could pay hundreds of dollars each year in bank fees.

Do yourself and your wallet a favor by switching to a free online checking account and putting what you would pay in fees, in a high-yield online savings account.

Best banks for checking accounts free online checking account

BBVA

BBVA is a growing U.S. bank that has been in business for over 50 years. Their free checking and savings accounts are accessible throughout the country (as well as dozens of countries throughout the world).

Known for their willingness to serve customers, an award-winning Mobile Banking app, and innovation, it’s no surprise they are leading the list of best banks for checking accounts.

BBVA ClearConnect Checking offers:

  • No monthly service charge
  • Free online and mobile banking
  • Bill pay
  • Mobile deposit
  • Cash-back rewards for debit card purchases
  • BBVA has one of the highest APRs for its savings accounts, making it easy to bank and save in one place

Customers can open an account online (within minutes!) with a minimum $25 opening deposit and enjoy no ATM withdrawal fees at 55,000 Allpoint and BBVA ATMs.

Apply for BBVA ClearConnect Checking >>

Free online checking account with no opening deposit

Capital One

Capital One 360 Checking offers a free online checking account that’s just that — free. Features:

  • $0 to open
  • No minimum
  • Flexible overdraft options
  • Bill pay
  • Mobile deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • Earn up to 1% interest on your balance

Customers can withdraw funds at any Capital One or Allpoint ATMs with no penalty and enjoy no foreign transaction fees.

USAA

The most popular military banks, USAA Bank has been serving the military community and their families since 1922. To bank here, you must be in the military or have parents who were.

Features:

  • No monthly service fee
  • No minimum balance
  • Overdraft protection
  • Bill pay
  • Mobile deposit
  • Industry-leading security to help keep your account information safe

USAA Classic Checking gives members access to over 60,000 free ATMs nationwide and new recruits can open a checking account today with no opening deposit.

Banks with free checking and no minimum balance

Charles Schwab

Sometimes you want more from a checking account than the basics. If that’s you, a Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account may be worth considering.

Features:

  • No monthly fees
  • No account minimums
  • Check deposit
  • Free standard checks
  • Free Bill Pay
  • Earn 0.40% APY on your balance
  • Includes a Schwab One brokerage account

Customers enjoy unlimited ATM fee rebates for cash withdrawals using the Schwab Bank Visa Platinum Debit Card wherever it is accepted.

Note: Charles Schwab requires a credit check to qualify for this account.

Ally

If you want an interest-bearing checking account, Ally may be the bank for you. Customers who choose Ally Interest Checking have great options available to them.

Features:

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Remote check deposit
  • Earn up to 0.60% APY on your balance
  • Online and mobile banking
  • Reimbursement of up to $10 per statement cycle for fees charged at other ATMs nationwide
  • 24/7 live customer support

Account holders can enjoy free access to any of the 43,000 Allpoint ATMs in the U.S.

AXOS

Previously known as Bank of Internet USA, AXOS offers a checking account that any single momma would love.

The Essential Checking account offers:

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum monthly balance requirements
  • No overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees
  • Mobile deposit
  • Bill Pay

To round off the features, AXOS lets customers enjoy unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.

Discover Bank

Earn cash back for your spending with the Discover Cashback Debit online checking account.

Features:

  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • No balance or activity requirement
  • Online bill pay
  • No-fee check order
  • Free replacement debit card
  • 1% cash back on debit card purchases up to $3,000 each month

Customers enjoy access to over 60,000 no-fee ATMs in the U.S.

In Summary

As a single mom, taking the time to make important financial decisions today can mean ease of mind tomorrow.

While traditional banking once meant having to pay monthly maintenance fees and maintaining a high minimum daily balance, those are not the only options today. Banks like BBVA that offer free online checking and savings accounts, debit card cash-back rewards, free ATM access, and top customer service give moms the ability to manage and access their money without all the fees. Allowing you to keep your money where it should be — in your wallet.

Thinking of divorce or breakup? Having a checking and savings account in your own name is one of the most important things you can do to protect your credit and financial future: How to protect your credit in divorce

Difference between saving and checking accounts

Here’s a quick overview explaining the difference and functionality of each type of account:

Savings accounts

A savings account is a bank account that is designed for saving money over a longer time. Many people refer to it as a “virtual piggy bank.”

Savings accounts offer an interest rate, allowing users to earn interest on the money saved there. In recent years, savings accounts rates have been low — typically 1% or less.

This account can include saving for things like an emergency fund, vacation or a down payment on a house.

You can opt for a stand-alone savings account, or link it with a checking account to transfer money between the two.

Checking accounts

A checking account is a bank account used for spending that occurs while making in-person purchases, shopping online, or getting cash withdrawals at an ATM.

While you’re unlikely to earn high interest on your money in a checking account, you can take advantage of features that make accessing and managing money a lot easier. These include:

  • Check writing
  • ATMs
  • Debit card purchases, which immediately pulls money out of the account
  • Automatic bill pay
  • Some online checking accounts pay interest

In fact, a good checking account will have all the features needed to make managing your money convenient.

Open a free checking account online

How to open a checking account

To open an account online, you will need the following personal information ready such as:

  • Valid, government-issued identification (driver’s license, passport, State or military-issued ID)
  • Social security number
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Funding information (where your initial deposit will come from: savings account, checking account, credit card, automatic transfer from an employer, etc. Basically the bank wants to know your money is legit, and not from your international drug cartel.)

Create a profile

Create login information for a username and password by using a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols. It is best practice to have login credentials not used with other websites.

Enter personal information

The application form for most online banks is simple to complete. You can expect to provide personal information such as a full name, date of birth, primary address, contact information and identity verification.

Questions regarding expected account activity, employment, income, and whether this is a joint account will need to be answered before moving on.

Fund your checking account

Many online banks require a minimum deposit from an existing savings or checking account or from a debit or credit card. Be sure to check online to ensure that you deposit the correct amount of money to fulfill this requirement.

A welcome packet, debit card, standard checks (if available), and other information regarding the new checking account will be mailed to the address provided in the online application.

Once received, activate the new card and create a personal identification number (PIN) so you can use it.

How to choose an online checking account

When deciding on an account, you may believe that free checking alone is enough to save money.

However, actual dollar amounts are only part of the equation. Every single mom needs a checking account that allows her to save both time and money.

Fortunately, there are many online checking account options to choose from. Selecting accounts with features that are best suited for your financial needs is now easier than ever.

With that in mind, single moms should look for a handful of additional features to help ensure they select the best checking account. These features include:

  1. No minimum balance requirement: Avoid keeping money locked up in a checking account, because they typically don’t pay interest (that’s what savings accounts are for). Instead, opt for banks that offer no minimum balance. Some banks start charging fees, or reduce their perks, if you don’t keep a minimum of $1,000, $5,000 or more in the account
  2. Free online and mobile banking: Look for banks that allow you to manage your accounts on your phone or computer. Perks such as snapping a photo to deposit a check via mobile deposit, budgeting tools, viewing transactions, and overall account access is now standard.
  3. Free ATM access: There are many things in life you have to pay for, but paying to access your own money shouldn’t be one. Just say no to banks that charge ATM fees — both in and outside of their network! It will surprise you how much $5 ATM fees add up.
  4. Customer service: Great customer service and support is vital when your money and time is involved. Check online reviews and ask around.

The banks listed below all offer free online checking and each meets many or all of the criteria above, giving you options and flexibility over your finances.

Related: 17 financial steps to a rich life as a single mom


About Whitney Odolo

Whitney Odolo is a personal finance writer based in Alabama. Her work can be seen on Student Loan Planner, Wealthysinglemommy, and her blog, Flourish Right Now.

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