Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, banks and credit unions were closing branches at a rate of over 100 per month. Since March 2020, one report says that branch closure rate has doubled as consumers become accustomed to doing more of their financial transactions online. This, coupled with more and more financial institutions with strong online banking and financial management tools, has led another study to find that 45% of respondents said the way they conduct banking has changed permanently due to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 public health crisis has introduced more consumers to the benefits of online banking, whether as part of their traditional brick-and-mortar banking relationship or with an online-only bank. Digital and online banking seems to be the new normal.
Today, almost every bank offers online banking options, but did you know that there are banks that operate either solely online or with a very limited branch network? Without the overhead of a large branch operation, they can offer a variety of banking products while passing the savings to their customers, who will enjoy lower fees and added benefits, including protection from bank fraud. Opening an online checking account could be the solution for you.
The Best Free Online Checking Accounts: Our Selection Process
We reviewed over 1,000 checking accounts found at banks and credit unions across the country and found several that top our list of The Best Online Checking Accounts with No Opening Deposit Required.
We wanted full-featured checking accounts with all the bells and whistles and without ANY limitations. Importantly, our finalists all offered checking accounts that are truly free: no hidden fees or monthly charges. Our search included banks that required no account balance minimums and all of them had to have an outstanding customer reputation for their online and mobile apps as well as human customer service availability.
10 Features of The Best Online Checking Accounts
Comparing online banks can be confusing and downright frustrating. We tried to simplify the process by removing financial institutions that had confusing offers, monthly balance or usage minimums, gimmicks to get you to use your account, and a host of other nonsensical add-ons. Instead, we chose institutions that help you keep your finances simple and understandable. Most of all, these banks don’t charge fees or engage in silly promotions. The best free online checking accounts offer:
- Free debit card
- No NSF/overdraft fees
- No or low monthly or annual fees
- No account balance minimums; no opening deposit
- Free use of ATMs
- Powerful mobile tools
- Free online banking and bill pay
- Strong customer service
- Very high acceptance rates, no matter your financial history
- Available in all 50 states and Washington D.C.
Banks offering the most features and lowest fees rose to the top of the list, as did those with a low minimum deposit, low or no balance requirements, and a broad ATM network. Banks with high customer satisfaction and an intuitive digital banking experience also earned higher scores. To appear on this list, the bank must be available in all 50 states.