Best free checking accounts: compare high interest rate checking accounts

Most of us have savings accounts that earn interest. What many people don't know is that there are also safe, FDIC insured, interest-bearing online checking accounts. The yield on these checking accounts is actually higher than the yield on savings accounts at the local bank! So why not get the best of both worlds: the ability to write checks and earn interest!

We rated the highest interest (APY) free checking accounts on overall customer value in 2020. All accounts listed here are FDIC insured up to $250,000 per depositor.


USAA Classic Checking

High Interest Checking Accounts
  • 0.01% APY on balance:$1,000.00
  • Minimum opening balance: $25
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $0
  • Only available to US military members and their families
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Free direct deposits, free transfers and bill payments
  • Free ATMs nationwide. Plus, if you have to use another bank's ATM, we'll refund their bank fee
  • Qualified members can deposit checks from the mobile App with Deposit@Mobile®
  • USAA® Money Manage offers budgeting tool to track spending
  • FDIC Insurance with at least $250,000


Best No Monthly Fee Checking Account

USAA is a favorite financial institution among military members & their families. One service they offer is a free checking account with 21st Century mobility. USAA Secure Checking has a lot to offer for a national online bank regarding technology and deposit methods. Customers who want the convenience of online banking without the hassle of fees will be pleased with USAA Secure Checking.

Monthly Service Fee$0
Overdraft Fee$25
Return Deposit Fee$5
Stop Payment$29
ATM Fee (In-Network)$0 ($2 each after first 10 monthly transactions)
ATM Fee (Non-Network)First $15 Reimbursed Each Month
Domestic Wire Transfer$20
International Wire Transfer$45

The fees & ATM withdrawal policies are very similar to other online checking accounts. USAA offers some leniency with overdrafts, as they reserve the option to only assess the $25 fee if the account is overdrawn by more than $5.

Initial Account Setup

The minimum initial deposit to open an account is $25. However, there is no penalty or fee if the actual account balance is below $25 after the account opens. Account holders will also receive a MasterCard Debit card that can be used fee-free at 60,000 ATMs up to 10 times each month before a $2 fee is charged for each additional withdrawal. USAA will also reimburse up to $15 monthly for non-network ATM withdrawals.

Checkbooks, plus additional checks, are free and can be ordered through the USAA website. Online BillPay is free for all users and allows recurring payments to be scheduled.

USAA pays an interest rate of .01% if the daily account balance is above $1,000. This payout is low, especially for an online bank, but USAA offsets this negative in other ways.

Best No Monthly Fee Checking Account Deposits

One hassle with online banks can be depositing checks due to the lack of physical branches. To address this issue, USAA has partnered with The UPS Store to allow in-store deposits at more than 2,000 UPS Stores across the nation. While a UPS Store cannot offer complete banking services, this is a unique option for those that still prefer the physical aspect of banking for making deposits. Customers can also deposit checks via mail or simply sending an image of the check from their computer or mobile device. Deposits are normally available for withdrawal the next business day.

USAA Mobile App

The future of online banking is solidifying & becoming more convenient with mobile technology. USAA’s Mobile App does more than solely providing account balances and bill pay. Users can also link their debit cards to Apple Pay & Android Pay as payment methods continue to evolve. If help is needed for any topic, there is also a virtual assistant button to answer any questions.

Of course this is a USAA app, so users will also be encouraged to explore the other services offered by USAA beyond the checking account.

USAA also makes it easier to keep track of money and setting a budget. While some people use different apps to track transactions from their other bank accounts, the USAA app shows balances from non-USAA bank accounts as well. This all-in-one app can be very beneficial in helping users track their total spending with the “My Budget” button that will create and monitor spending plans. Spending alerts can be created to help the user track their spending plans or simply to look out for fraudulent activity.

Best No Monthly Fee Checking Account Security

Security is a big deal for online banks. Their credibility largely relies on it. USAA offers two different security features to help protect against identity theft and fraudulent activity.

A recent addition is the use of biometrics for logging on to their Mobile App. This optional security feature can require a combination of fingerprint, facial, and voice recognition to logon. Users can select one, two, or all three recognition requirements for added security. Mobile users can also assign a unique pin to unlock the app, if they do not want to use the biometric security features.

The second security perk that is offered by USAA is a free credit monitoring program through Experian. This is an opt-in feature provided to all USAA members that provides a monthly VantageScore that will also notify them of key alerts such as address changes or new bank account/credit card openings. USAA still monitors every USAA account for fraudulent activity, but this optional service is free and makes it easier for individuals to monitor potential identity theft from external accounts. Additional identity theft protection is available for a monthly fee from Experian.

Pros of USAA Secure Checking

  • No monthly fees or minimum balances after initial minimum $25 deposit
  • Free checks and online bill pay
  • Can deposit checks at The UPS Store or using computer/mobile device
  • Mobile App links to Apple Pay or Android Pay
  • Can monitor external account balances and set spending plans using mobile app
  • Biometric security available for Mobile App

Cons of USAA Secure Checking

  • Low interest rate compared to other online banks
  • Membership only open to current or former military members and their family members
  • No 24/7 Customer Service


There is little to dislike about USAA Secure Checking. Its emphasis on a secure and function-rich mobile app are definitely worth considering for those who like to do everything on a phone or tablet. Plus, USAA is a highly reputable financial institution with lots of satisfied lifetime members. All this adds up to one of the "Best no monthly fee checking accounts" in 2020.

Chase Checking Review

Chase Bank is consistently ranked as a leader in retail banking options. Chase checking account customers will gain access to their 24/7 online banking platform, mobile banking features, their 19,000+ ATM network and standard features such as a debit card linked to your account.

Chase offers a number of checking account options worth consideration. Some offer lower to no fees for maintaining higher balances, some are designed for college students and some cater specifically to small business owners. If you aren’t sure which account is best for your specific needs, simply sit down with a banker in the branch closest to you for assistance.

Beyond the basic account features expected by most bank customers today, Chase offers several unique features that are worth consideration, such as mobile banking’s deposit by phone, text options to receive balance updates and account alerts. Once you have selected which type of checking account best suits your given needs, be sure to learn more about the additional options available on your account in order to best maximize your financial relationship.

Chase Mobile Banking

One of the best features offered by Chase to retail customers is their mobile banking platform. Designed to appeal to texters, mobile web browsers and app lovers, their platform comes fully loaded with all of the bells and whistles.

Chase Checking Account Pros

  • Deposit by Phone. By taking a simple picture of the front and back of an endorsed check, you can deposit funds directly into your designated account. This option completely removes the requirement of heading into a bank branch or driving through an ATM to make a deposit.

  • Mobile Balance Checks. By sending a text to a designated number, you can find out what your current balance is within seconds. This is a great feature for anyone on the go.

  • Account Alerts. For anyone who likes to keep a constant pulse on their financial accounts, account alerts will be among the most popular features. You can set alerts to be sent whenever a specific dollar figure is spent or withdrawn via your dedicated credit cards or accounts. You can also set up alerts to notify you whenever anything regarding your account has been updated or changed. And, if you ever run into a situation where your account dips below a desired balance, you can simply respond to add funds. This can help eliminate insufficient funds charges or overage charges on your account. Not only can the account alerts feature help you to manage your finances, but can also reduce the likelihood that you will become a victim of identity theft.

  • All of the mobile features and functionality offered by Chase is accessible to their customer base at no-cost.

Chase’s Online Banking & Bill Pay

Accessible to Chase customers on a 24/7 basis, Chase’s online banking platform puts customers in the driver’s seat. Whether you want to check a balance, transfer money between your own accounts, transfer funds to someone externally using Quick Pay, pay your ongoing household bills, or simply update your accounts, this can all be done online via a traditional web browser or through a modified version for your mobile device.

With online bill pay, you can send money to virtually anyone as a one-time or recurring payment. This convenience option removes the tedious task of writing checks monthly and for bills that recur regularly, such as household utilities, online bill pay will ensure that your funds are received on-time, every time.


Chase Checking Account Cons

For customers that move frequently or travel often for work, it is important to note that not every city and state offers convenient access to Chase mobile branches or ATM’s. For most accounts, a fee will be assessed to the customer if funds are withdrawn from a bank or ATM outside of the designated network. Yet another challenge is banking fees. While most banks have moved away from the completely ‘free’ type accounts, these fees can cause confusion and frustration among bank members. Be sure to inquire as to what fees will be assessed beyond your account maintenance fee either on an ongoing or one-time basis to avoid this issue. Or just use one of the popular completely free checking accounts.