4 best no-minimum-balance checking accounts

Top image of a restaurant table, where a friend is paying another via mobile banking app.Image: Top image of a restaurant table, where a friend is paying another via mobile banking app.

In a Nutshell

No-minimum-balance checking accounts can save you money and give you peace of mind. But they’re not all created equal, so it’s important to comparison shop to find the best no-minimum-balance checking account for you. We’ve rounded up our favorites, comparing fees, perks, ATM accessibility and more.
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No-minimum checking accounts can help you save money

Some checking accounts require you to have a certain amount of money in your account in order to avoid fees. A no-minimum-balance checking account doesn’t have this requirement — so it could save you from worry and extra charges.

But keep in mind that while no-minimum-balance accounts mean you don’t have to maintain a minimum balance, they’re not necessarily free. These accounts may still come with charges like monthly maintenance fees or have some sort of restrictions.

You can find no-minimum-balance checking accounts at traditional banks as well as online-only banks, giving you a number of different choices to compare. We’ve rounded up our four top picks for the best no-minimum-balance checking accounts to help you start your research.

Best for overdraft flexibility: Capital One 360 Checking

Why Capital One 360 Checking stands out: If you tend to overdraw your checking account often, Capital One 360 Checking offers a few solutions you may find useful. Not only can you set your account up to decline any transactions that might cause you to overdraft, you can also take advantage of a one-day grace period and automatically transfer funds from your savings accounts to cover the difference.

  • Ability to add cash at CVS If you can’t make it to a bank branch, you can make a deposit at your local CVS. This may be a convenient option if you’re out running errands. Just note that Capital One limits you to $999 in deposits per day and five transactions per month.
  • Use Zelle to easily send and receive money Capital One has partnered with Zelle, which offers a fast and easy way to transfer money between bank accounts.
  • Spending alerts With spending alerts, you can keep track of your checking account in real time. This is a huge plus if you tend to overspend or want to stick to your budget.

Best for cash back rewards: Discover Cashback Debit

Why Discover Cashback Debit stands out: The Discover Cashback Debit account offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 of your debit card purchases each month. If you use your debit card often, this could be a great perk to help you earn some extra money just for spending like you normally would.

  • Limited fees You don’t have to pay anything up front to use a Discover Cashback Debit account. Discover won’t charge you for maintenance, withdrawals, online bill payments, checks, insufficient funds, and many other perks and services. But Discover does have a wire transfer fee, and you may incur fees for out-of-network ATMs.
  • Free ATM access You have access to more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs across the country.
  • Handy mobile app If you download the Discover mobile app, you can deposit checks, find nearby ATMs and even freeze your debit card if you ever lose it. The app also makes it easy to access your account from anywhere.

Best for earning interest: Ally Bank Interest Checking

Why Ally Bank Interest Checking stands out: As of April 2022, the Ally Bank Interest Checking account offers an APR of 0.25%. This is a much higher rate than many other checking accounts, which can come with APRs of 0.01%.

  • Convenient ATM access Even though the Ally Bank Interest Checking account is an online account, you can get cash at more than 43,000 Allpoint ATMs for free. Ally Bank will also reimburse you $10 per statement cycle for fees that other ATMs may charge.
  • No cash deposits This account doesn’t accept cash deposits. But you can make a deposit via remote check deposit, online transfers, direct deposits and wire transfers.
  • Automatic money savings With the special savings booster, you can save money without any thought. As long as you have a checking and savings account with Ally Bank, they can round up what you spend to the nearest dollar and transfer the extra money to your savings.

Best for building savings: Chime checking account

Why Chime stands out: With Chime, you can connect your account to an optional savings account. Built-in tools like rounded-up transfers from every debit card purchase and automatic transfers of a percentage of your paycheck into savings can help you meet your goals faster. 

  • No hidden fees When you open an account, no minimum opening deposit is required and it won’t cost you anything to apply. There are also no ATM fees or monthly fees. Replacing a lost debit card is free and you won’t pay any foreign transaction fees. 
  • Get your paycheck early When you sign up for direct deposit, you can get your check up to two days early. Plus, they’ll send you an alert when the money hits your account.
  • Access more than 60,000 ATMs Chime doesn’t charge a fee if you use one of its in-network ATMs, which you can find at places like Walgreens, CVS and 7-Eleven.

Read our full review of Chime’s checking account to learn more.

What to consider when opening a no-minimum-balance checking account

When you compare no-minimum-balance checking accounts, it’s a good idea to pay attention to these features.

  • Other fees or charges may apply No-minimum-balance accounts may charge other fees like account opening fees, overdraft fees and ATM fees.
  • ATM accessibility Banks with physical locations usually have local ATMs, while online banks may have ATM partners. Make sure you know how convenient it will be for you to access an ATM — and whether any fees apply either in or out of network.
  • May have to become a member to bank Some financial institutions, like credit unions, come with membership fees or eligibility requirements. You won’t get access to their products and services without joining.
  • FDIC Insurance If you have an account at an FDIC-insured bank, your money will be protected. Usually, $250,000 per deposit will be covered. Choosing a checking account that’s insured can give you some peace of mind.
  • Other perks and benefits Many banks offer extra perks like free checks, peer-to-peer money transfer services, budgeting tools, overdraft protection and paycheck advances. Think about which benefits are most important to you as you shop around.

Consider a free checking account

A free checking account is a basic checking account that doesn’t charge any recurring fees, such as monthly maintenance fees. 

Do your research before signing up, since hidden costs can eat away at your savings. For example, you may have to pay out-of-network ATM charges, overdraft fees, foreign transaction fees and other charges or penalties. 

Some accounts may even have a minimum balance requirement, meaning you have to keep a certain amount of money in your account to avoid additional charges.

If you’re looking for a checking account that’s free to open, you might want to consider a Credit Karma Money™ Spend online checking account. It comes with no penalties, overdraft fees or minimum balance requirements.

And when you set up direct deposit with Credit Karma Money™ Spend, you can get access to your paycheck up to two days early and federal benefits up to five days early.

How we picked these no-minimum-balance checking accounts

We looked at 10 no-minimum-balance checking accounts and compared features like fees, ATM accessibility, online banking tools, access to physical locations and other perks. Keep in mind that account options can vary from bank to bank so it’s important to shop around to find the no-minimum-balance account that works best for your personal financial situation.

About the author: Anna Baluch is a freelance personal finance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. You can find her work on sites like The Balance, Freedom Debt Relief, LendingTree and RateGenius. Anna has an MBA in marketing from Roosevelt Un… Read more.