Monthly checking account fees can add up quickly. But there’s no obligation to stick with a fee-ridden checking account. If you're frustrated with bank fees consider an online free checking account with no fees.
According to a Center for Responsible Lending Report, banks collected more than $11.68 billion in 2019 through abusive overdraft practices that drain consumers’ checking accounts.
Keep your hard-earned money and say no to monthly fees, ATM fees, and overdraft fees.
Online free checking accounts
Every year bank customers have been paying more in monthly service, ATM, and overdraft fees for no good reason. During the COVID pandemic, overdraft fees have been especially devasting to people unable to work.
While federal regulators encouraged banks to waive their overdraft fees during the COVID Crisis, banks instead are expected to take in more than $30 billion in revenue from the fees in 2020.
Take a look at our list of online banks that offer online free checking, no ATM fees, and no overdraft fees:
1. CIT Bank eChecking Account – ATM fee refunds
CIT Bank does not charge ATM fees. Get up to $30 in other bank’s ATM fees reimbursed per month.
- CIT Bank does not charge monthly fees on its checking, savings, and money market accounts.
- Refunds ATM fees up to $30 per month when using out-of-network ATMs.
- The CIT Bank eChecking account offers interest earnings on the deposit balance in two tiers: Balances under $25,000 earn 0.10% APY and Balances of $25,000 or more earn 0.25% APY.
- Transfer, pay and purchase via mobile with Zelle®, Bill Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay.
- Outgoing wire transfer for accounts with an average daily balance of $25,000 or more.
2. Radius Bank Rewards Checking – Unlimited automatic ATM fee rebates
Earn unlimited 1% cash back on debit card purchases.
- No monthly maintenance fee.
- Get paid up to 2 days early with direct deposit.
- Earn up to 0.10% APY.
- UUnlimited ATM fee rebates for any ATM fees that charge you.
- Add your Radius debit card to Apple Pay®, Google Pay™ and Samsung Pay.
3. Chime Spending Account – Free overdraft up to $100
Chime will spot you up to $100 on debit card purchases with no overdraft fees. Eligibility requirements apply.¹
- Get your direct deposit up to 2 days early.
- Access cash at 38,000+ fee-free ATMs.
- An optional savings account earns 0.50% (APY).
- Grow your savings, automatically. Every time you swipe your debit card, Chime will round up to the nearest dollar and transfer the round-up into your Savings Account.
- Leniency for people with previous checking account problems.
4. Axos Rewards Checking – No Overdraft or Non-Sufficient Fund Fees
Earn up to 1.25% APY* while enjoying a suite of digital tools for smarter money management.
- No Need to Keep a Minimum Balance to Avoid Fees.
- Make Unlimited Withdrawals From Any Domestic ATM for Free.
- Never Pay Monthly Maintenance Fees Again.
- No Overdraft or Non-Sufficient Fund Fees.
- Earn up to 1.25% APY.
5. Aspiration – Unlimited free ATM withdrawals
Use your digital card Mastercard debit card instantly while your physical card comes by mail (in 7 to 10 business days)
- Get a $100 bonus when you open an account and complete qualifying activities.
- Unlimited fee-free ATM withdrawals at 55,000 Allpoint ATMs Nationwide.
- No hidden fees! Pay a monthly fee you think is fair.
- Up to 10% cash back on debit card purchases.
- Up to 1.00% APY on savings.
- Extra cash back for spending at socially-conscious businesses.
Out-of-Network ATM Fees are at record highs in some states
The average total cost for using an out-of-network ATM hit a record $4.69 per transaction, according to a Bankrate.com survey.
Out-of-network fees are charged when a customer of one bank performs a transaction at ATMs that are not owned by their own bank or are part of a network to which their bank belongs.
Out-of-network ATM fees are often racked up without customers being fully aware of what they can add up to in a 12-month period. The average cost of out-of-network ATM transactions is now over $4.50 according to Bankrate.com.
The report looked at the 10 biggest banks in the top 25 major metro areas to find out where average ATM fee surcharges are the highest and lowest. Pittsburgh came in at $5.19 while Dallas wasn't too far behind at $4.07. The fees charged included ATM operator fees along with fees from the consumer's own financial institution.
Here is how the top 5 Out-of-Network ATM fees broke down:
1. Pittsburgh: $5.19
2. New York: $5.14
3. Washington D.C.: $5.11
3. Cleveland: $5.11
5. Atlanta: $5.05
Monthly checking fees add up quickly
Most banks make customers jump through hoops just to get no monthly fee checking. Online free checking accounts with no strings attached is becoming a thing of the past.
Monthly maintenance fees can reach as high as $15 per month at most traditional banks. However, free checking may be available if you satisfy any number of requirements, such as maintain a minimum daily balance in your checking, signing up for direct deposit or making regular transfers to a savings account. For example:
- Bank of America’s customers can avoid the $12 fee for the Core Checking Account by maintaining an average daily balance of $1,500.
- Wells Fargo customers can waive the monthly service fee of $10 for the Everyday Checking by maintaining a $1,500 minimum daily balance.
- Chase Total Checking has a $12 monthly fee that can be waived with $500 or more monthly direct deposits or maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance.
Best way to avoid overdraft fees
Keep in mind banks are required to get your permission to charge you overdraft fees as long as you decide not to enroll in their “overdraft protection.” You can opt-out of overdraft protection at any time and the bank will simply decline the transaction. But opting out does not prevent overdraft fees on recurring bills.
Online banking is safe and convenient
Online banking makes it easier to manage your money. You have access to everything you need in one place. Check account balances, view transactions, download monthly statements, track accounts you have linked from other banks, easily make payments and transfers, and more — all quickly and conveniently. You can also use online banking to request stop payments, print financial documents, and apply for new accounts.