Best Online Checking Accounts

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A few years ago, if you told someone that you put your savings into an online bank, people would look at you funny. They ask whether or not your money was safe and secure, as if your dollars were actually locked away in a vault at the local bank. They’d ask whether you could talk to a human being if you needed to or if the banks themselves were safe (“because they’d heard stories”).

Well, years later, after enjoying yields of 5% or more, the general public is starting to pick up on the fact that just like buying books and CDs online, you can find better prices for your savings by shopping online.

It’s only natural that after savings and certificates of deposits, the next bank deposit product to start percolating the interwebs would be checking accounts. Most checking accounts do not bear any interest and often cost consumers money in various fees, from overdraft to ATM fees.

So what if I told you that you can get an online checking account, pay virtually no ATM fees, and increase your interest rate all at the same time? Well you can… online checking accounts offer just that.

In fact, some of the online checking accounts I list below may give you a higher interest rate than your brick and mortar savings account!

EverBank – Best Interest Rate

EverBank’s checking account offers the highest APY of the group – a 2.51% 3-month bonus rate on deposits up to $100,000 and then a 1.51% APY thereafter. There is a minimum opening balance requirement of $1,500 but afterwards there are no minimum required to earn interest, no monthly fees, free check writing, debit cards, online banking, plus unlimited ATM fee reimbursement if your balance is at least $5,000. Billpay is free if you maintain a minimum monthly balance of $5,000.

Schwab High Yield Investor Checking – Kiplinger’s Pick

Named the “Best Checking Account” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance in 2008 and 2009, the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account tops our list of the best online checking accounts. Like the other banks on this list, you get FDIC insurance up to $250,000, plus no ATM fees (plus ATM fee rebates up to $9 per statement), free online bill pay, and no minimum balance. Add to that a yield of 0.75% APY, which you won’t get from your brick and mortar checking account, and it’s obvious why this checking account leads the way.

Only one downside, according to Kiplinger’s you need to link it to a Schwab One brokerage account, which doesn’t have a minimum either.

If you have an E*Trade account, they also offer a Max-Rate checking account with a 0.30% APY on accounts $5k+, ATM fee refunds, free billpay.

PerkStreet Financial – Best Rewards & Bonus

PerkStreet Financial is the name of the online checking account product offered by PerkStreet Financial and they’ve partnered with the Bancorp Bank to offer a free FDIC-insured online checking account. Debit cards rarely offer cashback features (allegedly only 17% of debit cards offer rewards, according to the BAI/HItachi 2008 Study of Consumer Payment Preferences) and that’s what is notable about this non-interest bearing online checking account. If you’re anti-credit card and use only debit, consider this online checking account because of the opportunity to earn rewards.

There are no minimum balance requirements beyond the $25 initial deposit, you get free online banking and billpay, along with a PerkStreet $50 promotional bonus offer for new accounts. The big draw of this checking account is the rewards, not the promotional bonus.

ING Direct – Best Package Deal

Finally, you have ING Direct, the grand daddy of online savings accounts and their checking account offer, Electric Orange. I mention them because of how feature-rich ING Direct’s savings accounts are and how easy it is to open. The yield on balances up to $49,999.99 is only 0.25% APY but if you can break $50,000, you can appreciate a yield of 1.40% APY. You also get FDIC insurance, free online bill pay, free debit card, and access to the Allpoint ATM network.

If you want to get an online checking account and already have an ING Direct savings account, you can save yourself some hassle by going with a company you’re already working with. To truly maximize your savings, keep money in your savings account and only transfer them over to the checking when you need it.

With those four options, each with compelling reasons why they’re one of the best, you should be able to find the one that matches your needs.

Is there a better online checking account I missed?

{ 37 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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37 Responses to “Best Online Checking Accounts”

  1. I’ve been very happy with Bank of the Ozarks. Regional bank and highly rated. They just sent me a birthday card, they have free checking and haven’t threatened to charge for debit cards. They know my name at the drive through.

  2. Derek says:

    I researched and found for traveling a roux the Bank Of America was the best way to go because it is streamlined and very accessible here in the US and the at times odd to say the least China, etc and other markets.

  3. Ann says:

    I have Capital One 360 was ING Direct. Saved lots with them and paid off all my bills with it to be debt free. Worked for me. Now I have to get serious again & save more. Didn’t have checks for savings then but do now so makes it convenient to get money out when you need it now. Ann

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