Best Online Checking Accounts

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!

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Free Checking Isn’t Really Free

Does your bank offer free checking? If the answer is no, you need to enter the 21st century and switch to one that does offer free checking (I have a Bank of America My Access Checking account, no fee, no minimum balance requirement, if you want to thank me and have BOA give me a $25 referral fee [you get nothing though], email me because we need to go through their referral process). Now, if the answer is yes, what is the minimum balance you need to carry in order to be eligible for free checking?

That minimum balance times the difference between the checking account’s interest rate (likely under half a percent) and 5% (the going rate for most online savings accounts), is how much that free checking costs you. For example, if you have a free checking account with a $1,000 minimum balance and the interest rate is 0.1%, you’re losing $49 a year in lost interest. That’s the same as paying about $36.75 (25% tax bracket) a year for your free checking.

So, is your checking free or just… kinda free?

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