Best Online Checking Accounts

Contributor, Benzinga

With the upsurge in new technologies, traditional brick-and-mortar banks may eventually go by the wayside. It’s really not surprising, considering the popularity of peer to peer lending programs such as Lending Club, Prosper or Upstart, which attract investors looking for 21st century lending models.

In addition, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies could replace traditional banks altogether. Once bitcoin gets to a point where hundreds of transactions can be settled per second, it could offer a more efficient, secure and cost-effective structure compared to traditional banks.

Therefore, as it’s a real possibility that your brick-and-mortar bank could be axed at some point in the future, online checking (not connected to a brick-and-mortar institution) might be a great move.

Fortunately, Benzinga has done the hard work for you to help determine which online checking account could be best for you.

1. Best for Family Accounts: Current

Best For
Managing Money

Current is the best financial platform for family accounts. Parents can register for a Premium account for $4.99 per month or use the Basic account for free. Plus, it’s only $36 per teen per year to use Current.

After registering for an account, you get a Visa debit card that allows you to shop anywhere Visa is accepted. Kids can get their paychecks deposited into their accounts, and you can monitor their spending as needed. 

Current also offers useful features that include:

  • Attach your debit card to Apple Wallet or Google Wallet
  • Immediate gas-hold removals 
  • Fee-free ATM use at 40,000 allpoint ATMs in the US
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Educational tools for kids
  • Block transactions if a card is lost or stolen
  • A powerful mobile app
  • Saving pods
Best For
High Yield Savings

2. Best Rewards: Quontic Bank

Quontic Bank is an adaptive, fully-digital bank offering a wide range of services and accounts. While you can partake in high-yield savings accounts and mortgages, the company’s checking account are perhaps the most unique offering of the bunch. The range of checking accounts includes:

  • Bitcoin Rewards Checking
  • Cash Rewards Checking
  • High Interest Checking

With Bitcoin Rewards, you get 1.5% Bitcoin on all qualifying purchases, but Cash Rewards offers 1.5% cash back on qualifying purchases. Finally, the High Interest Checking account offers a 1.01% annual interest rate.

Quontic Bank offers digital service, a network of partner ATMs to eliminate fees and spends its earnings on community members who need it most. While it has the best rewards program, Quontic Bank is also the most forward-thinking and innovative bank of the bunch.

3. BankProv: Best for Small Businesses

BankProv calls itself a future-ready bank that reaches corporate clients. The bank insures 100% of deposits through the FDIC and DIF. A small business checking account with Bank Prov offers you several unique features:

  • No minimum balance requirements
  • $50 monthly fee (the first month is waived for new customers)
  • Apply online
  • Customized accounts for your business
  • Same-day ACH transfers
  • Wires
  • Remote deposit capture
  • LockBox technology
  • Zero Balance Accounts
  • FTP functionality
  • API connectivity
  • Connect to QuickBooks
  • Real-time payment options 24/7/365

With a BankProv account, you can support the mission of your business with customized services. Speak to a member of the customer service team if you need assistance or wish to adjust the account given your current situation.

4. Best for No monthly Fees: Capital One 360

Capital One 360 Online Checking Account, while it requires no online or mobile checking fee, also offers the following:

  • Up to 1.00% APY (on amounts over $100,000 or more) and on amounts $0-$49,999.99, APY is 0.20%
  • No minimums
  • Free ATMs, which include over 39,000 Capital One or Allpoint ATMs at zero cost
  • Mobile deposit
  • Online bill pay
  • Overdraft protection options
  • Excellent, top-rated app

5. Best for High APY: Consumers Credit Union

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking can offer a lot, but there are some requirements alongside the high APY:

4.59% APY requirements:

  • Complete 12 pinless debit/check card purchases
  • Make a direct deposit, debit or electronic bill pay
  • Access online or mobile banking at least once a month
  • Receive e-documents
  • ,000 or more in Consumers Credit Union VISA credit card purchase transactions

3.59% APY requirements:

  • Complete 12 pinless debit/check card purchases
  • Make a direct deposit, debit or electronic bill pay
  • Access online or mobile banking at least once a month
  • Receive e-documents
  • $500 or more in Consumers Credit Union VISA credit card purchase transactions

3.09% APY requirements:

  • Complete 12 pinless debit/check card purchases
  • Make a direct deposit, debit or electronic bill pay
  • Access online or mobile banking at least once a month
  • Receive e-documents

6. Best for No Deposit Minimum: Ally Interest Checking

Ally Interest Checking is a great choice for a number of reasons, including requirements for opening deposits.

  • 0.10% APY with a less than $15,000 minimum daily balance
  • No monthly maintenance fees, either
  • Good customer service 24/7
  • Allpoint ATMs are free, plus you’ll be reimbursed $10 per statement cycle for fees charged at other ATMs nationwide
  • Ally eCheck Deposit offers the option of depositing checks remotely
  • Send or receive money using Zelle.

What’s an Online Checking Account?

Online checking accounts are different from regular checking accounts at your bank/credit union and the number one reason they’re different is that they’re from banks that forgo a traditional branch structure. Ally Bank is a great example of this type of online-only option. You might turn to a digital financial platform such as MoneyLion if you’re in need of an online bank or prefer to avoid larger institutions.

Types of Online Checking Accounts

Interest-bearing checking accounts are similar to non-interest checking accounts. For both, customers can write checks, use debit cards and ATMs, etc. In the case of an interest checking account, however, the bank pays interest on the balance in your account.

Non-interest checking accounts, of course, don’t offer any interest at all. The bank only holds your money and can even charge a monthly maintenance fee.

While the interest-bearing checking account might seem like a steal, it’s also important to understand all terms and conditions to make sure unintended fees aren’t mounting. A few items you’ll want to consider include:

  • APY percentages
  • Minimum balances
  • ATM costs per use
  • Number of electronic deposits per month

Remember, every platform is different. Some platforms like MoneyLion may make up for a lack of interest-bearing returns with crypto or investment accounts and a network of free ATMs. Others may require you to invest in money market accounts, or they might attach rewards to their debit cards.

Pros and Cons

It’s easy to point to some of the pros regarding an online checking account, as online-only banks don’t have the overhead of traditional banks. To that point, they can often pass on these excellent advantages to customers:

  • Higher rates
  • Lower fees
  • New technology, including excellent app and user interface
  • Extensive ATM networks
  • Can do tech-friendly things such as remote check deposits
  • Convenience is a major factor (you don’t need to go to the bank to deposit a check, for example)

On the other hand, there are some cons, and those include:

  • No face-to-face interaction because it’s all online
  • Customer service in general and through other forms of communication (phone, email, etc.) could be a challenge
  • Identity theft and fraud can be a concern; you’ll want to make sure the bank is FDIC-insured
  • ATM fees can be more expensive (it might not be possible to always find a bank-owned ATM)

Is an Online Checking Account Best for Me?

If you’re someone who likes to leave a lot of money sitting in an account, an online checking account wouldn’t be recommended for a couple of reasons, and one of them is security.

Fraud is a very real threat to all checking accounts, not just online checking accounts. If you’re the victim of debit card fraud linked to your online checking account, that’s way more unfortunate than credit card fraud. In the case of a checking account, someone has direct access to your actual money, which obviously isn’t the case with a credit card.

Also, another reason it’s best not to leave money sitting around in a checking account is that compared to certain other investments, checking accounts still don’t offer super-high returns. Checking accounts were never intended to be savings vehicles.

If you’d like to save money, an online checking account would not be best for you. It seems obvious that they wouldn’t be the best savings vehicles, but there are people who stash their paychecks in a checking account and never move excess money into a better savings vehicle.

Financial experts say that anywhere from three to six months of emergency expenses should be covered in case of a job loss, debilitating health occurrence, etc. If you have more than the requisite three to six months of emergency expense money lined up, you might be better off investing the rest in an account that will earn you more.

Final Thoughts

Unlocking all the possibilities can seem like an overwhelming task, but if you strategically consider your needs and preferences, you’ll almost always be able come up with an online banking solution.

In addition, if you aren’t so into the process of driving to your bank, walking into the bank, talking with the teller, getting what you need (and maybe having to stand in line) then you’re probably ready for something different. If you’re just as happy doing all that on your device, then online banking is a great option for you.

If you’re having trouble getting approved for a checking account, see Benzinga’s Second Chance Checking article.

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