Best Checking Accounts

by Nancy

Banking institutions offer a variety of checking accounts, with pros and cons to consider for each. Most institutions will charge monthly fees on their accounts but can offer free checking to their customers. Free checking accounts usually require a minimum balance, with charges occurring if the account goes below that minimum. Specific accounts can have limits on the number of checks that can be written or the number of card transactions tied to the account.

Other charges and fees can apply to check clearing policies, overdraft protection (or lack of), and ATM transactions tied to the account. It is important to look into several banks and the types of checking accounts that they offer in order to select the one that best fits your needs. Below, we will take a look at seven different banking institutions and the checking accounts that they offer their customers.

1. Wells Fargo

With a history that stretches back over 160 years, Wells Fargo has 13,000 ATMs and 6,000 branches across 40 states. They offer five separate personal checking accounts with different features for each.

The Everyday Checking account comes with a $10.00 monthly fee ($5.00 for those 17-24 years old). The Preferred Checking account has a $15.00 monthly fee but earns 0.01% APY on $500.00 or more balance. The Portfolio account offers features for a customer’s entire bank portfolio, with the same interest rates as Preferred customers. The interest increases to 0.05% on balances of $5,000 or more.

The Teen account is offered to customers aged 13-17 with an adult co-owner on the account. It has a $3.00 monthly fee ($0.00 if the customer goes with online-only statements). There is an Opportunity Checking amount available for those who cannot open a standard account. It has a $10.00 monthly fee.

All of these accounts can have their monthly fees waived by meeting specific account criteria. All account types can be opened for $25.00. Each charges $35.00 for overdrafts except the Teen account, which charges $15.00. Preferred and Portfolio accounts are not charged for Cashier’s checks or Money Orders.

2. Bank of America

For 200 years, this institution has grown to serve all 50 states and 35 countries worldwide. They have 4,500 branches and 16,000 ATMs across the country. Bank of America offers two personal checking accounts.

The Core Checking account can be opened with $25.00 and has a $12.00 fee that can be waived with a $1,500 balance or a direct deposit of $250.00 (the fee is waived for students under 24). The Interest Checking account requires $100.00 to open and a balance of $10,000.00 to avoid the $25.00 fee. This account does earn interest of 0.01-0.02% APY.

3. Capital One

A Fortune 500 company, Capital One is one of the nation’s largest banks, with branches located within six states and the District of Columbia. They offer two unique types of checking accounts available for online banking. The 360 Checking account offers online and mobile checking for free. There’s no minimum balance to keep the account open. Interest can be earned at a rate of 0.20-1.00% APY.

The Money account is a card only set-up for those under 18 years of age. It earns interest at 0.25% APY. Both accounts can be covered by four overdraft options.

4. Discover Bank

Discover has been a well-known banking institution since 1986 when they offered the first cash rewards credit card. They have over 60,000 no-fee ATMs located across the country. Discover Bank also offers an online checking account for no monthly fee. The Cashback Checking account will earn customers one percent cash back on up to #3,000 worth of debit card purchases per month.

This account also offers online bill pay, check re-ordering, and card replacement at no additional charges. They do charge $30.00 for insufficient funds and outgoing wires, and a stop payment option at $15.00 per request.

5. Chase Bank

Chase Bank is the U.S. banking division of JPMorgan Chase & Co., who posses worldwide assets worth trillions. They have multiple ATMs and branches located in 26 states. They offer four types of checking accounts. Total Checking accounts can be opened for $25.00 and charge a $12.00 fee. Premier Plus accounts are opened for $25.00 and charge $25.00 fees. The Premier Platinum account requires $100.00 to open and has a $25.00 fee. They also offer two Student Checking accounts that can be opened for $25.00 with just a $6.00 fee. Premier and Platinum accounts earn 0.01% APY.

6. US Bank

US Bank has branches and ATMs located throughout the country. This company offers seven different accounts that accommodate customers with many services and perks. A Safe Debit account has no checks or overdraft fees, while the Student Checking account offers basic features for student account holders.

Easy Checking accounts are no frills, while the Premium Checking account offers interest rates based on location. Lower fees can be had by combining a savings account with the Silver account, and the Gold account adds free checks and money orders. The Platinum account offers the most perks for an account.

7. PNC

PNC Financial Services offers three traditional accounts as well as three Virtual Wallet accounts to their customers. The Standard Checking account offers basic features for a $7.00 fee, While the Performance Checking account charges $15.00 per month for added interest rates. The Performance Select Checking account offers additional benefits such as ATM fee reimbursement for $25.00 a month. Virtual Wallet is the basic online account. Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend offers extra perks such as interest on balances and rewards on your Visa.