bank rates

Where To Find Free Checking Accounts

Some banks still allow you to bank for free, give rewards and pay interest.Are you finally fed up with big banks that plan to jack up checking account fees or tack on debit card fees?

Good news. There are still plenty of fee-free options out there. Some even pay interest, dish out rewards or reimburse ATM fees.

You just need to seek them out.

Many of the best offers come from online banks, credit unions and community banks.

We’re going to start profiling banks that offer free checking deals. Here are a handful of the interesting nationally available offers to start:

Alliant Credit Union ( has a free basic checking account, as well as High Rate Checking.

Unlike a traditional rewards checking account, which requires you to make a certain number of purchases per month, all you need to do to earn 1.10% APY with High Rate Checking is sign up for eStatements and meet one other requirement, such as setting up a direct deposit from your employer or making a monthly ATM deposit.

There are no debit card fees, and you can get free ATM use at more than 80,000 ATMs nationwide that are part of the CO-OP Network, Allpoint or several other networks.

Your first box of checks is free.

Unless you live in the Chicago area or belong to a qualifying organization, you must make a $10 donation to Foster Care to Success to be eligible to join the credit union.

Ally Bank ( charges no monthly fees on its Interest Checking Account, offers free ATM use nationwide (it will reimburse fees you incur from other banks) and pays an interest rate that rivals short-term CD rates.

Balances below $15,000 earn 0.50% APY; balances above that amount earn 0.80% APY.

This online bank offers free, unlimited check-writing, and if you shop with your debit card (which is free) you can earn cash back through the Ally Perks plan.

Like most Internet banks, you’ll need to complete an inter-bank transfer, sign up for direct deposit or mail in a check (Ally will pay for the postage) to make a deposit.

Fidelity Investments ( offers an FDIC-insured Cash Management Account for its brokerage customers that includes free check-writing and debit card use.

You’ll also get reimbursed for any out-of-network ATM charges.

It pays 0.10% APY on all balances.

And, if you own a Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card, you can have the cash-back rewards you earn deposited directly into your checking account. The card pays 2% cash back on all purchases and has no annual fee.

ING Direct ( is another online bank with fee-free checking in the form of its Electric Orange Checking account. Balances below $50,000 earn 0.20% APY. If you keep $50,000 to $99,999 in your account you’ll earn 1.05% APY and balances above that earn 1.10% APY.

You get free ATM use at any of the 35,000 Allpoint network ATMs and a free debit card.

Testing out ING Direct’s online ATM locator, we found 367 Allpoint ATMs within a 20-mile radius of one suburban Chicago town and 755 ATMs within a 20-mile radius of a suburban Philadelphia town.

You can write an online check, which ING Direct will mail for you for free. If you need to write paper checks yourself, a set of 50 costs $5.

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Comments (3)
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3 Existing Comments
  1. Oren said:
    on October 16th at 07:15 pm

    Charles Schwab is another good option. They have free checks and will reimburse your ATM Fees and give a 0.2% interest rate.

    Author of:

  2. Julie said:
    on November 2nd at 08:54 pm

    If you are in the Chicago area, The Private Bank has a free checking called Rewards Checking. They aren’t a big bank as far as branches all over the country, but even if you don’t qualify for the 4 % APY, you still have a free account that gets a small amount of interest. They also reimburse ATM fees up to $25 a month.

  3. Mike Cetera said:
    on July 12th at 11:08 am

    These rates have changed, but the checking accouts remain free.