Choosing the right checking account is a key step in your personal finance journey, regardless of where you’re. These accounts allow you to transact as you please, withdraw and deposit cash, and generally serve as the base camp for all your banking needs.
It may seem like selecting an account would be easy, but we face a problem: a paradox of choice. Gone are the days when consumers had just one or two options for checking. There are now dozens of choices in front of you and lots of fine print to read.
On top of that, many checking accounts have hidden fees that can slowly chip away at your savings and end up costing you money to maintain. This shows that you must choose before you open an account and avoid these common pitfalls.
In this article, we set out to list the best affordable checking accounts that won’t penalize you for banking how you want. Browse this list, take note of the top contenders, then use Steady to see related introductory offers that can benefit you with extra cash for making better financial decisions.
The right checking account should set you up for financial success - not limit your potential. Let’s get started and see what accounts are worth looking at in 2022.
The following accounts must have a full feature set, modern amenities, and minimal fees if not zero. Each account will have certain tradeoffs, pros, and cons, so we aim to consider all of these.
As one of the nation's biggest financial institutions, Capital One can offer great checking account options with minimal fees and plenty of ATMs.
For those looking for a fresh start in their financial journey, Capital One makes it easy, allowing for quick and easy setup and the ability to visit a physical branch.
No accounts in the Capital One lineup have minimum balance requirements - a huge advantage for anyone. As a bonus, the mobile app is one of the best in the game.
The rise of online-only banks has been interesting to watch, and Ally leads the charge in many respects. The bank features above-average APY and zero monthly fees, including no minimum deposits or balance requirements.
If overdraft protection is a priority, Ally also includes generous buffers that let you transact without fear of fees.
Ally bank is a solid checking choice for those who don’t mind missing the benefits of a physical branch.
In the competitive neobank arena, Chime has made a name for itself with strong reviews from the most trusted consumer advocate sites. The online-only fintech firm partners with established banks to offer checking and savings, with no fees to be found.
The process of setting up a Chime account couldn’t be easier, and introductory bonus incentives - like the ones offered through Steady - only sweeten the deal for first-timers.
The drawbacks of Chime are the limitations of cash deposits and knowing that customer service may not always be high caliber.
While Acorns is better known as an investment account for beginners, the company offers a checking account with features too good to ignore.
The basic Acorns personal checking account is completely free of fees and minimums and comes with a broad network of ATMs for your convenience. Plus, the connectivity between other Acorn accounts is streamlined and simple if you're focused on saving and investing.
This is a basic checking account on the surface, but it becomes so much more when you leverage the full Acorns ecosystem to your advantage.
For a pure neobank experience with all the expected perks, it’s hard to outmatch SoFi. The company is known for its innovative approach to fintech and is now making its mark with an impressive checking account offer.
The high-interest rate of 1.25% is the most attractive feature here, and it can be yours by setting up a direct deposit with a SoFi checking account. You can also enjoy zero monthly maintenance fees and no overdraft fees.
As a combination checking and savings account, SoFi is a clear-cut winner.
There’s a lot to love about the Varo Online Checking account, including the sleek and user-friendly mobile app that customers are raving about.
The company is all about speed and agility for its users, which means you get a true neobank experience with all the pros, and just a few cons.
Don’t worry about minimums or maintenance fees - there aren’t any. However, transfer options are limited, so consider using a separate account to send money to friends and family.
The bar has been set high for mobile banking in 2022, but Aspiration lives up to its name and exceeds expectations with its Spend & Save account.
The yields are high, the cash-back bonuses are great, and the socially responsible mission of the company is just the icing on the cake. When you make socially aware and sustainable purchases, that means more money back to you.
Aspiration even offers a generous welcome bonus as a way to intrigue new customers - what’s not to like?
There may not be a one-stop shop for all your financial needs, but Albert certainly comes close, starting with its full-fledged Cash account. All the expected mobile banking features are present - no fees and great perks like advance payments and cash-back rewards.
If you want to explore Albert’s offerings further, the company is blazing new trails with its savings, investing, and Genius features.
You can build up your investments, plan your budget perfectly, and get financial guidance every step of the way, all from your phone.
We all know Chase, and for many people, that familiarity is important when setting up a checking account. With physical branches everywhere and a range of account options, it’s easy to see why Chase is still at the top.
The one downside here is the minimum account balance, which is over $1,000 in some cases. We recommend you only open an account if you can meet that requirement since it’s simply not worth paying monthly fees.
Discover has mastered the checking formula over the past decade as one of the more established online-only banks. The crowning achievement is this popular Cashback Debit account, which has no minimum deposit, no balance requirements, and no overdraft fees.
Discover also benefits from one of the larger ATM networks in the neobank landscape, and the customer service is a cut above some of the newer competitors on our list.
If you’re eager to try digital-only checking but want to work only with a reputable institution, Discover has you covered.
Don’t let Bank of America’s size fool you. It has some of the most cutting-edge mobile banking technology around and delivers agile features with the best of the neobanks in 2022.
The main benefit of BoFA is the balance between new and old-school banking, and this SafeBalance checking account is a perfect example. There are some fees, but it’s easy to wave them with low deposits and minimums.
Most importantly, you get access to the thousands of branch locations and Zelle, one of the best payment products in fintech.
Any company with a fresh approach to personal finance deserves a closer look, and One Finance definitely qualifies with its unique “Pockets” system.
This online-only institution lets customers use Spend, Save, and Auto-Save Pockets to track their money better and stay on top of budgeting. The rates are stellar, and the checking account features are ideal for mobile-first users.
Another notable neobank is Avant, which has a wide range of products starting with Mobile Banking. There are no maintenance fees, and no overdraft fees, and you won’t have to worry about minimum balances.
Avant is also a trusted loan provider whether you need cash for home improvements, debt consolidation, or other urgent demands. Use these features wisely, and you can use Avant to turn your financial life around quickly.
With a great mobile app and shining reputation, KeyBank is known for its streamlined checking accounts like Key Smart. You can sign up in a flash and enjoy the zero-free features that compete with the best of them.
KeyBank is a great middle-ground choice for those who want the support of a regional bank while avoiding some of the risks associated with leaner neobanks.
In the credit union scene, there’s no outpacing Navy Federal. If you’re an active service member, signing up for this Flagship Checking account is a no-brainer.
The monthly dividends are appealing to anyone with some savings, and you get all the protection features you want with none of the fees. Besides, credit unions are known for top-notch customer service, and Navy Federal is no exception.
Every entry on our list is a great option for checking accounts, but when making a final choice, it’s all about your own personal priorities.
If physical branches and customer service are non-negotiable, choose a bank with plenty of locations and strong support.
If you’re ready to join the neobank revolution and enjoy online-only mobile banking, there are plenty of great choices. Don’t forget about introductory bonuses and incentives, all of which can be found by browsing Steady’s income booster tab.
A checking account should allow you to take care of daily purchases with a quick and intuitive process. That could mean tapping your phone, swiping a card, or entering your information on the fly.
Plus, checking accounts should offer a snapshot of your finances and a headquarters for allocating cash to other key accounts like savings, investments, and more.
Many people choose to link direct deposits to their checking accounts and work from there.
A checking account should be all about speed, simplicity, and transparency. Hidden fees and minimum balances limit your capabilities in this regard, so it’s better to avoid them altogether.
Nowadays, dozens of affordable accounts have few or no fees, so just a bit of research goes a long way. Steady is a perfect place to start, including great incentives and the innovative Income Passport to keep all your income information organized in one place, readily available whenever you might need to reference it as a resource.
Checking accounts are built for transactions (spending, transfers, etc.), while savings accounts are better for stashing away extra cash and growing your wealth. Both are key to managing money wisely and form the foundation of your strategy for financial success.
We’ve outlined more than a dozen fantastic, affordable checking accounts right here, but you still need to research to find the best one for you.
Remember to sort out your priorities and use Steady’s helpful features to guide you toward the best choices to build a better financial future for yourself and your family. A checking account is supposed to make life easier, so why wait? Sign up for one of these accounts ASAP and take your finances further, starting now.