Best Free Checking Accounts for September 2022

Checking accounts[1] are a critical service offered by financial institutions allowing consumers to safely store and manage their money. While having a checking account may be a requirement for many people, paying to use one is not.  Accounts advertised as "free checking" by a bank or credit union do not charge the following fees: 

  • Minimum balance fees
  • Regular transaction or service fees
  • Monthly service fees
  • Withdrawal or transfer fees

By law, free checking accounts cannot charge the fees listed above or limit the number of transactions available per month. CNET recognizes that keeping more of your hard-earned money is essential for building wealth and reaching your financial goals.

Given the plethora of options available nationwide, we've done the work to locate the best picks for free checking accounts. Let's review the best free checking account options available.

CNET's picks for the top free checking accounts

The average monthly service fee charged for checking accounts nationwide is £16.19, according to a 2022 checking account and ATM fee study[2] from CNET's sister site Bankrate. That can put a dent in your resources over time.

Some banks will waive service fees to achieve the appearance of free checking when certain criteria are met such as maintaining a minimum monthly balance or opting for eStatements. Only accounts that offered a purely no-fee checking account paid the highest annual percentage yields (APY) and were insured by either the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for up to £250,000 made our list of top free checking accounts. Some banks also offer bonuses[3] or rewards to open a free checking account.

Terms and conditions vary with each bank. 

Top Free Checking Accounts

Name Consumers Credit Union Conexus Credit Union Axos Bank NBKC Bank Alliant Credit Union Ally FNBO Direct Capital One Discover Lake Michigan Credit Union
APY Minimum Initial Deposit Bonus Locations Overdraft Fees
3.00% £0 N/A Branches in IL, Digital banking services £30
1.75% £0 N/A Branches through the Midwest, Digital banking services £45
1.25% £50 N/A Digital only £0
0.50% £0 N/A Branches in Metro Kansas City, Digital banking services £0
0.25% £25 £100 Digital only £0
0.25% £0 N/A Digital only £0
0.15% £1 N/A Digital only £33
0.10% £0 N/A Branches in nine states, Digital banking services £35
0% £0 1% cashback Digital only £0
0% £0 N/A Branches in MI and FL, Digital banking services £30

More details on the top free checking accounts