Over the last decade or so, the banking industry has grappled with all-time low interest rates, a languid economy and tough regulations. Against this backdrop, the going has been tough for most banks.
However, banks are now getting proactive and reshaping their financial priorities to enhance their performance. In a nutshell, they are looking to make things “better and “safer” through better risk management and sound strategic planning.
Clearly, your priorities should be no different, especially at a time when financial uncertainty is the only constant.
Features Offered By the Best Checking Accounts
Unless you’re comfortable stacking money under your bed, you’re going to need a checking account. Put simply, a checking account is an account that that allows you to make deposits and withdrawals. Some examples include student accounts, business accounts and joint accounts.
Like most good things, most of them aren’t usually free. They typically entail overdraft charges and monthly maintenance fees. An ideal checking account solves a number of problems and confers numerous benefits – from automated bill payment and internet banking to free ATMs, debit card facility and overdraft protection.
Checking Account Features to Avoid
Just like there are some must-have features in a checking account, there are some not-to-helpful features you’ll want to steer clear off. Arguably, one of the most annoying experiences is to see your bank imposing a hefty ‘maintenance’ charge. Basically, this is the amount you need to pay for parking your hard-earned money.
While the fees vary by banks, the safest way to circumvent such maddening charges is to maintain the requirement of a minimum monthly balance. Enrolling into a deposit account -whereby your pension, pay check or Social Security gets deposited automatically into your checking account – is another effective way of avoiding these unpleasant fees.
Alternately, you can open a direct account to avoid paying ATM fees and other expenses. Opting out of overdraft fees and using your debit card more frequently are some other ways of ensuring a smooth experience.
How to Choose the Right Checking Account for You
Selecting a great checking account can be a little overwhelming because it depends on myriad factors such as the kind of balances you have, how you choose to make your deposits and your spending pattern, among others.
In such a situation, the best thing to do is explore as many options as possible select accounts that are ideally suited for your specific financial needs.
To make it easier for you, here is a list of some of the best banks for checking accounts in 2017.
Best Online Checking Accounts
Bank of Internet USA
Bank of Internet offers high interest rates and is replete with user-friendly features. In order to earn the highest APY of 1.25%, your account must get a minimum of $1,000 as direct deposits every month. Also, your debit card must be used at least 15 times on a monthly basis with a minimum transaction of $3.
It also does not charge any monthly fees, nor does it entail any minimum account balance or overdraft fees. Furthermore, its billpay and internet banking services are free. Mobile deposits are another attractive feature of Bank of Internet USA.
Unlike many other online checking accounts, Capital One is free. It is a great option for those who’re looking to combine the sheer convenience of internet banking with the assuredness that comes after making a personal visit to the bank.
Capital One doesn’t need you to maintain any minimum balance and also lets you earn a small interest, regardless of the size of your deposit (APY of 0.2% on balances of $49,999.99). By starting a 360 account, you can access 40,000 ATMs nationwide for free from Capital One or Allpoint.
It also allows you to deposit your checks from your smartphone.
Best High Interest Checking Accounts
The FDIC-insured Aspiration offers one of the best interest rates possible for a checking account. Balances of over $2,500 will fetch you an APY of 1%, whereas smaller amounts earn up to 0.25%.
It also accommodates unlimited reimbursements of ATM fees worldwide, which makes it a great option for frequent travelers. Another advantage of Aspiration is that it does not come with any minimum balance requirement or maintenance fee.
Bank5Connect offers a compelling APY of 0.76%. You merely need to have an account balance of $100 to start receiving the interest. It also doesn’t need you to pay any maintenance fees and provides free countrywide ATM access. Each time you’re charged for using an ATM, you’ll be reimbursed $15 per month.
Moreover, its overdraft penalty of $15 is much lower as compared to the (national) median of $34. Bank5 also offers a checking rewards program – UChoose Rewards – which helps you earn one point for every $2 that you spend.
Like its previous two counterparts, Radius offers 1.00% APY for balances of $2,500 or higher. The interest is accumulated on a daily basis before it gets compounded and credited into your account each month.
While there is no need to maintain a minimum account balance, you do need to make a first-time deposit of $10 while opening your account. There are also no monthly fees. Other features include mobile and internet banking along with a debit card that is enabled for Apply Pay.
Checking Accounts with Attractive Bonuses
Among standard checking bank accounts, Chase is generally considered as the best all-round option due to its affordability, accessibility and signup bonuses. It lets you get a bonus of $200 by enrolling for a direct deposit into your account.
To open the account, you’ll need to deposit a minimum amount of $25. Next, you can link a government or employer benefit to make a direct deposit into your account within a period of 60 days.
Chase also lowers several fees including the charges associated with monthly paper statement. It has 5,200 branch locations along with 16,000 ATMs throughout the country.
TD Bank provides its new customers with a $200 signup bonus by fulfilling certain criteria. To qualify, you need to be living in any of these states:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- Rhode Island
- Washington, DC,
- New Hampshire
- New York
- New Jersey
Next, you’ll need to make a direct deposit of $2,500 within the first 60 days of initiating your account. Once that happens, a sum of $200 will be deposited into your checking account within 95 days. The monthly maintenance fee of $25 can be waived if you maintain your daily balance at a minimum of $2,500.
Takeaway: The Best Checking Account is…
Well, it depends! There is no right or wrong checking fee account per because every requirement is unique. A checking account that suits your needs may not really be helpful for someone else. Furthermore, banking needs are dynamic and tend to evolve with time, so the seemingly best checking account that you’ve chosen now may not be the right fit at a later stage.
Therefore, you may want to evaluate your existing (and future) needs and do a thorough research before making a decision that you’re unlikely to regret.