Top 5 Checking Accounts for You

If you are considering opening a checking account for yourself there are some things you should know first. Not all checking accounts are the same and not understanding the difference could cost you hundreds of dollars in administrative fees each year. Checking accounts are offered online, through traditional banks or credit unions.

Fees vary from one type of checking account to the next and often hide the fees in the large amount of paperwork you must sign when opening up an account. Make sure you know the right questions to ask and the type of checking account that fits your lifestyle the best. Use this quick reference to do your homework before you go shopping for a new checking account.

Best Questions to Ask Yourself about a Checking Account

Checking accounts are accounts you set up with the bank using actual money you have on hand. This usually is presented in the form of a cash deposit or a check to you from your employer (your salary). Once you deposit the money into your account it is kept in a secure location until you want to take it back out. Some banks give you a small reward called an interest rate for leaving your money in the account, while others reward you for keeping a minimum balance in your account each month. The best questions to ask the prospective bank include the following:

  • Do you want to have ready access to your money from your work or near home?
  • Do you need to be able to check your balance quickly online?
  • Are you someone who does not want to spend each month reconciling statements?
  • Will you need regular money orders or cashier’s checks?
  • Do you want an account that offers overdraft protection?

If you plan to draw out money regularly to eat while at work, or use it to pay for parking then having an ATM nearby helps cut down on ATM fees. If you must use an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank then you are charged a fee to use it. Additionally, you may find it necessary and convenient to have an app on your phone allowing you to quickly make transfers or check your balance. Once you have the answer to these questions consider the questions you should ask the prospective bank.

  • What do you charge each month for maintenance on the account?
  • Is there a minimum fee charged if the account balance falls below a certain amount?
  • How many ATMs do you have in the area?
  • Do you offer interest rates for balances left in the account? If so, what are they?
  • What other fees are associated with this type of account?

Common Types of Checking Account Fees

Regardless of the type of checking account you open there will be fees assessed. The strategy is to find the banking institution that charges little to no fees for the services you want. Most banks charge you to manage your money. This is referred to as a maintenance fee. Some banks waive this fee if you sign up for direct deposit through your work or you keep a minimum balance in your account each month.

Many banks charge you to order physical checks, but if they have online capabilities then you can send out electronic payments for free. Ask if the bank you are considering waives the out of network ATM fees if you really like the bank but they do not have many ATMs near you. Online banks tend to offer the best checking accounts because they do not typically charge maintenance fees.

Top 5 Checking Accounts to Compare

Using the above criteria, select the following banks to find one that is right for you. Each of these companies have much to offer, some of the lowest fees (or no fees), and only require a small deposit to open an account. All of these banks have outstanding ratings among consumers and reviews. All are FDIC insured against lost.

Consumers Credit Union

Consumers Credit Union has no monthly fee for keeping your money in their bank and there are no required monthly balances. Currently they offer you a 2% interest rate the longer you leave your money in the account. Start your account with them for as little as a $5 deposit.

Chase Total Checking

Chase is well known for their credit cards, but they have branched out into online banking. They charge $12 a month to maintain your account, offer an online dashboard and resources for financial education. This maintenance fee is waived if you set up direct deposit or you maintain $1500 balance in your account.


One of the top checking accounts on many lists, Chime banking has no overdraft fees, no monthly service fees, no transfer fees, and you are not required to have a minimum balance. They have numerous ATMS throughout the U.S. One of their greatest features is that if you set up direct deposit you receive your paycheck two days earlier.

Wells Fargo Checking Account

A traditional bank with an online presence, Wells Fargo is one of the largest banks in the U.S. They offer several different levels of checking accounts so you can tailor your account to your lifestyle. Wells Fargo offers the Everyday Checking, Preferred Checking, and a teen checking account for younger users. Monthly fees are around $10, you have a daily ATM limit on the basic Everyday account, and you can start it with just $25.

Radius Checking Account

If you want a checking account that comes with a lot of rewards and extras, then this is the best checking account for you. Receive direct deposits days ahead of paper check distribution, ATMS are free to use, and they offer .10% on balances that are $2500 or more. They boast that each customer receives around $50 in benefits from cash back programs, ATM rebates and interest. Sign up online. The application takes 15 minutes or less. You must have a bit larger amount to open this account at $100.