Best Online Checking Accounts

We’ve seen a lot of recent activity in the online checking world as more and more people are getting comfortable with having a checking account without any physical branches. I personally still use two checking accounts, one online and one with Bank of America. However, my BOA account has long been just a place to make my deposits and write checks. Everything gets transferred over and our daily spending comes out of our Capital One 360 Checking account.

In the past I simply referred readers to the 360 Checking account as the place to go for online checking. Well, there are some new online checking accounts you should be aware of. Here’s the current list that I’m aware of (old and new included).

FNBO Direct Online BillPay Account – I’ve used this account in the past and had positive results. They are currently offering the highest rate besides EverBank, who only serves higher balance accounts. Great web interface and comes with a Visa Checkcard (Debit Card) for your purchasing beyond paying the bills. Free ATM use is limited.

Capital One 360 Checking Account – This is the account I currently use. It’s attached to a great savings account. Has an excellent website and online bill pay features. Similar to PerkStreet in terms of number of ATMs.

EverBank FreeNet Checking – A solid rate, especially for the first 6 months. You must maintain a minimum account balance of $50,000 to to get their top rate though, and at least $5,000 to avoid fees. They have award-winning online banking, live customer service 24/7, and unlimited check writing.

For a limited time, EverBank is offering a $60 cash bonus for new FreeNet Checking accounts.

PerkStreet Financial – They have a unique thing going on: cash back checking. So you are essentially earning your rewards on your daily spending versus your running balance. There’s an opportunity to rack up good rewards here. The initial cash back bonus rate is nice too. A large network of free ATMs. Free checks and bill pay.

Ally Interest Checking – This account just rolled out. It’s the newest available. Has some nice features: free bill pay, free ATM use on all ATMs, free checks, unlimited check writing, no fees or minimums.

What to Look for in an Online Checking Account

I thought I’d jot down some things to keep you eye on if you’re considering an online checking account.

Debit Card and ATMs – It’s important to have access to your money with an online checking account. There needs to be a solid debit card attached to the account, along with plenty of free ATMs to utilize.
A Great Website Interface – It’s all online, so it better be good. A good online interface will respond quickly and be easy to understand and navigate. And it needs to be up 24/7.
Free Bill Pay and Checks - Most of these banks have free bill pay and checks. This is pretty standard now. Look out for limits on the number of checks you can write though if that’s a big thing for you.
Access to an Attached Savings Account – How easy will it be for you to move your spending account money to your savings and vice versa. Online bank transfers can take a long time. If there’s a connected account, you can take some of this headache away.
FDIC Insured – As with any cash account, the main goal is usually security. So ensure your online checking account is FDIC insured to the full $250,000. All that I list here are.

Bank
Interest Rate
Review
ATMs
Ally
0.80%
Ally Bank
All Fees Refunded
EverBank
0.76%
EverBank
All Fees Refunded if Balance >$5,000
FNBO Direct
0.85%
FNBO Direct
840,000 PLUS locations - 4 Free Withdrawals Per Month
PerkStreet
Up to 5% Cash Back
PerkStreet
37,000+ free ATMs through STARsf®

Which online checking account are you using and why?

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Last Edited: March 8, 2014 @ 10:51 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

Comments

  1. I currently use a 5/3 account, but I just opened an ING Electric Orange for the interest rate and to have both my checking and savings at one bank.

  2. Hey there!

    I use HSBC Online Savings because it links up to my HSBC Checking account which I have access to at a brick and mortar. It’s the convenience factor.

  3. Having been a Ally customer now for quite a few months, I have a nice stash of savings there. I jumped at the new Ally interest checking account because the rates are competitive to HSBC and the benefits outweigh HSBC at least 5-fold in my eyes. I’m currently migrating from HSBC to Ally due to the customer service (HSBC is not helpful to me), additional benefits (check writing, unlimited ATM), and to simplify my finances (less institutions to deal with).

  4. Laurie McLachlan says:

    While some banks reimburse customers for fees from any ATM, the IRS considers these reimbursements taxable income which means the ATMs aren’t free at all.

    Separately, many people benefit more from having a checking account that gives rewards based on spend, rather than interest based on balance. Here’s an example:

    You’d need to keep an average balance of about $15k in an ING Electric Orange account to earn just $27 in annual interest. With Ally, you’d get $75. By comparison, if you spend $800 at month at PerkStreet, you’d earn DOUBLE what ING pays and 25% more than Ally pays with no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fee.

    Laurie McLachlan
    PerkStreet Financial

  5. @Laurie – Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing some info about ATMs and rates. You guys obviously have a great product and have an advantage over your competitors with the cash back.

  6. The problem with rewards based on spending is that I, personally, use my debit card as little as possible. After the 6 month introductory period with PerkStreet, my CC offers a better reward. So, I’m not going to switch my methods (madness?) for such a little gain and such little time. Also, I enjoy the marketing attempts. I read the comment as: “with perkstreet you would get $75*1.25 by just spending 800 dollars” Not quite ;)

  7. Laurie McLachlan says:

    @Jeremy Olexa:
    When considering checking accounts that pay you interest on your balance, many people focus more on the rate and less on the balance they actually keep in their checking account.

    After all, you put money into your checking account to spend it, so your balance fluctuates a great deal. With PerkStreet, it doesn’t matter how much money you keep in your account, we pay you rewards on what you spend.

    Here’s a more specific example:
    Let’s say you keep an average balance of $14,000 in your Ally account at current rates while someone else opens an account at PerkStreet and spends $200 a week using our debit card. The PerkStreet customer would earn $34 more a year.

    And with PerkStreet there are no minimum balance requirements that many high yield checking accounts require.

    Hope that helps.

    Laurie McLachlan
    PerkStreet Financial

  8. They pay atm for use abroad? Doing what you mean by “no ATM transactions?” The reason I ask is because I had a reward checking account with another Internet bank only and not reimburse the $ 25 monthly value of transactions at ATMs, but said free use atm.