Updated March 25, 2020

Best Online Banks of 2020

Checking Accounts

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Unless you need in-person banking services, an online bank could be perfect for you.

They typically offer higher interest rates and lower fees than traditional banks.

In this article we’ve listed the top online banks available in 2020.

7 Best Online Banks

To determine the top bank for each need, we analyzed the account options available at each bank.

While there was often more than one bank that could adequately provide the service or feature shown, we chose the one that stood out best based on our expert analysis and customer reviews.

We chose banks that offered the most features without nickel-and-diming customers. All of the online banks shown here provide both checking and savings account options, and most of them also offer products like CDs and MMAs.

We only chose banks that have trusted mobile apps with good consumer reviews. We also chose online banks that provide free ATM options.

Ratings are based on our expert analysis and customer reviews of the products and services of each company.

TIAA

  • TIAA: Best for Maximizing Interest Earned
    • Basics: With 145 brick-and-mortar locations nationwide, TIAA isn’t an online-only bank. However, its online products and services are highly competitive, making this bank an easy choice if you are looking to maximize earnings. It offers checking, savings, money market accounts, and CDs.
    • Pros: TIAA’s Yield Pledge ensures the interest rates on your accounts are always in the highest 5% among competitors. The introductory rate on checking is relatively high, and ongoing APYs are also competitive. You’ll have access to more than 80,000 fee-free ATMs.
    • Cons: Minimum deposit requirements are $100 for checking, $500 for money market, and $25 for basic savings. Basic savings also requires a minimum $25 to avoid a monthly maintenance fee.
    Monthly fees: 8/10
     
    Other fees: 8/10
     
    Interest rates: 9/10
     
    Ease of use: 7/10
     
    Mobile support: 8/10
     
    Customer support: 8/10
     

Capital One 360

  • Capital One 360: Best for Branch Access
    • Basics: Capital One 360 is the online arm of Capital One, so you can take advantage of brick-and-mortar banking at Capital One Bank branches with this online-only account.
    • Pros: Accounts are free. You’ll face no minimum opening deposit or balance requirements. Checking accounts earn interest in addition to savings accounts (though savings accounts obviously earn more). You’ll have the convenience of branch access and a mobile app, plus free access to more than 39,000 in-network ATMs.
    • Cons: A 360 account is fee-free in pretty much all aspects, but you’ll pay for certain things. For instance, checks aren’t free, overdrafts are $35, and you’ll pay $40 to send a domestic wire.
    Monthly fees: 10/10
     
    Other fees: 10/10
     
    Interest rates: 7/10
     
    Ease of use: 10/10
     
    Mobile support: 9/10
     
    Customer support: 9/10
     

CIT Bank

  • CIT Bank: Best for All Things Banking
    • Basics: CIT Bank offers e-checking, savings, money market accounts, and CDs, all with competitive interest rates and features. Earn tiered interest on checking and savings.
    • Pros: Get up to $200 when you open a new account, and earn a competitive APY in a Savings Builder account. You’ll be reimbursed for up to $15 per month in out-of-network ATM fees, and there are no monthly maintenance fees.
    • Cons: You’ll need a minimum deposit of $100 to open an account. With checking, the highest APY is reserved for those with balances over $25,000, and you’ll need to maintain that same balance or deposit $100 per month to earn the highest rate in your Savings Builder account.
    Monthly fees: 10/10
     
    Other fees: 10/10
     
    Interest rates: 6/10
     
    Ease of use: 8/10
     
    Mobile support: 10/10
     
    Customer support: 6/10
     

Chime

  • Chime: Best for Mobile Access
    • Basics: Truly embodying “online banking” is Chime. Accounts are designed to be managed from mobile apps. You’ll get a Spending Account and Saving Account.
    • Pros: There’s no minimum deposit requirement or minimum balance to maintain and almost no fees. You’ll have access to more than 38,000 in-network ATMs around the country. You can connect external accounts, such as credit cards, investments, and other bank accounts, to the app to see all your money in one place. Connect direct deposit to get your paycheck up to two days early.
    • Cons: If you use an out-of-network ATM, there is a $2.50 fee (in addition to whatever the other bank charges). Joint accounts are not available, and you are limited to $2,500 in spending per day.
    Monthly fees: 10/10
     
    Other fees: 8/10
     
    Interest rates: 2/10
     
    Ease of use: 8/10
     
    Mobile support: 10/10
     
    Customer support: 6/10
     

Discover

  • Discover: Best for Earning Rewards
    • Basics: Known for its credit cards, Discover is also making a name for itself with fee-free online banking. It offers online checking, savings, money market accounts, and CDs.
    • Pros: Checking and savings accounts are fee-free with no minimum opening deposit and no minimum balance. Also, you earn 1% cash back for using your Discover debit card.
    • Cons: Discover doesn’t operate brick-and-mortar branches. While it offers a mobile app and website, its online platform isn’t as robust as some competitors’.
    Monthly fees: 10/10
     
    Other fees: 10/10
     
    Interest rates: 7/10
     
    Ease of use: 8/10
     
    Mobile support: 8/10
     
    Customer support: 6/10
     

Simple

  • Simple: Best for Budgeting
    • Basics: Unique account features make the Simple platform a bank account and money management app in one. It helps you budget, set savings goals, automate funds to help you reach them.
    • Pros: Neither savings nor checking accounts have minimum deposits or monthly maintenance fees. You can set savings goals and rules — like rounding up purchases — to help you automatically get there and earn up to 1.9% on your balance. You can enter monthly bills and planned expenses, and Simple will earmark the funds for you as you get paid. Log in any time to see what’s “safe to spend” based on your goals and expenses. Unlike most online accounts, Simple offers a joint “shared” account.
    • Cons: Bill pay is not available, and checks are $5 for a book of 25. While using the mobile app is optional, it’s really necessary if you want to get the most out of the platform.
    Monthly fees: 10/10
     
    Other fees: 8/10
     
    Interest rates: 10/10
     
    Ease of use: 8/10
     
    Mobile support: 10/10
     
    Customer support: 6/10
     

Ally Bank

  • Ally Bank: Best for Students
    • Basics: Ally Bank, an online-only institution, offers a variety of accounts and features without the fees. It offers checking, savings, money market, and CDs with interest rates well above average.
    • Pros: There is no minimum opening deposit, monthly maintenance fees, or minimum balances. The web and mobile platforms are seamless and intuitive, and live customer service is available 24/7. You’ll have access to more than 43,000 ATMs and be reimbursed for up to $10 in out-of-network ATM fees per statement cycle.
    • Cons: Interest earned on checking accounts is contingent on your balance, specifically, whether or not you have at least $15,000 in your account. Also, there is no way to deposit cash into an Ally account, and you are limited to $1,000 in withdrawals per day.
    Monthly fees: 10/10
     
    Other fees: 10/10
     
    Interest rates: 7/10
     
    Ease of use: 10/10
     
    Mobile support: 8/10
     
    Customer support: 8/10
     

What Is an Online Bank?

These web-based institutions have exploded in popularity in recent years, offering banking customers the convenience of online account management with the benefits of high interest and no fees.

Online banks often offer similar products to their brick-and-mortar competitors, including checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts (MMA), and certificates of deposit (CD).

Some online banks are entirely online and have no local branches. Others may be an online branch of a national banking chain, giving you access to in-person banking when you need it.

Why Online Banks Are Great

The old-school banking structure has worked for many years, so why try to change things up with a wave of online banks?

Online banks are typically a great option for the average banking customer. That’s because they offer rates and features that most brick-and-mortar banks struggle to match, and the majority of them are fee-free to boot. Not operating physical branches frees up a lot of money to support these features.

Because online banks are exclusively (or mostly) web-based, they usually have excellent mobile apps and web platforms.

Types of Accounts Online Banks Offer

You can find anything you need with online banks — though you may not be able to find everything you need all at one institution.

Between all of the banks listed above — and the many others we haven’t mentioned — you can find:

  • Checking (including interest-bearing and rewards checking)
  • Savings (including high-yield)
  • Money market accounts (MMA)
  • Certificates of deposit (CD)
  • IRA CDs
  • Mortgages
  • Personal loans
  • Auto loans
  • Student loans

Depending on whether or not you like to keep your savings account(s) and checking with the same company, you could one or more online banks, or a combination of online and traditional banking.

Some companies, such as Marcus by Goldman Sachs and Synchrony Bank, only offer <a href=””><b>online savings</b></a> and other products, but no checking or spending accounts.

Should You Keep Checking and Savings at the Same Bank?

Both checking and savings accounts are an important part of any financial strategy. But should you keep them at the same bank or are separate institutions actually a better idea?

There are arguments for both. It really comes down to what sort of features you enjoy most from your bank, where your money can grow the fastest, and what sort of failsafes you may need to put into place to combat bad habits.

The benefits of keeping both account types at the same bank include:

  • Bonuses: Some banks offer perks for having multiple accounts.
  • Overdraft protection: Your savings account can serve as an automatic backup for your checking account.
  • Monitoring: You can quickly and easily see all of your accounts in one place.
  • Moving money: Transferring between accounts is easy and usually instant when they’re at the same bank.

Some people may want to keep their checking and savings accounts at different banks because:

  • It can be easy to overspend when your savings is easily accessible.
  • While one bank may be a great option for checking, online savings accounts often offer higher interest rates.
  • You may be able to snag multiple bonuses by opening accounts at different banks.

To decide, ask yourself some questions: Are you happy with your bank? What features do you use most and which are you lacking? If you are earning interest on your savings and/or checking balance(s), are you earning as much as you could be?

Also take a look at your financial habits. Does having an easily-accessible savings account tempt you to overspend or make it easier to remind yourself to save? Do you enjoy in-branch banking or do you do everything online?

If you open an account and find that your bank simply isn’t working for you, switch! With so many free account options, there is no reason to stay where you’re unhappy.

Are Online Banks Free?

The vast majority of online banks are fee-free — or at least offer ways to get your fees waived.

Unless you are in need of specialized services, it’s difficult to justify paying for a bank account these days.

Consider what you get in return if you pay maintenance fees on your bank account(s), either in services or rewards. What does that account offer you that others could not? If you don’t have a good answer, it might be time to switch to a free online account.

Other Possible Online Banking Expenses

It’s not just monthly maintenance fees you need to worry about, though. You could also encounter fees in your day-to-day banking. These include things like:

  • Wire fees (both incoming and outgoing, domestic and international).
  • Fees for checkbooks or bank checks.
  • NSF/overdraft fees.
  • Stop payment fees.
  • Paper statements or additional statement copies.
  • Replacement card fees.
  • Returned charge fees.
  • ATM fees for using non-network machines (these are usually in addition to the fees charged by the ATM owner).

Many banks offer to waive these sorts of fees, though there may be account or activity requirements to qualify. Read the fine print when you open your account so there are no surprises later.

How Do I Access My Money with an Online Bank?

Without local branches to visit, it can be a bit confusing as to how you can actually manage your funds and get the services you need.

But if you really think about it… how often are you visiting your brick-and-mortar branches, anyway? Many of us do all of our everyday banking digitally already: direct deposit for paychecks, mobile deposit for paper checks, ATMs for cash, bank websites or mobile apps for account monitoring and transferring funds.

Some online-only banks allow for cash deposits at network ATMs or through networks like Green Dot at local retailers.

You can expect most online banks to offer features like:

  • Mobile check deposit.
  • Easy-to-use mobile apps.
  • Free network ATMs and/or ATM fee reimbursement.
  • Online bill-pay services.
  • Simple digital funds transfers.
  • Debit and/or ATM cards.
  • Robust customer service via email or phone.

Limitations of Online Banks

While online banking is quickly becoming a leading option for customers, it isn’t without limitations.

You May Not Be Able to Deposit Cash

Some online banks simply don’t have any in-person options. In that case, depositing cash can be a bit tricky. Your options are limited to depositing cash in another traditional account and then transferring the funds or purchasing a money order (and paying fees) and using a mobile deposit feature.

In-person Help Can Be Limited

Unless your bank has affiliated branches, you’ll be hard-pressed to get in-person help with your online bank accounts. Luckily, many online banks offer excellent phone and web chat assistance, and banks like Ally even offer 24/7 customer care.

While speaking on the phone is a bit different from seeing someone face-to-face, I’ll bet your traditional bank isn’t there to answer your questions at 3 a.m.

There May Be Limits to Purchases and Withdrawals

Some online banks function exactly the same as their traditional counterparts. Others, however, may be more limited, especially when it comes to withdrawals and purchases.

For example, Chime customers are limited to $2,500 in purchases daily. Ally Bank limits customers to $1,000 in ATM withdrawals each day. While many traditional banks also have daily ATM withdrawal limits, these can feel even more inconvenient if you don’t have a local branch to visit when you need more cash quickly.

Can I Trust an Online Bank?

Bank of America. Chase. Citi. Wells Fargo. These banks are household names that we have come to know over decades. It’s easy to trust them (most of the time) and we know they aren’t likely to disappear with our money.

Newer names like Chime, Ally, and Simple aren’t quite as familiar, so it can be uncomfortable to trust them with our finances. However, you’ll be glad to know these banks are just as secure and your deposits just as protected as with the big name banks.

Online banking services are almost always backed by traditional chartered banks and are FDIC insured. This means your deposits are protected up to $250,000 per depositor, per bank.

Is Online Banking Right for You?

Take a look at the banking features that are most important to you and what you use most in your everyday account management to see whether an online account option can meet your needs.

Online bank accounts offer many of the same financial protections and features that traditional banks do, but with the added bonus of high interest rates and fee-free options. You can easily snag savings rates that are 10 or 20 times higher than the national average with an online bank, and even find features like rewards checking.

For some customers, online banking might be right for certain accounts but not for others. In that case, you have nothing to lose by opening an online account while also using another account at a separate institution. Thanks to intuitive mobile apps and simple ACH transfers, even managing accounts at multiple banks is pretty easy.

Monthly fees Rewards checking Branch Access Free ATMs Sign up

$0

Yes, on debit card purchases

No

60,000+ free ATMs

$0

No

Yes

39,000 free ATMs

$0

Yes

No

43,000 free ATMs plus up to $10 per statement cycle reimbursed for out-of-network ATM use

$0

No

No

38,000 free ATMs

$0

No

No

40,000+ free ATMs

$0

Yes

No

43,000 free ATMs plus up to $15 per statement cycle reimbursed for out-of-network ATM use

$0

Tiered interest, higher in year one

Yes

At least $15 in fees reimbursed monthly

Stephanie Colestock

Stephanie Colestock is a personal finance expert and writer who enjoys teaching people how to be financially independent and confident about their money choices, regardless of obstacles in their path (such as the crippling student loan debt she once held). Stephanie graduated from Baylor University, and is currently working toward her CFP certification. Her work can be seen on sites such as Forbes, Dough Roller, and Johnny Jet, among many others.

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