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During times of financial hardship, it’s easy to damage your banking reputation. Overdraft fees, bounced checks, or involuntary account closures end up in your ChexSystems report, which can prevent you from getting traditional checking accounts.
If you’ve made mistakes like these in the past, here’s a list of the best free checking accounts you can qualify for despite an imperfect banking history.
The 8 Best Free Online Checking Accounts With No Opening Deposit or Credit Check in 2022
The Best Free Online Checking Accounts Compared
|Account||Credit or ChexSystems Check||Minimum Deposit||Monthly Fees||Interest on Deposits|
|Chime Checking||No||$0||$0||1% APY (via linked savings account)|
|Current Individual||No||$0||$0||4% APY|
|Dora Everyday Checking||No||$0||$0||None|
|GO2Bank Mobile||No||$0||$5 (waivable)||1% APY|
|GTE Financial Go Further Checking||No||$5||$9.95 (waivable)||None|
|Varo Bank Online Checking||No||$0||$0||1.2% or 5% (via linked savings account)|
Founded in 2012, Chime is a financial technology (FinTech) company, not a bank. However, their accounts come from the Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, Members FDIC, which means you can be confident in their security and insurance.
Like the other providers on this list, Chime won’t pull your ChexSystems or credit reports when you apply, and their checking account has no minimum upfront deposit, balance requirements, or monthly fees.
In addition, Chime offers:
- $200 overdraft allowance with no fees
- Access to your direct deposits two days early
- 60,000 fee-free ATMs inside popular stores
- Free, connected Visa debit card
Chime’s checking account doesn’t accrue any interest on deposits, but their savings account earns 1% APY and is also free. You can sign up for both and transfer funds between them without restriction.
Chime can even help you save by rounding up each debit card purchase to the nearest dollar and transferring the added change into your savings account.
In addition to their banking services, Chime offers an excellent credit builder credit card that reports to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you’re interested in improving your credit score in addition to your banking history, it’s worth considering.
Current is a FinTech company founded in 2015 that specializes in making banking services more accessible and affordable to the average consumer. Their bank accounts come from Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC.
In addition to being free of initial balance requirements and ongoing fees, Current’s checking account provides the following benefits:
- No fees for up to $200 of overdrafts
- Access to direct deposits two days early
- 40,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs
- Round-up savings options
- Debit card with cashback rewards up to 15x points
Current’s checking account also earns interest at 4% APY on up to $6,000 when you allocate your funds into their “savings pods,” which help organize your savings goals. For reference, the national average for interest checking accounts is .03%.
The company’s mobile app also seems to be cutting edge based on the features and customer reviews. For example, it lets you block transactions from your dashboard and offers privacy controls like facial and fingerprint unlock options.
Current’s customer ratings vary significantly between platforms, but they seem to lean positively. They receive 1.53 of 5 stars and a D from the BBB, 3.9 of 5 stars on Trustpilot, 4.7 of 5 stars on the App Store, and 4.6 of 5 stars on Google Play.
Dave is another FinTech company that provides a wide range of financial services. Founded in 2016, Dave offers banking, credit-building, and income-earning opportunities. Their bank accounts come from Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC.
The Dave Spending Account has no initial deposit requirements, balance minimums, or monthly fees. Its only significant disadvantage is that it’s non-interest bearing. You’ll need a separate savings account to help you stave off the effects of inflation.
Otherwise, Dave offers many of the same benefits as other FinTech bank accounts. For example, that includes getting your direct deposit two days early and having access to 37,000 ATMs with no withdrawal or processing fees.
One of Dave’s unique features is called ExtraCash. It lets you borrow up to $500 and spend it instantly using your debit card. There’s no interest, credit check, or late fee, and Dave reports your repayment activities to Equifax, helping build your credit.
The ExtraCash feature also serves as an overdraft protection and courtesy pay measure. If you spend more than you have in your bank account, Dave can tap into your ExtraCash credit line to cover the excess charges.
Bank Dora Financial is the first “cooperative-based neo-bank strategy.” It was founded in 2021 to serve underbanked, low-income individuals and offers bilingual banking services to combat racial and economic inequality.
Led by USALLIANCE Financial, five separate credit unions back Bank Dora. The others are Affinity Plus, Digital Federal, Inclusiv, and Service Federal. As a result, the National Credit Union Administration insures Dora’s accounts.
While all the bank accounts on this list are as cheap as possible, the Dora Everyday Checking account is exceptionally affordable. Not only are there no monthly fees or balance requirements, but even out-of-network ATM withdrawals are only $1.
Though Dora is exceptionally young, they can already compete with their peers. They offer remote deposits from your phone, 30,000 fee-free ATMs, and access to your direct deposits two days early.
Because Dora is so new, there are relatively few customer reviews for them online. However, the bank is off to a good start, receiving 3.6 of 5 stars on the App Store and 3.8 of 5 stars on Google Play.
GO2bank is the second digital bank created by Green Dot. It offers many of the same perks you’ll enjoy with most modern FinTech companies, such as access to your direct deposit two days early.
However, GO2bank’s overdraft services are less robust than some of their competitors. They claim to give $200 of protection, but you must meet strict eligibility requirements to qualify, and GO2bank reserves the right to charge an overdraft fee at their discretion.
No minimum deposit is necessary to open a GO2bank checking account, but they charge a $5 monthly fee. Fortunately, it’s waivable every month where you receive a payroll or government benefits direct deposit in the previous statement period.
GO2bank receives more negative reviews than some of the other entries on this list. However, many seem to be due to the complexity of GO2banks services.
GO2bank receives 1.3 of 5 stars on Trustpilot, 3.5 stars on WalletHub, 4.5 of 5 stars on Google Play, and 4.7 of 5 stars on the App Store. Meanwhile, Green Dot receives 1.08 of 5 stars and a B+ from the BBB.
GTE Financial is a well-established federal credit union that’s operated out of Tampa Bay since the Great Depression. GTE’s personal checking account is one to consider if you’d prefer a traditional, brick-and-mortar financial institution to a FinTech company.
They might not provide all the most modern amenities, but GTE Financial still offers digital bill pay, remote mobile deposits, unlimited check writing, and a free debit card. In addition, they’ll automatically consider upgrading your account after 12 months.
GTE Financial Go Further Checking does have a few costs, but they’re minor. It requires a $5 deposit to open and has a $9.95 waivable monthly maintenance fee.
To avoid the fee, you must enroll in eStatements, make $500 in direct deposits each month, and complete a combined 15 debit or credit card transactions.
Since GTE Financial is a credit union, you must also be a member to take advantage of their services. You may be able to join for free with a connection to Florida, but you can also get in with a one-time $10 membership fee for their educational financial club.
GTE receives lower customer ratings than the other providers on this list, but that’s common with older institutions offering such a wide range of financial services. Fortunately, their mobile app is still highly rated.
SoFi was originally a FinTech company founded by Stanford graduates in 2011 but has since become a nationally charted bank. In 2022, SoFi acquired Golden Pacific Bank, N.A., and began offering checking and savings accounts.
As a result, SoFi now combines the benefits of a modern financial startup with those of traditional financial institutions. Some of their more attractive features include:
- Up to $300 with a $5,000 deposit for joining
- Two-day-early access to your paychecks
- Up to 15% cash back at local establishments
- 1.50% APY when you set up direct deposit
- Automatic round-up savings features
SoFi is another standout when it comes to affordability. Not only are there no minimum deposit requirements or account opening fees, but there are no ongoing or transaction costs. That means no monthly, mobile deposit, or ATM fees.
SoFi offers no overdraft fees too, but you need at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits to qualify. In addition, they usually decline transactions that would exceed your balance and avoid the issue altogether.
Signing up for their checking account makes you a SoFi member, which gives you benefits like personalized financial planning, rate discounts on SoFi loans, and referral bonuses when you get friends to join.
SoFi also has above-average customer reviews. That includes 1.23 of 5 stars and an A+ from the BBB, 3.0 of 5 stars on WalletHub, 3.6 of 5 stars on Trustpilot, 3.8 of 5 stars on Consumer Affairs, 4.2 of 5 stars on Google Play, and 4.8 of 5 stars on the App Store.
Last but not least, Varo Bank is an all-mobile FinTech app. Founded in 2015, it’s now a chartered bank, meaning its checking accounts are FDIC-insured. Like SoFi, Varo Bank offers traditional institution and modern FinTech benefits, including:
- Access to your direct deposit two days early
- Automatic savings tools
- Online savings account earning up to 5% APY
- Access to 55,000 fee-free ATMs
- $0 overdrafts, mobile deposits, and card replacements
In addition, Varo boasts several unique features. For example, they provide a cash advance up to $100 with no interest and a maximum fee of $5. If your advance amount is below $20, it’ll cost you nothing, though conditions apply.
Varo also offers a credit-builder card similar to Chime’s, with no minimum deposit, credit check, or interest. You transfer funds from a Varo account monthly to set your credit limit, then those funds pay off your balance automatically at the end of the period.
Varo Bank receives noticeably higher than average customer ratings, including 3.94 of 5 stars and an A from the BBB, 4.0 of 5 stars on Trustpilot, 4.7 of 5 stars on Google Play, and 4.9 of 5 stars on the App Store.
Our Methodology: Why We’ve Chosen These Banks
If financial hardship has caused you to develop a history of overdraft fees or account closures, you may struggle to qualify for traditional checking accounts. We recommend using these online banks to solve that issue.
As a result, we selected providers that don’t pull your ChexSystems report or credit score when you apply. You should be able to qualify for these accounts with bad credit and poor banking history.
In addition, we prioritized accounts without initial deposit or minimum balance requirements. Saving hundreds of dollars in cash is challenging for many consumers, and we want to get you as close to the best free checking account as possible.
Similarly, we avoided online banking options from credit unions with membership requirements that would stop most people from qualifying. For example, we eliminated all those that require you to live in a specific state.
We also tried to recommend accounts that are as affordable to maintain as they are to open. To that end, we only selected bank accounts with zero or easily waivable monthly fees.
Next, we considered each account’s benefits, bonuses, and rewards. For example, we prioritized those that offer interest on your balances, early pay options, and cashback rewards.
Finally, each bank needed at least average ratings from previous users to qualify for this list. If too many customer reviews reported problems with the account or the provider, we removed them from the running.
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Nick Gallo is a Certified Public Accountant and content marketer for the financial industry. He has been an auditor of international companies and a tax strategist for real estate investors. He now writes articles on personal and corporate finance, accounting and tax matters, and entrepreneurship.