The 4 best checking accounts to open today

The best checking account I’ve found with free checking, no minimums, overdraft protection, and unlimited reimbursement of any ATM usage.

Ramit Sethi

I’m a big fan of online banking services or credit unions over Big Banks (e.g., Bank of America, Wells Fargo, the banks that Satan uses). Avoiding the big guys typically gives you access to the best checking accounts with great rewards and almost no downsides.

Most importantly: online banks and credit unions don’t try to nickel-and-dime you with fee after fee.

I’ve studied most of the checking accounts on the market, and today, I’ll show you the best one I’ve found. In fact, it’s the one I use as my primary checking account.

Charles Schwab Investor Checking: The best checking account

Most people think of Charles Schwab as a bank solely focused on investments. But they also offer what I believe to be the best checking account available. Why?

  • No fees
  • No minimums
  • No-fee overdraft protection
  • Free checks
  • Deposit checks via pre-paid envelopes or via iPhone app (snap photos of your check — no need to go into branch)
  • An ATM card
  • BEST BENEFIT: Unlimited reimbursement of any ATM usage

This last point is what puts Schwab over the top. How often do you go out with friends and have to withdraw money from out-of-network ATMs? How often do you find yourself at a cash-only taco place at 3:30am, needing to withdraw $280, but you hesitate because of onerous ATM fees?

Me too.

Those fees can add up, and Schwab reimburses you for all of them. If you rack up $200 worth of ATM fees in a month, you’ll see a $200 deposit from Schwab before the month ends. This means you can use ANY ATM — corner stores, other banks, whatever — without having to look for some specific bank’s ATM.

Screen Shot 2018 03 28 at 11.55.26 AM

Some people will balk at using Schwab because it’s an online bank. That’s fine, but I urge you to reconsider: It’s rare to find a checking account that (1) avoids screwing you at every turn, and (2) actually rewards you for using them.

You know by now that I’m all about Big Wins. This perk alone can result in hundreds of dollars a year that you do nothing to redeem. The ATM-fee reimbursement for the rest of your life is enough of a benefit, but stack on the trust Schwab has built with me, and I’m a long-term customer.

How to open a Charles Schwab checking account

To get started with the Schwab Checking Account, click here. Note: It’s not an affiliate link. I have no relationship with Schwab except being a happy customer.

To learn how to fully automate your finances — including ultra-specific recommendations on accounts, investing, debt, negotiation, money & relationships, and buying a car/house — pick up a copy of my book, on sale for less than $10.

Honorable mentions

I LOVE my Charles Schwab checking account. I think it’s the best checking account out there — but I also know there are a ton of other great ones out there too.

Here my other three suggestions for fantastic checking accounts:

Your local credit union  

Credit unions are like local banks, but they’re not-for-profit and are owned by their customers (or, in credit union parlance, “members”).

As a result, credit unions usually provide better loan rates and more personalized service than other brick-and-mortar banks. So I’m a BIG fan of them.

Most will allow you to establish a checking account, savings account, or loan, although some require membership in associations like any other unions.

Full disclosure: I’ve spoken at a number of their national conferences to help them understand how to reach young people, which I loved doing because I hope they succeed in reaching out to other twentysomethings.

To find a credit union near you go to this link and enter in your information.

Capital One 360 Checking

Long-time readers know that I was a HUGE fan of ING Direct Electric Orange account before they merged with Capital One and became Capital One 360.

While a lot of people were worried (i.e., freaking terrified) that Capital One would get rid of all of the things we loved about ING Direct, the checking account is still actually a pretty good deal.

A few things I LOVE about this account:

  • No fees
  • No minimum
  • Free ATM access to over 38,000 Capital One ATMs
  • Automatic overdraft protection

The only reason I don’t use this account for checking is because it doesn’t offer free ATM withdrawals (like Charles Schwab checking). Still a fantastic option though.

Ally Interest Checking

Another checking account I love is Ally Interest Checking. Ally is an online bank, meaning there are no physical locations, eliminating overhead and allowing them to offer dramatically higher interest rates than traditional Big Banks.

A few reasons Ally is great:

  • No monthly fee
  • No minimum
  • 24/7 banking staff
  • Access to over 43,000 ATMs
  • 0.10% APY (That goes up to 0.60% if you have at least $15,000 balance)
  • Up to $10 in ATM fees reimbursed per statement cycle

Ally is an all-around fantastic online bank.  

“The Inbox:” Why you need the best checking account

Choosing a checking account that works for you is crucial because it’s at the center of your personal finances.

I write often about building an automated personal finance infrastructure — a system that funnels your money to where it needs to go on a schedule, with minimal involvement from you.

This way, the money left over after bills is yours to spend guilt-free. Chapter five of my book is all about how this system works and how to build your own.

automation overview

Of all the components in that system, none are more crucial than your checking account. As I wrote in the book:

“I think of my checking account like an e-mail inbox: all my money goes in my checking account, and then I regularly filter it out to appropriate accounts, like savings and investing, using automatic transfers.”

Your checking account is the center of it all, the nexus of your bulletproof personal finance system. Unfortunately, as I also point out in the book, checking accounts are the number one place where unnecessary fees are levied.

That’s why I want to go into what exactly you should be looking for when searching for checking accounts — even if you DO choose the ones I recommended above.

3 things to look for in checking accounts

I look for three things when it comes to deciding whether or not a bank has a good checking account: trust, convenience, and features.

1. Trust

For years, I had a Wells Fargo account because their ATMs are convenient, but I don’t trust Big Banks anymore.

I’m not the only one. At the moment, Big Banks are looking around wildly, wondering why young people like me are moving to high-interest accounts online.

Perhaps it’s because they secretly insert fees, like the filthy double charges for using another ATM, then count on our inaction to make money off us.

Perhaps it’s because they like to nickel-and-dime you every step of the way.

Perhaps it’s because they’re evil incarnate, forged in the hell fires of damnation where mercy, hope, and happiness doth not shine—

Okay. I MIGHT have a bit of a chip on my shoulder when it comes to Big Banks.

There are still some good banks out there, though. The best way to find one is to ask friends if they have a bank they love.

Your bank shouldn’t nickel-and-dime you through minimums and fees. It should have a website with clear descriptions of different services, an easy setup process, and 24/7 customer service available by phone.

Another thing: Ask them if they send you promotional material every damn week. I don’t want more junk mail! Stop sending crap! A couple of years ago, I switched my car insurance because they would not stop sending me mail three times a week. Go to hell, 21st Century Insurance.

2. Convenience

If your bank isn’t convenient, it doesn’t matter how much interest you’re earning — you’re not going to use it.

Browse the bank’s website. See what features they have.

Since a bank is the first line of defense in managing your money, it needs to be easy to put money in, get money out, and transfer money around. This means its website has to work, and you need to be able to get help when you need it — whether by e-mail or phone.

3. Features

The bank’s interest rate should be competitive. If it’s an online bank, it should offer value-added services like prepaid envelopes for depositing money and convenient customer service. Transferring money around should be easy and free because you’ll be doing a lot of it, and you should have free bill paying. It’s nice if the bank lets you categorize your spending and get images of canceled checks, but these aren’t necessary.

5 ways banks try to trick you 

While you’re searching around, also keep an eye out for ways a bank is trying to trick you.

Banks LOVE to pull scammy marketing tricks to get you to buy into their services. Luckily I’m here to show you exactly what they’ll try to do — and how you can avoid it.

  1. Teaser rates like “6% for the first two months!” Your first two months don’t matter. You want to pick a good bank that you can stick with for years — one that offers overall great service, not a promo rate that will earn you only $25 (or, more likely, $3). Banks that offer teaser rates are, by definition, to be avoided.
  2. Requiring minimum balances to get “free” services like checking and bill paying.
  3. Up-sells to expensive accounts (“Expedited customer service! Wow!”). Most of these “value-added accounts” are designed to charge you for worthless services.
  4. Holding out by telling you that the no-fee, no-minimum accounts aren’t available anymore. They are. Banks will resist giving you a no-fee, no-minimum account at first, but if you’re firm, they’ll give you the account you want. If they don’t, threaten to go to another bank. If they still don’t, walk out and find one that will. There are many, many choices and it’s a buyer’s market.
  5. Bundling a credit card with your bank account. If you didn’t walk in specifically wanting the bank credit card, don’t get it.

By recognizing these tricks, you’ll be able to find a checking account that works for you while avoiding all the scams.

Automate your checking account

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  1. Eva

    My credit union (limited membership; my employer is affiliated) offers a rewards checking account with very, very sweet terms. Specifically, for 12 debit purchases a month I get:

    -unlimited ATM fee refunds
    -2.3% interest. This has fallen from 4.9% in 2009.
    -really, really, really awesome staff. I bank mostly online but this still matters to me.

    They also do manual underwriting for lines of credit and offer 0% loans for CSA / farm shares.

    • Ramit Sethi

      Those terms are great. I just hate minimum requirements to use debit cards, since there’s basically no consumer-friendly reason to use them.

    • mohanedsor

      In my opinion you leaved the most important feature of the schwab investor checking! Well most important if you travel internationally. This one doesn’t good card for travel!

  2. Matt

    My wife and I argue about every month about her spending. I think having separate accounts might work, but she is against that. She is a stay-at-home mom, so all the income comes from me. It just seems like she doesn’t grasp the concept that there is only so much money per month and if we spend it we need to stop, so she just uses credit cards. She was raised where whenever she needed money, it was there. It’s just a struggle to get her on-board with the concept that we should stop frivolous spending and focus on the $20k credit card debt.

    Where in your diagram does spending money go? And by spending – I’m including household spending as well – groceries, etc. as well as eating out and personal spending.

    • Ramit Sethi

      Read my book to find the details of how the automation system works.

      And you’ll find Chapter 9 especially interesting. One of the topics is relationships and money, including specific scripts to use with your partner so you can work together on managing money.

  3. Zal

    On link to sign-up for the Schwab account it says near the bottom: “Brokerage Products: Not FDIC Insured • No Bank Guarantee • May Lose Value”.

    It seems to me that their checking accounts are not FDIC insured.

    • David Kassa

      Introducing the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account:

      Earn 0.25% variable APY— that’s 2 times the national average.1
      No ATM fees. We reimburse any ATM fee you are charged— worldwide.2
      Enjoy free standard checks, free online bill pay and a Visa® Platinum Check Card.
      Get full-featured FDIC-insured checking for up to $250,000.3

    • Cody McKibben

      Brokerage products are not insured by the FDIC—that means the investment accounts and investment products you receive through Schwab, whereas the *checking* account is. And if what David says is true, FDIC insurance for up to 250K is much more than the standard 100K through most banks I believe(?) Although, who are we kidding at the end of the day, do you really think you can rely on the US government to protect your money when the big banks go down? Doesn’t matter where you store it, they’ve proven they are not able to fulfill those promises already, so you may as well just keep it wherever you get the best terms 😉

      Thanks for a killer writeup Ramit. I love my Schwab account.

    • Steven Andos

      Brokerage accounts are never insured. Banking accounts are

  4. Jared

    I decided to go with the Fidelity option: mysmart cash account. Almost all of the same features except it is on the Fidelity platform which, from experience in the investment business, is rock solid.

    • Scott

      +1 !!

    • Akin

      Great choice! Lower broker fees than CS for stock trading, and similar checking account benefits.

    • Kate

      They charge a 1% foreign interest fee that can’t be waived, which is why I’m going with CS.

    • Alicia

      My 401k is through fidelity… But when I looked at checking and broker accounts… Their broker account requires 2500.00 minimum to open. CS has no minimum. I wanted to go with fidelity… But I’m not interested in having to deal with fees and minimums.

    • Morton

      State Farm Bank also has these same options and you can have as many accounts as you want and get also deposit cash using PNC BANK atm deposit sharing option to get cash into the online bank. They offer unlimited atm reimbursements and I prefer them more than Schwab

    • Toxigal

      State Farm will only reimburse foreign ATM fees if there is a direct deposit made in the same month. I discovered this while researching account options for my teen nephew who is about to travel abroad.

  5. Jana

    I opened the Schwab Investor Checking on your advice around 2 years ago, Ramit, and I love it! Another thing you might mention about the “no fees” is that it’s REALLY no fees–I was surprised to learn that there are no foreign transaction fees when you use the debit card abroad. I took advantage of this to save some money when I went on a trip to the Netherlands last year. I put the hotel charge on my Schwab debit card (with a Visa logo, so you can mostly use it like a credit card) to avoid paying a 3% fee.

    • Anca

      “there are no foreign transaction fees when you use the debit card abroad”

      Can’t thank you enough for this tip. I opened an account there today (already had a Schwab Roth) and customer service called me to see if I had any questions (can you imagine that?). They confirmed that there are no foreign fees (my credit card charges 3% and my credit union debit card 1%).

    • David

      But don’t they set their own currency conversion rates? Do they make the money they “give” you on fees back by giving you a slightly worse conversion rate?

  6. Edward

    Ramit, as always, I really appreciate the wealth of knowledge you so freely share. I also think your book is great!

    I wanted to ask if you have recommendations for small business checking/saving/credit cards, or if you just recommend using the same products you’re mentioning in this series?


    • raymond

      +1 for this.
      after listening (and then reading) the book, I’m trying to move everything to online banking. personal, home, etc.
      but schwab doesnt offer business checking.
      any recommendations ramit? (or edward)

    • Joe

      I am wondering the same thing. I own a real estate company and currently use a major bank which is a horrible bank but due to lack of options I am still with them for years. I’d like to find a checking account for business that offers no fees and the ability to pay payroll but I haven’t found one. Any suggestions for us Ramit? Thanks!

  7. Al Pittampalli

    The ATM reimbursement benefit is huge. Thanks for the tip, Ramit.

  8. jforest

    I think you missed the most important feature of the schwab investor checking! Well most important if you travel internationally. There is 0% fee for taking money out in foreign currencies. Most charge 1-4% to take cash out in a foreign currency. This one doesn’t! PERFECT card for travel!

  9. A

    I am embarrassed to be asking these question, but here it goes:

    When I write a check, sometimes people take forever to cash it. And I see the online balance in my account and *think* I have that much $$, but really I don’t and end up over-drafting. Hello $35 fee. So the representative at BofA did this thing where he set me up with 2 checking accounts which are linked to each other. One is for my debit card / direct deposit, the other for my checks. When I write a check, I have to go online, and transfer money to the account with the checks, and then I know that money is “out of my account”.

    Honestly I hate BofA with a passion, for numerous reasons but the set-up has worked. I keep thinking there has to be a better way than this, right?

    Also, how does overdraft protection work with CSchwab if there is no savings account linked to the checking that guarantees you have enough $$ to write that check?

    • Brad

      If you can arrange it where you mail a check, like we do sometimes when I hire someone to work on the house, ING Direct allows for you to make a payment from their website and they mail it, the amount is then shown subtracted from your account. On the bottom is this notice: “If this paper check isn’t cashed within 90 days from the date it was sent, the funds will automatically be deposited back into your account.”

    • T

      I have a question regarding your BofA setup. You have 2 accounts, but checks to only one account, correct? So when you write a check and move the money to the other account, how are the checks covered? Are you writing a check from the account where the funds are transferred to? We have this issue as well, so I’d like to set up something similar with our bank (if I can). Any additional information that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

  10. SB

    I have the Fidelity account as well, along with their 2% cash back American express card and 1.5% cash back Visa card. I have also set it up so that the credit cards are automatically paid of in full every month. Never a missed payment and never any finance and late fees.

  11. eva

    @Ramit: yes, this is the problem with those rewards accounts (all through BancVue, I think). it’s hard for me because I’m very frugal. but if you can make the requirements easily it can be a fun game.

  12. MostlyHarmless


    I looked into the Charles Schwab account a while ago. It is a great service, BUT with one major problem: The account seems to be for US Citizens only. (Obviously not a problem for most people).

    What about someone like me who is not a US Citizen yet? What would you suggest? (I tried calling them, they were like “sorry, not a citizen, can’t really help”.)

    • ChaliceHermit

      This isn’t my experience. I’m a US resident but not a US citizen – you can’t sign up online and need to mail the application in but as long as you give them the ID they ask for you should be fine.

      I called them up ahead of time to ask what ID they needed. They wanted some form of US state identification. I didn’t have one so I sent a Canadian driver’s license instead. It’s taking longer than I thought to get the account set up… I sent in the application ~2 weeks ago and the brokerage account is active but there’s still some extra checking they need to do on the, uh, checking account. It’s supposed to clear up any day now though.

    • MostlyHarmless

      Ah, therein lies the problem. I should have mentioned, I’m technically not a US Resident either. I’m here on an H1B visa.

  13. MJ

    Does anyone use PNC’s Virtual Wallet? I’ve seen people rave about it. Ramit, I’d love to hear your take on it. It allows you to create buckets of savings, categorizes where/what you’ve spent your money on, what is pending but hasn’t gone through yet, along with a whole bunch of other stuff.

    • EG

      The VW account by PNC Is the best account in terms of features that are useful.Downside is that the reimbursement of ATM fees as well as foreign transactions still come with a cost or are limited. You’re right, you can put money away for a specific item, you can write a check and if you upload the check number and amount in VW, it’ll track it for you so that you never OD an account. It’s a great feature that I wished other banks could offer. I have also used the Schwab account and it’s awesome because of the cost effectiveness while traveling abroad. I’ve recently encountered some debit card issues while paying at a store, and I was intrigued by Fidelitys account.. So I switched. That’s another solid option for any of you trying to make a decision.

  14. Brian Gerald Murphy

    I’ve been looking for a new checking account, this is perfect!

  15. Ashley N

    Thanks for the great tip! As always…looking forward to more concepts and ideals from reading Ramit’s work.

  16. Rishi

    Ramit – You are what Uncle Jessie did to parenting on Full House. You make saving cool.

    • Ramit Sethi

      Weirdest analogy ever

    • Carlos


      Brother she meant it complimentary, Uncle Jessie all the women love, so she thinks (for lack of a better word) hot. At least that os the way I interpreted it and I think that is the way Rishi meant it.

    • Carlos

      Sorry for the misspellings, I’ve gotten so use to spell check… She meant thinks your a hot guy, handsome man, etc… Yes, I recognize os meant is. Cheers.

  17. Tom Harari

    Ramit, glad you’re bringing this up. I must have a read a post fo yours back in 2007/2008 and immediately opened up a Schwab checking out. I can’t even begin to imagine how much ATM fees I’ve saved since making the switch, especially since I spent 6 mo. overseas and ALL of my international ATM fees were re-imbursed! And they were really fair with exchange rates – just an amazing experience from the beginning. Weird to say that about a bank 🙂

  18. Chris

    Does Schwab Investor Checking allow direct downloads into Quicken and online Bill Pay? As much as I may loathe BoA for some of their business practices (I personally have never had an issue with them) and have come to depend on those two features.

    • Nick

      I switched to Scwab about a month ago after reading Ramit’s book. I just checked online and the answer is yes to both of your questions.

  19. Justin

    I see that Schwab also lets you deposit checks from your android phone. Does anyone know what the limit for these picture deposits? I know some banks max you at $1,000.

    • Nirav

      I am interested in knowing this too. Most other banks and checking accounts that offer this restrict it to 1000$ a day and 3000$ a month or something similar, would like to know if Schwab is more generous.

    • Nira

      The limit on mobile deposits is $10,000 per check.

  20. c vos

    Schwab looks like a great system for personal accounts, what is the best business bank account? Most of the big banks charge massive fees on all their business banking accounts and it would really be nice to have a stable alternative.

    • Andrew

      I called Schwab, and they said that you can open an institutional “Schwab One” brokerage account. If the money is sitting in cash investments or their “deposit sweep” applies, then it is FDIC insured as usual.

      It offers free checking, and of course can accept checks in the name of your DBA or LLC.

      Here’s the link their rep gave me:

  21. Angela

    Did you hear that ING is for sale?

  22. Fred Perrotta

    Are you also reimbursed for foreign ATM fees? I’d love to have a checking account that I could use abroad without incurring fees.

    • Monty

      @Fred – I’ve traveled to Japan and Thailand several times since I opened my Schwab account in 2007, and every time I call to ask about exchange rates. Without fail, every time they assure me that there are no added exchange fees, any foreign ATM fees are reimbursed, and that the exchange rate used is whatever the industry rate is at the time of the exchange (i.e. no special, consumer-raping set rate like some exchanges do). Any time I hear about my friends traveling or going abroad, I urge them to open a Schwab account.

  23. shin

    How does this Schwab account differ from Ally? Thanks!

    • Kevin Burke

      I use Ally too… pretty much the same feature set

  24. MaryAnn

    Ramit- Any suggestions for a business banking account?

    • Andrew

      I called Schwab, and they said that you can open an institutional “Schwab One” brokerage account. If the money is sitting in cash investments or their “deposit sweep” applies, then it is FDIC insured as usual.

      It offers free checking, and of course can accept checks in the name of your DBA or LLC.

      Here’s the link their rep gave me:

  25. Robert

    I’m very intrigued, but currently have Ally as well. Although it seems the same, one big difference i see is the deposit by phone feature with Schwaab. This might make me want to change over. I currently have a local BofA account just for depositing checks.

  26. Robert

    I found BB&T a good option for my business account.

  27. Lisa

    @Andrew – you said “can” open a brokerage account. The FAQ says “need”: Do I need to open a Schwab One brokerage account with my Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account?
    Yes. The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account is only available when linked to a Schwab One brokerage account. The two accounts may be opened at the same time.

    It might have been good to know this in the main post! It’s not a “no-catch” account…. There’s “no obligation” to use the brokerage account, but it’s not clear what the impact is of opening said account.

    • Andrew

      @Lisa – I am referring to using the brokerage account as a business checking.

      Apparently, the Schwab One Brokerage Account (for Organizations) is registered to your EIN (Tax ID) and business name (DBA, LLC, Corporate), and has checking features, all for no fee.

      It’s my understanding that if you open the investor checking as well, that you get remote check deposit (via smartphone), of up to $1k per day or $10k per day, with the same limit applying per check.

      I haven’t opened these accounts yet, but once I go over some things with my accountant and open the accounts, I’ll post back here to answer any questions about using it. I got the idea from a very old post here:

  28. Lisa

    @Andrew thanks for the clarification. That being said, both the personal version and the business version (of checking accounts) require the paired brokerage accounts.

  29. Hasan Diwan

    It shouldn’t be a problem. I never needed to show Schwab my passport when I opened my account, just my driver’s license.

  30. Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    schwab is def a good one, i also like ING and USAA (only veterans and family can qualify). ease of use, no fees and most importantly customer service are my three biggest criteria! a decent interest rate can’t hurt either

    Ally is a up and comer – keep an eye out

    • christine

      anyone can join USAA now, its not limited. they changed the policy a few years ago

  31. Ilhan

    Hi Ramit!
    This question has been asked, but not answered, before.
    I am living in Europe, so I can’t use the Schwabs account. Are there similar accounts like this one for Europeans?

    • Zarina

      And for Canadian residents! Or maybe any alternatives?

  32. Losty


    If you’re starting over, and the credit is not great, they do a hard hit on the report, do you know if they pull it for ID (USA Patriot) or for getting the account? With my credit I probably wouldn’t be approved.

  33. Will Franco aka Flywheel

    I heard Ally was good… what are your thoughts?

  34. Christine

    The USAA credit card has all the same features and has run lots of consumer rewards. They also have a best price in auto insurance. You no longer have to be part of the military to join. I HATE almost every major corporation and I generally hate all banks but I can not say enough good things about USAA, LOVE THEM

  35. Daniel

    Hi I just came across your webpage yesterday. Really liking your stuff so far. Going to buy your book.
    Just two questions.

    It states on the scwab webpage that only US residents can create accounts. Do you know of a similar bank that I can use up here in Canada?

    Can the concepts in your book be applied in Canada?

  36. Brad

    Great tip! I just signed up for an account … I recently moved and kept my old checking account in my old town (over 1000 miles away). I don’t write checks and rarely need to deposit them, so this is perfect!! Love that I can deposit using my iPhone! Awesome!!!

  37. jon

    Hi Ramit,

    I have a question regarding the closing of a checking account. I use CIBC and am frustrated with paying the $3.9 monthly service fee plus additional atm fees and therefore plan to change to an account (such as ING). That said, I wonder what will happen to the rest of my accounts held at the bank. Have you come across the situation where people wish to switch only their checking accounts to ING and keep the credit + investing accounts untouched at the original bank? Can I pay off my credit card using the ING account? Thanks so much, Jon

  38. Marco

    What are your thoughts on Ally’s Checking account?

  39. Akin

    My fiancée has Charles Schwab and loves it. Great for international travelers, and way better than the big 3 banks (Bums of America, Chase good customers away, and Well Forget You). Only problem is you need to set up an investment account with a minimum $1,000 deposit. A similar checking account is at Fidelity, but their investment account requires an opening deposit of $2,500. Fidelity has lower broker fees, but who wants to drop $2,500 to open an account???

    • Matt

      So to open the checking account you need to deposit 1K into the investment account??

  40. Akin

    Other noteworthy checking accounts can be found at local credit unions without a $1,000 investment account deposits.

  41. Amy

    I love my investor checking account with CS and several other retirement and business accounts. I have all for ten years now. The only issue for those that need large sums of cold hard cash, is that CS is not a bank where you can go in and withdraw money, so you do have to use ATMs and there is normally a limit. For me that’s not a problem, for big spenders? — maybe.

  42. Matthew

    I openned up my Schwab Investor Checking after getting fed up with Chase and reading Ramit’s book. Chase charged fees onto my college checking when they said they wouldn’t and for the longest time, I lived in areas without Chase branches- for college. I have no idea how much money I wasted by not openning up a local account. Thank god for this account though because that will never be a problem again. I do sometimes miss having a branch around, like when you need lots of quarters for the laundry machine in your building or need to deposit cash. Overall, it’s a nice account.

  43. Eve

    does anyone know about a similar option to Schwab for European citizens/residents?



    i am an U.S. CITIZEN that will be retiring in JAPAN.
    i will direct deposit my SOCIAL SECURITY to CS.
    I will have a JAPAN HOME ADDRESS and do online
    banking to pay my credit card bills.
    is this a problem?

    Thank you,
    looking forward to opening CS online banking

  45. Lora

    Hi Ramit,

    I love Charles Schwab investor checkings and savings accounts – I fired Bank of America and switched to Charles Schwab based on your recommendation – best decision ever.

    I am now looking for the best online bank option for small businesses (a checking account and possibly a savings account). No minimum requirements, no silly fees, easy online pay (similar to Chase Quick Pay, though I don’t like Chase), Apply Pay option are key criteria for my decision-making. I’ve researched and most online banking does not specify options for business accounts. If the best business checking accounts don’t happen to be with online banks, that would be an option to consider, though I would prefer an online-only bank, if available.

    Your recommendations would be much appreciated.
    Thanks much!

  46. Mario Abad

    I’ve been touting Schwab to my friends for years and they still don’t get it. Schwab has reimbursed me for every ATM fee I’ve ever incurred, no matter how high. I even had to pull funds in Vegas at a *cough* restaurant and they reimbursed me for all of the $30 ATM fee I was hit with. Hands down the best checking account there is. I don’t know why anyone would still bank with BoA or Wells or any of those other banks that charge you ridiculous fees.

    In addition to the great technical features of the account, Schwab has great customer service. Can’t ask for anything better.

  47. Micah

    LOVE my account, with two exceptions:

    1. I cannot deposit cash. Too often I’ve come into possession of a bundle of cash and I can’t deposit it and I’d rather not hold on all of it for too long.
    2. As a contractor, I sometimes receive checks that are in the sum of thousands of dollars and Schwab has a hard limit, even after a phone call, where I cannot deposit the check.

    For this reason, I have no choice but to keep an account open at another major bank that DOES charge fees (although I’ve gotten around it thankfully). So while I love Schwab, it does not cover all my needs sadly.

  48. J Washburn

    I absolutely love . Best bank ever. Seriously, you have to check it out. All the same perks mentioned above, only with an Apple-like interface. So easy to use.

  49. Alyssa

    Hello, Ramit,

    I am in the process of reading your book, and it has been unbelievably helpful for reorganizing my finances to suit my banking habits (read: lazy. I like setting things up and doing little afterwards).

    I have a question about the Schwab Checking Account, though. I was reading the Account Agreement (…I’m sorry. Yes, I’m THAT person) and it seems like their Overdraft Protection is a system for transferring funds from other accounts (ex. savings, brokerage) or from a line of credit (if the customer qualifies) to cover the overdraw. If the customer doesn’t have another Schwab account (or has insufficient/no funds in the account(s)), then the account is overdrawn (at Schwab’s discretion) or the transaction is declined and they are charged a $25 non-sufficient funds fee (up to a maximum of $100/day).

    Is there something that I’m missing? It seems like everybody has only good things to say about the account, so I’m not sure if I’m just misunderstanding. Charging for just declining a transaction seems a bit sleazy…

  50. Alyssa

    Edit: Never mind; I should have done more research before posting. Apparently, the aforementioned sleazy business practice is standard amongst banks.

  51. JJ

    I opened up a Schwab High Yiend Investor Checking account a couple of years ago (after seeing it recommended here by Ramit) and must say that it is everything he said it would be. Awesome for everything you need it for and more; and for traveling though it is particularly handy. A total lifesaver.

    Thanks, Ramit.

  52. Yash

    I am just started before 6 months to work on this website & now I am happy with this site. I think its best way to earn money’s simple and legit way to earn money online.I am earning now 500 to 700 $ per month.its big amount for me.must try if u find online job…..

  53. Jake Gibson

    I love the idea of having your money funneled to the necessary accounts automatically. It seems like there’s a lot to consider when choosing a bank. I also like the idea of doing my banking from the convenience from my computer or smart phone.

  54. JQ

    If I withdraw cash from an ATM in Canada, will there be a foreign transaction fee? In other words, ignoring the ATM fee, if I withdraw $20 in Canada and the current conversion is $0.73 US dollars per $1.00 Canadian dollar, will I see a $14.60 debit from my Schwab account? Or will there be an additional charge because of the currency conversion?

    • Brian

      The foreign ATM will spit out its local currency, but you will see the debit from your Schwab account in the USD equivalent. I have always found the conversion rate to be close to market rate.

  55. MMontero

    Hello! A co-worker of mine has recently introduced me to your book and I’m hooked! I’m still two weeks in, but I’m already saving a couple hundred bucks following your guide.

    I wanted to ask a quick question: I have an Ally interest checking account and have had if for a couple of years now. I’ve read up on Schwab and I really like their options. The trouble is I’m still attached to my Ally account, is it smart to have two checking accounts one for each bank or just go for another bank?

    Thank you so much!

  56. Christina

    Shwab sounds like a great bank and there is another online bank that I have been cosidering, though What are your feelings on the safety of your money within an online bank that has no physical brick-n-mortar location?

  57. nikki jones

    This post is very helpful for people And thanks for share tips for check account

  58. JD

    Hard to find something stable to invest in. The best I’ve tried is , I get returns of 10%. Also, is another one of my favs.

  59. EJ

    Please be aware that charles schwab will do a HARD PULL on your credit when you open the account.

    Not a big deal for all the great benefits they offer, but if you don’t have “great” credit they can potentially close your account. The hard pull will stay.

    You can not deposit cash, however they accept money orders deposits at local branches, so keep your big bank account open if you plan on doing many cash deposits then just transfer to schwab.

    Ramit, I think you should inform future readers about the hard pull. Thanks for the awesome posts too!

  60. anand kuteer

    re; free ATMs with Scwab…do they give a lower currency exchange rate to make up for the ‘freebies’??

  61. JW500

    It only pays 0.06% which is pathetic. Capital One 360 offers a higher rate (up to 0.9%) if you have $100,000. The debit cards are also no charge.

  62. SANCHO

    One thing to keep in mind is that Charles Schwab will do a hard pull on your credit when you open this account. I got approved but it brought my FICO score down from 793 to 766. So definitely don’t get it if you’re planning to get major loan in the near future or don’t want a hard pull on your credit.

  63. Graham

    Hi Ramit,

    Big fan of your book. 2 questions:

    -I’m a recent grad who has barely used my 2 year old credit card because all my expenses (besides my loans) were paid by my parents. Will Charles Schwab deny me for bad credit? Is it worth trying even though they do a hard pull?

    -I’ve heard they use the VISA exchange rate which tends be ~1% worse than what other cards use. Is there any validity to this and if so do the pros still outweigh the cons?

  64. Brian

    I was debating between this account and the Capital One 360 before spending an extended period of time abroad. It seemed as if the only major difference was that Schwab refunds ATM surcharges, whereas Capital One does not. I am the kind of person who does not like to carry large sums of cash on me, thus I don’t like to withdraw large amounts at a time, despite that method allowing you to save on ATM fees.

    Schwab did do a hard credit pull on my Equifax report, and I don’t understand the point of it since I’m not even requesting a line of credit. However, based on the money I saved, I didn’t mind it in the end. Now I don’t really have to think before choosing an ATM to withdraw from, but of course I still try to go for ATMs with lower surcharges, since you won’t be reimbursed that money until the end of every month. After each withdrawal abroad, I did check against my currency exchange app and found that the amount deducted from my account was always consistent with the market rate.

  65. Leif

    It should be mentioned in the article that you need to open a brokerage account (with a $1000 minimum to set up) to go with the checking account.

  66. Nick D

    @RAMIT: Very informative article regarding the best checking accounts; this is greatly appreciated. Will you please do a follow-up article in regards to the best savings accounts. I know you mentioned a few in your book, however, since that was written years ago, updated information information would be appreciated. More specifically, the best online savings accounts for 2018.

  67. David

    With Schwab or another checking online account, what do you do in the rare event that you have cash to deposit, such as getting a birthday gift?

    • RamitSethi

      It's almost never happened in the last 8+ years. In the cases where it does, I keep the cash and just use it for miscellaneous spending, or in a couple extremely rare cases, I deposited it to a different bank and transferred it where it needed to go.

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