These days, with so much focus on credit cards, high-interest savings accounts, and other financial options, it can be easy to overlook the humble checking account. But you shouldn't! This is the cornerstone of your financial system - the hub which all your other cards and accounts feed into.

For students and entrepreneurs, a checking account is the first foray into the financial world (especially when you’re ready to start investing). Read on as we take a look at the ten best checking accounts in 2019.

Radius Bank Hybrid Checking Account

Radius Bank has a great hybrid checking account that allows you to get the high-interest earning of a savings account with the flexibility of a checking account. 

Fees

  • No monthly service fees
  • Free ATM withdrawal worldwide

Perks

  • No minimum balance after $100 to open
  • First order of checks for free
  • Direct deposit allows you to receive your money up to two days early
  • Earn 1.20% APY on balances of $100,000 and up
  • Earn 1.00% APY on balances of $2,500 - $99,999.99

The Catch

  • This account is online-only, so you cannot visit a branch in person
  • You are unable to deposit cash

The Verdict

Radius Bank’s Hybrid Checking Account is great for entrepreneurs looking to gain high-interest on investments. There’s no monthly service fees or hidden fees. They provide free worldwide ATM withdrawals which is perfect for the traveling entrepreneur or traveling student.

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Account 

Schwab Bank

Normally known for their investment accounts, the Charles Schwab Bank has launched an online-only checking account that offers some of the benefits of their investment accounts.

Fees

    • No monthly or annual fees. 

Perks

    • Receive unlimited ATM fee rebates on transactions both in the US and abroad. 
    • The Schwab High Yield Investor account offers users a 0.40% APY (annual percentage yield) on balances. 

The Catch 

    • This account is online-only, meaning you would have to trade off the ability to visit a bank in person. 
    • You are unable to deposit cash. 

The Verdict 

For people happy to use an online-only bank, this is an option to consider. The lack of monthly and annual fees makes it a great choice for students. While those carrying a higher than average balance in their checking account (we’re talking $15,000 or more) may be able to find a higher interest rate elsewhere, the regular Joe will find the 0.40% APY competitive with the major banks. 

Related: The 11 Best High Yield Saving Accounts in 2019

Capital One 360 Checking Account 

Capital One 360

For those looking for the perks of an online-only checking account but aren’t willing to give up the ability to deposit cash in person, the Capital One 360 account offers a great middle ground. 

Fees

    • No monthly or annual fees. 

Perks

      • Capital One offers a 0.20% APY on account balances (this increases if your balance exceeds $50,000)
      • Free checkbook
      • Free withdrawals at Capital One’s ATM network
      • Cash and check deposits at ATMs and Capital One branches 

The Catch 

    • Currently, the Capital One branch network is limited.
    • ATM fees are payable at other ATMs

The Verdict 

The Capital One 360 account is a solid option for those looking for a no-fee account with the flexibility to deposit cash in person. Depending on your location, the ability to access branches are a great bonus. While customers with a high balance could find a higher interest rate elsewhere, this account works well for students and those not ready to switch to an online-only bank. 

Chase Total Checking

Chase Checking

Are you looking for the security of a traditional, face-to-face checking account with a few added perks? The Chase Total Checking account could be the one for you. 

Fees

    • Chase charges a $12 monthly service fee on the account, however, this can be waived by depositing $500 per month into the account or maintaining a balance of $1,500. 

Perks

    • If you are unable to avoid the monthly fee, students are eligible for a $6 discounted fee.
    • Chase is currently offering a $200 sign-on bonus to customers who set up a new account and set up direct deposit.
    • Deposit checks on your phone.
    • Access to a network of 16,000 ATMs and 5,000 branches nationwide. 

The Catch 

    • The Chase Total Checking account doesn't offer interest on balances. Chase does offer other checking accounts that earn interest, however, these come with higher fees.

The Verdict 

Chase is a traditional bank that offers all the freedoms you would expect. If you are reliant on cash banking and face-to-face services and aren’t too concerned about earning interest on your balance, this could be a good option for you. Provided you meet the monthly deposit minimum, the lack of fees makes this account a good value option. 

Simple Bank 

Simple Bank

True to its name, the Simple Bank checking account is a straightforward option for those looking for a no-fuss spending account. In addition to an app and great ATM access, Simple works in some handy tools to help users save. 

Fees

    • Simple doesn't charge annual or monthly fees and also don’t penalize customers for overdrafts. 

Perks

    • Simple pay users a 0.01% APY on deposits. Definitely not the best in the game, but it's better than some.
    • The ability to deposit checks using their mobile app.
    • Access to over 40,000 ATMs nationwide in the Allpoint network.
    • In-built tools to help save for goals. 

The Catch

    • With Simple, what you see is what you get. Aside from the lack of physical branches and the low-interest rate, there really isn't one.

The Verdict 

    • The Simple Bank regular checking account is a great, straightforward option for those looking for a basic checking account with no fees. 

Chime ‘Spending’ Account 

Chime

Chime is a relatively new kid on the block with an app focused checking account they call a ‘spending’ account. With no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirement, this is a good option for lower-income earners or those looking for a basic account for every day. 

Fees

    • No monthly or annual fees. Chime also doesn’t charge international transaction fees. 
    • Chime charge a transaction fee of $2.50 for withdrawals made outside their ATM network. 

Perks

    • Unlike many other banks, Chime doesn't hold your paycheck when it’s deposited into your account. This means that you may get access to your funds up to two days earlier than some major banks. 
    • Chime gives customers a Visa Debit card that’s widely accepted. As the account is app-based, it is enabled for use with ApplePay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. 

The Catch

    • While not exactly a catch, Chime doesn’t offer users the ability to overdraw their accounts. 
    • Chime doesn't offer regular paper checks. Instead, the app has a in-built checkbook feature that allows users to “write” checks of up to $5,000 and send via the app. 
    • Chime doesn’t make it easy to make cash deposits. While it is possible, customers need to visit a Green Dot cash deposit location which may charge fees. 
    • Chime doesn’t offer interest on account balances. 

The Verdict 

The Chime spending account is a great option for those with low balances and simple banking needs. Some users may find the lack of interest earned is offset by the convenience of app-based banking.

Related: Huddl Up. Earn Tokens.

Discover Cashback Debit Checking Account 

Discover

While points and other rewards for purchases are common on credit cards, the Discover Cashback Debit account is one of the few checking accounts that rewards users for spending. In addition to cashback on purchases, the Discover account offers customers a healthy interest rate and no fees. 

Fees

    • Discover charge no monthly, annual or online transaction fees. 

Perks

    • The biggest perk here is the 1% cashback on purchases up to $3,000 per month.
    • Discover also offers 0.40% APY on account balances. 

The Catch

    • Discover doesn’t allow customers to deposit cash.
    • Customers with high balances may find higher interest rates elsewhere. 

The Verdict 

For customers looking for rewards on everyday purchases from a checking account, its hard to go past the Discover Cashback Debit. 

Connexus Credit Union Checking Account 

Connexus

Connexus offers a solid checking account option with online features and a seriously impressive interest rate, provided users satisfy a few requirements. 

Fees

    • Connexus don’t charge monthly or annual account fees
    • A $5 “inactivity” fee is charged monthly for accounts with a balance less than $100 or no transactions 

Perks

    • The Connexcus checking account boasts an impressive 1.75% APY on balances up to $25,000, provided a few requirements are met e.g. meeting set monthly deposits and switching to paperless statements
    • Free withdrawals from the network of over 54,000 ATMs
    • Up to $25 per month reimbursement for out of network ATM fees

The Catch

    • Those carrying a low balance may be caught out by the $5 inactivity fee
    • For those with a high balance, the interest rate can drop as low as 0.20% APY 
    • Connexus is based in the Midwest, so those in other parts of the country will have a hard time finding branches 

The Verdict 

The Connexus checking account can be a great option for people carrying a high balance to gain a great interest rate provided they use it as their primary checking account. 

Aspiration Spend and Save Account

Aspiration Bank

Aspiration is an online-only bank that offers a checking-savings hybrid account with competitive interest rates and cashback on certain purchases.

Fees

    • Aspiration doesn't charge annual or monthly fees or penalize customers for overdrafts

Perks

    • Customers are reimbursed for all ATM fees including withdrawals overseas
    • Aspiration offers a competitive 2.00% APY on all balances provided customers deposit a minimum of $1 each month
    • Customers can earn between 0.5% - 1% cashback on eligible purchases 

The Catch

    • Aspiration is online-only, so no physical branches are available
    • Restrictions are in place on international debit card usage 

The Verdict

The Aspiration Spend and Save account is a good solution for those happy with an online-only bank that packs big perks. It is worth noting the limitations that exist on international card usage. 

Axos Rewards Checking Account 

Axos Bank

The Axos Rewards Checking account is an attractive, online-only option for those looking to balance a competitive interest rate with a no-fee account.  

Fees

    • Axos charge no monthly or annual fees for their checking accounts

Perks

    • While withdrawals at most domestic ATMs are free, Axos reimburse customers for any other US withdrawal fees
    • Earn 1.25% APY provided you deposit at least $1,000 and make 15 or more transactions each month 

The Catch

    • Axos is online only and doesn’t have a great record for their customer service

The Verdict 

If you are looking to use Axos as your main checking account, it provides a competitive interest rate on your balance while providing some added benefits along the way. 

The Bottom Line 

With so many options to choose from, how do you narrow down your choices and select the account that is going to suit you best and prepare you for financial success? We've drilled down into the nitty-gritty and rated the best accounts based on fees and perks, as well as if it’s better for students or entrepreneurs.

Fees Perks Students Entrepreneurs
Radius Bank Hybrid Checking Account 5 stars 4 stars 3 stars 5 stars
Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Account 3 stars 5 stars 4 stars 4 stars
Capital One 360 Checking Account 3 stars 4 stars 5 stars 4 stars
Chase Total Checking 5 stars 3 stars 4 stars 3 stars
Simple Bank 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars
Chime ‘Spending’ Account 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars 3 stars
Discover Cashback Debit  Checking Account 3 stars 5 stars 4 stars 5 stars
Connexus Credit Union Checking Account 4 stars 5 stars 4 stars 5 stars
Aspiration Spend and Save Account 3 stars 4 stars 5 stars 4 stars
Axos Rewards Checking Account 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars

Best Accounts for Students

Banking for students can be tricky. In addition to a low fee structure, students can be looking for accounts that don’t penalize them for carrying a low balance or not making regular deposits. Considering all of the options above, the top three picks for students would be: Capital One 360 Checking Account, Chime ‘Spending’ Account, and Aspiration Spend and Save Account.

Capital One is a great no-fee account that allows you to deposit cash in person. This works well for students who aren’t ready to switch to an online-only bank.

While it doesn’t offer any interest earned on balances, the Chime account is a straightforward option with no hidden fees and has a user-friendly app. Added extras like savings goals are great for those getting a handle on their finances

With Aspiration, you won’t get charged monthly/annual fees, nor will you be penalized for overdrafts. They also offer 2.00% APY on all balances as long as you deposit a minimum of $1 each month.

Best Accounts for Entrepreneurs

There are two types of entrepreneurs we will discuss in this section: the startup founder and the entrepreneur who has gained some success. For someone building a startup, every dollar counts and your checking account balance can fluctuate drastically from month-to-month. Because of this, the top two picks for you would be a Discover Cashback Debit Checking Account and an Axos Rewards Checking Account.

Discover charges no monthly, annual, or online transaction fees. You are also able to earn 1% cashback on purchases up to $3,000 per month, which comes easy when you’re constantly spending to build your company up.

Axos doesn’t charge any monthly or annual fees and most ATM withdrawals in the US are free. With Axos, you can earn 1.25% APY as long as you deposit at least $1,000 and make 15 or more transactions each month.

For the entrepreneur who has been running their company for a while, the top two picks for you would be a Radius Bank Hybrid Checking Account and a Connexus Credit Union Checking Account.

Radius is an online-only bank that doesn’t charge monthly service fees. You can withdraw from any ATM around the world - free of charge. The best perk is that you can earn 1.00% APY on balances of $2,500 - $99,999.99 and 1.20% APY on balances of $100,000 and up.

Connexus provides 1.75% APY on balances up to $25,000 and have free withdrawals from over 54,000 ATMs. This checking account is a nice option for people carrying a high balance so you can gain a great interest rate. Just make sure you use your account because Connexus does charge a monthly $5 “inactivity” fee for accounts that make no transaction or accounts with a balance less than $100.

Related: Financial Services are Highly Exclusive - But They Shouldn’t Be