Best online banks: Free checking and high-interest savings accounts

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Best online banks: Free checking and high-interest savings accounts
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With interest rates on the rise, now is a great time to switch from a traditional bank to an online bank.

Many online-only banks are growing in popularity because they have lower fees and higher interest rates compared to the big banks — and they’re still a safe place to keep your money.

Depositing a check is easy with your bank’s mobile app, but there’s no way to deposit cash with most online banks.

Best online banks: Team Clark’s picks 

If you’re someone who never needs to walk into a bank or credit union, you may be able to bank 100% online like Clark.com senior writer Michael Timmermann who has accounts with Discover Bank and CIT Bank.

Discover’s cash back checking account has 1% debit card rewards, while CIT Bank’s savings interest rate is now well above 2%.

Best online banks: Table of contents 

Not ready to leave your bank or credit union completely? You can keep your checking with them and open just an online savings account. After all, that’s where you’ll be earning the most interest anyway.

Look at it this way: Some online banks pay a full 2% APY (annual percentage yield) more than big banks.

Here’s the difference over five years if you open up a savings account at a traditional bank and deposit $5,000, then fund an online savings account with $5,000:

Savings rates comparison

Traditional bank: 0.01% APY

Online bank: 2.05% APY

Year Total Year Total
1 $5,000.50 1 $5,102.50
2 $5,001.00 2 $5,207.10
3 $5,001.50 3 $5,313.85
4 $5,002.00 4 $5,422.78
5 $5,002.50 5 $5,533.95

Team Clark has identified some of the best online banks. All of them are FDIC-insured, which means that your deposits (like checking and savings) are protected up to the FDIC insurance limit.

Each depositor is insured to at least $250,000 per insured bank. Read more at FDIC.gov.

The banks on our list don’t nickel and dime their customers. They offer free checking with perks, top rates for online savings accounts, mobile banking tools and great customer service.

Read on for Team Clark’s picks and let us know about your favorite online bank in the comments below…

Best online banks: Team Clark’s picks 

Ally Bank 

Ally Bank offers 2.00% APY on savings for all balance tiers, interest checking with no monthly fees and 24/7 customer service. 

Checking

  • 0.60% APY on balances $15,000 and more, 0.10% below that
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Use Allpoint ATMs for free, plus $10 reimbursement per statement cycle for other ATM fees
  • Free standard checks

Savings

  • Online Savings Account: 2.00% APY on all savings tiers
  • High Yield Certificate of Deposit (CD): 2.65% APY for 12 months, no minimum balance

Discover Bank 

You probably associate Discover with cash back credit cards, but it also has a checking account with cash back rewards for debit card purchases. 

Checking

  • Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month
  • No monthly fees or monthly balance requirements
  • Access more than 60,000 surcharge-free ATMs (Allpoint or MoneyPass networks)
  • Free checks upon request

Savings 

  • Online Savings Account: 2.00% APY, no minimum deposit or monthly fees
  • 12-month CD: 2.60% APY, $2,500 minimum initial deposit

Capital One 

Online banking customers can deposit cash at select Capital One-branded ATMs and Capital One Cafes. 

Checking 

  • Earn 0.20% APY on 360 Checking account balances under $50,000
  • $0 minimum deposit and no monthly fees
  • Access to 39,000 fee-free Capital One and Allpoint ATMs

Savings 

  • 360 Money Market: 2.00% APY for balances of $10,000 or more, 0.85% APY for balances below $10,000
  • 360 Savings: 1.00% APY for any savings balance

Simple 

Simple is fee-free banking! There are no minimum balance requirements, and no maintenance, overdraft or monthly fees.

Checking 

  • Built-in budgeting tool with the Simple app
  • Fee-free online checking account, including no overdraft fees
  • Free access to Allpoint ATMs
  • Protected Goal Accounts with a $2,000+ balance earn interest

CIT Bank 

CIT Bank offers some of the nation’s highest interest rates on its savings accounts, but you must keep a $25,000 balance or deposit $100 a month to earn the best rate. 

Savings

  • Savings Builder: 2.25% APY if you maintain a $25,000 balance or deposit $100 per month
  • Money Market: 1.85% APY, $100 minimum opening deposit
  • No-Penalty, 11-Month CD: 2.05% APY, $1,000 minimum opening deposit

Marcus by Goldman Sachs 

Marcus by Goldman Sachs has a competitive rate on its savings account and no monthly maintenance fees. 

Savings 

  • Online Savings Account: 2.05% APY, $1 minimum deposit to earn interest
  • No-Penalty, 13-Month CD: 2.15% APY, $500 minimum deposit 

Charles Schwab Bank 

Schwab Bank checking and savings customers get unlimited fee rebates from any ATM worldwide, but the checking account must be linked to a Schwab One brokerage account.

Checking 

  • High Yield Investor Checking: 0.35% APY
  • Unlimited ATM rebates worldwide
  • No service fees or account minimums
  • Linked to a Schwab One brokerage account

Savings 

  • High Yield Investor Savings: 0.45% APY for all clients
  • Unlimited ATM rebates worldwide
  • No service fees or account minimums

Once you’ve identified an online bank that meets your needs, follow Team Clark’s step-by-step guide to help you make the transition process as easy as possible.

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