The Best Checking Accounts in Georgia for 2024

Compare local and online banks for the best checking accounts in Georgia, focusing on fees, ATM access, interest rates, and customer service.
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Written by Shannon Lee
Financial Expert
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Managing Editor

Choosing a checking account for your hard-earned money might take some time and research, but it shouldn’t be difficult.

You want to find a bank that offers the best interest rates, low fees, and the perks you’ve come to expect from financial institutions.

Let’s examine checking accounts in Georgia and help you choose the one that’s best for your financial needs.

Compare Georgia and Online Checking Accounts

One of the first decisions you need to make is simple: Online or local bank? To make the choice, ask yourself:

  • How much does banking in person matter to me?
  • Will I make regular use of ATMs?
  • How much am I willing to pay in bank fees?
  • Will I be depositing cash into my checking account?
  • How much does customer service matter?
  • Do I prefer a checking account that earns interest?
  • Do I need a mobile app to help me move money around?

Compare Online Banks with Local Physical Bank Branches

Best Checking Accounts in Georgia

When you’re looking for the best checking accounts in Georgia, local banks can offer many options. Here’s what to expect from some of the state’s largest and most popular banks.

Colony Bank

If you’re looking for variety in your checking account options, Colony Bank is a winner.

With five robust accounts to choose from, there’s something for everyone’s financial needs. Most of the accounts cost only $50 to open, except for the more basic Colony One Account, which requires $25 to get started.

There are two options with competitive interest and usually a way to waive monthly fees – except for the $7.95 fee for the Benefits Account.

In addition to the great options, Colony Bank pulls customers in with the promise of prizes just for signing up.

Pinnacle Bank

Pinnacle Bank serves Georgia with dozens of branches and even more ATMs throughout the Peach State. There are four checking options here.

Two of them, the Totally Free Checking and the VIP Free Interest Checking, have no monthly fee. Two of the accounts offer high-yield interest rates. All the accounts are only $50 to open, and the High-Yield Checking combines with a money market account.

You can waive the fee by keeping at least $1,000 in funds in the account as your daily average. Finally, Benefits Checking offers several bells and whistles, but there’s no way to avoid the $6.95 monthly fee.

Synovous Bank

With the highest number of deposits in Georgia, Synovous Bank is home to four different checking account options.

The simplest is the Budget Checking, which requires only $25 to open but doesn’t allow you to waive the $5 monthly fee. All the others – Student Checking, Plus Checking, and Inspire Checking – require a minimum of $100 to open but offer ways to waive the monthly fee, ranging from $3 to $50. Inspire Checking and Plus Checking are where you find the bells and whistles with competitive interest rates.

All accounts come with mobile banking and debit cards that tap into a vast network of fee-free ATMs in Georgia and beyond.

Find Online and Traditional Checking Accounts

A large number of Georgia financial institutions offer checking accounts, and there’s strong competition among them to offer the best perks and the lowest fees. Use the list below to find the best checking account to fit your financial goals.

Pros and Cons of Local Banks

Choosing a local bank in Georgia means you have a host of options. Understanding the pros and cons can help you narrow them down.

Consider these pros and cons when selecting a local bank to ensure you get the right checking account.

Pros

  • Local banks in Georgia tend to have a strong community presence, which might include numerous ATMs within easy distance and more than a few branches.
  • Local banks tend to be full-service financial centers, including options for CDs, money market accounts, mortgages, and much more.
  • Local banks often have a strong ATM network, but they also tap into the broader network of other banks. Most local banks have an ATM system with 40,000 machines (or more).

Cons

  • Interest rates on checking accounts might be lower at local banks, thanks to their overhead costs.
  • Local banks might not have a robust mobile app, as they expect most customers will rely on ATMs and branches.

Online Checking for Georgia Residents

When you’re ready to find the correct checking account, knowing what other checking customers say about a particular bank can be helpful. Here are some reviews of online checking accounts to help you start that process.

Discover®

Discover’s Cashback Debit account offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases monthly, with no fees for account maintenance or insufficient funds.

The account includes access to over 60,000 fee-free and convenient ATMs and features like early direct deposit, fraud protection, and the ability to link debit cards to digital wallets. Additionally, it provides FDIC insurance, ensuring security and peace of mind for account holders.

Ally Bank

Ally Bank’s Interest Checking Account offers no monthly maintenance or overdraft fees, access to over 43,000 ATMs, and up to $10 reimbursement for other ATM fees. It features early direct deposit, spending buckets for budget management, and remote check deposit via Ally eCheck Deposit.

The account provides tools to manage spending within the mobile app, including locking the debit card and setting spending limits. Interest is earned on balances, with different tiers offering varying rates.

Chime

Chime offers a fee-free online checking account with no minimum balance or monthly service fees. It features SpotMe for fee-free overdrafts up to $200, early direct deposit, and access to over 60,000 fee-free ATMs.

The account supports mobile check deposits and cash deposits at select retailers, ensuring flexibility and convenience. Additionally, Chime provides security features like instant transaction alerts and card blocking for lost or stolen cards, enhancing user control over their finances.

Pros and Cons of Online Checking Accounts

Like local banks, you’ll find pros and cons with online banks and the checking accounts they offer. Here’s what to expect:

Pros

  • Expect a robust mobile app and an excellent website presence. Since there are no local branches, it’s an absolute must to be able to handle everything virtually.
  • Sometimes, an online bank offers a higher interest rate for high-yield checking. Most online banks have lower overhead than local banks and can thus pass that savings on to you.
  • Online checking accounts might have every bell and whistle you can imagine, as many online banks focus on a few key points. These might include checking, savings, or CDs, but not mortgages.

Cons

  • Those who prefer in-person banking will find that tough to do with online banks, as there are rarely any branches – or if there are, they are in larger cities.
  • You might be unable to use all the services you want in a bank, such as money market accounts or loans.

What to Look for When Choosing a Checking Account in Georgia

To choose a checking account in Georgia, looking for the things that matter most to you is essential. This checklist can help you determine your priorities when selecting a bank.

Monthly Fees

To be more competitive, many banks are moving to the no-fee model. That means that you might not have to worry about monthly fees, overdraft fees, or much else. However, if there is a monthly fee, you can likely waive it by meeting specific requirements.

Other Fees

While a bank might not have monthly fees, other fees could apply. Consider what you want to avoid. For instance, if you regularly use wire transfers, steer clear of banks that charge a fee for this. The same holds for using foreign ATMs and getting paper statements.

ATM and Branch Access

ATM access matters significantly whether you use a local bank or an online option. But if you want to bank in person, look for an institution with branch access in your local area. Many online banks don’t offer this.

Interest Rates or Bonuses

You can sign up for a checking account that offers interest, but be warned that you might face higher fees for the privilege. Some interest rates are tiered, meaning only those with the highest amounts in their accounts get the best rates.

Many banks will offer signing bonuses and other perks to entice you to try them.

Mobile Banking Apps

A mobile banking app can always give you full access to your money. You can move it around, pay bills, and create transfers whenever possible.

Before choosing a bank, look at the app. Is it easy to use? Does it give you everything you need? Are you pleasantly surprised by its speed and simplicity? 

What to Know About Georgia Checking Accounts

Here are some other things you need to know about opening a checking account in Georgia.

  • You must be 16 in Georgia to open and manage your own checking account. Parental consent is not required to open or maintain an account once you turn 16. 
  • State law requires that every account holder receive a copy of a fee schedule, whether the bank is local or online. It also requires that any changes to the fee schedule be presented in writing at least 30 days before the change.
  • Though banks might let you deposit however much money you please into a particular checking account, keep in mind that only $250,000 of that money is guaranteed protected if the bank becomes insolvent. Many banks will cap the amount you can have in one account; in that case, you can open additional accounts.
About Author
Shannon Lee
Shannon Lee, a versatile contributor to MoneyRates, is a freelance writer with a passion that spans over two decades. Her extensive writing portfolio encompasses a myriad of topics, ranging from personal finance and home improvement to education, relationships, and medical and health subjects. In addition to her prolific freelance career, Shannon is also a novelist. Shannon’s dedication to providing insightful and informative content makes her a valued voice in the world of personal finance.
Our reviews are unbiased and thorough, focusing on consumer needs. For details, see our Editorial Policy & Methodology.