Best Standard Checking Accounts in 2024

Best Standard Checking Accounts in 2024

Learn everything you need to know about standard checking accounts. Compare accounts, find the lowest fees, and see which banks offer the most convenience.
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Kristin Marino
Financial Analyst

Learn everything you need to know about standard checking accounts. Compare accounts, find the lowest fees, and see which banks offer the most convenience.

Understanding how a checking account works is essential for managing your finances. A checking account is a primary tool for tracking income, expenses, and cash flow. By comprehending its mechanics, you can avoid unnecessary fees, better budget your finances, and ensure the security of your funds. Knowing how transactions impact the account balance enables efficient budgeting and expense planning.

From basic functions to account opening procedures and post-opening strategies, this comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to navigate standard checking accounts confidently.

What Is a Standard Checking Account?

A standard checking account is a simple and straightforward bank account that allows you to deposit money, withdraw funds, and conduct transactions such as writing checks, making debit card purchases, and transferring money electronically.

Unlike other types of accounts, standard checking accounts typically do not offer interest on deposited funds and may have minimal or no fees, making them suitable for everyday banking needs. These accounts often have fewer features and benefits than premium or interest-bearing accounts but provide essential banking services for managing day-to-day finances.

Banks and credit unions commonly offer basic checking accounts to meet the needs of customers who require a no-frills banking option. A standard checking account is ideal for consumers seeking simplicity in managing their finances.

Compare the Best Checking Accounts Online

Quickly compare rates, fees, accessibility, customer service, and more. Find the best checking account for your needs.

What Fees Are Involved with a Basic Checking Account?

The cost of maintaining a basic checking account varies, with opening deposits usually set at $25 or less. Service charges typically range from $5 to $15. However, some banks may waive these fees if a specific balance is maintained or a certain dollar amount of direct deposits is made monthly.

Fees associated with a basic checking account can vary depending on the financial institution and the specific account terms. Typical fees that may be associated with a basic checking account include:

Monthly Maintenance Fee: Some banks charge a monthly fee for maintaining the account. However, many basic checking accounts offer fee waivers if certain criteria are met, such as maintaining a minimum balance or setting up direct deposit.

Overdraft Fees: If you spend more money than you have available in your account, resulting in a negative balance, you may incur overdraft fees for each transaction that exceeds your account balance.

ATM Fees: Using an ATM outside your bank’s network may result in fees charged by both your bank and the ATM owner.

Transaction Fees: Some banks may charge fees for particular transactions, such as writing checks beyond a specific limit or making excessive withdrawals.

Paper Statement Fees: Opting to receive paper statements through the mail instead of electronic statements may result in additional fees.

Wire Transfer Fees: Sending or receiving wire transfers may incur fees, especially for international transactions.

It’s essential to review the fee schedule provided by your bank and understand the terms and conditions of your basic checking account to avoid unexpected charges. Many banks offer ways to minimize or waive certain fees by meeting specific requirements, such as maintaining a minimum balance or enrolling in electronic statements.

While basic checking accounts offer affordable banking solutions, reviewing the fee structure and eligibility criteria is essential to ensure the account aligns with your financial needs and habits.

Monthly service and overdraft fees for some of the largest banks in the nation are shown in the table below.

Pros and Cons of Standard Checking Accounts

Pros

  • Manage money online, through your phone, or even in person in some cases.
  • Keep your cash safe by keeping it in the bank.
  • Easy to open with a small initial deposit.
  • Transfer funds easily.
  • Many ways to waive monthly service fees.

Cons

  • You may not earn rewards, perks, or cash back.
  • Most standard accounts don’t earn interest.
  • Accounts may have a monthly service fee.
  • Typically little or no overdraft flexibility or protection.

Compare Standard Checking Accounts

Comparing checking accounts is crucial for finding the best fit. Factors like fees, interest rates, ATM access, and account features vary between banks.

By comparing options, you can secure an account aligned with your financial needs and goals, potentially saving money and maximizing benefits in the long run. Learn more about some notable checking accounts below.

Citi Checking

Citi’s Access Checking offers a checkless option with a waived $5 service fee for the first three months and a continued waiver with enhanced direct deposit.

Citi also offers a Standard Checking account with a $15 monthly fee that can also be waived under similar conditions. Citi customers can access over 65,000 fee-free ATMs and 2,000 branches, mobile check deposits, online banking, and Zelle access.

Customers can also upgrade to Priority Checking for enhanced perks like travel benefits, fraud monitoring, and investment advantages.

U.S. Bank Safe Debit Account

The U.S. Bank Safe Debit account offers essential standard banking without the need for checks. It allows customers to direct deposit paychecks, lock lost cards, and pay bills for free.

With no overdraft fees, transactions exceeding the balance incur no charges. There’s a $4.95 monthly maintenance fee, but there’s no penalty for not maintaining a minimum balance. The account is accessible at over 3,000 branches and a large ATM network.

TD Bank Convenience Checking

TD Bank Convenience Checking offers practical banking solutions for daily financial needs.

While a monthly fee applies, it can be avoided by maintaining a minimum monthly balance of $100. Y

ou can easily open an account in person, online, or by phone. Account holders aged 17-23 enjoy the added benefit of no monthly maintenance fee.

Additionally, checking writing is included, and there’s a discount on your first order of checks.

Chase Total Checking

Chase Total Checking account requires no minimum deposit to open.

While it incurs a monthly fee, there are options to waive it.

With access to 4,700 branches and 15,000 ATMs, banking is convenient. Online and mobile banking services are provided, including free online bill pay and check writing.

Chase offers a debit account, which is similar to a checking account but without paper checks.

BMO Harris

BMO Harris Bank boasts over 500 branches across Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Florida, and Wisconsin, with access to over 40,000 ATMs.

Only a low deposit of $25 is required to open an account, and there’s no monthly maintenance fee. Customers can write checks but should note fees of $3 for paper statements and $3 for copies of canceled checks if needed.

How Does a Standard Checking Account Work?

A checking account is a financial tool that allows people to deposit money, access funds, and make transactions easily.

When you open a checking account, the bank provides you with an account number and often a debit card for accessing funds.

You can deposit money into the account through various methods, such as direct deposit or in-person deposits at a branch or ATM. Once funds are in the account, you can withdraw cash, write checks, or make electronic payments such as online bill payments or debit card transactions.

Banks typically provide online or mobile banking platforms for easy account management, including checking balances, reviewing transactions, and transferring funds between accounts.

Some checking accounts may offer additional features, such as overdraft protection or rewards programs, depending on the financial institution and the type of account.

They are perfect if you plan on doing most of your banking via ATMs and online, and you get a debit card you can add to your Apple wallet and use for ATMs and point-of-sale purchases.

How to Open a Standard Checking Account

Opening a checking account is typically a straightforward process, often available online.

Remember, while most states require individuals to be 18 to open an account independently, those aged 13 or older can have an account with a parent or guardian as a joint account holder.

Review Your Banking History

Your credit won’t be checked, but your banking history will be reviewed via ChexSystems.

If you’ve encountered issues with a checking account in the past and are unable to open a standard checking account, consider second-chance checking accounts tailored for individuals with previous banking challenges.

Gather Your Personal Information

To open an account online, visit the bank’s website and navigate to the “Open an Account” section. Provide personal information such as your social security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, address, and government-issued ID.

Make Your Opening Deposit

You’ll also need to make an opening deposit, which you can usually do electronically via a bank transfer or mobile deposit using a check.

For transferring funds from another bank, you can use online banking services to link external accounts and initiate transfers. Alternatively, you can visit a branch or use an ATM card from an existing account to deposit cash or checks.

What Happens After You Open Your Checking Account?

Once you’ve opened a standard checking account, follow these strategies to keep your account manageable and in good standing.

Monitor Your Account Balance

Keeping an eye on your account balance is crucial for financial awareness. Regularly checking your balance helps with budgeting, planning for expenses, and avoiding overdraft fees.

To stay updated, use online banking, mobile apps, text alerts, branch tellers, or ATMs.

Take Advantage of Mobile Banking Apps

1. Download your bank’s mobile app to access convenient features like bill payments, check deposits, and account transfers.

2. Mobile banking enhances accessibility and security, allowing you to manage finances efficiently, monitor credit scores, and receive discounts.

Minimize Extra Fees

1. Avoid unnecessary fees by meeting account requirements such as setting up direct deposits or maintaining a minimum balance.

2. Understand overdraft policies and consider options like overdraft protection to prevent unexpected charges.

3. Set up alerts to monitor account balances effectively.

Automate Deposits and Payments

1. Streamline financial tasks by automating deposits, bill payments, and transfers.

2. Direct deposit ensures timely paychecks, while automatic bill payments prevent missed deadlines.

3. Additionally, effortlessly automate savings contributions to achieve short- and long-term financial goals.

4. While checks are less common, ordering them through your bank or specialized services remains an option for certain transactions.

Standard Checking Frequently Asked Questions

How much money should I keep in my checking account?

The general rule of thumb is to keep one or two months of expenses in your checking account and the rest in savings.

Will my credit be checked when I open a checking account?

While your credit may not be checked, your information will likely be run through ChexSystems, which is a report that will flag any trouble you’ve had in the past with a checking account.

How long does it take to open a checking account?

That mostly depends on the bank. It could take a few minutes to be approved, or it could take a few hours. In some cases, it could take up to a day.

Kristin Marino is a seasoned voice in the finance and education sectors, with rich experience spanning decades as a writer and editor. Kristin has lent her editorial financial expertise to platforms like MoneyRates, The Balance, and MoneyGeek. With a keen ability to distill complex financial concepts into accessible insights, she remains dedicated to guiding readers toward informed financial choices.
Financial Analyst