The 7 Best Checking Accounts With No ATM Fees in 2020

Keep more of your money at the ATM

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Over the past 20 years, the cost to use an automated teller machine (ATM) has more than doubled, taking an increasingly large chunk out of consumers’ bank accounts with each cash withdrawal. From an average total fee of $2.28 per transaction in 1999, average ATM fees had climbed to $4.72 by 2019.  

Fortunately, though ATM fees themselves are rising, the ability for consumers to avoid them is also increasing. That’s because many banks are aiming to win customers over by offering free ATM transactions and even fee refunds, and the list of institutions offering this perk is growing.

To help you avoid this unnecessary fee, we’ve rounded up the top checking accounts that offer fee-free ATM transactions. Based on our research of dozens of banks whose checking accounts are available to consumers nationwide, we’ve whittled the results down to seven winners by analyzing other potential fees, minimum balance requirements, interest rates, and other account features.

The 7 Best Checking Accounts with No ATM Fees

Axos Bank: Best Overall

Axos Bank

 Axos Bank

With Axos Bank’s Rewards Checking account, you’ll pay zero ATM fees anywhere in the U.S., while also avoiding all the other typical bank fees, even for overdrafts. On top of that, overachievers can turn this into a high-interest checking account as well.

Pros
  • No minimum balance requirement

  • No monthly maintenance fee

  • No overdraft fees

  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements

  • Option to earn up to 1.25% APY on your balance

Cons
  • Paper checks must be purchased

  • No Zelle option for person-to-person payments

  • No interest paid unless certain requirements are met

Based in San Diego, Axos Bank was founded in 2004 as a digital bank and receives the top bank safety rating of Superior (5 stars) from Bauer Financial. Its Rewards Checking account combines a lack of fees with unlimited ATM fee refunds and the ability to earn an attractive interest rate, creating a trifecta that earns it the top spot in our rankings.

While many banks have stopped charging their own fees for ATM transactions, Axos is among the institutions that will refund domestic ATM fees you incur from other banks or ATM operators, as well. Not only that, but Axos places no monthly limit on how much can be refunded, offering you unlimited free ATM transactions throughout the U.S.

Axos’ Rewards Checking is remarkably fee-free in other ways, too. Aside from requiring an initial $50 deposit to open the account, there is no ongoing balance requirement, no monthly maintenance fee, and not even a fee if you accidentally overdraw your account. One thing you will have to pay for, though, is paper checks, if you want them.

What makes this account an even bigger standout is that there are two ways you can earn an attractive interest rate on your balance. If you have a monthly direct deposit set up for $1,000 or more, you will earn 0.416% APY on your balance for that month. Similarly, using your Axos debit card to make at least 10 purchases during the month will earn you a separate 0.416% APY. Or you can bump that up to 15 debit transactions during a statement period to earn an additional 0.416% APY. Do all three of these and the total APY on your balance is a whopping 1.25% APY.

Paramount Bank: Best Interest Rate

Paramount Bank

 Paramount Bank

This low-fee account with generous ATM refunds offers a highly attractive interest rate without you jumping through any hoops to earn it.

Pros
  • Top interest rate among accounts not requiring special qualifying transactions

  • Exceptionally generous ATM refund policy

  • Very easily avoidable monthly fee

Cons
  • Small monthly fee if you drop below the balance threshold

  • No Zelle option for person-to-person payments

  • $100 required to open the account

  • Paper checks must be purchased

Primarily a mortgage lender established in 1970, St. Louis-based Paramount Bank reorganized in 2004 to offer a selection of online consumer deposit accounts. Among them is its impressive High-Interest Checking Account, which pays more than any of the other checking accounts we reviewed, other than those requiring specific monthly transactions to earn a high-yield rate. This makes it our pick for best interest rate among the banks we reviewed.

At 0.85% APY, Paramount’s rate applies to all balances, no matter how high or low. The bank also over-delivers on ATM reimbursements. Except for those banks offering unlimited ATM refunds, others cap the perk at a certain maximum dollar amount per month. Not so at Paramount, where they will refund up to 20 individual ATM fees per month.

Rated as Good (3½ stars) by Bauer Financial, Paramount charges few other fees on this account, with its $3 monthly maintenance fee easily avoidable by keeping a balance at $1 or more.

Needham Bank: Best for International ATMs

Needham Bank

 Needham Bank

If travel outside the U.S. is a regular occurrence for you, ATM refunds that cover the globe instead of just the country become an important money saver. Fortunately, Needham Bank has you covered and offers several other attractive account features as well.

Pros
  • Unlimited reimbursement of ATM fees incurred anywhere in the world

  • No minimum balance or monthly fee

  • Free checks, including refills

Cons
  • Interest rate is minimal

  • Overdrafts incur a fee

  • No Zelle option for person-to-person payments

Needham Bank may not be a household name, but it’s a winning option for those who find themselves using international ATMs. With regular ATM fees compounded by foreign transaction fees when traveling outside the U.S., international ATM fees can become exorbitant, making Needham an excellent value for the frequent traveler and best in our review for international ATMs.

Needham Bank can trace its Massachusetts roots back to 1892, while currently operating 11 branches in the state and holding a Superior rating (5 stars) from Bauer Financial. Its services are available to adults throughout the U.S. who open an account online.

Needham’s Personal Checking account places no limits on the geography of ATM fees it will refund, nor a limit on the number or dollar amount incurred per month. It also requires no minimum balance and charges no monthly maintenance fee, though you will incur a non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee of $25 if you overdraw your balance.

Needham does pay only a nominal interest rate of 0.05% APY on balances below $2,500, and 0.10% APY on balances above that threshold. It’s not much, but many checking accounts pay no interest at all.

Radius Bank: Best for Debit Card Users

Radius Bank

 Radius Bank

Radius’ Rewards Checking scores well as a low-fee account offering unlimited ATM refunds. But where it really stands out from the crowd is in its payment of cashback rewards on debit card purchases.

Pros
  • Pays 1% to 1.5% cashback on unlimited debit card purchases

  • No minimum balance or monthly maintenance fee

  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements

  • Free first set of checks

Cons
  • Interest rates are fairly low, and zero at low balances

  • No Zelle option for person-to-person payments

  • Overdrawing your account will incur a fee

Cashback rewards on card purchases have long been the turf of credit cards. But a few debit cards are nosing into that territory, like the one offered with Radius’ Rewards Checking. It pays 1.5% cashback on purchases made in categories like groceries, eating out, entertainment, drug stores, healthcare, and charitable donations, while paying 1% on every other purchase. There is no limit on the cashback earned per month—another reason we selected Radius Bank as best for debit card users.

Radius makes the account even more attractive with no minimum balance requirement, no monthly maintenance fee, and a no-cost first set of paper checks. Overdrafts will set you back $25, though, and with a 0.10% APY interest rate that doesn’t kick in until your balance reaches $2,500, interest earnings will leave little impact on your bottom line.

Radius’ unlimited ATM refunds apply both domestically and internationally. However, foreign ATM transactions may still incur a fee with this account, as the fine print indicates that “international exchange fees” are excluded from the refund policy.

Radius was founded in 1987 in Boston, where it still operates a single branch, while making consumer deposit accounts available online to Americans throughout the country. It carries an Excellent rating (4 stars) from Bauer Financial.

Alliant Credit Union: Best From a Credit Union

Alliant Credit Union

 Alliant Credit Union

If you like the idea of banking with a financial institution where the customers are member-owners, and the business focus is on high-quality service to those members, consider a credit union. Alliant is one of the easiest to join and its checking account is a top contender.

Pros
  • No minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fee

  • ATM fees reimbursed up to $20 per month

  • Interest rate applies to all balances

  • Free first box of checks

Cons
  • Could incur ATM fees if refund cap is exceeded in a particular month

  • No Zelle option for person-to-person payments

  • Overdrafts will incur a fee

  • Interest rate is middling compared to other contenders

Chicago-based Alliant is a credit union, not a bank. But that should make little difference to you if the features of this account are appealing. While some credit unions have strict rules about who can join them, or what fee is involved, Alliant has one of easiest membership paths in the country. Anyone can join simply by agreeing to a membership with Alliant’s nonprofit partner, Foster Care to Success. Alliant will even pay the $5 member dues on your behalf.

In addition to being easy to join, Alliant is a strong and stable credit union, holding a Superior rating (5 stars) from Bauer Financial.

Alliant’s High-Rate Checking Account is a good choice for those whose balance frequently waivers and dips low, as its 0.25% APY interest rate applies to all balances, no matter the amount.

While earning 0.25% won’t change your financial life, it’s worth noting that this is four times higher than the average paid by checking accounts nationwide. And though not unlimited, Alliant’s ATM fee rebates will be sufficient for many consumers. All of these features combined to make Alliant our choice as best no-ATM-fee checking account from a credit union.

Ally Bank: Best for Low Fees From a Big Bank

Ally Bank

 Ally Bank

Although operating only online, Ally is the nation’s 16th-largest bank by assets, offering a well-honed customer experience with ATM fee refunds, a little bit of interest, and almost no checking account fees, making it our top pick as best for low fees from a big bank.

Pros
  • No minimum balance

  • No monthly fees

  • Ability to use Zelle for fast and easy person-to-person payments

  • Free check supply with unlimited refills

Cons
  • ATM fee refunds are capped at $10 per month

  • Interest rate is fairly minimal

  • Overdrawing the account will incur a fee

If you prefer your checking account to have Zelle capabilities, while still avoiding most ATM and banking fees, Ally’s Interest Checking account fits the bill. Zelle allows you to send money to other people instantaneously from your bank account for free, and while hundreds of banks participate in the network, none of the checking accounts featured above offer it.

Based in Utah, Ally has been operating as the nation’s largest online bank since 2004, and it holds a Superior rating (5 stars) from Bauer Financial. With a focus on competitive rates and low fees, Ally’s Interest Checking account requires no minimum balance and charges no monthly maintenance fee. The overdraft fee is $25.

Ally’s ATM cards belong to the Allpoint network, which operates almost 50,000 ATMs nationwide and which all offer free transactions to Ally customers. But even if you can’t find an Allpoint ATM, Ally will reimburse the ATM fees you incur up to $10 per month.

Ally’s Interest Checking account is currently paying 0.10% APY on balances up to $15,000, and 0.25% beyond that level.

Discover Bank: Best for Overdrafts

Discover

Discover

Although Discover’s free ATM options aren’t as numerous as the other top choices here, its aggressive “no fee” stance means there is precious little you can be charged for, even when you overdraw your account. Add cashback rewards to the mix and Discover is an attractive checking option.

Pros
  • No fees at all except for uncommon services, including no NSF fees

  • 1% cashback on debit card purchases

  • Free check supply with unlimited refills

  • Ability to use Zelle for fast and easy person-to-person payments

Cons
  • No ATM fee refunds (only free transactions at in-network ATMs)

  • No interest paid

  • Debit card cashback is capped

In addition to its well-known credit card, Discover offers online-only banking products to consumers nationwide. Among them is the Discover Checking Account, which features debit card rewards in place of interest, while also eliminating virtually every common banking fee. That includes NSF charges, so if you accidentally overdraw your account to a negative balance, you won’t be hit with an overdraft fee (which typically runs $25 to $40 at other banks). This feature alone helped Discover earn our top pick as best for overdrafts.

You’ll also save money from no monthly maintenance fees, and no minimum balance that can trigger a fee. Paper check supplies are also free with Discover, so you won’t incur any costs there either.

That said, it’s important to note this account does not provide refunds for out-of-network ATM charges. With more than 60,000 eligible ATMs located throughout the country (it uses both the Allpoint and MoneyPass networks), finding a free ATM will be easy in many cases. But when it’s not, you’ll be subject to the fee charged by the out-of-network ATM you’ve chosen.

Discover has been FDIC-insured since the 1930s and carries an Excellent rating (4 stars) from Bauer Financial. Its payment of 1% cashback on all of your debit card purchases up to $3,000 per month (i.e., $30 maximum cashback monthly) helps sweeten this deal, especially when combined with the account’s “no fee” focus and the ability to pay people with Zelle (which alone could save you some trips to the ATM).

What Is a Checking Account With No ATM Fees? 

Today’s checking accounts provide users with a dual-purpose card, used both for debit transactions that you can run like a credit card and for ATM transactions. When using the card to withdraw cash or do anything else at an ATM, the bank that issued the card, as well as the owner of the ATM, have an opportunity to charge the user a fee.

Most banks and credit unions have eliminated their side of the fee transaction, especially when it occurs within their own ATM network. So when you use an eligible ATM, the transaction is essentially free as far as they are concerned, and these banks can say they are ATM fee-free. But wherever you make that transaction, the ATM owner will almost always levy a surcharge of their own.

That’s where ATM fee refunds come into play, making an account truly no-fee for ATM transactions, especially if the refunds are unlimited. With the exception of Discover, all of the highlighted accounts in this review provide partial or unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.

Are Online Banks Safe?

Consumers often wonder if internet-only banks are a riskier option than going with a brick-and-mortar bank. In short, the answer is no if you ensure you’re choosing an online bank that is FDIC-insured (just look for those words or the FDIC logo at the bottom of a bank’s website, or the NCUA logo for credit unions). That’s because the FDIC’s protection against bank failures is exactly the same whether the bank is physical, online-only, or a hybrid. All deposits up to $250,000 per individual and per FDIC institution are federally protected.

A good reason to consider an online bank then is that they are often able to provide lower fees and higher interest rates than banks that have to build, staff, and maintain physical branches. Our “best of” list of checking accounts without ATM fees is a great example of the lower fees you can enjoy from institutions that make their products available online to everyone.

What Are Typical ATM Fees?

What you pay to use an out-of-network ATM can involve two fees bundled into one. Both the card-issuing bank and the ATM owner can charge their own fee, which combine into what looks like a single fee to consumers. Typically, this fee ranges from $2.50 on the low end to $5 on the high end. When only the ATM owner is charging a fee, while your bank is waiving their fee, an ATM fee of $1 or $2 is possible.

Note that even if your checking account provides ATM fee refunds, this is something that happens after the fact, and often at the end of your statement cycle. You will still incur the fees at the time of the transaction. But then, either shortly thereafter or when your statement closes, your bank will typically issue a refund for all of your eligible ATM fees at one time.

How to Avoid ATM Fees

If your banking behavior involves several ATM visits each month, the easiest way to avoid that unnecessary expense will be to use a checking account that not only forgoes charging ATM fees itself but offers ATM fee rebates as well. And the more frequently you use ATMs, the more valuable it will be to choose one with unlimited fee refunds.

If your account doesn’t have a reimbursement feature, it can be tempting to tell yourself you’ll just always search for a nearby ATM that is in-network. But life doesn’t always present itself that conveniently, and it’s likely you’ll find yourself needing to use the closest ATM rather than an ideal ATM. When you’re hit with a $4 or $5 fee for that decision, it can help hit home how valuable fee refunds can be.

For those opposed to changing their primary checking account, there is also the option to open a second account just for cash that you’ll want to access at ATMs. With very seamless and fast transfers possible between banks these days, it would be easy to periodically transfer a budget of cash from your primary checking to your newer account that has more economical ATM fee handling.

How We Chose the Best Checking Accounts With No ATM Fees

Our research methodology began with a focus on banks and credit unions that are available to customers nationwide, and with a secondary priority on those offering at least one “free checking” product. The original pool of banks fitting these criteria was approximately 65.

From there, a further review was done to determine which accounts offered truly free ATM use, versus those that waived their own ATM fees but did nothing to address surcharges from ATM owners. The one exception was not eliminating Discover Bank, due to its wide-ranging ATM network and the inclusion of rare cash rewards debit card.

Each of the remaining accounts was then analyzed for minimum balance requirements, monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, any interest rate or rewards paid, Zelle capability, and how paper checks are provided. Combined with the details of their ATM fee management, the accounts were finally sorted to the top seven that appear here according to different categories.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Bankrate. "Bankrate Checking Account and ATM Fee Study." Accessed September 23, 2020.