Banking

The Best Bank for You

More than a year after the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., banks and their customers are still feeling the effects. As Americans stayed home and spent less money, deposits at financial institutions grew by leaps and bounds, reaching $17.1 trillion at commercial banks in May 2021. At the same time, interest rates have been depressingly low for savers since the Federal Reserve slashed short-term rates to near zero last year—and with so much deposit cash on hand, banks don’t have much incentive to compete for your business by pushing up yields. Even savings accounts with internet banks, which typically offer the highest rates, yield an average of just 0.45%, according to DepositAccounts.com.

There are some bright spots for customers. Earlier this year, a study from MoneyRates, which tracks bank data, showed that monthly maintenance, overdraft and ATM fees—which had been moving upward—declined in the pre­vious six months. During the pandemic, many banks granted leniency to customers who had overdrawn their accounts, waiving overdraft fees for those who requested it. In 2020, banks’ overdraft revenues fell to their lowest level since 2005, according to economic-research firm Moebs Services.

COVID-19 hasn’t stopped consumers from shopping for new accounts. One in five Americans started a new banking relationship in the first year of the pandemic, with most opting for large national banks, followed by credit unions and then internet banks, according to financial-technology company FIS. If you’re itching to find a financial institution that better fits your needs, check out our list of the best candidates. With help from FBX, a division of financial-research firm Informa Financial Intelligence, we’ve examined data on interest rates, fees and other features (for more on our methodology, see below) and awarded gold, silver and bronze medals to national banks, credit unions and internet banks. We’ve also named winners and runners-up for three customer profiles: high-net-worth families, retirees and parents with kids. As you evaluate your choices, keep in mind that interest rates regularly fluctuate, so it’s a good idea to check an institution’s current yields before you commit. Rates listed here are as of early June.

National Banks

These large institutions have hundreds (or thousands) of branches in a number of states, making them good choices if you prefer in-person service. They also have robust mobile and digital tools, and all offer peer-to-peer payments with Zelle.

Gold: Chase Bank

www.chase.com

Why it won: From family-friendly checking accounts to premium perks for those who keep big balances, Chase provides options for a range of needs. A broad network of branches makes it easy for customers throughout the country to get in-person service.

Standout accounts: Sapphire Banking offers nice benefits for customers who keep a combined deposit and investment accounts balance of at least $75,000. The First Banking, High School Checking and College Checking accounts are free for qualifying children and students.

Where it is: Nearly 5,000 branches in 38 states and Washington, D.C. Terms and rates listed here are for customers in Columbus, Ohio.

Chase’s most popular checking account is Total Checking, which waives the $12 monthly fee if you have at least $500 of electronic deposits, keep a checking balance of at least $1,500 or have $5,000 or more in combined balances among Chase deposit and investment accounts. If you hold $15,000 or more in deposits and investments, have a linked Chase mortgage or are a military member, you won’t pay the $25 monthly fee for Premier Plus Checking, which provides free standard checks, money orders, cashier’s checks and access to a safe-deposit box, plus four monthly out-of-network ATM transactions with no fee from Chase (the ATM operator will likely charge you). Notably for a large bank, Chase charges no fee to have money automatically transferred from savings to checking if you overdraw your account.

Sapphire Banking takes it up a level. If you maintain a $75,000 balance in combined Chase deposit and investment accounts, you skip the $25 monthly fee and get ATM out-of-network fee reimbursements worldwide; waived overdraft fees (up to four in a 12-month span); no foreign-exchange fees; and free personal checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, stop payments, and incoming and outgoing wire transfers. Chase’s self-directed investment account requires no minimum investment, and online trades are free. The Automated Investing robo-adviser service has a $500 minimum and charges a 0.35% annual fee.

For certain events, Sapphire Banking customers can get early tickets and priority seating or access to Sapphire Lounges. (Such perks have been on hold during the pandemic, but Chase expects to reintroduce them later this year.) If you hold $150,000 or more in deposit and investment accounts, upgrade to Chase Private Client, which offers the same freebies as Sapphire Banking plus higher limits on Zelle transactions, dedicated banking and investment advisers, and other benefits.

If you have kids, check out Chase’s youth accounts, which offer strong digital tools and age-appropriate capabilities. The free First Banking account is available to children age 6 to 17 whose parents have a Chase checking account. High School Checking is free for teens age 13 to 17 whose parents have an eligible linked personal checking account, and it comes with a free savings account as well as the ability to write and deposit checks and send money with Zelle. College Checking is free for college students age 17 to 24 (for up to five years) and requires no linked parental account.

Chase Savings yields 0.01% (the $5 monthly fee is waived if you are younger than 18, have a balance of at least $300, set up a re­curring $25 transfer from a Chase checking account or link a qualifying Chase checking account). Premier Savings yields up to 0.05%, depending on the balance, for Premier Plus and Sapphire checking customers who have at least five customer-initiated checking transactions per month. (It’s free if you keep a $15,000 balance or link a Premier Plus or Sapphire checking account.) For those who have a checking account, certificates of deposit yield up to 0.05%.

Silver: TD Bank

www.td.com

Why it won: Compared with other banks of its size, TD requires low balance minimums to avoid monthly fees on its checking accounts. Plus, it offers student and senior accounts.

Standout account: Beyond Checking provides three ways to waive the $25 monthly fee and comes with a host of attractive benefits.

Where it is: More than 1,100 branches in 15 eastern states and Washington, D.C. Terms and rates are for Delaware.

Beyond Checking dangles a collection of benefits, including free standard checks, money orders, cashier’s checks, stop payments, paper statements, incoming wire transfers and overdraft transfers. Fees are reimbursed for one outgoing wire per month, two overdrafts per year and all rush bill payments. Out-of-network ATM fees are refunded both domestically and in­ternationally if you keep a $2,500 checking balance. No foreign-transaction fee applies when you use your debit card abroad. You’ll avoid the monthly fee if you have monthly direct deposits of at least $5,000, maintain a checking balance of at least $2,500 or have a combined balance of $25,000 or more in TD deposits, home equity loans or lines of credit, and mortgages. With the basic Convenience Checking, keep $100 in checking to avoid the $15 monthly fee. The account is free for those age 17 to 23, and overdraft-transfer fees are waived if you fall into that age group.

TD’s Simple Savings account yields 0.02% and waives the $5 monthly fee if you have a $300 minimum balance, you are 18 or younger or 62 or older, or you link it to an eligible checking account. (Or, for the first year, avoid the fee by having a monthly transfer of at least $25 into the account from a TD checking account.) Beyond Savings has a standard rate of 0.01%, but yields as much as 0.05% on a balance of $250,000 or more if you link an eligible TD mortgage, home equity loan or line of credit, credit card, or checking account. Keep a $20,000 balance or link an eligible checking account to waive the monthly $15 fee. For more on TD’s savings options and 60 Plus Checking account, see the “Best for Retirees” winner.

Bronze: PNC Bank

www.pnc.com

Why it won: Even PNC’s basic checking account comes with perks.

Standout account: Bypassing the monthly fee with the basic Virtual Wallet account package isn’t a heavy lift, and you get reimbursements for out-of-network ATM fees.

Where it is: Nearly 2,200 branches in 24 states—mostly in the eastern half of the country—and Washington, D.C. With its acquisition of BBVA USA, PNC gains hundreds of branches in the Sun Belt, too. Terms and rates are for Pittsburgh.

PNC integrates money-management tools into the structure of its accounts through the Virtual Wallet program. It combines a Spend checking account for everyday transactions, an additional Reserve checking account to put aside extra funds for short-term goals, and a Growth savings account for long-term goals. To further help you stay on top of spending, PNC offers digital tools that allow you to create budgeting categories, receive alerts to see whether you are staying on track, and set savings goals.

The standard Virtual Wallet package waives the $7 monthly fee if you have a $500 monthly direct deposit into Spend, a combined $500 balance in Spend and Reserve, or if you’re 62 or older. You can make two out-of-network ATM withdrawals monthly without charge from PNC, and PNC reimburses up to $5 a month in ATM fees from other financial institutions. Virtual Wallet With Performance Spend and Virtual Wallet With Performance Select impose higher minimums to waive the monthly fee, but they bump up the number of ATM fee waivers from PNC and provide higher fee reimbursements. They also include free paper statements and cashier’s checks. PNC offers a free Virtual Wallet Student package, too.

Qualifying for a relationship rate gets you the best yields on PNC’s savings options. If you have a Virtual Wallet With Performance Select Growth account and meet certain monthly requirements, you get a 0.05% rate on most balances instead of the standard 0.01%. CD rates recently topped out at 0.05% for a promotional nine-month term with a $25,000 minimum (0.04% with a $1,000 deposit). Clients who want wealth management can get help with financial planning, investments, and trusts and estates. The Private Client program (you must have $50,000 or more in PNC deposits) comes with a relationship management team, priority customer service and financial planning.

Internet Banks

Banks that operate primarily online have lower overhead costs than those with brick-and-mortar branches, which translates into lower fees and higher interest rates. These institutions make it easy to bank from home or on the go with mobile apps and remote check deposit.

Gold: Ally Bank

www.ally.com

Why it won: All of Ally’s accounts are low on fees, and they consistently offer healthy yields, too.

Standout accounts: The free Interest Checking account yields 0.1% on balances of less than $15,000 or 0.25% on larger amounts. The no-fee Online Savings Account and Money Market Account both yield 0.5%.

Ally’s accounts are simple (down to their names) and attractive for just about anyone who is comfortable banking online, boosting the bank to the top of our list of best internet banks year after year. Interest Checking offers free access to more than 43,000 ATMs in the Allpoint network and reimburses up to $10 monthly in out-of-network ATM charges. Account holders also get free standard or expedited fund transfers, incoming wire transfers ($20 per outgoing domestic wire), overdraft transfers, standard checks and cashier’s checks. Ally recently eliminated overdraft fees for all accounts.

The 0.5% yield on the bank’s Online Savings Account and Money Market Account is competitive among online accounts. The Money Market Account comes with a debit card and checks for easy access. The Online Savings Account provides digital tools to organize and increase your savings. With the Buckets feature, you can divide your savings among up to 10 categories—for example, for an emergency fund, a vacation and a down payment on a home. With Boosters, you can let Ally study your linked checking accounts for money that is safe to move (without jeopardizing upcoming payments or other needs for the cash). Ally will then transfer money that it deems available to savings. Another Booster feature looks for transactions within your Ally checking account that can be rounded up to the nearest dollar, and when you accumulate at least $5 in round-ups, Ally transfers it to savings.

The no-minimum High-Yield CD recently yielded 0.55% for a one-year term or 0.8% for a five-year term. The early-withdrawal penalty is relatively painless, ranging from 60 days’ worth of interest on ma­turities of two years or less to 150 days of interest for terms of 49 months or longer. If you’d rather not worry about such fees, check out the No Penalty CD, which recently yielded 0.5% for an 11-month term. Currently, you get an extra 0.05 percentage point of yield when you renew any Ally CD.

Silver: TIAA Bank

www.tiaabank.com

Why it won: TIAA’s Yield Pledge accounts promise interest rates that beat those of competitors.

Standout accounts: Yield Pledge Checking charges no monthly fee, pays interest and reimburses ATM fees. The Basic Savings account yields 0.5%.

TIAA, an investment and advisory firm that has been in operation for more than a century, began running an internet bank after it purchased EverBank in 2017. TIAA’s Yield Pledge checking and money market deposit accounts guarantee that they will deliver a yield in the top 5% of similar accounts among a set of 10 large banks and thrifts in 10 large U.S. markets. The free Yield Pledge Checking account recently paid a 0.1% interest rate, and it offers free overdraft transfers and refunds up to $15 monthly in out-of-network ATM fees. Better yet, you’ll get unlimited ATM-fee reimbursement if you keep at least $5,000 in the account. The debit card touts benefits usually found only on credit cards: extending the warranty for up to one year on items you purchase and offering price protection (you get reimbursed for the difference if the price for an item you buy falls within 60 days) and return protection (you get a refund if a merchant won’t accept an item for return within 90 days). The no-fee Yield Pledge Money Market yields 0.4%.

TIAA also has a line of basic, low-minimum accounts. Notably, the Basic Savings account, which requires a $25 minimum balance to avoid a $5 monthly fee, recently yielded 0.5%—a bit more than the money market account. The Basic CDs have a $1,000 minimum and yield 0.55% for a one-year term and 0.85% for a five-year term. The Bump-Rate CD ($1,500 minimum and a 3.5-year maturity) yields 0.7% and allows you to increase the rate once during the term if the advertised rate increases.

Bronze: Axos Bank

www.axosbank.com

Why it won: Axos has appealing no-fee checking accounts for teens, seniors and everyone in between.

Standout accounts: Rewards Checking has long offered a yield of up to 1.25%, and it reimburses ATM fees. High Yield Savings offers a 0.61% rate.

Most customers should be able to find something they like among Axos’s main trio of free checking accounts, which all offer unlimited reimbursement of domestic out-of-network ATM fees. The basic Essential Checking comes with automatic Direct Deposit Express, which provides access to your direct-deposited paycheck up to two days early. For those who have monthly direct deposits of at least $1,000 and use their debit card at least 15 times per month (minimum $3 per transaction), Rewards Checking yields 1.25% on up to $150,000. Cashback Checking pays 1% cash back on debit card purchases that you verify with a signature (rather than entering a PIN) if you keep a $1,500 balance (0.5% if your balance is lower).

Customers who are 55 or older can use the free Golden Checking, which yields 0.1%, reimburses $8 monthly in ATM fees and provides standard checks free. First Checking is for teens (for more, see the “Best for Parents With Kids” runner-up). You can set up free overdraft transfers to checking from a savings account.

The 0.61% rate on balances of up to $25,000 with the free High Yield Savings account was recently one of the top savings yields in the country. The free High Yield Money Market, which comes with checks and a debit card, has a 0.25% rate. All CD terms have a 0.2% rate ($1,000 minimum).

Credit Unions

Credit unions are not-for-profit institutions owned by their members. These three credit unions open membership to anyone in the U.S.; if you don’t qualify based on geographic or employer affiliations, you may use the avenues listed in the “How to join” sections. The credit unions also participate in the CO-OP Shared Branch and ATM networks, through which members can get certain services at more than 5,600 credit union branches and free withdrawals at more than 30,000 ATMs at credit unions and some stores—including 7-Eleven, Costco and Publix.

Gold: Hanscom Federal Credit Union

www.hfcu.org

Why it won: Hanscom offers three free checking accounts with perks to suit a variety of preferences, and savers earn solid rates.

Standout accounts: The Kasasa Cash Back Checking account provides 2% cash back on debit card purchases, and Kasasa Cash Checking yields 1% on balances of up to $15,000. With the CU Thrive savings account, get 2% interest for one year if you set up monthly transfers of $5 to $500 into it from a Hanscom checking account.

Where it is: 21 branches in Massachusetts and one in Virginia.

How to join: Become a member of a partner organization (Hanscom covers the membership fee for you), such as theater group Burlington Players, and deposit $25 into a savings account.

Headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base, near Boston, Hanscom FCU serves military members and civilians alike. With the free Kasasa Cash Back Checking account, if you meet monthly requirements (make at least 12 Hanscom debit card or credit card purchases, have one direct deposit or transfer into the account, and receive online statements), you get 2% cash back on debit card purchases (up to $7 back per month). Or meet those requirements with Kasasa Cash Checking and get 1% interest on balances of up to $15,000. Both accounts reimburse up to $20 monthly in out-of-network ATM fees for those who meet the monthly requirements. With the Free Checking account, you can make up to 10 monthly transactions at out-of-network ATMs with no fee from Hanscom (the ATM operator may charge you). With any checking or savings account, you can access a direct-deposited paycheck up to two days earlier than your payday. All checking accounts come with at least 80 free checks per year and free overdraft transfers from savings.

Savers can choose the CU Thrive account mentioned above (but early withdrawals result in a penalty of 90 days’ interest). The Kasasa Saver account, which must be linked to a Kasasa checking account, yields 1% on balances of up to $50,000. Higher Yield Savings offers a 0.5% rate on balances of $25,000 or more, and rates on the money market account range from 0.1% on balances of $2,000 to $10,000 to 0.35% on balances of $75,000 or more. CDs, which require a $1,000 minimum, recently included a 12- to 17-month CD yielding 0.5% and a five-year CD yielding 1%.

Silver: Bellco Credit Union

www.bellco.org

Why it won: Whether you’re looking for a checking account with basic features, high interest or premium perks, Bellco offers it.

Standout accounts: The free Boost Interest Checking yields 2.25% on balances of up to $25,000. For kids, the Youth Savings account offers a 2% rate on balances of up to $500.

Where it is: More than two dozen Colorado branches, mostly in the Denver area.

How to join: If you live outside of Colorado, join the Bellco Foundation with a donation of at least $10. You must also pay a one-time, $5 membership fee and deposit $25 into a savings account.

With Boost Interest Checking you can earn 2.25% on up to $25,000 if each month you make 15 debit card purchases, have a direct deposit, and log in to online or mobile banking. The Platinum Checking account, which requires $15,000 in combined deposits and loans to waive a $12 monthly fee, comes with free overdraft protection transfers, standard checks, wire transfers, money orders and cashier’s checks. It yields from 0.03% to 0.15%, depending on the balance. Free Checking is a good no-frills account, and the free Student Checking account is available for members age 13 to 24.

The Premier Money Market account (minimum $10,000 balance to avoid a $10 monthly fee) yields 0.4% on balances of at least $50,000, 0.25% on amounts between $10,000 and $50,000, and 0.1% on smaller balances. The Member Money Market account yields from 0.01% on balances of up to $1,000 to 0.15% on $10,000 or more, and the basic Savings Account yields 0.1%. Traditional CD rates recently ranged from 0.35% for a one-year term to 0.65% for a five-year term ($500 minimum).

Bronze: Hiway Credit Union

www.hiway.org

Why it won: A free checking account offers an appealing interest rate, and CD rates are pretty good.

Standout accounts: Hi Yield Checking offers 2.02% on balances of up to $25,000. A five-year CD yields 0.95% on balances of $500 to $9,999, 1.05% on $10,000 to $24,999, or 1.15% on $25,000 or more.

Where it is: Four branches in the Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., region.

How to join: Become a member of a partner organization, such as the Hiway Credit Union Foundation (make a $10 donation), and deposit $5 in a savings account.

With the free Hi Yield Checking account, earn 2.02% on balances of up to $25,000 if you meet the monthly requirements of maintaining a $1,000 balance, making at least 15 Hiway debit or credit card purchases, and receiving electronic statements. The basic Free Checking account yields 0.01%, as does Minnesota Wild Free Checking, which includes among its perks a debit card branded with the logo of Minnesota’s professional hockey team and entries into drawings for signed jerseys and other prizes related to the team. Overdraft transfers and the first box of standard checks are free with Hiway’s checking accounts.

The CDs are worth a look. A CD of 12 to 23 months yields 0.65% with a balance of $25,000 or more. The Money Market Account yields from 0.01% on balances of up to $1,999 to 0.4% on $100,000 or more.

Best for High-Net-Worth Families

These banks give you the royal treatment if you keep a big balance in deposit and investment accounts. They also have a nationwide branch presence and provide wealth-management services.

Best: Citibank

www.citi.com

Why it won: Citi’s premium checking accounts are packed with perks for customers who hold substantial balances.

Standout account: Citigold checking offers a well-rounded group of benefits if you keep a balance of at least $200,000 in eligible Citi deposit, investment and retirement accounts.

Where it is: Nearly 700 U.S. branches in 10 states (core markets are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.) and more than 1,800 overseas locations. Terms and rates are for New York City.

For the fifth year in a row, Citibank rises to the top of our ranking for high-net-worth customers thanks to its Citigold account package. Customers get free standard checks, stop payments, incoming wire transfers, foreign transactions, money orders and overdraft transfers. Plus, Citi refunds domestic and international out-of-network ATM fees. With a Citi investment account, online and mobile stock trades are $2.95 each, and you pay no annual account fee. The checking account yields 0.03%, and Citigold clients get preferred rates and pricing on loans and savings accounts; recently, rates ranged from 0.04% to 0.15%, depending on the balance, with a Citi Savings Account.  

Benefits go well beyond banking basics. Travelers can take advantage of complimentary foreign-currency deliveries to your home, office or nearby Citi branch; concierge services that provide restaurant reservations, event access and travel bookings; and entry into more than 100 worldwide Citigold lounges (attached to bank properties), where you can enjoy refreshments and free Wi-Fi. The Citigold Culture Pass provides free admission to certain museums and other institutions, such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Some perks went virtual during the pandemic, but in-person events, such as an August Celebration of Tennis concert in New York City, are starting to resume. Citigold customers also get up to $200 refunded yearly for subscriptions such as Amazon Prime and Costco memberships.

Along with a relationship manager who assists with banking, you can consult a wealth adviser for financial planning and investment guidance and additional specialists for more-complex planning needs.

With $1 million or more in deposit, investment and retirement account balances, you’re eligible for Citigold Private Client, which waives fees on outgoing wires  and offers higher transaction limits for ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases, plus advanced wealth planning and investment services.

Runner-up: KeyBank

www.key.com

Why it won: Premium checking customers get advisory services and plenty of free features, and the private bank takes it up a notch.

Standout account: Privilege Select Checking. Keep $100,000 in combined deposit and investment balances to avoid a $50 monthly fee.

Where it is: Nearly 1,100 branches in 16 states, mostly in the Northeast, Midwest and West (plus a few in Florida). Terms and rates are for Cleveland.

Customers who use KeyBank’s premium Privilege Select Checking account get free checks, stop payments, paper statements, cashier’s checks, money orders, foreign transactions and overdraft transfers from a savings account, as well as a complimentary small safe-deposit box. Incoming wire transfers plus one outgoing transfer per month are free. Reimbursement of domestic and international ATM fees is unlimited. Extra checking funds are automatically swept into an interest-bearing savings account (recent yield: 0.01%). Clients get access to local licensed investment advisers and financial advisers from Key Investment Services.  With $1 million in investable assets, you’re eligible for Key Private Bank. Clients work with a team of wealth-management professionals and can take advantage of a range of financial planning services.

Best for Retirees

With these banks, retirees benefit from low or no minimum-balance requirements, free checks and paper statements, and access to investment and wealth-management services.

Best: TD Bank

www.td.com

Why it won: TD offers a strong, low-minimum checking account for retirees, plus fee breaks on certain savings accounts. And those who prefer in-person service benefit from a large branch footprint on the East Coast.

Standout account: 60 Plus Checking has well-appointed features for retirees.

Where it is: More than 1,100 branches in 15 eastern states and Washington, D.C. Terms and rates are for Delaware.

TD’s 60 Plus Checking has a reasonable, $250 minimum-balance requirement to waive the $10 monthly fee, and it provides free standard checks, cashier’s checks, money orders and paper statements. If you’re 62 or older, you pay no monthly fee for TD’s Simple Savings account (for more, see the “Best National Banks” silver medalist) or Growth Money Market account, which yields as much as 0.03% on a balance of $25,000 or more if you have a recurring transfer of at least $50 into the account (standard rate: 0.01% to 0.02%). With Choice Promotional CDs, rates were recently 0.05% on all terms. Step-Rate CDs increase the yield each year—for example, a three-year certificate offers 0.05% in year one, 0.1% in year two and 0.15% in year three. At each account anniversary, you can make a full or partial withdrawal and pay no early-withdrawal penalty.

TD offers a suite of wealth- and investment-management options, including brokerage services through TD Ameritrade, annuities, retirement planning, and wealth management through TD Wealth Private Client Group (minimum $750,000 in investable assets), which comes with a relationship manager as well as help from wealth strategists, investment advisers and other professionals.

Runner-up: Charles Schwab Bank

www.schwab.com/bank

Why it won: Retirees who are game to bank online can take advantage of minimal checking account fees and access to Schwab’s investment and advisory services.

Standout account: The free High Yield Investor Checking account offers lots of freebies and is especially well-suited for travelers.

Schwab’s online banking arm offers a gem in the High Yield Investor Checking account. It has no monthly fee or minimum-balance requirement, yields 0.03%, and offers free standard checks, paper statements, stop payments, overdraft transfers and incoming domestic wire transfers. Two benefits that travelers will appreciate: unlimited refunds of domestic and international out-of-network ATM fees and no foreign-transaction fees on purchases abroad. You must also open a Schwab One brokerage account, which has no balance requirement or maintenance fees.

Schwab’s free High Yield Investor Savings account yields 0.05%, and you can make ATM withdrawals from it with a debit card (all withdrawal fees are reimbursed). Schwab’s investment services run the gamut from brokerage accounts to wealth management.

Best for Parents With Kids

Kids learn the ropes of banking with dedicated checking and savings accounts from these online banks, and parents have impressive options for their own needs, too.

Best: Capital One 360

www.capitalone.com

Why it won: Free, no-minimum accounts for both parents and children as well as robust digital tools make Capital One a desirable choice for families.

Standout accounts: Money Teen Checking, for ages 8 to 17, is free and includes parental controls. The free 360 Performance Savings account yields 0.4%.

Where it is: The accounts described here are internet-based, but Capital One offers in-person service at nearly 350 branches in eight eastern and southern states and Washington, D.C.

Capital One’s online Money Teen Checking account is free of minimum deposit or balance requirements and monthly fees, yields 0.1%, and comes with parental controls for you to keep tabs. Parents can send automatic or one-time transfers into the account, remove money from it, see transactions, and receive notifications of account activity through e-mail, text messages or Capital One’s mobile app. Kids can make up to $500 in cash withdrawals and purchases per day with the debit card (you can lower the cap if you wish), and card transactions are barred at certain establishments—such as liquor stores, bars and online prescription drugstores. If your child tries to make a debit card purchase that would overdraw the account, it will generally be rejected. Check-writing is not included. Kids can also check the account balance, set savings goals, deposit checks and receive activity alerts. With the free Kids Savings Account (0.3% yield), children can make deposits, check account balances and set savings goals, but transferring money requires parental help.

For parents, the 360 Checking account yields 0.1%, offers overdraft transfers and the first box of checks free, and, like the teen checking account, provides no-fee access to 70,000 ATMs. Direct-deposited funds are accessible up to two days early. (You can also link a checking account from another institution to your kid’s Capital One account. )

Runner-up: Axos Bank

www.axosbank.com

Why it won: Axos offers a special checking account for teens and an array of solid accounts for parents.

Standout account: First Checking, for ages 13 to 17.

The no-fee, no-minimum First Checking account ($50 opening deposit) gets teens off to a sound start with banking, offering a 0.1% rate, up to $12 monthly in ATM fee refunds, and no overdraft or insufficient-funds fees. Daily transaction limits are $100 for cash withdrawals and $500 for debit-card purchases. Debit card transactions at certain places, including bars, liquor stores and gambling establishments, are blocked. The account does not include check-writing. When you apply for a First Checking account, the free First Savings account is offered as an option, too; it yields 0.25%, provides an ATM card ($100 daily withdrawal limit) and reimburses $12 in ATM fees monthly. An adult must co-own the teen checking and savings accounts, and parents have a number of attractive checking accounts to choose from, too—for more, see the “Best Internet Banks” bronze medalist.

How We Chose the Top Financial Institutions

With data from FBX, a division of Informa Financial Intelligence, as well as from financial institutions and other sources, we evaluated 13 national and large regional banks, 14 internet banks (including online accounts from brokerage firms) and 13 credit unions. We reviewed checking accounts, savings accounts, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit from each institution. We looked at interest rates; minimum deposit and balance requirements; monthly maintenance fees and the ease of waiving those fees; ATM benefits, such as waived or reimbursed fees for out-of-network withdrawals; free or discounted benefits, such as personal checks, cashier’s checks, paper statements and overdraft-protection transfers; and online and mobile banking features, such as the availability of peer-to-peer payment services.

SOURCE: FBX, an Informa Financial Intelligence Business. Data is obtained from public sources; accuracy and completeness is not guaranteed. FBX is not liable for reliance on the data.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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