Late last year the bank I had my personal checking account with was taken over by the FDIC and sold to another bank.  FYI, the transition from a customer perspective was seamless.  The new bank is now changing the terms of the account prompting me to shop around again.

I thought I would share some of my findings. First there are the features you might care about

  • interest rate
  • free checks
  • atm reimbursement
  • nearby full service branch (e.g., notary)
  • remote deposit (scan check at your computer)
  • online bill pay
  • download into Quicken
  • minimal hold times for deposits
  • fees

As you might expect, no institution excels at all of these.

A new form a checking that has arrived in the last few years is reward checking.  These often have requirements of direct deposit, electronic statements, a certain number of debit card transactions each month (e.g., 10-15/mo) and sometimes a HELOC.  In return for meeting these requirements they will pay 3% to 5% interest on your checking.  They typically have a limit of $25K to $50K that you can deposit and earn this interest.  For example, locally we have Aloha Pacific FCU which offers 4.5% on checking balances up to $50K if you have all of the following (direct deposit, estatements, HELOC, and 10 debit transactions each month).  For very disciplined souls who can keep close to the maximum balance in the account, these can be a good deal.  Tracking the 10 debit transactions each month is the deal breaker for me, making it too high maintenance.

The flip side are accounts that have minimal requirements.  Below are some that have good reputations online.  Of course it is always useful to check out your local credit unions as well.  Hopefully the table below will retain its formatting.  If you know of other good banks let me know!
Bank Special Requirements Interest ATM Reimb Free Checks Rem Dep Loc Brch Bill Pay Quicken Dir Out Wire NSF Fee Stop Pmt
Ally None .5% < $15K; 1.15% >= $15K yes yes no no yes yes $20 $9/day $15
Everbank $1500 initial dep 1.14% < $25K; 1.43% >= $25K yes no yes no yes yes $25 $30 + $3/day $30
USAA Related to service member 0.10% yes yes yes no yes yes $20 $29 $29
NFCU Related to service member; $1,500 min bal .5% < $10K; .75% < $25K; 1% > $25K yes yes partial ??? yes yes $14 $29 $15
Alliant PTA member + direct deposit 1.75% no no yes no yes yes $30 $29 + $10/day $29
Schwab Bank Must have brokerage acct. 0.52% yes yes no ??? yes yes $25 $25