Need a Checking Account With NO Fees, Minimums, or ATM Charges EVER? Try These.

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It’s been over 2 years since I first professed my love for the Fidelity Cash Management account. And about the same amount of time since I wrote about the Aspiration Summit account.

best no fee checking accounts

My love ❤️

Both are fantastic checking account options because there are no fees, no minimum balances, and no direct deposit requirements. Essentially they’re free to open and keep forever, even if you never use them. Even better, both accounts reimburse ATM fees from ANY ATM in the world. And neither account incurs a hard credit pull to open.

There are a couple of key differences to them, though. I’ll highlight what they are. But, bottom line, you should have at least one of these accounts – if not both!

1. Fidelity Cash Management Account

I can’t say enough good things about this checking account.  You can use it anywhere without ATM fees. When you withdraw from a fee-bearing ATM, the fee is reimbursed the same day the charge clears your account. It’s instant.

Boom #donewiththose

It’s also an amazing tool for overseas travel. I transfer some cash into this account a few days before a trip. In the past, I’ve paid nasty interchange charges each time I’ve needed to access my cash. With this card, there is a 1% fee built-in but there are no additional fees. I don’t mind the 1% because it’s $1 per $100 – which is a small price, in my opinion, for all the convenience I get from this account. I love it.

I also use this account for my Airbnb business as a de facto business checking account. I let the balance build every month. Then I pay the rents and bills. And transfer the rest to pay down my student loans. Rinse and repeat each month.

It’s an incredibly easy way to keep all that separate from my (other) main Chase checking account – which I wouldn’t recommend these days. I got it forever ago and don’t pay fees to have it. If I did though, I’d have zero issue dumping it for this account. Now, I like how it keeps things apart per the envelope method.

What to know before you get a Schwab checking account

The inevitable question is, “How does it compare to the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account?”

They’re essentially the same. BUT:

  • Schwab uses a hard pull when you open their account
  • Fidelity uses a soft pull
  • Schwab requires you to open an investment account, although you do NOT have to use it – ever – if you don’t want to
  • Fidelity doesn’t require any other accounts

AND:

  • Both have no fees
  • Both reimburse all ATM fees (yes, worldwide)
  • Both have free bill pay
  • Both are great if you invest with the respective firms

I didn’t want the hard pull or an account I’d never use. Between them, the Fidelity account was better for me. And I’ve just stuck with it.

2. Aspiration Summit

So this account has several of the same features as the Fidelity account. And, it has a savings component.

I’ve gotten ~$36 bucks in interest this year. Not a lot but not nothin’

Once you hit $2,500 in the account, you’ll earn 1% interest on the balance, which compounds monthly. So if you’re interested in saving too, this is a great account for an emergency fund.

Get $25 to donate to charity – and I’ll get $25 to donate, too

You’ll also get $25 to donate to charity when you sign up.

There are no fees, no minimums, and no requirements to keep the account free. But there’s one important difference in how ATM fees are reimbursed: it happens when your monthly statement closes instead of when the charge clears, like with Fidelity’s account.

This isn’t a huge issue, but it’s something to be aware of so you can set your expectations.

If you’re interested in a no-fee checking account with global ATM access, this one is another contender.

Which one is best for you?

I give a slight edge to Fidelity for being able to link my IRA accounts. And an edge to Aspiration Summit for its versatility as a savings account. Net-net, both are excellent options.

I’d go with the Fidelity account if you:

  • Already have other Fidelity accounts
  • Want your ATM rebates back instantly
  • Have a Fidelity Visa

I’ve donated $225 to human rights so far because of Out and Out readers!

And recommend the Aspiration Summit account if you:

  • Don’t mind waiting for the ATM fee reimbursement
  • Also want a high-yield savings account
  • Like the charitable giving option

Both accounts a stellar choice for completely free banking. I’ve used both extensively and never had an issue. So I recommend either one wholeheartedly.

And if you are paying fees to have a checking account, to keep a minimum balance, or to access your money… stop that immediately! There’s no need to pay anything.

Bottom line

I know we get caught up on credit cards in this hobby of ours. But we all need checking accounts to make our payments. There’s simply no need to pay fees to have your money in an account or to access it – no matter where you are in the world.

I’ve withdrawn cash from my Fidelity account in Ireland, Japan, Germany, Chile… and occasionally withdrawn money when I couldn’t use a credit card.

I can personally vouch for either account. It mainly comes down to how quickly you want your ATM fees reimbursed. And if you want a hybrid savings option.

Even if you already have a checking account you like, consider the envelope method – both are great free options for this.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned these checking accounts – and I like each for different reasons. Even if you only use them for international ATM withdrawals, that’s reason enough.

So now I’m curious – what’s your favorite checking account? Are there any better than these 2? 

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. The opinions of the commenters are not necessarily the opinions of this site.

Comments

  1. You forgot to mention that Schwab’s No Foreign Transaction Fee also applies to ATM’s. In that aspect, it has an advantage over Fidelity (1%).

    • That’s very true! I usually use credit cards with no FTFs to buy things overseas. But I still pull out a little cash to have on hand. In my opinion the $1 charge per $100 is nominal to:
      – Skip a hard pull
      – Have my Fidelity accounts linked (I also have the Fidelity Visa)
      – Avoid opening a Schwab account I won’t use (though I know I don’t have to use it)
      – Get ATM fees reimbursed immediately instead of once per month

      But the hard pull is a big deal for me, especially since I like to open new credit card accounts often. But I do understand why people like the Schwab account – especially if they already have an account there. But for me, a buck here and there is worth it for the Fidelity account.

  2. I grabbed Schwab forever ago, before I knew about Fidelity. We’ve used it around the world with great success. They reimburse ATM fees once per month, but it’s a hard pull unfortunately.

    I have a Fidelity cash account from when I opened my taxable brokerage account. They were doing a “free 300 trades” offer a few months ago that I ditched Tradeking/Ally for.

    I didn’t think anyone else knew about Aspirations. I got an invite from one of the CSR reps after asking a zillion questions. I’ll likely open an account for each of us before we leave the country for good, but I’ll use your link instead of the CSR’s link.

    • Awesome! Thank you, Ken!

      The Aspiration Summit account is particularly good if you need to carry a balance because of the 1% APY on balances over $2,500. I use my Fidelity account daily and my Aspiration account sometimes. They’re both top-notch. The Schwab account is good too – but I’d def go with the Fidelity account to avoid the hard pull like you said.

      I’ve used both around the world too, and had zero issues. All the accounts mentioned are excellent if you’re overseas and need to occasionally take out some cash. When will you leave the country permanently? I’m not sure if I ever could – but I would love to live in Europe for at least a few years.

  3. I’ve been using my Fidelity ATM card for few years now and I love it! Fees are refunded automatically. One time it didn’t because the fees were embedded and it was a round number, but I called Fidelity customer service and the nice lady took care of it immediately.

    • That’s awesome to hear! The one or two times I’ve called, I’ve also had good customer service. I love the account too – thank you for sharing your experience!

  4. Great post – thanks for the info.

    I knew about schwab but not the other two.

    I also consider the soft pull an important differentiator.

  5. Schwab gives you $100 to open the account, so that was totally worth the hard pull for me. Plus it opened the door to the Amex and its associated opening bonus (while offering the option to convert Membership Rewards to cash at a very favorable rate).

    Does Fidelity welcome in-branch MO deposits? That’s another huge advantage of Schwab to me. They have locations everywhere, even in places like my home state where most major banks don’t exist.

    Thanks for taking the time to present the other options. It’s good to have choices. 🙂

  6. Schwab 100%, no FTF on cash withdraw has saved me tons. Plus, I got $100 bonus when I opened the accounts. I’ll take Scwhab anyday (especially if you are overseas long term).

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