Personal finance

The Best Online Banks of 2022

More and more of Americans’ financial lives are moving online—and for many of us that’s true of how we bank too. Online banks have lower overhead than traditional bricks-and-mortar rivals, which often allows them to offer higher interest rates, while also charging lower fees. If you’re comfortable doing basic financial tasks like depositing checks and transferring funds between accounts via a bank’s website or mobile app, switching to a wholly online institution can offer something like the best of both worlds. 



The boom in online banking has encouraged more institutions to get into the game, which is great because it increases competition, which usually leads to better terms for consumers. In addition to banks that operate entirely without a bricks-and-mortar footprint, there are also credit unions that follow the same model, financial technology “neobanks,” as well as brands you might recognize because of their credit cards or investment accounts. 

The downside of all this choice is that it can leave you wading through a lot of different options. We sifted through the pros and cons to find the banks that offer the best combination of transparency, competitive interest rates, easy-to-use online and mobile tools and minimal fees. 

Interest rates are current as of Sept. 7, 2022. For more specifics of how we vetted banks, scroll to the bottom. 

Best Overall

Ally Bank

Key stats:

  • Interest on savings: 1.6%
  • Interest on checking: 0.25%
  • No minimum deposit to open checking or savings account
  • No minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fee for checking or savings account 
  • No overdraft fees
  • CD terms from 3 months to 5 years available, no minimum deposit
  • Peer-to-peer money transfers with Zelle

Why we picked it: Ally was our top online bank pick for both checking and savings accounts, which goes a long way toward securing its top spot here. Its account structures are transparent, simple and have no minimum opening or balance requirements. You can earn interest at a competitive rate on both checking and savings accounts, and Ally has both regular and no-withdrawal-penalty CDs. Its investment platform has no account minimum and offers free stock and ETF trading.

Ally has established a reputation as a bank that won’t hit you with a bunch of extraneous or unnecessary fees, coming in second for checking and fourth for savings in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Direct Banking Satisfaction Study. 

The Ally mobile app is highly ranked by iOS App Store users, and it offers tools to help you manage your money better. It also has a comprehensive library of articles and guides that can help walk you through all facets of personal finance, from setting up an emergency fund to evaluating mortgage affordability to managing your investments during periods of market volatility. 

Caveats: Android users: The Ally app has a 3.9 rating out of a possible five in the Android Play Store, although we found lower rankings for the Android version of online bank apps more or less across the board. 

While its APY for checking is among the best offered, its rates for savings accounts and CDs aren’t, so this might not be the best pick if you’re just looking for a safe place to park your money and have it earn interest.

Other banks we considered: Alliant online credit union has great interest rates for both its checking and savings accounts as well as a hassle-free user experience, but Ally gets the edge when it comes to CDs: There’s no minimum and it offers no-penalty-withdrawal CDs; Alliant has a floor of $1,000 and no penalty-free options.

Neobank SoFi has a wide range of loan products and favorable rates on deposit accounts, but the workaround SoFi has devised for FDIC insurance in the absence of its own bank charter does leave depositors exposed to the risk, albeit slim, of loss. Granted, you would need terribly bad luck, but we can’t recommend this as someone’s primary bank.


Best for Customer Service

Charles Schwab

Key stats:

  • Interest on savings: 0.28%
  • Interest on checking: 0.25%
  • No minimum deposit to open checking or savings account, but must have a Schwab brokerage account
  • No minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fee for checking or savings account 
  • No overdraft fees
  • Extensive brokerage and retirement account tools and resources
  • Peer-to-peer money transfers with Zelle

Why we picked it: You’re probably familiar with Charles Schwab’s extensive retirement and stock trading offerings, but this well-known brand is also a sleeper hit in the online banking space. Its High Yield Investor Checking and High Yield Investor Savings accounts offer transparency and highly regarded customer service with no nickel-and-diming. 

In addition to no minimum balance requirements and no monthly maintenance fees, Schwab doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees, plus it reimburses other institutions’ ATM fees. If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll also appreciate the lack of foreign transaction fees. And of course, for investors, Schwab offers a host of online research and other resources to help you manage and grow your money effectively.

If you already have a Schwab brokerage account—or are willing to open one—this is a user-friendly option to consider: Schwab also scored in the top three among J.D. Power survey respondents, and its iOS app has great reviews (its Android user reviews are just so-so, although we found that to be typical of the category). 

Caveats: There are no minimums to set up a checking or savings account, but access is limited to Schwab brokerage account customers. So if you don’t want or need to open a brokerage account, it might not be worth the trouble of opening one just to get customer-friendly checking and savings. 

While Schwab offers a competitive APY for checking, its savings account rate of return is meager compared to some other online banks. 

Other banks we considered: We had high hopes for Discover, which has built on its credit card and lending offerings with a checking and savings account. The checking account seemed like a solid contender, with the opportunity to earn interest and cash back rewards, minimal fees and high reviews for both its app and its customer service.  Unfortunately, the new version of its cash back debit account was not available to new customers at the time of this review (existing customers’ accounts are not affected).

USAA has customer satisfaction scores that exceed others, but membership is limited to people with a military affiliation, and compared with pure-play online banks, its returns for both checking and savings accounts are minimal.

Best for Doing All Your Banking in One Place

American Express

Key stats:

  • Interest on savings: 1.75%
  • Interest on checking: 0.6%
  • No minimum deposit to open checking or savings account
  • Ability to earn cash back rewards on debit transactions
  • No minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fee for checking or savings account 
  • No overdraft fees
  • CD terms from one to five years available, no minimum deposit

Why we picked it: While millions of Americans have an American Express credit or charge card in their wallet to take advantage of the brand’s well-known membership perks, its bank accounts are no slouch in the rewards department, either: Its checking account is one of a few we’ve come across that offers cash back for purchases made with your debit card, giving you another way to earn points other travel and other rewards in addition to credit card transactions. You also earn money on your checking account via one of the more generous APYs we’ve seen in this category. 

Its accounts are transparent and refreshingly free of monthly fees or surprise charges. You can also open CDs with terms ranging from one to five years, with no minimum deposit and competitive rates (although there are no options for penalty-free withdrawal). 

American Express’s banking products are highly ranked by J.D. Power survey respondents, and it also has a nearly-perfect 4.9 (out of 5) customer rating on the iOS App Store and a still-solid 4.2 in the Android Play Store. 

Caveats: You need to be an AmEx credit cardholder to open its savings account, or to manage your savings account via the mobile app—but if you’re already part of the AmEx ecosystem, this is convenient one-stop shopping for your everyday money needs.

AmEx’s IRA choices are skimpy compared to many other online banks, and it doesn’t offer peer-to-peer transfers with Zelle.

Other banks we considered: LendingClub has some great checking and savings account perks: no monthly fees, no overdraft fees and out-of-network ATM rebates, as well as a great APY for savings, but while (as the name implies) it offers a lot of lending products, it doesn’t have a lot of other banking options like CDs or IRA and other investment accounts.

Capital One scored our top pick for overall checking and savings accounts on the strength of its transparency and commitment to banishing ancillary and punitive fees. Capital One also has a major credit card footprint, but its deposit accounts don’t offer any way to accrue rewards or combine them with credit card rewards. 


Best for App and Budgeting Help

Varo Bank

Key stats:

  • Interest on savings: up to 5% with tiering
  • Interest on checking: 0
  • Second-chance banking (does not use ChexSystems)
  • No monthly fees
  • No overdraft fees
  • No CDs, loan, investing or insurance products
  • Peer-to-peer money transfers with Zelle

Why we picked it: Varo targets the people who arguably need financial help the most: Its flagship account doesn’t come weighted with onerous account-minimum or penalty fees, but more importantly, it doesn’t use ChexSystems. 

ChexSystems is a consumer reporting agency similar to a credit bureau that flags people who run afoul of bank rules like repeatedly overdrafting or having their account involuntarily closed. People who have negative activity on their ChexSystems report often find it difficult to open a new bank account. This is similar—and roughly analogous—to the difficulty that people with a serious incident like a bankruptcy on their credit report will have if they try to apply for a new credit card. 

There are “second chance” bank account and credit card products out there, but many are laden with fees and restrictions. Varo has few fees, and those it does charge are clearly spelled out. It also offers tools and features designed to assist people who struggle to manage their money. While Varo doesn’t offer a lot of bells and whistles like retirement or brokerage accounts, it does offer a secured credit card, which can help you build or rebuild your credit profile.

The Varo app gets top-notch customer reviews from both iOS (4.9) and Android (4.7) users. You can also do things like make withdrawals, check and transfer balances between your accounts at more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs without a fee.

Caveats: The range for earning the account’s top-tier APY is narrow, even by the standards of tiered accounts, although we realize that the people who would benefit most from Varo’s suite of services might not be in a position to sock away a lot in savings. Also, just an FYI for people who don’t get a regular paycheck or other source of income: Most of Varo’s perks are “unlocked” after you set up direct deposit, so if you don’t have direct deposit, this account might not be as useful.

Other banks we considered: Capital One’s secured credit card has a good reputation, but it doesn’t offer a “second chance” deposit account. 

For people who are trying to get a handle on their finances, the neobank ONE (not to be confused with Capital One, which is a traditional bank and credit card issuer) has a hybrid checking-savings account with features designed to help people manage their finances better, but we found ONE’s account terms, tiers and interest-earning structure more complex and less user-friendly than Varo’s. Its app also isn’t ranked as highly for either iOS or Android.

Best for low fees

Axos Bank

Key stats:

  • Interest on savings: up to 0.61%
  • Interest on checking: up to 1.25%, $50,000 cap
  • $50 minimum deposit to open checking account, $250 minimum deposit to open savings account
  • No minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fee for checking or savings account 
  • No overdraft fees
  • CD terms from three months to five years available, $1,000 deposit minimum

Why we picked it: Axos eschews fees for its interest-bearing checking and savings accounts, with no monthly maintenance fees, no overdraft fees and unlimited reimbursements of other institutions’ domestic ATM fees. Its Rewards Checking account has a highly competitive APY (albeit with a $50,000 cap) but you have to meet several conditions to get the top rate, including setting up monthly direct deposit with a $1,500 minimum, making 10 debit card transactions a month, opening a self-directed trading account and maintaining a $2,500 minimum, and using your checking account to pay off an Axos personal, auto or mortgage loan. 

If that sounds like too much of a hassle, Axos also offers two other—equally fee-free—checking accounts, Essential Checking and Cashback Checking, the latter of which earns up to 1% cash back on signature debit card purchases. And its savings account also has tiers with different interest rates for different balances, but without the cap—which could be helpful if it motivates you to keep more money in your savings as opposed to your checking account. 

Caveats: While the APYs Axos offers are competitive, some people might find keeping track of tiers and the activities required to maintain that status a hassle. And if you’re looking for CDs, look elsewhere: Although Axos offers CDs in three-month to five-year increments, it offers a flat (and paltry) 0.2% APY across the board as well as a relatively steep $1,000 minimum.

Other banks we considered: Marcus by Goldman Sachs has a solid combination of low fees and a high APY on its savings account, but it doesn’t offer any checking accounts—let alone multiple checking options. 

Lake Michigan Credit Union (which is open for anyone to join) also offers a rewards checking account with tiered interest rates, but while the APY is even higher than what Axos offers, the cutoff after which balances stop earning interest is much lower. 


How we picked

To pick Buy Side from WSJ’s Best Online Banks, we looked for institutions that offered the best combination of high interest, low fees and flexible account options for savings, checking and CDs. We also considered customer feedback and user reviews of their digital and mobile platforms, as well as the availability of complementary financial products like retirement accounts, credit cards and investing tools. 

All of our Best Bank picks are FDIC members, which protects account holders’ deposits. The rates quoted in this story are as of Sept. 7, 2022. Interest rates for deposit accounts change quite frequently, so we looked for banks that offer competitive rates along with other user-friendly attributes. 

The advice, recommendations or rankings expressed in this article are those of the Buy Side from WSJ editorial team, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our commercial partners.

Leave a Comment