Open post

9 Reasons to Quit Drinking and the Benefits of Giving Up Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is a popular pastime for many Americans. A 2019 study cited by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that approximately 70% of Americans reported drinking at some point in the previous year. About 55% of Americans reported drinking at some point in the past month.

Alcohol use has many benefits, both real and perceived. It’s a social lubricant, an enjoyable taste experience, and may even have health benefits when consumed in moderation.

But alcohol use also has a darker side. It’s a major cause of preventable death and long-term health problems like heart disease and liver disease, a drag on productivity (notwithstanding the trope of the “high-functioning alcoholic”), and an expensive habit to boot. Indeed, many of the drawbacks of alcohol abuse (or even regular use) have financial components, whether directly tied to the cost of alcohol or not.

Are alcohol’s financial and health downsides serious enough to swear off the stuff altogether? Are the benefits of giving up alcohol worth the hit to your social life or personal sense of well-being?

That’s a difficult question to answer in the abstract. If neither you nor your loved ones are concerned by your drinking habits, quitting likely isn’t a top priority for you — and that’s probably fine. However, if you suspect your alcohol use is a drag on your finances, personal relationships, or work life — or you worry it may become a problem in the future — you might be ready to explore the benefits of giving up alcohol.

Reasons to Voluntarily Stop Drinking: Benefits of Giving Up Alcohol

In the United States, one “standard drink” is equivalent to 12 ounces of 5% alcohol by volume (ABV) beer, 5 ounces of 12% ABV wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (40% ABV), according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That’s a standard-sized can or bottle of beer, glass of wine, or shot of spirits, respectively.

High-ABV beer, fortified wine, and intermediate-strength liqueurs require special calculations based on proof and drink size. The NIAA’s Rethinking Drinking portal has a useful drink serving calculator that incorporates some nonstandard drink types.

According to the CDC, the generally accepted “moderate” drinking rate is no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Binge drinking is defined as four drinks or more on a single occasion for women and five drinks or more on a single occasion for men. Heavy drinking is defined as consuming eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more drinks per week for men, regardless of the number of distinct occasions.

Generally speaking, public health authorities frown on any alcohol use at all. For example, the CDC counsels individuals who don’t currently drink to continue abstaining. In other words: If you don’t drink, don’t start.

If you do drink alcohol, consider quitting or cutting back. In the shorter term, doing so could reduce your risk of health and safety hazards associated with alcohol addiction or excessive alcohol consumption (such as motor vehicle accidents and alcohol withdrawal) and alleviate consumption-related financial strain. In the long run, abstaining or drinking in moderation could have significant benefits for your finances, relationships, and health.

1. It’s a Direct Financial Drain

Anyone who’s been surprised by a hefty bar tab knows that alcohol is expensive.

In big cities, a single pint of craft beer sets you back $8 to $10, and a fancy mixed drink runs anywhere from $12 to $16. That’s $40 to $80 per week for those who consume five drinks per week, not accounting for indirect costs like hailing a taxi or rideshare to get home safely. And these are midrange bar and restaurant prices; you can expect to pay even more at high-end establishments.

Drinking at home is cheaper, to be fair, but replacing alcoholic beverages with nonalcoholic drinks is even better. For inspiration, read up on popular mocktail recipes (Town & Country Magazine has a great list) or learn how to make kombucha at home.

2. It’s a Net Negative for Your Long-Term Health

According to the NIAAA, alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, after tobacco and the combined effects of poor diet and physical inactivity. A separate NIAAA study found alcohol mentioned over 70,000 death certificates in 2017 — 2.6% of all U.S. deaths that year.

Alcohol-related causes of death include:

  • Cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure
  • Certain types of cancer correlated with alcohol use
  • Serious mental health issues (including alcohol use disorder itself) leading to increased risk of death

Though moderate alcohol use does have modest ameliorative effects, according to Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the adverse effects of heavier drinking far outweigh any health benefits. If your goal is to do right by your body over the long haul, abstaining is the best course of action.

3. It’s a Significant Cause of Traumatic Injury and Death

Alcohol is bad for your long-term health, but it’s even worse for your short-term well-being. For example, the CDC reports that 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2016 — 28% of all U.S. traffic-related deaths that year and 17% of all traffic deaths among children ages 14 and under.

And the consequences of impaired driving extend beyond the tragedy of fatal crashes. Impaired driving is a very costly problem, accounting for about $43 billion in total costs as of 2010.

4. It Impairs Decision-Making

It’s no secret that alcohol impairs decision-making. One or two drinks might not lead to a dangerously bone-headed move, but excessive drinking certainly can.

As a younger person, I made plenty of questionable choices after a night of social drinking, including some with direct financial consequences. Perhaps you can say the same. The surest way to avoid making alcohol-driven choices you’ll later come to regret is not to drink at all.

5. It’s Not Pleasant the Next Day

If you’ve ever overindulged, you know firsthand just how unpleasant the morning after a night of heavy drinking can be: pounding headache, dry mouth, sour stomach, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, chills, dizzy spells, you name it.

In severe cases, a hangover may necessitate medical consultation or treatment for complications like dehydration or alcohol poisoning — a direct cost that’s likely to be higher for victims without health insurance.

6. It May Put You in Legal Jeopardy

Not all alcohol-driven bad decisions are created equal. Some, such as buying a round of drinks for the table on a low bank account, have manageable, temporary consequences.

Others are far more serious. One of the most consequential decisions you can make while impaired is to get behind the wheel of a car. Even if you don’t get into a serious accident, the costs of driving under the influence are impossible to ignore. In 2013, the FBI reported approximately 1.17 million drunk driving arrests.

Drunk driving arrests are expensive. A Nolo survey pegged the average cost of a first-offense drunk driving arrest at approximately $6,500 and nearly $11,000 when accounting for lost wages. Arrestees often miss work for court appearances and other case-related matters, and many employment contracts list a drunk driving arrest as cause for suspension or termination.

7. It May Adversely Impact Relationships

Research from the University at Buffalo reports that couples who drink heavily or unevenly (one partner drinks regularly while the other abstains) face multiple potential issues. These couples may experience:

  • Lower marital satisfaction
  • Higher rates of domestic abuse
  • Higher rates of divorce and marriage counseling
  • Higher rates of negative interaction and lower rates of positive interaction
  • Financial strain related to poor money management, job loss or unstable employment, and other factors

These issues are particularly pronounced when one partner is a problem drinker and the other is a moderate drinker or alcohol-free entirely. In the worst cases, they may culminate in divorce, which can be costly.

8. It May Lead to Dependency and Associated Costs

CDC data suggests that the vast majority (9 in 10) of adults who drink too much alcohol (occasional binge drinkers) are not dependent on alcohol per se.

However, 1 in 30 American adults – more than 3% of the population – is alcohol dependent. If you have a history of alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, or other dependency disorders in your family, you may be at elevated risk for alcohol dependency.

If you suspect alcohol dependency, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about your options, including whether you should abstain altogether or seek inpatient or outpatient treatment. According to figures collected by WebMD, either option carries significant cost: $3,000 to $10,000 for a 30-day course of intensive outpatient treatment and $5,000 to $80,000 for longer inpatient stays. However, the financial cost is far outweighed by the benefits to your physical health, mental health, relationships, and career.

9. It’s Bad for Productivity and Career Advancement

Several studies cited in “Alcohol, Work and Productivity,” a major paper by the Science Group of the European Alcohol and Health Forum, suggest that moderate and heavy alcohol use negatively affect productivity at work and school. One cited study found that “delaying drinking onset by one year increased schooling by 0.47 years for men and 0.36 years for women” in the United States. Others found a connection between drinking and poor educational outcomes.

An occasional drink probably won’t derail your career or cripple your lifetime earning potential. But it’s worth pondering the effects of regular or heavy drinking on your productivity and performance in the workplace.

Is Moderation Better? Potential Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Moderate alcohol use does have benefits. Some are supported by peer-reviewed medical research; others are anecdotal. It’s up to you whether they outweigh the potential consequences.

It May Be Good for Cardiovascular Health

Moderate alcohol use is correlated with higher levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, which helps protect against cardiovascular disease.

According to Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, more than 100 scientific studies showed that moderate drinking reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

The observed effect ranges from 25% to 40% above the baseline — a substantial reduction. Studies suggest that continued moderate alcohol use is indicated even after acute cardiovascular events.

It May Prevent Ischemic Stroke

The same studies cited above show a significant inverse association between moderate alcohol use and risk of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke. Like a heart attack caused by one or more blocked coronary arteries, ischemic stroke occurs when one or more blocked blood vessels prevent oxygen from reaching parts of the brain. Ischemic stroke is a leading cause of disability and death in older adults.

It May Prevent or Mitigate Type 2 Diabetes

Some studies suggest that moderate alcohol use can forestall the onset of type 2 diabetes, a costly chronic condition caused by insulin resistance. A 2005 meta-analysis published in Diabetes Care found the risk of type 2 diabetes was reduced by 30% for moderate alcohol consumers compared with nondrinkers.

It’s a Social Lubricant (in Proper Context)

In the proper context, alcohol is a social lubricant – a boon for introverts and a salve for awkward encounters.

Perhaps you’re dreading a work-sponsored happy hour, a first date, or a holiday dinner filled with cringe-worthy uncle stories. Whatever the occasion, a drink or two can help.

The challenge lies in not using alcohol as a crutch. This is a fine line to walk for many.

Final Word

American attitudes around intoxicating substances continue to evolve. Millennials and Gen Zers are drinking less than older generational cohorts did, according to a 2019 feature by The Atlantic. They’re also finding more palatable alcohol alternatives, such as nonalcoholic craft beer, high-end nonalcoholic wine, and spirit alternatives for mocktails.

This embrace of moderation coincides with an apparent countertrend: rapidly liberalizing attitudes toward cannabis (marijuana). More than a dozen states have legalized cannabis for recreational use, turbocharging a “green rush” into cannabis stocks and derivative investments.

Perhaps it’s best not to read too much into these trends. If the occasional drink or (legal) edible improves your well-being with no ill effects on your finances, career, or relationships, it would appear to be a habit worth keeping. But it’s also important to listen to what your body, bank account, and — perhaps most importantly — loved ones are telling you. Should you decide to significantly reduce your consumption or stop drinking entirely, there’s a well-worn path for you to follow.


Open post

Top 10 Checking Accounts With No Overdraft Fees for [year]

When you’re low on funds and overdraw from your bank account, it can really feel like a kick in the teeth because you’re already tight on cash and then have to pay an extra fine.

overdraft fees

Of course, from the bank’s perspective, it makes sense to have some sort of measure in place. If they didn’t, what would stop people from impulse buying? Or running amok every day using their debit card as if it were a credit card?

But it’s not always impulse-buying when over half of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. And 57% of Americans can’t write a check for $500 to cover a surprise expense.

Maybe one day the standard of living will be good enough that people won’t have to read over the fine print when choosing a bank. Until that day comes, let’s talk about options.

If you’re worried about overdrafting, we’ve uncovered the best banks for low and sometimes even $0 overdraft fees.

Which banks charge $0 or low overdraft fees?

There are a few checking accounts out there that don’t charge overdraft fees. Luckily, the list seems likely to grow even more in the years ahead. Why? A recent FICO survey found that Millennials are two to three times more likely to close all accounts and switch banks completely.

Their reason?

It should really come as no surprise — expensive fees.

In the next couple of years, Millennials will occupy half of the American workforce, so expect more and more banks to be added to this list in the years ahead. Until then, here are current banks offering consumer-friendly overdraft services.


Chime has a new fee-free overdraft feature called SpotMe. They spot members up to $100 on debit card purchases when their balance is low, with no overdraft fees.

Chime is a mobile-only bank that allows you to get your paycheck up to two days early with direct deposit. You get daily balance notifications and instant transaction alerts whenever you use your Chime Visa Debit Card.

To avoid paying ATM fees, whenever you need cash you’ll need to find a specified ATM via your mobile app. There are over 38,000 fee-free MoneyPass® and Visa® Plus Alliance ATMs to choose from.

This checking account has no minimum balance requirements, no monthly fees, no deposit required, and no foreign transaction fees.

Acorns Spend Checking Account

The Acorns Spend Checking Account comes with a Visa debit card, and every time you spend money, it will automatically deposit money into your investing account. This means that your round-ups are invested in real-time, making the entire process easier.

But there are several other advantages to signing up for Acorns Spend. You’re free to use your debit card at any ATMs that accept Visa cards, and Acorns doesn’t charge ATM fees.

Not only that, but the company offers unlimited ATM reimbursement for any third-party fees you accrue throughout the month. You’ll receive your ATM refunds on a monthly basis.

Acorns does charge a $3 monthly fee, but the ATM reimbursements more than make up for this. And you’ll receive a number of other useful features when you sign up for the checking account including:

  • No minimum balance fees
  • No overdraft fees
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Send checks digitally
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Automatically invest part of your paycheck


Talk about user-friendly! Simple has one of the best mobile apps on the market and provides users with some helpful tools to help you manage your money more effectively.

Users can, for example, input all of their upcoming bills and needed purchases. Simple then calculates how much money is ‘safe-to-spend.’ What better tool is there to have with you before you hit the town on Saturday nights?

Simple also doesn’t have any minimum account balances, monthly fees, or — you guessed it — any overdraft fees. The way it gets around charging an overdraft fee is quite simple: it doesn’t allow any transactions to exceed the user’s balance.

Attempt to do so and the card will be declined. For many people, this is just what they want. And with Simple’s powerful, intuitive mobile app, there’s really no reason anyone shouldn’t know how much money he or she has.


Though Discover does charge a $30 fee if you have a negative balance, it only does so once a day. Many banks charge a similar amount each time you overdraw. So if you overdraw your account at a deli for lunch and again at the grocery store, Discover would only charge you a single overdraft fee.

However, Discover didn’t make the cut just for this. With Discover, you can connect your checking account with a savings account or a money market account and get a free transfer any time your account needs the funds.

Fidelity Investments

Fidelity Investments is a bank that truly offers its customers zero-fee banking. If you have overdraft protection, there’s no charge to use it. However, if you don’t have overdraft protection, your card will simply be declined.

What happens when you do sign up for overdraft protection?

You can link your checking account with either a savings account or a brokerage account. If and when you overdraw from your account, funds will automatically be pulled from your savings or brokerage account to cover the transaction.

Again, this all happens for free.

Capital One 360

Capital One actually does something pretty cool for overdrafts. When you overextend your online checking account, Capital One lets you borrow money that you can then pay back month-to-month at a pretty decent APR of 12.25%.

Say you go over your checking account balance by $50. You won’t be fined an overdraft fee of $35, and then being immediately harassed for the $50 the next day. Instead, you would have a $50 debt plus the pennies in interest you would owe by the end of the month.

That’s a much better scenario than you would get at other banks, don’t you think?


If you sign up for it, TIAA Bank (formerly EverBank) offers a line of credit any time you overdraw. The rates are variable, and if you miss a monthly payment there is a $25 late payment fee.

Another option with TIAA Bank is to link another line of credit or account with your checking account. The transfer, should you need it, is free.

If you don’t do either of the above options, there is a $30 over-withdrawal fee.

Schwab Bank

If you have a Schwab One brokerage account, Schwab will pull money from it for free if you ever overdraw your checking account.

Do know, however, that this overdraft protection doesn’t pertain to checks or electronic withdrawals or payments. If these cross the line, you’ll get a $25 insufficient funds fee, which can add up to $100 a day.

Axos Bank

Axos Bank comes with no monthly fees, full reimbursement for fees incurred while using any ATM in US, plus some pretty competitive cash back rewards.

As you might have guessed, Axos has zero overdraft fees for people who spend more than what is in their checking account. There are two ways for users to accomplish this. Option one involves not signing up for any protection and letting your card simply be declined.

The second option is to sign up for a line of credit with them. The APR is not great — a somewhat high 18% — and interest begins to accrue the day of the transaction.

If you are looking for a checking account with no fees, Axos Bank is a strong choice.

Ally Bank

Ally Bank is not technically a zero overdraft fee bank, but it is pretty close compared to others.

Sign up for their overdraft protection plan and Ally will move funds from your savings account to your checking account in $100 increments. So, the downside is you have to have money in the first place to move around, but the plus side is that they won’t charge you to do so.

If you don’t sign up for any kind of overdraft protection, you will be charged $25 per day you have a negative balance. It’s not the best scenario, but many other banks charge more for each infraction.

Tips to Avoid Overdrafting Your Account

Though the banks discussed above offer some solutions, there are things you can do to lessen the likelihood of overdrawing from your account.

First off, there are three things that suck up most people’s paychecks every two weeks.

  • Student Debt
  • Housing
  • Car Payments

Is this the situation you’re in?

Experts say you should never spend more than 28% of your income on housing, nor should you spend any more than 10% to 20% on transportation.

Simply put, don’t live beyond your means. Do the math before you commit. If the monthly payments mean you won’t be able to afford a fast-food run once in a while, then you can’t afford them.

Yes, there are things you can do to lessen your student debt before you matriculate, but it’s unlikely you’re in a position to take advantage of those things now. So, apart from consolidating your loans and getting into an income-based repayment plan, let’s focus on some practical things you can do to stay on top of your bank account.

1. Use cash for all purchases

It’s not the most convenient thing to go to the bank and withdraw cash whenever you need to spend money.

To get around doing this, simply take out as much money as you can and leave just enough in to pay your mortgage, car payment, and any monthly bills you have. Leave your debit card and credit card at home, and only take just enough cash with you when you go out.

This way your budget is a very real one. If you go over, you can’t pay for what you’re trying to purchase. It’s not stressful, it’s practical. Use your phone as a calculator, know your state’s sales tax, and you’ll be just fine.

Groceries are what really get people into a bind when using this system. For cash to work when grocery shopping, you need to have a list with every item on it before you go out.

Stick to the list, know how much your bill is going to be before you even get to the register, and buy nothing else. Over time, you can save buckets of money doing this.

2. Use a prepaid debit card

This is basically the same as using cash, but you have the added security that comes with a debit card. If you do use a prepaid debit card, keep track of how much you have on the card by using a transaction register.

Don’t know what that is? Keep reading.

3. Record all purchases or payments in a transaction register

This sounds simple (and a bit old-fashioned), but it’s actually a very powerful method to stay on top of your finances.

In many ways, we’ve become too tech-oriented, and rely too heavily on checking balances online — which we then rarely do.

To avoid overdrafting your account, write down every transaction in your register. You’ve got to include the little stuff because that’s the stuff that comes back and gets you.

If you always know how much money you have (down to the very cent), you will be far less likely to waste it on small purchases.

You can also use a mobile app for budgeting to do this automatically. But if you’re just getting started, it may be helpful to start off tracking your everyday expenses manually before having your phone do it for you.


Open post

How to Find My Citibank Routing Number

July 10, 2020 Posted By: growth-rapidly Tag: Banking

Are you looking for your Citibank routing number? It’s quite easy and simple. Below is how to find it.

If you’re sending or receiving money to friends and family members using your Citibank account, you need to make sure you’re having the right routing number.

CIT Bank Savings Rates: How Much Can You Earn

What is my Citibank routing number?

In brief, the Citibank routing number is a nine-digit number that the bank uses to identify themselves. Citibank routing number is sometimes known as ABA numbers, check routing numbers or routing transit numbers.

You need your routing numbers for several reasons. For instance, you need it for:

  • To set up direct deposit
  • For ACH payments;
  • To transfer funds between accounts at different banks;
  • For bill payments;
  • To receive government benefits;
  • To receive tax refunds;
  • For wire transfers;
  • To have payments like paycheck deposited into your account.

Citibank Routing Number For Each State

Citibank routing number is different for each state.  So, it’s important to know it. But your Citibank routing number is associated in the state you opened your bank account.

So, if you have moved to Illinois for example, but you had opened Citibank account in New York, your routing number is associated in New York.

It is as simple as that.

Here is a table of the Citibank routing number by each state:

State Citibank Routing Number
Citibank Northern California (CA) 321171184
Citibank Delaware 31100209
Citibank Illinois (IL) 271070801
Citibank Nevada 322271724/ 322271779/ 321070007
Citibank New York (NY) 21000089
Citibank Texas (TX) 113193532
Citibank Washington DC 254070116
Citibank Connecticut 221172610
Citibank Florida 266086554
Citibank Maryland 52002166
Citibank New Jersey (NJ) 21272655
Citibank South Dakota 21000089
Citibank Virginia 254070116
Citibank California, Southern 322271724
If your state is not included in here, call Citibank at 800-374-9700 for assistance.

Citibank routing number to make ACH Transfers

To make an ACH transfer, you’re going to have to choose the Citibank routing number for your particular state.

For example, if you live in Florida, then you will use the Citibank routing number for Florida which is 266086554. If you live in another state, look at the ACH routing number for your particular state in the table above.

Citibank routing numbers for Wire Transfers

Wire transfers are a quicker way to send money than an ACH transfer. However, there is going to be a fee.

If you’re making a domestic wire transfer, however, you will need to use the routing number in your state, see the table above.

To make domestic wire transfers, and in addition to the routing number, you will also need the following:

  • The name of of the person whom you’re making the transfer to;
  • The name and address of the person’s bank;
  • The person’s account number as well as the routing number.

For international wire transfers, you will need both the Citibank routing number in your state and a SWIFT Code: CITIUS33. SWIFT stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

In addition, you will need the following to make an international wire transfer:

  • The name of of the person whom you’re making the transfer to;
  • The name and address of the person’s bank;
  • The person’s account number
  • Purpose of the payment; and 
  • The currency being sent

Where to find your routing number?

So, you want to know where to get your routing number from Citibank? Here’s where to get it:

Your Citibank personal check

You can find your Citibank routing number on the bottom left-corner of a check. However, note the routing number on your check might be different than the routing number for a wire transfer. So, before you’re making a transaction, make sure you check with your bank to get the accurate routing number.

Learn How to Write A Check.

Citibank routing number on this page

We have listed the routing numbers for each state on the table above for ACH transfers. We have also listed the routing number for domestic and international wire transfers.

Your Bank statements

You can find your routing number as well on your monthly bank statements.

Citibank online

Your can find your routing number online by simply going into online banking. 

On the Federal Reserve website

You can look up your routing number on the Federal Reserve website. 

Customer service

Lastly, you can always call customer service at 800-374-9700: to get your routing number. It’s available 24 hour a day, 7 days a week. However, note that you will have to provide some details to identify yourself.

Which routing number to use?

Depending on your financial transactions, you will need to use different routing numbers.

Domestic ACH Transfer

For domestic transfers, use the ABA routing number from your state (see the table above).

For Domestic Wire Transfer

Use the Citibank domestic wire transfer number in your state in the table above.

For international wire transfers

Use your state routing number: and the SWIFT code: CITIUS33

Citibank routing number: bottom lime

In conclusion, if you have a Citibank account, you’ll likely need to your routing number. You will need to set up direct deposit, to set up automatic payments, or to wire transfer. So, it’s important to know it and keep it handy. Also, make sure you verify the number before you make a transaction. If you miss one digit or get one digit wrong, your money can go somewhere else.


Speak with the Right Financial Advisor

  • If you have questions about your finances, you can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc).
  • Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.


Best Free Checking Account for November 2020 | The Simple Dollar

Whether this is your first account ever or you’re looking to move your money to a new bank, knowing where to get the best checking account is a significant step in your financial journey. For many, this will be your highest traffic financial account where you deposit paychecks, withdraw money from ATMs, pay bills and spend on entertainment. It’s essential you choose the right bank or financial institution with the right option to handle your money.

In this article

The 6 best free checking accounts of 2021

The best free checking accounts at a glance

Provider APY Overdraft Protection ATM Network SimpleScore
Discover 0% Auto-transfer from connected account 60,000 ATMs worldwide 3.8/5
Ally 0.10%–0.50% Auto-transfer from connected account 43,000+ Allpoint® ATMs 4.6/5
N26 0% None 55,000 Allpoint® ATMs 2.25/5
SoFi Money 0.20% Automatically declines transaction 55,000 fee-free Allpoint® ATMs 3.75/5
Capital One 360 0.10% Auto-decline, transfer from account and next-day grace 39,000 Capital One and AllPoint® ATMs 4.5/5
Betterment 0% Auto-decline All Visa-accepted ATMs 2.5/5

Best for cashback rewards – Discover, Member FDIC

Discover offers a free checking account that gives users 1% cashback monthly on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases. For checking account users who plan to make several thousand dollars in purchases throughout the month, Discover’s free checking product is attractive. If your checking account activity is low, though, you could look into an account with a higher interest yield.

Min. Deposit


J.D. Power Rating



4.6 / 5.0

SimpleScore Discover, Member FDIC 4.6

Min. Deposit 5

Overdraft Protection 3

Customer Satisfaction 5

Additional Accounts 5

Discover’s free checking account may not deliver interest like some other checking accounts, but it does offer up to 1% cashback every month on purchases up to $3,000. Typically, cashback is reserved for credit card accounts, but Discover is trying to change the game.

Discover free checking accounts come with no monthly fees, no account minimums and no fees for online bill pay, check orders or debit card replacement. This is on par with some of the other top free checking account options available.

Best customer satisfaction – Ally

Ally’s free bank account comes with a competitive APY, a 5/5 rating from J.D. Power, and no monthly maintenance fees. You won’t find many free checking account rates better than what Ally is offering or as many customer service support channels.

Min. Deposit


J.D. Power Rating



4.6 / 5.0

SimpleScore Ally 4.6

Min. Deposit 5

Overdraft Protection 3

Customer Satisfaction 5

Additional Accounts 5

Ally’s FDIC insured interest checking accounts offer APYs on account balances between 0.10% and 0.50%. The higher-end rate is for accounts over $15,000, while the lower-end rate is for accounts under that threshold. A concern at times with online banks is access to customer service. Ally puts this to rest with seven different ways to contact a live agent for help. What stands out the most about this company is its interest-bearing checking account a 5/5 J.D. Power satisfaction rating.

Best mobile app – N26

N26 is an FDIC-insured online bank that gives account holders unique savings perks and an industry-leading mobile application. It would be nice to see some interest or account-wide cashback with an N26 account. However, if you frequent the retailers that offer discounts and cashback to N26 customers, it could be worth it.

Min. Deposit


J.D. Power Rating



3.5 / 5.0

SimpleScore N26 3.5

Min. Deposit 5

Overdraft Protection 3

Customer Satisfaction N/A

Additional Accounts 1

N26 is an online bank exclusively dealing in free checking accounts. However, unlike some other online banks, the company does not offer additional financial products. All account features can be managed through the company’s website or the technology-forward mobile app. While you’re not going to get interest or cashback on all purchases on your account, you will get N26 perks. These perks include savings at many retailers and limited cashback from designated subscription services like Headspace, Tidal, Blinkist and Babbel.

Best hybrid account – SoFi Money

SoFi Money’s hybrid free checking account comes with perks like unlimited ATM reimbursement, a 0.20% APY regardless of account balance and exclusive SoFi members-only benefits. With the APY rate offered and the flexibility of the account, SoFi money should be a serious contender in your list of choices of banks with free checking accounts.

Min. Deposit


J.D. Power Rating



4.3 / 5.0

SimpleScore SoFi Money 4.3

Min. Deposit 5

Overdraft Protection 3

Customer Satisfaction N/A

Additional Accounts 4

Sofi’s free online checking account offers extensive flexibility that can’t be ignored. The account allows P2P transfers, hold a joint account, manage your cash, get unlimited reimbursed ATM fees and access to exclusive SoFi members-only services, event, and experiences. All of this is available for no account fee.

Best for overdraft protections – Capital One 360

Customers looking to bank where they have access to a wide range of other products should consider the fee-free checking option from Capital One — Capital One 360. People with smaller account balances will benefit from the APY rates with Capital One. Additionally, those looking to take advantage of multiple banking products under one roof will enjoy the options available through Capital One.

Min. Deposit


J.D. Power Rating



4.4 / 5.0

SimpleScore Capital One 360 4.4

Interest APY 5

Overdraft Protection 5

Customer Satisfaction 2

Additional Accounts 5

The free checking account option from Capital One offers 0.10% APY regardless of your balance. For those with larger account balances, this may be lower than what you can get elsewhere. However, customers with smaller balances will enjoy a higher rate than many other banks with free checking accounts. Of all options. Capital One 360 has the most robust plan for dealing with overdrafts. The company has four separate options to protect consumers, including next-day grace periods, auto decline of charges, free savings auto transfers and overdraft lines of credit.

Best for investors – Betterment

Betterment is delivering a no-fee, no-minimum checking account option. Unless you’re looking to open investment accounts as well, you may be able to find a better free checking account option online. That said, the simplicity of managing cash and investments together is something to be considered. However, if you need a free checking solution now, you’ll need to look elsewhere.


3.5 / 5.0

SimpleScore Betterment 3.5

Min. Deposit 4

Overdraft Protection 3

Customer Satisfaction N/A

Additional Accounts 3

Betterment’s free checking account product comes with no monthly account fees, no maintenance fees, no withdrawal fees, no account minimums, and never any ATM fees. Currently, the Betterment checking account is on a waitlist as the product has still not been released. As the company deals heavily with investing accounts, investors looking to manage their cash and investments under one roof may be attracted to this offering.

What is a checking account?

A checking account is an account held with a financial institution that you can use for deposit and withdrawal transactions. Typically, checking accounts are designed for a high volume of transactions, rarely with limits on the number of deposits or withdrawals you can make. These accounts differ from savings accounts, which typically have higher APY rates but also limits on the number and types of transactions and transfers you can make.

How should I choose the right checking account?

All checking accounts have different features and perks to them. Some are interest-bearing, offer consumer protections, charge fees for usage or offer unique features. When trying to select the best free checking account for you, it’s important to understand your expected financial habits and then determine which account fits those best.

For example, let’s say you’re looking at the Ally free checking account that offers a higher APY rate for accounts over $15,000. If you’re not planning on keeping that much cash in your checking account in the future, Ally might not be the best fit. Understand where you are financially, how you plan to manage your money in the future and find the account that fits those parameters the best.

We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the checking accountss we recommend. Contact us at with comments or questions.



The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

For every review, our editorial team:

  • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
  • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
  • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best checking accounts of 2020.

Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

However, it’s also possible for the same product from the same brand to have multiple SimpleScores. For instance, if we compare the savings account offered by Chase, it scores a 3.8 out of 5. However, when we compare the checking account offered by Chase with the checking account SimpleScore metrics, it scores a 4.4 out of 5. We change and tweak the methodologies for different categories based on industry standards to paint a complete picture of products and brands.

Have questions about our methodology?

Email Hayley Armstrong at

Minimum deposit

We awarded checking account providers that require low or no minimum deposits to open an account.

Overdraft protection

It sucks when your account gets overdrafted and you’re hit with fees. Brands that offer more overdraft protections are awarded higher SimpleScores.

Customer satisfaction

Customer support

The checking account providers that have the most channels of customer support score higher than providers that don’t. We considered e-chat, email, phone, mobile app support and social media as channels of support for this metric.

Additional products

When it comes to banking, it’s nice to have options. If you want a checking and savings account in one place, that’s great, but we also considered other financial products like MMAs, CDs, IRAs, loans and more. Providers that have more additional products score higher.


How to Save Money: Simple, Expert Tips for Big Savings

Take a moment. Think about being your best self — living your best life.
You’re probably asking yourself, “How much should I save?”
Here are five different budgeting methods. We can’t tell you which one to choose. Be honest with yourself, and choose the one you think is most likely to work for you. This is how to save money on a tight budget.
To help you save money and navigate this complicated industry, modern companies are updating the old model:

Table of Contents 

You can also sell nearly anything through the Letgo app. Just snap a photo of your item and set up a listing in about 30 seconds. If you have more free time, try selling items on Craigslist or eBay.

Here Are Our Best Tips to Save Money

This one was popularized by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a bankruptcy expert, and her business-executive daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi.

Step 1: Develop Savings Goals and Strategies

 The Penny Hoarder created vision boards to inspire saving for retirement and a vacation on Monday, September 24, 2018.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Your priciest purchases — like appliances and furniture — are a natural place to look for savings. Try repairing your appliances instead of replacing them. And here’s a good list of other tricks for saving on furniture and appliances.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s slowly getting better about saving money.

Think Long Term and Short Term

Here are the blunt facts about how to get lower car insurance premiums: Have fewer accidents, get fewer traffic tickets and boost your credit score.

  • Short-term: Save for a real vacation or nice holiday gifts. But first, save enough to have a decent emergency fund — three to six months’ worth of living expenses, in case you run into an unexpected car-repair bill or lose your job, for example.
  • Long-term: This involves big-picture thinking. Here, you’re saving money for things like your children’s college fund or for your retirement plan.

Analyze Your Income

The best ways to save include automation. You’ll save time, and time is money. Here are a few money-management steps you can take today to ensure you won’t have to think about money for more than a few minutes every month. 
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
An easy way to automate this process is to use Trim, a little bot that’ll keep track of all your transactions.

Check in on Your Credit

Groceries are a huge part of everyone’s budget, so they’re a big target for savings. Next time you’re putting together your shopping list, make sure to check out our favorite tricks to save money at the grocery store:
The FDIC reports that the average savings account pays a paltry .08% APY*, but when you open an online checking and savings account with Varo, it will pay you more than 20 times that amount on your savings account. 
Your first move is to set specific savings goals for yourself — emphasis on specific. Naming your goals will make them more real to you. It’ll help you resist the temptation to spend your money on other stuff.

Step 2: Pick Budgeting and Debt Repayment Methods

A person creates three different envelopes for savings, fun and expenses. This is part of the envelope method
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Life insurance pays your dependents a set amount of money if you die. Whether to buy it is a judgment call.
We know opening a new bank account isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of fun, but Varo makes it easy. You can open an account with just a penny, and more than 750,000 people have already signed up.
You don’t have to be Warren Buffett to be an investor. You don’t even have to follow the stock market, read The Wall Street Journal or watch CNBC.

The 50/30/20 Rule

Related Posts
How much can you realistically save for these goals, now that you’re making them a priority?
That’s right. We’re deep into the 21st century, here, so make technology do the work for you.

Envelope Budgeting

You won’t get rich taking surveys, but if you’re just vegging out on the couch, why not click a couple buttons and earn a few bucks? We’ve tried a lot of paid survey sites, and two of the best we’ve found are My Points and InboxDollars.
How can you increase your income? It’s easier to save money if you’re bringing in more money to begin with.
If you’re going to stay in, cut the cord. More and more people are doing this, because their cable bill has gotten so expensive.

Zero-Based Budget

Do your own credit check. Keeping tabs on your credit score and your credit reports can help guide you to a financially healthier life — especially if you use a free credit-monitoring service like Credit Sesame. It gives you personalized suggestions for improving your credit.
Oh, and there are no monthly fees. 

Debt Avalanche

Your home is your castle. But castles are so, like, expensive. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to save money around the house.
Here’s how: Go to your bank’s online bill-pay feature. Enter all the companies that bill you, and the account numbers for each. Arrange to receive e-bills from whichever billers will do that.

Debt Snowball

Maybe it’s time to try another financial institution. We’ve found some great online bank accounts to help you avoid fees and get features you won’t find with the brick-and-mortar banks.
These days, credit card interest rates often climb north of 20%. How can you avoid paying all that interest? Your best bet is to cut back on your expenses and pay off your balance as soon as you realistically can.

Step 3: Choose a Financial Institution and Accounts

A woman in a car is server at a bank drive-thru window.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Good for: People who worry they won’t have a life if they’re on a budget. Here’s our complete guide to 50/30/20 budgeting.
What exactly do you want to save money for? How much will you need to save? And what do you need to save for first? Think short- and long-term:

What to Look for in a Bank Account

Did you know the biggest U.S. banks are collecting more than billion a year in overdraft and ATM fees?
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Entertainment can cost an arm and a leg. But hey, we have to live, right? So do it for free! Next time you’re planning a night out, take advantage of one of these free date nights or group outings.
Connect your checking account, credit card and savings account for a big-picture look at your spending habits. Then, take a closer look by checking out each of your transactions. Set alerts that’ll let you know when bills are due, when you’ve hit a spending cap or when you’ve (hopefully not) overdrafted. This will help you stick with your savings plan.
Let’s face it: Health insurance can be confusing and intimidating.
Here’s how to find affordable insurance:
You can also have your bank send digital payments to individuals (like a landlord).
Split your income into three spending categories: 50% goes to essential bills and monthly expenses, 20% toward financial goals and 30% to personal spending (all the stuff you like to spend money on but don’t really need). Put the money earmarked for your financial goals into a separate savings account.
Unfortunately, Americans are bad at saving money, and we’re getting worse. Thanks to rising costs, stagnant salaries and student loan debt, we’re saving less than ever.

Pay Less in Credit Card Interest

You’ll probably be asked to choose between two options: term or universal life insurance. If you’re like most of us, you’ll choose term — the simplest, cheapest and most popular kind of life insurance policy.
Most people don’t give this a second thought. They figure it’s too inconvenient to switch. But it’s worth shopping around for a better option, because where you bank can make a real difference in how much you save.
Good for: People who need a simple, straightforward method that accounts for every dollar. Here’s our guide to the zero-based budget.
Start by using the right credit card for you, based on your situation and needs. Would you prefer a card that gives you cash back or travel incentives, a balance-transfer card, or a card that’ll help you build credit?

  • AmOne allows you to compare rates side-by-side from multiple lenders who are competing against each other for your business. It’s best for borrowers who have good credit scores and just want to consolidate their debt.
  • Fiona is also a marketplace but allows you to borrow more money and borrow it for a longer period of time — if that’s what you want to do.
  • Upstart tends to be helpful for recent grads, who have a young credit history and a mound of student debt. It can help you find a loan without relying on only your conventional credit score.

Step 4: Automate Your Finances

Man holding phone
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder.

You might be thinking, I already have a bank. And of course you do. If you’re like most of us, you’ve had the same bank for years.
Are you ready to actually start saving money? What you’re reading is a step-by-step guide on how to do it — how to come up with savings strategies, choose a budgeting method, pick the right financial institution, automate your finances and live a budget-conscious lifestyle.

Automate Bill Pay

Does your checking account pay you interest? What are the fees like? What other perks does it offer?

Step 1: Develop Savings Goals and Strategies
Step 2: Pick Budgeting and Debt Repayment Methods
Step 3: Choose a Financial Institution and Accounts
Step 4: Automate Your Finances
Step 5: Establish a Budget-Conscious Lifestyle
Step 6: Make More Money
The better your credit, the better off you’ll be when you’re getting a home or car loan. Credit Sesame can estimate how big a mortgage you might qualify for, for example.

Automate Savings

Good for: People who know they need help with self-control. If there’s nothing left in one envelope toward the end of the month, there’s no more money to spend on that category, period.

  • Digit is an automated savings platform that calculates how much money you can save. Here’s our review of Digit.
  • Long Game Savings combines online games and saving money.
  • Also, see whether your bank offers automatic savings transfers that will move money from your checking account to your savings account each month.

Automate Investing

Here’s our ultimate guide to using Credit Sesame.
You can automate your budget, too. There’s an app for that. Actually, we’ve found several.

  • Stash lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000. Bonus: Penny Hoarders get $5 just for signing up!
  • Acorns connects to your checking account, credit and debit cards to save your digital change. It automatically rounds up purchases with your connected cards and invests the digital change into your chosen portfolio. Bonus: Penny Hoarders get $5 just for signing up! Read our full review of Acorns here.
  • Blooom is a company that offers a free “health check-up” for your 401(k). Then, for only $10 a month (Penny Hoarders get the first month free!), it’ll optimize and manage your retirement savings for you. See how Blooom helped one Penny Hoarder make the most of her 401(k).

Automate Budgeting

Good for: People with a lot of credit card debt. Credit cards generally charge you higher interest than other lenders do. Learn more about the debt avalanche method here.
You just have to be smart and strategic. Here are some of our best tips to help you spend less:
If you’re buying insurance for yourself, start with the federal health insurance marketplace at to see whether you qualify for any discounts or assistance.
Finding affordable health care coverage is a huge challenge for freelancers. Here’s how to get covered if you’re self-employed.
Not loving the supermarket? Nearly 70% of us say we spend too much on take-out or going out to eat. Here’s how to save money at restaurants, too.

Step 5: Establish a Budget-Conscious Lifestyle

Man shopping for apples
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

That doesn’t mean you have to live like a monk. Nor do you have to survive on ramen noodles and the dollar menu, wear scuffed shoes and patchy clothes, or cut your own hair with hedge clippers.
So-called envelope budgeting is traditionally a cash-only budget. Every month, you use cash for different categories of spending, and you keep that cash for each category in separate envelopes — labeled for groceries, housing, phone, etc.
Most bills are paid online now, reports the Credit Union Times. But you can take it a step further. Set it up so you’ll receive and pay all of your bills online through your bank. That simplifies things so you’ll never miss a payment.

Save Money Around the House

Mint lets you see all your accounts, cards, bills and investments in one place.
Charlie is a money-saving penguin who lives in your SMS text messages or Facebook Messenger (your choice, though Charlie is more fun and reliable on Messenger). He helps you save money through things like making sure you’re getting the best deals around (ahem, overpaying a month on that cell phone bill?).
Here are a couple of simple ways to make extra cash at home:

Find Free Entertainment

This way, you can put savings right into your budget. It’s never an afterthought.
Sell your old stuff! Use the Decluttr app to get paid for your old DVDs, Blu-Rays, CDs, video games, gaming consoles and phones.
Automotive experts also gave us the following tips:
Money management guru Dave Ramsey champions the debt snowball method of debt repayment. Pay off your debts with the smallest balances first. This allows you to eliminate debts from your list faster, which can motivate you to keep going.

Cut Your Food Budget

You can take advantage of these apps offering easy, automatic ways to start investing — the “set it and forget it” method. They’re useful for tricking your brain into saving more. You’ll do it without even realizing you’re doing it. The cost of cooling, heating and lighting your home is massive. Try installing thermal curtains and a programmable thermostat. Or check out these creative, energy-saving ways to slash your utility bills.

Find out If You’re Wasting Money on Insurance

Also consider paying off your high-interest debt with a low-interest personal loan. It’s easier than you might think. Go window-shopping at an online marketplace for personal loans. Here are some we’ve test-driven for you:
Reality check: To accomplish any of those things, you’re going to need to know how to save money.

For Your Car: Auto Insurance

Prefer plastic? Here’s our review of Mvelopes, an app that lets you digitize this method.
This debt-repayment method helps you budget when you have debt. Pay off your debts with the highest interest rates first — most likely your credit cards. Doing that can save you a lot of money over time.

  • Buy a used car.
  • Participate in your insurer’s safe-driving program.
  • Shop around for better rates. One easy way is The Zebra, a car insurance search engine that compares your options from more than 200 providers in less than 60 seconds. Here’s how one guy is saving $360 this year on car insurance because of The Zebra.

For Yourself: Health Insurance

Good for: People who owe a lot of different kinds of debts — credit cards, student loans, etc. — and who need motivation. Here’s how to use the debt snowball method to eliminate debt.
Pour yourself a cup of coffee and buckle up. It’s time to get serious about this.
Privacy Policy

For Your Family: Life Insurance

Buying insurance can be confusing and overwhelming, because there are so many options.
Here’s how you draw up this budget: Your income minus your expenses (including savings) equals zero. This way, you have to justify every expense.
MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app. You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.
To free up more money for savings, try to spend less paying interest on your debts — especially if you have high-interest credit card debt.

  • Policygenius is an online-only platform that offers instant quotes from top carriers to help you make a quicker decision. Once you choose a life insurance company, you can apply right online, and a Policygenius rep will give you a quick call to ask a few follow-up questions.
  • Haven Life can insure you quickly based just on the health information you provide online.
  • Ethos can get you term life insurance in less than 10 minutes — with no medical exam — for coverage up to $1 million. Ethos offers a digital application, and customer service is available if you have questions.

Step 6: Make More Money

Lisa Rowan shows off her items she got from a clothing swap hosted by Stephanie Bolling in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Life insurance is considered more important if you’re married or have children. You might also want a basic policy that would pay off your funeral, mortgage or other debt.
Here’s the harsh reality: To save more money, you’ll need to spend less money. (Or make more money, but we’ll get to that next.)

Share Your Opinion

Whatever you need done financially, there’s an app for that. We’ve put several to the test.

Clear Your Closets

What do you really want to do with your life? Raise a happy family? Travel the world? Buy a nice house? Start your own business?
Here’s one example: There’s a mobile baking app called Varo Money.

Find a Side Gig

Want more options? Here’s our ultimate guide to help you choose the right account. It’s time to start making a monthly budget and sticking to it — especially if you have debt.

Write down your income and expenses — all of your expenses, from utility bills to your Netflix subscription. There are probably more ways to save money than you realize. Don’t forget your student loans or credit card debt. Make sure you know what you’re spending in every budget category. Pay special attention to what you’re spending on non-essentials, such as eating out.



If you’re thinking of switching to an online streaming service and you’re wondering which would be best, we’ve got you covered with our comparison of Netflix, Prime Video and Hulu. We compared costs, type of content, number of available titles and more.

Scroll to top