Best Online Banks in the US in 2023
Digital banks are becoming increasingly popular as they offer numerous advantages, such as low or no fees for certain transactions and easy ways to manage your finances from your phone.
In this article we’ll cover what you need to know about opening a digital account, including the best options and some of the most convenient providers like Wise and Revolut.
What is a digital bank?
A digital bank may also be called a virtual bank or online bank. Digital banks offer individual and business accounts and other related financial services, just like a regular bank does. The key difference is that a digital bank usually won’t have a branch network, so you’ll manage your money and transact entirely online or via an app.
Digital banks are currently becoming a very popular choice as they offer practical alternatives to the traditional banking bureaucracy, as well as the possibility of managing your funds from the convenience of your phone or computer.
Some specialist digital account providers also offer extra features – such as multi-currency account tools, which can be extremely useful if you’re moving overseas or if you love to travel. We’ll feature a couple of these providers – Wise and Revolut in this guide.
Are digital banks safe to use?
Financial service providers in the US need to be registered, regulated and licensed. Different banks and providers may work in different ways, including holding their own state by state licenses, or working with regulated banking partners. However, as long as you check you’re picking a trusted and reputable digital banking service, it should be just as safe to use as a brick and mortar organization.
4 Best Online Banks in the US
The right online bank or account for your needs will depend a lot on your personal preferences, and how you expect to use the account. Here we’ll look at a quick comparison of a couple of options from more traditional banks – Ally Bank and Axos – and a couple of digital only specialist services, Wise and Revolut. We’ll dive into more details about their account options, pros and cons next.
|Opening fee||Personal accounts are free to open||No fee||No fee||No fee|
|Maintenance Fee||No fee||0 USD – 16.99 USD depending on the account you select||No fee accounts available||No fee accounts available|
|Transaction Fees||Send payments overseas from 0.41%|
2 ATM withdrawals, to the value of 100 USD fee free per month, then 2% + 1.5 USD
|10 USD incoming or outgoing USD wire fee|
Send payments overseas – variable fees depending on destination
No-fee in network ATM withdrawals. No fee for out of network ATM withdrawals to 1,200 USD/month, then 2 % fee
|1% foreign transaction fee|
35 USD domestic wire fee
International wires not available
|1% foreign transaction fee|
35 USD domestic wire fee
45 USD international wire fee
|Debit Card||Available – 9 USD one time fee applies||Available – delivery fee may apply||Available||Available|
|Possibility to hold multiple currencies||Hold and exchange 50+ currencies||Hold and exchange 25+ currencies||Not available||Not available|
|Business account||Yes, Wise Business Account||Yes, Revolut Business Account||Not available||Available|
|Advantages||Mid-market exchange rate|
Low conversion fees
Hold and manage 50+ currencies
10 local account details
|Different plans depending on the features you need|
Some no-fee currency exchange
Hold and manage 25+ currencies
Budgeting and saving tools available
|Good range of account plans and additional financial services|
Some fee free account options
Great options for saving accounts
|Broad range of business services available|
Some fee free account options
Get reimbursed for ATM fees
Wise is a specialist in low cost international transfers and currency exchange, with multi-currency accounts for individual and business customers. Learn more from our full Wise review.
You can open a Wise account online or in the Wise app, and you’ll be able to hold 50+ currencies, spend with your linked Wise card in 170+ countries, and send payments to 70+ countries. You’ll also be able to open up local bank details for up to 10 currencies, to get paid for free by others from a selection of 30+ countries. More information here: Wise Account Review.
Wise currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate with low fees from 0.41%. That means that whenever you spend with your card, exchange currencies in your account, or send a payment, you’ll get the same rate you see on midmarket, with a low, transparent fee which can work out much cheaper than using a bank.
Best Features of Wise
- Multi-currency account features, to hold 50+ currencies and get paid like a local from 30+ countries
- Get a linked physical or virtual spending card to use at home and abroad
- Manage your money through the Wise app with instant notifications and options to freeze and unfreeze your card
Pros and cons of Wise
Revolut offers no-fee standard accounts, or you can upgrade to a fee paying tier to get more features. The Metal plan – the most expensive option available – is 16.99 USD a month, but offers perks like unlimited no-fee currency exchange and a higher interest rate on your savings. Depending on how you use your account, choosing a monthly fee paying tier can also get you benefits like some insurance when you travel, and extra under 18 accounts for your kids.
Revolut’s accounts have good multi-currency functions, with the option to hold 25+ currencies and some no-fee exchange for all account plans. However, some out of hours fees apply when you exchange currencies on weekends and after normal banking hours.
Best Features of Revolut as a digital bank
- Choose a standard plan or upgrade to a fee paying option for more features
- Hold and exchange 25+ currencies
- Some no-fee currency exchange based on your account plan
- Options to invest
Pros and cons of Revolut
Ally Bank has checking and savings accounts, as well as credit cards, mortgages and loans. As a full bank you’ll find a wider range of features compared to the digital services we’ve looked at so far, but Ally Bank is a little limited in that there are no business account options, and you can’t send an international wire at the time of writing.
That said, you’ll be able to use your Ally Bank card overseas, with a fairly low 1% foreign transaction fee to pay. There’s no monthly charge for a regular day to day checking account, and some account products also offer impressive interest which can make Ally a good place to save and invest.
Best Features of Ally Bank as a digital bank
- Ally is a fully fledged bank with strong range of products available
- Easy to use accounts, with fees and conditions written without jargon
- Range of different ways to deposit money
- Up to 10 USD/month in ATM fees will be reimbursed
Pros and cons of Ally Bank
Axos is another fully fledged bank which has a huge selection of accounts and services which cover both individual and private customers. The standard Axos online account has no monthly fees and unlimited local ATM fee reimbursements. You’ll also not need to pay overdrawn or insufficient funds fees with this account.
While Axos does offer some international services, you can only hold USD. You’ll also pay a 1% foreign transaction fee when spending in foreign currencies, and 45 USD to send an international wire from your Axos account.
Best Features of Axos as a digital bank
- Very few fees to worry about, plus no monthly account charge
- Lots of different services available for individuals and business customers
- Exclusive Visa offers and perks
- Direct deposit express to get paid up to 2 days early
Pros and cons of Axos
How does a digital bank work?
Digital banks don’t usually have any physical branches or locations. Instead you’ll manage your money online or through an app.
Most accounts come with easy ways to deposit money – so you could transfer funds in from another account, have your salary deposited to your digital bank account, or use it to receive payments from others. You’ll then be able to send transfers and pay bills, and spend and withdraw with your linked debit card whenever you need to.
What are the pros and cons of digital banking?
Nowadays, more and more people opt for a digital bank instead of traditional banks. As most of us manage so many aspects of life online and using mobile apps anyway, it’s natural to look for easy ways to control your day to day finances this way too.
Here are some of the pros and cons of digital banking if you’re not sure whether it’s for you:
- Easy to open an account: less paperwork and automated verification processes you can complete from home
- You can manage your account and make transactions online or via an app, with a linked card for withdrawal and spending
- Lots of digital accounts are free to open, with no monthly charges and few transaction fees to worry about
- Many digital banks and providers offer faster international transfers compared to traditional banks
- Many providers allow you to manage multiple currencies within one same account
- Unlike traditional banks, many international providers use the mid-market exchange rate, which cuts the price for foreign currency transfers, payments, and spending
Of course, digital banks aren’t the right solution for everyone. If you prefer a face to face service, or if you need to deposit cash into your account regularly, having a bank with physical branch locations near you can be essential.
However, if you’re mainly going to manage your money through online and mobile banking anyway, a specialist digital bank may offer a better service, with lower fees, compared to your normal bank.
Can you open a digital account in the US?
Yes. Lots of local and global providers offer digital account options in the US. If you’re a foreigner planning to move to the US you can also open an online account in the US ahead of time with a specialist provider.
How to choose the right digital bank for your needs
Each bank and account has its own features and fees, so you’ll need to compare a few to find the right one for you.
When you’re comparing, check out:
- Monthly fees
- Currencies available
- Transaction fees and charges
- Debit or card availability
- Ease of use and customer service
How to open an account with digital banking
The exact process to open a digital bank account can vary based on the specific service and account you pick. However, the basic steps are usually for how to open a bank account online:
- Select the account you prefer and visit the provider’s desktop site or app
- Click Open an Account
- Follow the prompts to enter your personal information
- Upload the required documents for verification
- Once your account has been verified you’re good to go – your card will arrive later in the mail to your registered address
What is the eligibility to open a digital bank account?
Eligibility varies by bank and provider. However usually with a traditional bank you’ll need:
- A government issued ID like a passport or driving license
- A US proof of address
- Other personal information such as your SSN and date of birth
Digital specialist services like Wise and Revolut may be able to accept a non-US proof of address document, which makes it easier to open a digital USD account if you don’t have US residency.
How to Use Online Banking
If you’re new to managing your money online, you may be nervous about making the leap to online and mobile banking. However, most providers have very intuitive services, with plenty of information and customer support for people getting used to the system.
Normally with online and mobile banking you’ll be able to:
- View your account balance and transaction history
- Pay bills and send money to people
- Check account details, fees and rates
- Some accounts let you easily request payments from others
- Convert between currencies if you have a multi-currency account
How to withdraw money from a digital bank?
Almost all digital banks will offer a linked payment card, which you can use to spend and make ATM withdrawals in the US or internationally. You can also send payments from your bank, and use this facility to send yourself funds to a different account if you want to.
How to deposit money in a digital account?
Different digital accounts offer different ways to deposit funds. Usually you can arrange to have a direct deposit payment – like your salary – sent to your digital bank account, you can also receive local and international transfers from others. Some providers let you add funds from a debit or credit card, or deposit e-checks.
Best Online Multi-currency Accounts in the US
Multi-currency accounts allow you to hold and exchange a variety of currencies all in the same place. In the US you may be able to find an online multi-currency account from a traditional bank, or you could pick a specialist provider instead, such as one of these:
- Wise account review: Hold and exchange 50+ currencies, and get local bank details to get paid fee free from 30+ countries
- Revolut account review: Hold and exchange 25+ currencies, and spend around the world with a linked card
- OFX account review: Online multi-currency accounts for ecommerce sellers and business owners, with ways to pay and get paid in a range of currencies
Digital bank vs traditional bank
Traditional banks used to operate through their branch networks alone, and have over time added in phone, online and mobile services. However, not all banks have all services available online or through an app, which can mean needing to wait in line in a branch to manage your money.
Let’s look at a few other similarities and differences between traditional banks and digital banking options.
|Traditional banks||Digital banks|
Conclusion: What is the best digital bank in America?
Opening an account in a digital bank can bring some great advantages, including impressive international features and lower fees. Nowadays, there are many options for digital accounts both from full US banks and form specialist providers.
Use this article as a starting point to find the best digital bank for your needs, and remember to look at digital specialist services like Wise and Revolut as part of your research. Specialist services like these have been built for digital services, and can offer low fees and a broad range of services you can access on the move through an app.
Top Banks for Online Banking FAQs
Which bank is best to open a digital account?
There’s no single best digital bank or account provider – it’ll simply come down to your preferences and how you intend to use your account. Some providers like Wise and Revolut are great for multi-currency features and low cost international transactions, while other digital banks like Ally and Axos have a broader range of services including mortgages, credit cards and loans to suit different customers.
Which digital bank is the best in the USA?
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to US digital banks and account providers. That means that no matter what’s important to you, you’ll be able to find an account that suits. Use this guide as a starting point to find the best US digital bank for your personal needs, from options like Ally Bank and Axos, and specialists like Wise and Revolut.
What is the main difference between a traditional bank and digital bank?
Digital banks don’t have a branch network. You can manage your money online and via an app, 24/7. Traditional banks often have some online and mobile banking services, but may not offer all their features via an app or online banking service. That can be less convenient and may mean you need to visit a branch to get things done.
What are the pros and cons of digital banking?
Digital banking is convenient and often cheaper than using an account from a traditional bank. However, some people prefer traditional banks for their face to face service and cash deposit options – or to access services which may not be available from digital banks like mortgages and credit cards.
Can I do online banking without going to a bank?
Once you’ve set up your online or mobile banking you should be able to manage many day to day transactions online without needing to visit your bank in person. However, different banks offer different digital services, so you’ll need to double check what’s available from yours. If you can’t get what you need from your existing account, consider adding in a fee free digital account from a provider like Wise, to make it easier to manage your money.