Betterment Checking Review [2024]: A Fee-Free Checking Account for Travelers

BANKING - CHECKING ACCOUNTS
Looking for a straightforward checking account? Betterment checking offers a great online fee-free option.
Updated May 23, 2024
Fact checked
Betterment Checking Review

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

We recommend Betterment as an excellent fee-free checking account. That means no overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees, or minimum deposit requirements. 

We especially like how Betterment reimburses ATM fees and foreign transaction fees worldwide, making it an ideal choice for world travelers.

Let’s dig into our Betterment checking review to see if this is the right checking account for you.

Quick Summary

Mobile-first checking account with contactless, Visa debit card.

  • No sneaky fees, ATM and foreign transaction fees are reimbursed, no account minimum
  • Cash back rewards and cell phone insurance when you use your debit card
  • FDIC-insured and forward-thinking security features accessible in the app
In this article

Key takeaways

  • We like Betterment because it’s FDIC-insured and charges none of the major fees, such as monthly maintenance and overdraft fees, that are commonly found on many checking accounts.
  • We think Betterment is a top choice if you travel because world travelers typically have to make purchases and ATM withdrawals in different countries. But with Betterment, you get foreign transaction fees and ATM fees reimbursed. Not many checking accounts have those benefits.
  • Betterment doesn’t make sense if you want to earn interest on stored funds, as it’s not an interest-bearing account.

Betterment checking account overview

Pros Cons
  • FDIC-insured
  • No monthly maintenance or overdraft fees
  • ATM fees and foreign transaction fees reimbursed
  • Not an interest-bearing account

The Betterment checking account has plenty of top-notch features and benefits, including FDIC insurance and no monthly maintenance or overdraft fees. But going beyond that, you also get ATM fees and foreign transaction fees reimbursed.

We think these combined benefits really push Betterment to a high level of quality that’s appealing to various types of people.

Betterment is a financial services company that was founded in 2010. Betterment has over 800,000 customers and over $40 billion in assets under management.

Betterment checking account basics

APY Not an interest-bearing account
Minimum balance for APY $0
Minimum deposit to open account $0
Monthly maintenance fees $0
ATM access Yes, use any ATM worldwide with fees refunded
Transaction limits Up to $510 per day in ATM withdrawals
Up to $2,000 per day for debit card transactions
FDIC insured Yes

Although the Betterment checking account does not earn any interest, it should be noted that most checking products are not interest-bearing accounts. If you are looking for an account with a high APY, you might be better off looking into a savings vs. checking account. Specifically, high-yield savings accounts will offer you the best interest rates.

Other Betterment checking account fees

Overdraft fee $0
Stop payment fee $0
ACH transfers $0
Incoming wire $0
Outgoing wire None, Betterment does not support outgoing wire transfers from checking accounts

What we like about Betterment checking accounts

The Betterment checking account is truly a hassle-free experience and offers some key benefits as part of its fintech-oriented lineup. Here are a few of the features of Betterment checking that are most worth mentioning:

  • Contactless debit card: Just tap your Betterment Visa debit card on any contactless pay terminal for even faster transactions. Although this is convenient, it’s also a helpful perk in light of coronavirus concerns.
  • ATM and foreign transaction fee reimbursement: Use your debit card at any ATM worldwide where Visa cards are accepted, and Betterment will reimburse any ATM-associated fees. It will also reimburse the 1% fee from Visa that applies to foreign transactions, purchases, and ATM transactions. Translation? You get to shop or withdraw cash without paying fees.
  • Mobile app: Like many of the best checking accounts, Betterment also offers an easy-to-use mobile app for both Apple iOS and Android devices. From the app, you can do things like check your account balance, initiate a transfer, change your PIN, or even lock your card if you’ve misplaced it. With so much power at your fingertips, the Betterment app allows you to take control of your online banking without the need to call customer service.
  • No sneaky fees: In addition to reimbursing ATM fees and foreign transaction fees, Betterment has also eliminated overdraft and account minimum fees. If a transaction would cause your account to go into overdraft, Betterment will simply block the transaction from happening, without charging any penalty. You’ll also never need to worry about keeping a minimum balance in your account.
  • No minimum deposit to get started: You won’t need to come up with a minimum deposit or account balance to start using this checking account. Any amount you want to start with is fine, and you can withdraw that money whenever you like.

What Betterment could improve

The Betterment checking account offers an overall great experience, but it still has a few things it could improve on. Here are the major things we’d love to see change in the future:

  • Availability of mobile check deposits: Although the Betterment mobile app allows you to easily complete a variety of transactions, it doesn’t offer mobile check deposits. So if mobile deposits are a big part of your banking needs, this may not be the checking account for you.
  • Availability of physical checks: Having the ability to write a physical check is convenient when it comes to paying certain bills. But unfortunately, Betterment doesn’t currently offer paper checks. If you absolutely need an old-school checkbook, don’t count on getting it from Betterment.

Who is Betterment checking best for?

We think Betterment checking makes the most sense for two types of people:

  1. People who want a simple and fee-free checking account
  2. People who want a checking account to use while traveling

(Note that the same person could fit both of these categories.)

If you want a no-stress checking account for managing your money on a daily basis, Betterment checks all of the boxes. There’s no minimum deposit requirement and no monthly maintenance fees to worry about. And if you sometimes carry a low balance, you don’t have to worry about overdraft fees.

If you travel a lot, you know how important it is to have access to cash. With Betterment, you don’t have to worry about pesky ATM fees in other countries.

And even if you don’t use much cash in certain countries, you still have to worry about foreign transaction fees. At least you did, but that’s not a concern with Betterment reimbursing you those fees.

How to open a Betterment checking account

  1. Navigate to the Betterment checking page and select "Get started."
  2. Choose the "Spend with Checking" option.
  3. Go through the process of entering your personal information, such as your name and email address, to create an account.

You can sign up for a Betterment checking account online in just a few minutes. In order to complete your new account registration, you must be at least 18 years old and live in the U.S. full-time.

You should plan on having some basic personal information ready, such as your Social Security number and date of birth, as well as information for the bank account from which you’d like to pull your initial deposit for your new Betterment account. The company can also accept initial deposits via direct deposit, or from peer-to-peer payment platforms such as Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle.

How to withdraw money from a Betterment checking account

You can withdraw money from your Betterment checking account either by using an ATM to withdraw cash or by transferring funds into an account at a different financial institution. Be aware that though ATM transactions will immediately change your account balance, electronic withdrawals can take longer to process so don’t assume your account balance reflects your actual available money.

For example, transfers to an external linked bank account may take up to two business days to be completed. There are other situations in which transactions can take up to six business days. You can check the Betterment Transaction Timetable for more details so you always have an accurate understanding of your account balance.

Betterment customer service

To get help with your Betterment checking account, you can call the company’s customer line directly at 718-400-6898, Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST. You can also send them an email at cashsupport@betterment.com.

Like many banking services offered today, Betterment operates entirely online, which means you won’t be able to visit a physical bank branch for banking support.

Alternatives to Betterment checking

Discover®

The Discover® Cashback Debit Account doesn’t have monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements. You can also easily open an account online with no impact to your credit score. This account is FDIC-insured and offers 1.00% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.

Visit Discover

…or read our full Discover Bank review.

SoFi

With SoFi Checking and Savings accounts, you can earn up to 4.60% APY with direct deposit1, which is a high APY compared to available rates. You can also receive up to $2 million in FDIC insurance and don’t have to worry about monthly maintenance fees or a minimum deposit requirement.2

Visit SoFi

…or read our full SoFi review

Betterment checking account FAQ

Is a Betterment checking account worth it?

Yes, for many customers a Betterment checking account is worth it, especially because of the lack of fees that so many traditional banks charge. Betterment checking offers an easy, affordable, and hassle-free debit card solution, which might make it one of the best checking accounts for someone comfortable with an online-only banking experience.

Is Betterment FDIC insured?

Yes, Betterment is FDIC insured. That means your checking account is covered by FDIC insurance for balances up to $250,000.

Can my Betterment checking account be a joint account?

Yes, joint banks accounts are currently available with Betterment checking.

Can I direct deposit to Betterment?

Yes, you can get direct deposits with your Betterment bank account. To do this, contact your employer and complete the paperwork to set up direct deposit into your Betterment checking.

Does Betterment offer other types of accounts?

In addition to the Betterment checking account, the company also has other account types available. It has a cash management product called the Betterment Cash Reserve3 account, which comes with a higher-than-average variable APY of up to 5.50% (as of Jul. 31, 2023)4, so if you're looking to earn interest on your money, this could be a great option. Betterment also offers investment accounts and retirement accounts, which could make it a good bank for you to grow with over time.

Bottom line

The Betterment checking account is a great option for anyone looking for an easy-to-use, everyday checking account. Although Betterment checking doesn’t offer every service you might want (most notably missing mobile deposits and physical checks), it still does a great job offering other convenient services such as mobile banking and reimbursed ATM and foreign transaction fees.

With all these features in mind, the Betterment checking account is comparable to those of the best banks. And a good fit for anyone who wants the freedom of a debit card without minimum balance requirements, as well as for frequent travelers looking to use their debit card abroad without racking up tons of fees.

Discover®️ Cashback Debit Benefits

  • Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month5
  • No minimum deposit, no minimum balance, and no account fees
  • Access your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay
  • 60K+ fee-free ATMs and make cash deposits at Walmart stores nationwide

Author Details

Larissa Runkle Larissa writes for FinanceBuzz and divides her time between a cabin in the San Juan Mountains and traveling in a van. She enjoys writing about travel, debt relief, personal loans, and mortgages. Her work has been featured on MagnifyMoney, LendingTree, and Realtor.com. Outside of finance and real estate writing, she’s also at work on several fiction projects. When away from the computer, you’ll find her reading, exploring local trails, and climbing rocks.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt