Review: Axos Essential Checking (Our #1 Pick)

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axos essential checking review | Be The Budget

If you’re frustrated with your current banking situation, or just want to change things up, then an Axos Essential Checking account might be perfect for you.

Not only does this checking account offer quite a few perks, but since Axos Bank operates entirely online, you don’t have to deal with many of the fees traditional banks charge.

Honestly, it’s hard to find much (if anything) wrong with this checking account—which is exactly why it has become our #1 recommended checking account here at Be The Budget.

But is it the right checking account for you?

And why, exactly, do we recommend it over other checking accounts?

Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss for the rest of this review.

Let’s dive in!

Axos Essential Checking Account Details

Like most checking accounts, the Axos Essential Checking account does not offer any interest.

However, it does offer some exciting perks when it comes to usability, fees, and reimbursements.

For example, there is no minimum opening deposit requirement, no maintenance fees, no ATM fees, and no overdraft fees. The account also offers unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.

This is a no-frills checking account that gets the job done.

Honestly, the simplicity and straight-forward nature of this account is one of the things we love most!

How To Open An Axos Essential Checking Account

It’s easy to open an Axos Essential Checking account. Seriously, all it takes is a few short minutes.

To create an account, you’ll need to choose a username and password, provide your personal information, such as your Social Security number and a valid form of identification, and then BAMMO, you have yourself a new checking account.

In all seriousness, the entire process should only take you about 10 to 15 minutes.

They’ve got the whole process down to a science.

Benefits Of An Axos Essential Checking Account

One reason we love the Axos Essential Checking account is that it offers many exciting perks.

In fact, here are some of the top features of the account:

  • ATM Reimbursement: Axos will reimburse you for any ATM fees you incur by other ATM networks.
  • Early Direct Deposits: You can receive your paycheck up to two days early with the direct deposit express feature. (This is a feature we particularly love!)
  • Earn Cash Through Referrals: Axos Bank has a referral program that allows you to earn money when your friends and family sign up for an Essential Checking account. Umm, heck yeah!
  • Free Online Bill Pay: You can easily pay your bills from your account online.
  • Mobile Banking Services: Axos Essential Checking allows you to monitor your account and manage your money through its convenient online portal or mobile app. Oh, and being an online bank, you can deposit checks directly into your account using their mobile app on your smartphone. (It’s a breeze!)
  • Signup Bonus: At the time of writing this, if you open an Axos High Yield Savings account at the same time as your Essential Checking account and accept a direct deposit of at least $1,000 within 60 days, you’ll qualify for a signup bonus.
  • Fraud Monitoring: Axos carefully monitors transactions to detect potentially fraudulent activity, so you can rest assured that your money is safe in your account.
  • Nationwide ATM Network: You can make fee-free ATM transactions without needing to be reimbursed at many ATMs near you.

Fees And Limitations Of Axos Essential Checking

Arguably the best feature of the Axos Essential Checking account is that it doesn’t charge users nearly as many fees as other banks do.

There are no monthly account maintenance fees, online bill pay fees, overdraft fees, incoming wire transfer fees, or ATM fees.

The only fees you will be charged when you have an Axos Essential Checking account are as follows:

  • Debit Card Replacement Fee: If you lose your debit card, you’ll need to pay $5 to replace it. (No big deal there!)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee (Debit Card): If you use your debit card to make purchases in a foreign country, you’ll be charged a 1% fee on each purchase.
  • Paper Statement Fee: Axos does everything online. So, if you need to receive a paper version of your bank statement, the bank will charge you $5.
  • Returned Deposit Fee: For both domestic and international returned deposits, you would need to pay a flat fee of $10.
  • Stop Payment Fee: To stop a payment you’ve already initiated, you have to pay $10.
  • Outgoing Wire Transfer Fees: To make wire transfers from your checking account, you have to pay $35 for a domestic transaction, or $45 for an international transaction.

Overall, these fees are standard and tend to be lower than most traditional banks.

Because Axos doesn’t have the overhead of a bank with physical branches all across the country, they are able to charge their customers less for the same, if not better, service.

Axos Essential Checking Review: Our #1 Pick | Be The Budget

Axos Banking Experience

Choosing to bank with Axos is a great idea if you want to have the power to manage your money in the palm of your hand.

Its handy mobile app makes it easy to stay on top of your accounts.

In fact, the mobile app has a rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 in the App Store.

Your Axos Essential Checking account also comes with an ATM card that you can use at over 90,000 fee-free ATMs around the U.S. You can also get reimbursed for any transactions you make at out-of-network ATMs.

The app gives you access to Axos Bank’s virtual financial assistant, Evo. Evo can give you answers to any common banking questions you have and can help you manage your accounts if you need help.

Axos Bank has a call center that provides phone support around the clock. The bank does have two physical branches, but for the most part, you’ll need to take care of your banking needs online, via chat, or over the phone.

A third-party service called Green Dot allows you to add cash to your Axos Essential Checking account at certain retailers like 7-Eleven and CVS pharmacy. However, adding cash to your account in this way costs $4.95 per deposit.

Then again, you can just add cash to your account for free at any in-network ATM, or by depositing a check through the Axos Bank mobile app.

Axos Essential Checking Referral Program

After you sign up for your own Axos Essential Checking account, you can earn money by referring your friends and family to open an account.

It’s a fun way to earn some extra cash without a ton of effort!

This is an offer that currently only applies to the Essential Checking account.

When you refer this account to a friend, Axos will deposit $20 into both your account and your friend’s. Can you say win-win?

Follow these steps to earn money from your referrals:

  1. Get Your Referral Link: Log into your online banking account or mobile app to get your unique referral link.
  2. Send Your Link to Friends: You can send your referral link to as many friends as you’d like. Axos does not put a limit on the number of people who can sign up through your referral link.
  3. Meet the Requirements: After your friend clicks on your link and opens a new Essential Checking account, he or she will need to set up a direct deposit of at least $500 within 90 days of opening the account.
  4. Get Paid: You and your friend will each receive a $20 referral gift in your accounts within 7 business days of your statement cycle after your friend meets the eligibility requirements.
  5. Repeat and Keep Earning: The more you share the Axos Essential Checking account with others, the more bonus deposits you will earn.

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Other Accounts And Services From Axos Bank

Since most people tend to need more than just a checking account to satisfy their banking needs–for example, a savings account for your emergency fund–you may be interested to know about the other accounts and services Axos offers.

While the Essential Checking account is our favorite checking account, the bank’s other accounts and services are great, too.

High-Yield Savings

If you need a high-quality savings account to go along with your checking account, the Axos bank High Yield Savings account is the perfect option.

At the time of writing this article, its current annual percentage yield (APY) is 0.61% on all balances, which is significantly higher than you’ll typically find a traditional banks.

To open this savings account, you’ll need an initial deposit of at least $250. After that, however, there are no additional balance requirements or monthly maintenance fees. You can even request a free ATM card for this account which is very uncommon for most savings accounts.

Click here to learn more about an Axos High-Yield Savings Account.

Money Market Accounts

If you’d prefer to keep your savings in a money market account, Axos Bank’s High-Yield Money Market account may be better for you.

At the time of writing this article, it offers a current APY of 0.60% on all balances and doesn’t charge any monthly maintenance fees.

However, the minimum opening balance for this money market account is higher than that of a High Yield Savings account at $1,000. But after that, there is no minimum balance requirement.

This account allows you to perform debit card transactions, and it also offers check writing privileges, which is a really nice feature if you plan to use it for an emergency fund or as a place to save for a down payment on a house.

This makes it easy to access and use the funds in your money market account.

Click here to learn more about an Axos High-Yield Money Market Account.

CDs

This is the one area where Axos bank doesn’t compete as well against other online banks.

Axos CD terms range from three months to five years and pay a rate of 0.20% APY.

The minimum balance requirement to open a CD account with Axos Bank is $1,000. This requirement is in line with most national banks, but there are lower minimums at many other online banks.

As with other most of the other Axos accounts, there are no monthly fees associated with this account.

If you need to pull your funds out of your Axos CD before maturity, you may face early withdrawal penalties up to 24 months’ worth of interest, depending on your CD term.

Your Axos Bank CD will automatically renew when it reaches maturity. The company offers a 10-day grace period during which you can take other actions without penalty, such as closing your CD account, changing your CD’s term, or withdrawing or adding funds.

Review: Axos Essential Checking (Our #1 Pick) | Be The Budget

Pros And Cons Of Banking With Axos Essential Checking

Like all bank accounts, the Axos Essential Checking account comes with its advantages and disadvantages. That said, for us, the pros of this account significantly outweigh the cons.

So, what do we like, and what don’t we like about the Axos Essential Checking account?

Here is a brief overview:

Pros

  • No monthly fees
  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
  • Funds are FDIC insured up to $250,000
  • Early direct deposit
  • Referral bonus when you invite friends or family
  • 100% online and mobile banking
  • Free debit card
  • No charge for incoming domestic or international wire transfers
  • Available in all 50 states

Cons

  • Does not earn any interest (though, this is common for most free checking accounts)
  • Higher than average fees for outgoing wire transfers
  • Only two branches (if you like to walk into your bank and deposit cash over the counter, then an online bank like Axos probably isn’t a great option for you.)

Final Thoughts

The Axos Essential Checking account is a phenomenal option if you’re looking to open a checking account for the first time or are looking to take your banking entirely online.

And while no checking account is perfect, we think this one is about as close as it can get.

Between the $0 opening deposit, early direct deposit, no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance requirements, and the fact that you can earn a referral bonus for referring your friends, this checking account is the whole package.

Hopefully, this review has given you a little more insight into how the Axos Essential Checking account works, and whether it is the right option for you.

Click here to open an Axos Essential Checking account.

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About The Author

About The Author

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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