Capital One
Capital One
Best: Bank for standalone checking accounts
Branches: 950 in eight states

Minimums to avoid fees:
• $300 daily balance or $250 monthly direct deposit for Rewards Checking
• $1,500 monthly balance or $1,000 direct deposit for Premier Rewards Checking
• $5,000 monthly balance for High Yield Free Checking

Interest rates:
• 1% on High Yield Checking balances up to $100,000

Why it's a winner: Brick-and-mortar checking accounts that come with impressive extras -- and no linked accounts required, so you're free to shop around for the best savings rates. Capital One's tiered accounts provide plenty of options for avoiding fees.

Also, Rewards Checking and Premier Rewards Checking allow you to earn points on certain debit purchases; these can be turned in for cash, travel, or gift cards. (The earn rate on Premier Rewards is double that of Rewards Checking.)

Meanwhile, High Yield Checking earns a starter interest rate on par with the highest savings offerings elsewhere, reimburses up to $15 of other banks' ATM fees a month, charges no foreign transaction fee, and offers free checks. Capital One also ranked highly for customer service and satisfaction in this year's ath Power Ideal Banking study.

Caveat: The 1% APY on High Yield Checking is locked in only for one year. Since the account was just launched last September, there's no precedent to know what the rate will be after the lock period.

  @Money - Last updated September 26 2012 09:52 AM ET
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