Axos Bank Review
Founded in 2000, Axos Bank (known as Bank of Internet USA until 2018) is the oldest internet bank around and continues to be a solid choice for people wanting a full-service, online-only bank. Axos provides banking with rewards checking accounts, no unnecessary fees, and unlimited ATM reimbursements. Though for this review we’ll be sticking with the company’s personal banking and deposit accounts, people looking to get a loan might want to look into Axos’ mortgage, personal, and auto loan offerings. Entrepreneurs should also consider Axos’ small-business banking for an ideal marriage of personal and business banking under one roof.
Axos is a great choice for people looking for unique checking account options — like cash back rewards. It’s also ideal for those hoping to invest money for long periods of time, as CD rates are extremely competitive for five-year terms. However, if you value strong customer service and a good mobile app, Axos may not be the right fit for you; it scores poorly on both counts, which could be a deal breaker given its lack of physical locations.
Checking account rewards
Early direct deposit
Little to no monthly checking account fees, minimum balances, or overdraft fees
Variety of CD terms
Checking account perks vary by account type
Moderate APY on deposit accounts
Limited physical branches
Axos Bank boasts that it is “banking evolved.” It gives its customers “the tools, information, and ability to make smarter choices” while empowering them “to make real progress toward their goals.”
Is it true?
Axos Bank has led the pack since the beginning by evolving from a traditional banking system to an almost purely digital one. Today, Axos Bank continues to pioneer the digital banking space by being one of the few online-only banks offering both interest-bearing and rewards checking accounts. Combined with low to no checking account fees and unlimited ATM reimbursements, you get more for your money when banking with Axos. And while the company’s savings accounts may be less competitive than those of banks like Ally, rates are still good.
Tools like Axos’ no-hassle Switch Kit make it straightforward for new customers to migrate their money from another bank. Axos’ website also has various financial articles geared toward helping consumers make informed decisions in scenarios like first-time home buying and keeping digital accounts secure, making good on Axos’ promise to help customers make smarter choices.
With all that said, in the eyes of customers, Axos may not have truly reached its claim of “banking evolved.” While it is not rated in J.D. Power’s online banking satisfaction study, it does fall to last place in the Direct Banking Satisfaction Study, a study that measures customer satisfaction with account opening, products and fees, and overall communication with the company. Axos’ low score — a dismal two out of five — indicates that it may be harder to work with Axos than with many of its competitors, like Ally Bank.
What Axos Bank Offers
Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements on select accounts
No overdraft fees on select accounts
No monthly maintenance fees
Variety of account types
You can choose from five different checking accounts with Axos Bank. Its three main ones — Essential Checking, Rewards Checking, and CashBack Checking — don’t have maintenance fees, annual fees, or overdraft fees. Essential Checking even allows account holders to access their paycheck up to two days earlier than their coworkers with Direct Deposit Express.
With all three accounts, you’ll never have to worry about searching for bank-specific ATMs to avoid fees, because they have unlimited reimbursements for domestic ATM fees. You can also use your debit card to deposit cash right at the register of any Green Dot Network retailer like Kroger, Walmart, and 7-Eleven. Retailers may charge up to a $4.95 fee, and cash deposits are limited to $500, or $1,000, and $1,500 at Walmart and ACE Cash Express, respectively, but it’s still a perk that not many online banks offer.
If you want to make money with your checking account, Axos Bank is our pick for the best reward checking account. CashBack Checking gives 1% cashback (up to $2,000 per month) on all signature transactions with a $1,500 daily account balance. For its Rewards Checking, Axos has a tiered APY of 0.4166% for each tier you qualify for, with a maximum APY of 1.25%.
Axos offers two other checking accounts, though they don’t come with the same perks. First Checking is designed for children ages 13 to 17, with daily transaction limits and a lower APY of 0.25%. Golden Checking is for adults age 55 and older, the main perk being free personal checks and a 0.20% APY. First Checking and Golden Checking do come with ATM reimbursement caps, at $12 and $8, respectively.
High-yield savings account
Interest compounded daily
No minimum balances
Free ATM card
Mobile check deposits
Limits on monthly withdrawals
$250 minimum account opening balance
Axos Bank’s 1.30% APY on its savings account is less than those of many leading online banks like Ally, which offers a savings account APY of 1.70% as of December 13, 2019. However, Axos is still worth considering; interest compounds daily, and Axos doesn’t charge many fees. Depending on how much you keep in your savings, its moderate rate might still net you more than you would having to deduct maintenance fees at another bank. Its free ATM card is also convenient for depositing cash with a Green Dot Network retailer or to use for quick access to funds. Keep in mind that retailers may charge up to $4.95 in fees for deposits, and federal laws limit you to six withdrawals per month — but still, the option to access your cash in an emergency is a nice perk. To open an account, you’ll need to dish out at least $250 for the opening balance, but from there, you can let your money grow safely in Axos’ FDIC-insured account.
No setup or maintenance fees
Grace period on auto-renewals
The longer you keep your money with an Axos Bank CD, the better the rates are. Axos has CDs with terms as short as three months, but that three-month APY is only 0.55% — much lower than three-month terms from our top picks for banks with the best CDs, like TIAA Bank and Ally. It’s only at the highest CD term, five years, that rates are more competitive: 2.25%, which is one of the highest APYs we’ve seen.
Axos does offer a variety of CD term lengths and the simplicity of auto-renewals. If you forget to cancel your CD’s renewal, you don’t need to panic, because Axos gives a 10-day grace period for cancellations. After that, you’d have to pay an early withdrawal penalty. The biggest drawback to Axos is that you need to deposit $1,000 at minimum to get a CD, though you won’t lose any money with setup or maintenance fees.
Money market accounts
Interest compounded daily
Debit card transactions
Low minimum opening balance
You’ll get a convenient debit card and checks with your Axos money market account. You can use them without penalty until you reach a combined limit of six transactions or withdrawals per month. As with Axos’ savings and checking accounts, you can add money to your account at a Green Dot Network retailer, but keep in mind that there may be a fee of up to $4.95.
Some banks let you open a money market account with $0, but Axos requires an opening balance of at least $1,000. This is still significantly lower than minimums from comparable banks like Discover, and there are no ongoing minimum balance requirements. However, Axos’ 1.05% APY, while in line with some brick-and-mortar banks, is far from being the highest around. Banks like State Farm offer nearly double the return with the same minimum opening balance.
- In business since: 1999
- J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Online Banking Satisfaction Study score: N/A
- J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Direct Banking Satisfaction Study score: 2/5
- FDIC-insured: Yes
- States served: 50
- Number of locations: 1
- Pros: Domestic ATM fee reimbursements, rewards checking accounts
- Cons: Restrictions on cash deposits, lack of transparency about fees
Little to no fees
Checking accounts for children and older adults
No maintenance fees or balance requirements
One APY for all balance levels
Transactions available via debit card or check
10-day auto-renewal grace period
No costs to set up or maintain
All information accurate as of December 13, 2019.
Domestic ATM fee reimbursements
All of Axos’ checking accounts offer ATM fee reimbursements. Its First Checking for kids and Golden Checking for adults age 55-plus reimburse up to $12 and $8, respectively. But its three other accounts have no domestic reimbursement limits. If you’re tired of always having to scope out specific ATMs to avoid charges, you can save time and money by banking with Axos.
Cash back and rewards checking accounts
Rewards Checking and CashBack Checking are two checking accounts that will help your money grow — without the restrictions of savings accounts. Rewards Checking has a tiered interest system where you get 0.4166% APY for each tier you meet, up to 1.25%. On the other hand, CashBack checking gets you up to 1% cash back on all signature transactions if you maintain a $1,500 average daily balance. These unique offerings are why we awarded Axos Bank the title of Best Rewards Checking Account.
Little to no maintenance or overdraft fees
Axos Bank’s low overhead expenses mean more savings for its customers. Many of the costs associated with traditional banks, like monthly maintenance fees, simply aren’t there. By enrolling in its optional Overdraft Line of Credit Program, you can also avoid getting hit with non-sufficient funds charges. While you will pay 18.00% APR on the borrowed money, which starts compounding on the purchase date, it’s still nice to have the option to avoid facing a declined card due to overdraft.
A call to customer service confirmed that Axos bank only has one bank branch in San Diego, California, where personal banking customers can deposit cash. Other than that, Axos is an online-only bank. Customers can deposit cash with any Green Dot Network retailer, albeit with potential fees, but if you prefer having a local branch you can turn to for in-person assistance, Axos is likely not the right choice for you. And if a functional mobile app is important for you in an online-bank, Axos again disappoints — its app has a score of only 2.6 out of five on the Apple App Store and three out of five on Google Play.
Lack of transparency about fees
Axos Bank’s website boasts that it has little to no fees for its checking and savings accounts, but like all banks, it does charge some fees. The bank isn’t transparent on its website about what types and how many fees you can expect to pay. To know that information, you have to download its “Deposit Account Agreement and Schedule of Fees.” All account fees are listed on the last page. There’s nothing surprising buried there, but it helps to know in advance about fees for things like wire transfers and debit card replacements.
Low customer satisfaction
In the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Direct Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, Axos Bank scored two stars out of five across all categories, indicating that customers rated their overall experience with the bank as below average. It ranks last among the seven digital-focused banks considered, and by a significant margin. The scores may not be a deal breaker, especially if you find Axos’ range of products compelling, but it’s important to evaluate your customer service priorities before signing up.
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*Minimum required balance to waive monthly fees (if applicable) Information accurate as of December 13, 2019.
Information accurate as of December 13, 2019.
Axos Bank FAQ
Which ATMs can be used with Axos Bank?
Any ATM nationwide can be used for cash withdrawal with Axos. Fees charged by the ATM owner may be reimbursed, and Axos Bank itself doesn’t charge any ATM fees. Essential Checking, Rewards Checking, and CashBack Checking have unlimited reimbursements, while Golden Checking and First Checking reimburse up to $8 and $12, respectively.
Does Axos accept cash deposits?
Yes. Axos partners with Green Dot Network to offer cash deposits at the register of almost 100,000 retailers. Allowed deposit amounts are between $20 and $500 at most retailers, but up to $1,000 and $1,500 at participating Walmart and ACE Cash Express locations, respectively. Retailers may charge up to a $4.95 fee, and funds are available for use within 10 minutes. Axos also accepts cash ATM deposits at its branch in San Diego, California.
Can Axos debit cards be used internationally?
Yes, Visa Debit cards can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. A 1% foreign currency conversion fee applies to all transactions, and the merchant or ATM owner could charge additional fees. To prevent Axos from locking your card for suspicious activity, let customer service know when and where you’ll be traveling by sending a secure message from your online banking account.
The Bottom Line
Axos Bank is a good option for those looking for the minimal fees of an online bank but the added brick-and-mortar convenience of occasional cash deposits. Cash deposits do have non-refundable fees, but Axos Bank’s unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursement on most of its checking accounts still makes it a solid choice for customers who make frequent cash withdrawals. And if you’re looking to grow your money as you spend it, Axos also has checking accounts with excellent rewards and cash back selections. However, keep in mind that most of Axos’ rates are lower than the industry average, and its customer satisfaction record is spotty; if these things are important to you, it may pay more to shop around first.