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Checking Account Basics

By Vast Bank on 10.22.2019

Checking accounts are the most common type of bank account out there. They’re excellent for stowing away funds for everyday expenses and day-to-day costs, and they usually come with a debit or ATM card to help make purchases easier.

Do you have a checking account? Have you considered opening a new one? Here’s what you should know about these bank accounts—no matter what stage you’re at.

All About Checking Accounts

Unlike savings accounts and similar financial products, checking accounts typically allow for unlimited transactions. They also come with a debit card, personal checks (if you want them), and access to an online portal and app to help manage your funds.

Sometimes, checking accounts also offer cash-back rewards or interest payments, but this varies by bank and checking program. The interest rates tend to be much lower on checking accounts than those on a savings account or Certificate of Deposit. Make sure to ask your banker about interest-earning checking accounts if this is something you’re interested in.

You’ll also want to inquire about the following fees when opening a new checking account:

  • Maintenance or inactivity fees – Is there an annual cost for having the account? Are there fees if you don’t use it often?
  • Overdraft fee – What is the penalty for overdrawing your account?
  • Non-bank ATM fees – Can you use any ATM or will you be charged a fee if you use another bank’s machine? What is the fee per transaction?
  • Minimum balance charges – Do you have to keep a minimum balance in the account? What’s the penalty if you go below that number?
  • Returned deposit charges – Will you be charged if a check doesn’t go through or bounces?
  • Paper statement fees – Are you charged for receiving paper or mailed bank statements?
  • Foreign transaction fees – What are the fees for using your card outside of the country or on vacation?

To ensure you don’t get hit with overdraft fees (usually the costliest of them all), consider linking your savings and checking accounts. Banks will often waive these fees if there’s another account to pull the funds from. This is called “overdraft protection.”

You can also go into your bank’s online portal to enable e-statements. It can help you avoid costly paper statement fees (as well as reduce your environmental footprint a bit!)

Get the Full Picture

If you’re looking to open a checking account, make sure you have a clear picture of what you can expect as a customer. What fees will you incur? What minimum balance are you required to have? What cards, online portals, and apps can you use to manage your funds? If you need more help choosing the best checking account for your household, be sure to sit down with a qualified banker to discuss your finances and long-term goals.

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References

  1. How to Select a Checking Account (n.d.). Retrieved from http://guides.wsj.com/personal-finance/banking/how-to-select-a-checking-account/
  2. Spencer Tierney (November 2, 2018). How to Avoid Overdraft Fees. Retrieved from https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/avoid-overdraft-fees/
  3. David Rae (May 6, 2019). Are You Getting Hit With This Hidden Credit Card Fee? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrae/2019/05/06/hidden-credit-card-fee/#51a6d81f6803

 

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