Checking accounts help you control finances, budget and more
You don’t have cash in your wallet. You need to get gas. Now what?
You could use a credit card. But by choosing a check or debit card for transactions, you’ll get a better handle on expenses and your income. It’ll also be easier to set a budget.
Managing a checking account can help you control your finances. When you write a check or use your debit card to make a purchase, the funds come from your checking account.
What’s more, checking account funds are protected up to $250,000 by the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). And, there are many other benefits of a checking account:
- Save on check-cashing fees. Skip cashing checks; write checks or use your debit card instead.
- Set up online bill payment. Instead of writing checks and mailing them, pay bills on time and quickly with a secure electronic service. Funds are withdrawn electronically on a one-time or recurring basis.
- Get direct payroll deposit. Direct-deposited paychecks allow you to get your money faster, and it saves time when you’re not depositing the check yourself.
- Use a debit card for online shopping and point-of-sale locations. Linked to your checking account, bank-issued check cards can be used with Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and for making purchases. Debit cards can be used for online shopping, renting cars, purchasing tickets, and receiving cash at many point-of-sale locations without ATM fees.
Types of checking accounts
Bank checking accounts are structured in many ways, giving you plenty of options to manage your money. Before you choose a checking account, see what fits your needs. Managing a checking account should be straightforward, so before deciding, look into:
- Interest earnings. Some banks and credit unions give you money back at the end of the month, for example, based on your balance. Does the account generate interest? If so, what’s the rate, and when and how are dividends dispersed?
- Minimum required balances. Does the account need a minimum balance at all times? Is there a fee or penalty if the minimum balance isn’t met?
- Maintenance and ATM fees. Does the account have monthly or annual maintenance fees? Most banks and credit unions allow customers to use their ATMs for free to withdraw and deposit money. Are there ATM fees at preferred and non-preferred ATMs?
- Overdraft charges/privileges. Attempting to overdraw from your checking account can come with a price. What is the fee for an overdraft? Can a line of credit or savings account be linked for overdraft protection?
- Rewards, fraud alerts and mobile banking. Banks and credit unions may offer customer and member perks. Does the checking account have purchase rewards? Does the account offer online banking and/or mobile to pay bills, transfer money and check balances? If fraud is detected, how are you notified?
Five tips for managing a checking account
While there are many benefits of a checking account, you’ll want to maintain your account to manage it best.
- Know your balance. Use the bank’s mobile app, online banking login, or the ATM to make sure you know what’s in your checking account.
- Sign up for online/mobile banking and set up direct deposit and regular online bill pay. Using these tools will help you save time and money.
- Establish alerts and overdraft protection, if offered. Establish email or text alerts so you can be notified when your account exceeds or falls below a specific limit. As for overdraft protection, set up a “fall back” option with your bank if you try to spend more than what’s in your checking account. You could be penalized $25 or more for each bounced check.
- Keep tabs on transactions to avoid fraud. Look through your statements regularly to make sure transactions look familiar. If there’s a problem, notify your bank immediately.
- If you have too many checking accounts, consider consolidation. Keeping track of more than one checking account can get confusing. Think about merging them to make managing a checking account easier.
Begin checking with Greater Alliance
Greater Alliance can help you manage a checking account. With high-interest options to an easy checking account with no minimum balance requirements, we have something that will work for you. Take a look at our checking account options. Contact us online or call 201-599-5500 for a greater way to bank.