Why Do You Need a Checking Account?

Why Do You Need a Checking Account?

Top Reasons Why You Need to Open a Checking Account

Depending on the numbers you find, there are between 17 million to 24 million Americans that don’t have a checking account. With the 2008 financial crisis and general distrust of banking institutions in general, it’s understandable that some people would rather manage their money themselves, but having a checking account makes doing that infinitely easier. From safety to expedience and security, getting a free checking account helps you manage your finances and put your financial future on solid ground.

Get Paid Easily

With nearly 78% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, getting paid on time is non-negotiable. Having to wait on a paper check from your employer, going to the bank during banking hours, and depositing or cashing it takes up a lot of time that most of us just can’t spare.

A single late paycheck can cause your water or electricity to be shut off or even force you to decide between paying a bill or buying groceries. Any single setback along the way can make you miss a payment or force you to wait on money that you desperately need.

However, if you have a checking account, your employer can set up direct deposit so your paycheck is automatically deposited into your account without any additional fees or time out of your already busy schedule. The money is readily available the moment it hits your account so you don’t have to wait to pay your bills or pay additional fees to get it cashed.

Security & Protection

Cash doesn’t leave a paper trail, a checking account does. It’s a story that’s told time and time and time again. Person A gets paid, cashes their paycheck, has $1,000 or more in cash on their person, and loses it or gets robbed before they can pay their bills. Now, there’s no recovering it. That money is gone and they have financial responsibilities they just can’t meet.

A checking account provides you with detailed, time-stamped transaction data that shows exactly how much money you had, when you had it, and where it went. And if you set up direct deposit, you never have to worry about losing your hard earned money on your way home. That money is safe and secure.

Pay Your Bills Easily

No matter what stage of life you’re in, you have bills that need to be paid. You can do it the old fashioned way where you write out a check, stuff it into an envelope, and send it in via snail mail, but there are so many things that could happen that result in your bills going unpaid. And you wouldn’t hear about it until you start getting hit with late fees!

The fastest and most reliable way to pay your bills is to do it online. Whether it’s your car insurance, cell phone bill, electricity, or what have you, you can log into a payment portal and securely pay your bill online. The amount will usually be debited from your account within 24 hours, or the next business day, and it only took a few minutes of your time.

And more often than not, you can set up automatic online payments so your bills get paid month in and month out with zero effort on your part.

You can’t do that unless you have a checking account.

Ease of Online Banking

Before the internet, learning how to balance your checkbook was a Big Deal. That was the only way to know how much money you had since ATMs, balance inquiries, and online banking weren’t a thing yet. You were, quite literally, keeping your own personal ledger so you didn’t spend more money than you had in the bank and incur overdraft fees.

And if you wanted to transfer money from one account to another, or even send money to someone in a different city or state, you had to go down to the bank, wait in line, and fill out paperwork. Online banking has made all this tedium obsolete.

You can easily check your account’s balance, transfer money to other accounts (and people), and take advantage of other offers from your banking institution without ever having to pick up a pen or leave your home. All you need to get started is a checking account.

Use of a Debit Card

When you open up a checking account, your bank will issue you a debit card to pay for things with money out of your account instead of having to carry cash around with you. Like we said earlier, cash doesn’t leave a paper trail and if you misplace your cash, it’s gone. However, if you lose your debit card or it gets stolen, you can call your bank to cancel your card and your money will still be there waiting for you.

Most banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions offer specific services that protect you and your money in the event that your debit card is lost or stolen. This makes using a debit card far safer than paying with cash.

Now, it doesn’t hurt to carry a bit of emergency cash with you just in case you lose your debit card, but realistically, a debit card is the way to go.

Access to Online Budgeting Tools

Budgeting can be a bit of a chore, but when you you enroll in online banking, you’re able to link your account to online money management platforms like Mint.com or YouNeedaBudget.com. This gives you access to detailed reports and powerful tools that help you understand where you money is going so you can better manage it.

What to Look for When Opening a Checking Account

Checking accounts vary from bank to bank. Some have very few requirements or restrictions while others may have more stringent criteria for you to use their services. Be sure to double check these things when opening your new checking account.

Monthly Fees

Most banks don’t charge a monthly maintenance fee for their checking accounts, but there are still a few holdouts. This fee will normally be $15 or less per month and can depend on your checking account balance. Meaning that you’ll incur this fee if your balance goes before a certain threshold.  We’ve yet to find a bank that charges a monthly fee where it’s actually worthwhile or justifiable.

Opening Balance

Most banks don’t want to maintain zero dollar checking accounts so they will typically require a minimum deposit at sign up. If your bank requires a deposit, we’ve seen figures ranging from $1 to $500 due at signing. However, the average lies around the $50 mark.

Overdraft Fees

Of all the fees to be mindful of with your new checking account, overdraft fees are at the top of the list. We’ve all been in a tight financial spot where we’re waiting on a paycheck to pay bills or we misjudged how much money was in our account and spent more money than we had on hand. Doing this causes you to incur overdraft fees. These fees vary from bank to bank as well as how they handle said fees. It’s important to know how your bank handles them because if you happen to overdraft multiple times in a short amount of time, you can rack up a hefty amount of fees.

Overdraft fees range from $25 – $35, but the industry standard tends to lean towards $35 per overdraft.

APY

APY is the annual percentage yield or how much a banking account earns in a year. Some checking accounts will have an APY so you can earn money simply by having money in your checking account. If you typically have a good amount of money in your checking account, it would be wise to find out what your APY is so you can earn some passive income.

Best Checking Accounts to Open

Now that you know why it’s so important for you to have a checking account, it’s time to find out what’s the best checking account for you to open.

Simple.com

  • 1.00% APY rate
  • $0 balance required to open
  • $0 balance to avoid fees
  • $0 monthly fees
  • $0 overdraft / not sufficient funds fees
  • $0 ATM fees

Heritage Bank

  • 1.53% APY rate
  • $100 balance required to open
  • $0 balance to avoid fees
  • $0 monthly fees
  • $36 overdraft / not sufficient funds fees
  • $0 ATM fees

Radius Bank

  • 0.15% APY rate
  • $100 balance required to open
  • $0 balance to avoid fees
  • $0 monthly fees
  • $25 overdraft / not sufficient funds fees
  • $0 ATM fees

Quontic Bank

  • 1.50% APY rate
  • $100 balance required to open
  • $0 balance to avoid fees
  • $0 monthly fees
  • $0 overdraft / not sufficient funds fees
  • $0 ATM fees

Citi Bank

  • 0.60% APY rate
  • $0 balance required to open
  • $5,000 balance to avoid fees (includes retirement & investment balances)
  • $15 monthly fees (waived if $5,000 balance held)
  • $34 overdraft / not sufficient funds fees
  • $0 ATM fees

Recap

The answer to your question is a resounding yes. You absolutely need to get a checking account. It’s safer, easier, and more secure than using cash or money orders and there are many online tools to help you better manage your money. There are a ton of great checking account options available to you with no requirements to use.