Best Checking Accounts

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Benefits of a Checking Account

No two peoples’ personal finances are identical, but every person should have a checking account. Checking accounts are the foundation for how we conduct our day-to-day finances.

A checking account is a deposit account provided by banks and credit unions that is used to store money for everyday use. They’re the more casual twin to a savings account, which is meant to hold money for long-term use. If a savings account is like a wine cellar, then a checking account is like a refrigerator or kitchen cabinet.

Deposit accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000 per bank, so there’s no risk of losing your principal in a checking account. You can pay from a checking account with a debit card, check, or an electronic funds transfer (EFT), and you can access those funds at any time.

Checking accounts are separate from savings accounts, which have their own rules and regulations but are also insured by the FDIC. You can open a checking account without having a savings account or open both at the same time.

Fees to watch out for

Maintenance Fees: Some banks charge monthly maintenance fees if a certain balance threshold isn’t maintained. Maintenance fees are usually between $3 and $12 a month, but can be waived if your account stays above the minimum maintenance balance. Be sure to check what the minimum maintenance balance is before you open an account.

Some banks don’t charge maintenance fees, so if you’re tired of being charged for keeping a low balance, consider switching banks.

Overdraft Fees: If your checking account reaches a negative balance, the bank will usually charge an overdraft fee until you restore the account to a positive balance (i.e, put money back in your account). Overdraft fees are around $34 on average and can be charged multiple times a day.

Stop Payment Fees: If you use a check to pay for an item and discover you’ve been swindled or scammed, you can call your bank to cancel the payment. The bank will often charge a stop payment fee, ranging from $15 to $35.