Checking accounts 101: Benefits and selection factors
Thanks to USAA for sponsoring this post
It may seem that checks are obsolete with options like one-click shopping and a plethora of payment apps. Checks may no longer be used as often, but a checking account is still an essential asset. ShopAtHome.com has partnered with USAA and their product management director, Melanie Thompson, to share the benefits of a checking account and how to select the right one…
We all love pay-day and getting our money as fast as possible. Almost all employers (including the military) utilize direct deposit. This option deposits money into a bank account without having to cut a physical check. This saves time, allowing instant access to the money without having to make a stop at the bank.
You may no longer have to cut a physical check with apps like Venmo and Apple Pay, but you’ll still need an account to draft the money from. Savings accounts typically have a low limit of allowed withdrawals, so a checking account is the best option. You can still connect your checking account to all those apps that make life so much simpler.
There’s no need to pay high interest on credit card purchases you didn’t need to make in the first place. “Credit cards are great if you use them responsibly, but it’s easy to overspend,” Thompson says. If you stick to a checking account, you’ll learn to spend only what you have.
Sold on checking? Learn how to select the best checking account for you. Everyone’s needs are different, so here are a few factors to consider:
If you are constantly on the go and attached to your phone, a good mobile banking app may be extremely important for you. Top mobile apps allow you to not only check your account status, but transfer money, deposit checks and transfer funds.
Cutting useless spending is the first step to financial health. Avoiding checking fees is a great way to save a few bucks. Many banks will waive fees for keeping a minimum balance or setting up direct deposit. Look into the specifics of the account and see if there’s a way to cut the fee. USAA offers a free checking account with no monthly service fees or minimum balances.
Having a checking account comes with the responsibility of being fiscally responsible. But, occasionally things happen and you might overspend what’s in your account. That’s where overdraft protection comes in. Often, the overdraft protection fee is significantly less than the NSF (non-sufficient funds) fee.
Most banks will not charge a fee when you use their own ATM, but that’s not always convenient. “When you’re tied to a physical branch, you’re often tied to ATMs,” Thompson says. If you are on the go a lot, look for a bank that has ample locations and ATM’s near your frequented places, or find one that refunds you for using external ATMs. The USAA checking account offers free use of 60,000 USAA-preferred ATMs nationwide. Plus, if you have to use another ATM, they will refund the other banks’ ATM fees.
There’s no need to ever forget a bill with online bill pay. Look for a bank that provides free tools around this service. A good online bill pay will allow you to pay directly from your account and manage all bills in in one place. USAA offers a fantastic set of extensive personal budgeting tools, like online bill pay.
USAA is dedicated to serving military members and their families by offering more benefits than any other financial service provider. Their free checking account offers free ATMs, direct deposit, personal budgeting tools, online bill pay and more!