You know the trusty sidekick every superhero has? The one who does all the work and gets none of the glory? Chances are, that’s how your checking account functions in your personal banking strategy. But what if we told you there’s a way to earn interest without all the transaction limitations that come with savings accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs)?
Compared to other types of bank accounts, checking accounts offer the most flexible access to your money. While accounts like CDs (certificates of deposit) and high-yield savings accounts get all the press, the humble checking account goes about its business, managing the day-to-day ins and outs of your financial life. It might be time to give your checking account a little love. Here’s how to make the most of your checking account so it works even harder for you.
Let’s start with the basics. Interest-bearing checking accounts work much the same as other bank deposit accounts, like savings or money market accounts. You know the drill: you put money in the account and the bank pays interest on your balance periodically according to its terms and conditions.
Easy access and unlimited transactions
Checking accounts have fewer access restrictions than any other deposit account. That means you can easily move money between your accounts without worrying about exceeding any of the federal limits that exist for savings accounts. And, you can deposit money as often as you like — not the case with certificates of deposit (CDs), for example.
Easy access also pays off when you use the bill pay function on your checking account. Paying all your bills from the same place streamlines a tedious task and helps you keep on top of what’s due when.
Of course, you can also access your checking account with paper checks, a debit card, ATMs, and wire transfers, which makes it the most flexible when it comes to using your money.
Pro tip: One of the best ways to get your checking account working for you to is to set up automatic transfers. You probably already take advantage of automatic payroll deposit. Go one better and pay yourself automatically, too, by setting up recurring transfers from your checking account to your savings account. You can even set up multiple transfers to different accounts to help you accomplish your various savings goals.
With a little upfront planning, you can create a customized automatic transfer strategy, making sure the money you’ve earmarked for your goals doesn’t get spent before it gets set aside. All with your checking account serving as command central.
Hey Alexa, transfer $100.
If it’s been awhile since you paid attention to your checking account, you may not even be aware of new features or improved standbys. For example, do you still drive that paper check your grandma wrote you for your birthday to the nearest bank branch? You don’t have to.
Most checking accounts have a remote check deposit feature, among other innovative features and services designed to simplify your banking needs. Find out about any special bells and whistles your checking account has to offer — like voice-activated transactions and balance alerts — and take advantage of new technologies.
The more you know about what your account can do, the more you can keep it working hard for you.
A checking account with a side of APY, please.
Checking accounts aren’t known for offering exciting interest rates, but you can still expect to earn a little something on the balance you maintain. After all, compound interest has a power you don’t want to waste. If you’re earning less than a competitive rate—or worse, nothing at all—on your checking account balance, it may be time to shop around.
Find the most competitive rates by comparing APYs (annual percentage yields) on sites like Bankrate.com. Be sure you understand all the terms of any account you consider, and take note of things like vanishing promotional rates, maintenance fees, and minimum balance requirements.
Easy and secure
Not every bank is created equal, so to get the most from your checking account, make sure you’re doing business with a top-notch institution. You should expect competitive rates, knowledgeable customer service representatives, convenient online access, and straightforward terms and conditions. If your bank doesn’t have those things, it may be time to break up.
In addition, a reputable bank will be a member of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), which insures your deposits up to federal limits in the unlikely event of a bank failure.