If you’re like most people, your checking account does the heavy lifting when it comes to everyday banking tasks. It’s the account you use to pay bills and conduct most of your transactions. As long as money’s going in and bills are going out, it’s easy to overlook this essential banking basic.
But it may be a good idea to learn more about checking accounts—especially the ones that earn interest—to make sure yours is up to snuff. Here are five things you should know about interest checking accounts.
What is interest checking?
Interest-bearing checking accounts are bank accounts that pay interest on your balance. They usually don’t pay as high a rate as a savings account, but checking accounts usually give you the most flexible access to your money.
Checking accounts are all about the access.
Most checking accounts allow you to use your money in a variety of ways. You can write checks and use a debit card, as well as set up online bill pay with most banks. You can also transfer money, make withdrawals from an ATM, and request cashier’s checks and wire transfers.
It’s easy to add money to your checking account.
Because checking accounts are designed to give you easy access, there are several ways to add to your checking account balance. Most banks offer direct deposit for your paycheck or Social Security deposits. Banks with a mobile app allow you to deposit checks remotely, and, of course, you can always snail-mail a check to your bank for credit to your account.
In addition, you can usually transfer money between your checking and your other accounts, and, depending on your bank, you may be able to deposit via ATM or by visiting a branch. Automatic transfers are a handy way to manage set amounts going in and out.
You can get a reasonable rate of return.
It’s true that checking accounts aren’t exactly known for offering exciting interest rates, and some checking accounts don’t earn any interest at all. But that doesn’t mean your checking account balance just has to sit there waiting to be divvied up.
Find the most competitive rates by comparing APYs (annual percentage yields) on sites like Bankrate.com. Pay attention to things like short-lived promotional rates, maintenance fees, and minimum balance requirements.
Ally Bank Tip: Don’t forget to consider online-only banks. Online banks don’t have the overhead costs that traditional brick-and-mortar banks do, so they can pass that savings on to you by offering competitive rates.
The best interest checking accounts will offer convenient features.
Above all, your checking account should be convenient to access, use, and manage. Nowadays that begins with online access. While nearly every bank offers some sort of online access, not every bank makes it equally easy. If your bank’s website feels dated or clunky, it might be time to switch.
Other features to expect include a quality mobile app, remote check deposit, seamless transfer options, bill pay, direct deposit, and stellar customer service.