8 Reasons Why You Should Open a Checking Account

It sounds silly, but managing your finances without a checking account is a little like trying to operate a car without a dashboard.

It sounds silly, but managing your finances without a checking account is a little like trying to operate a car without a dashboard. 

While it might still be possible to monitor engine performance and speed while turning the wheel, adjusting the gears, and operating the brakes—it’s a lot easier, safer, and more practical when all the tools and controls you need are brought together in one place.

Below we take a look at some of the top reasons why opening a checking account will help put you in the driving seat of your financial life.

Take Charge: 8 Reasons to Open a Checking Account 

Everyone says it’s essential to open a checking account, but not everyone takes the time to explain why. If you’re more comfortable using cash or stand-alone credit cards, or you’ve simply wondered why you need anything more than a savings account, this article is for you.

What is a checking account? At its most basic it’s a clearing house: a financial bus depot where incoming money waits to be sent where it’s needed. But, having all your money in one place comes with many other advantages, not least of which is that you can see all of your finances in one place.

Let’s break down the things that set a checking account apart and that makes it the single most important tool to manage your money. 

1. Receive Money 

Unlike a savings account, a checking account gives you a financial mailbox where you can arrange to have money sent in the form of direct deposits.

Having direct deposit access allows the money you are owed to be safely deposited into your checking account. You don’t have to worry about a check going missing in the mail or losing your cash. Everything happens automatically, safely, and securely.

You can gain access to your paycheck funds, your IRS tax refund, or even a settlement quickly and easily—in most cases, without having to do anything at all.

A checking account also allows you to quickly deposit checks you are given without the check cashing fees you’d otherwise have to pay. You can deposit checks at your convenience using your bank’s mobile app with the funds often being credited to your account quickly. 

2. Make Payments Easily

Your checking account usually comes with a linked debit card. You can use this to make payments on the spot, get cash out of ATMs, or get cash back from merchants.

Your debit card also allows you to pay for goods and services online while enjoying the protection of your funds in the case of fraud or identity theft. It’s like carrying all the cash you need with you—with none of the risks.

You can use your checking account number and bank routing number to set up automatic debits to merchants and vendors, pay bills online, or schedule regular monthly payments. Most accounts also allow you to write checks. Yup, there’s a reason it’s called a checking account!

3. Keep Your Money Safe 

When you operate with cash alone, there is no protection for your money. If it’s lost or stolen, you’re out of luck. If you’re like most people, you simply can’t afford to operate without any financial protection.

Another benefit of a checking account is that the money is protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for banks or the National Credit Union Association for credit unions. These federal organizations protect your funds for up to $250,000 per account even if your bank or credit union goes out of business. 

Federal law also protects you against unauthorized account transactions or bank errors. Provided you report them promptly, your bank or credit union is required to reimburse you. And, unlike cash, your statement gives you written proof of payment of any transaction.

4. Track Your Spending

Using a checking account gives you a record of your purchases. You can review your spending to determine trends with your expenses. This information is helpful when you’re trying to figure out how to improve your money habits or when you want to review your budget.

Unless you keep an accurate log of your cash spending, it’s difficult to know precisely how much money is going out each month. But by automating a record of your spending habits, your checking account provides an easy way to track your finances.

5. Bank on the Go

If you have access to a smartphone, computer, or tablet, you can manage and complete many of your financial tasks using online or mobile banking. You can: 

  • View your balance
  • Transfer funds between your checking and savings accounts
  • Manage online bill pay
  • Deposit checks
  • View your account statements

You can also often use your online banking tools to set text or email alerts to let you know when your debit card is used or your account balance passes a certain threshold.

6. Earn Rewards

Many checking accounts are now offering rewards similar to savings accounts and credit cards. This could be a cash bonus when you open an account or keep a required balance in your account for a set period. Some banks and credit unions also offer you access to discounts on local events and services. 

Additionally, checking accounts are beginning to pay interest rates at least comparable with those you earn on your savings account.

7. Build Working Capital

A checking account also gives you a place to build up a store of money to ensure you can cover your monthly expenses without relying directly on your monthly paycheck. This working capital gives you the ability to weather unexpected expenses or unforeseen falls in income. It’s the start of real financial security.

Many financial experts recommend aiming to save money equivalent to at least two months’ expenses in your checking account to cover unexpected fluctuations in your month-to-month costs and expenses. Choosing a checking account that allows you to earn a good rate of interest on your working capital is a great start.

8. Financial Gateway

Your checking account is also the gateway to a range of other banking products. By trusting a bank or a local credit union like Baton Rouge Telco to take care of your funds, you’re starting a long-term financial relationship that gives you access to:

What to Consider When Opening a Checking Account

Now that we know what a checking account can do for you, let’s take a look at what you should look for when choosing a place to stash your working cash. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Deposit Insurance

First up, be sure funds deposited with your bank or credit union are backed by the FDIC or NCUA. The majority of institutions are, but it’s an important box to check to ensure your money will be able to grow risk-free. Baton Rouge Telco is a fully NCUA-insured credit union with deposits guaranteed up to $250,000 per account.

Minimum Opening Deposit

Look for an account with a low opening balance requirement. Unless a checking account offers a very high interest rate or some other special feature, it should not cost you much to open one.   

At Baton Rouge Telco we make accessing the financial services you need easy with a minimum opening deposit of just $5.

Minimum Balance

Your minimum balance is the smallest deposit that you need in your account to keep it open. Some checking accounts will charge a fee, downgrade your account, or close it if you don’t maintain your minimum balance. 

Monthly Fees

Many checking accounts will charge a flat monthly or annual fee to maintain your account or will levy a charge if your account balance is below a certain level. 

At Baton Rouge Telco we don’t do that. As a member-owned credit union, we want to help you keep as much money in your account as possible by keeping checking expenses as low as we can.

ATM Access

Be sure to check how many ATMs in your area your debit card will have access to, along with any associated fees that might be charged. 

At Baton Rouge Telco, you have access to more than 73,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. That means wherever you go in the U.S., you should be close to an ATM that lets you gain access to your funds for free.

Interest Rate

Not all checking accounts pay interest, and the annual percentage yield (APY) offered by an account will change over time in line with market conditions. Many also pay interest or dividends only on deposits over a certain threshold. 

Choose a checking account with a rate that makes sense for your budget. You should earn as much interest as you can for the money you keep in your account over time.

Ready to Open Yours?

Having a checking account sets you up for financial success. Being able to access your money quicker, pay for things easily in person or online, withdraw cash, and bank online puts you in the driving seat of your financial life.

At Baton Rouge Telco, we offer checking accounts designed for people in different stages of their financial journey including:

  • Premier Interest Checking: A high-interest account designed with no monthly fees or penalties to help heavy debit card users get started on saving.
  • Elite Interest Checking: A simple, low-cost checking account with no monthly fees for well-established savers.
  • Opportunity Checking: A secured account that helps you build for a better future.

In addition, all of our checking accounts offer:

  • Day Early Pay® with Direct Deposit
  • Real-time debit card controls and alerts
  • Only $5 to open

We also offer an innovative student checking account to help younger members take charge of their money early.

Contact us today to find out about the right Baton Rouge Telco account for your needs or click below to learn more.

Open a Checking Account Online

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