A checking account is, without question, one of the most valuable things that you can have. It’s a great way to keep your money safe because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures it to a maximum of $100,000. This means if you have less than $100,000 in your checking account and the bank fails, you would not lose any money.
Just as important, when you have a checking account it makes it so much easier to pay bills. You just write a check and send it to your creditor. Or you might be able to pay your bills with online bill pay. I do this all the time. In fact, I pay all my monthly bills electronically including our utilities, cable, cell phone bill and insurance. I have not sent any of these companies a check for years.
How to open a checking account is simple
You can either go into a bank or credit union, sit down with a personal banker, fill out a form and get a checking account. You will most likely be asked for your name, address, Social Security number, date of birth and drivers license. You will also be required to make at least a minimum deposit to start your account–probably at least $100. Alternately, you can apply for a checking account online these days. All the major banks have online application forms though you’ll probably have to go into one of the bank’s branches to complete the process and make your minimum deposit.
What was once free isn’t anymore
Back in the “good old days” of 2010, you could get a checking account that came that had no service fee. However, today you will most likely have to pay for your checking account. As an example of this, Wells Fargo has a ValuelineSM checking account for $7 a month, which gives you a Platinum debit card, free access to online banking, and two months of online bill pay free (which costs $3 per month after the initial free two).
A no service fee account
Typical of most banks, Wells Fargo offers several other checking accounts. One is called Checking with Relationship Benefits. This is what the bank calls its premier checking account and it earns interest, includes bonus interest rates on savings and requires no monthly service fee. However, to qualify for this “free” service, you must have $25,000 or more in qualifying linked deposits. You would also qualify for the free account if you had $50,000 or more in any combination of what the bank terms “qualifying linked banking, brokerage and credit balances.”
You could get free checking at the online bank efirstbank.com, $50 in free cash if you open an account at TCF Bank or $150 if you switch to Key Bank. The lesson here that it’s not only important to know how to open a checking account, it’s equally important to know where to open it–to get the best possible deal.