Opening a Bank Account
It's important to choose the bank account that fits your financial needs and goals. Learn what to consider in choosing a bank, an account and how to manage your accounts.
What to consider in choosing a bank:
- Available Services. Are there specific services that are important to you, like online or phone access? If so, look for a full-service bank that offers a wide range of services, and make sure you're aware of any fees that may apply.
- Relationship accounts. Will you have more than one account with the bank (including a savings account or loan)? If so, look for an account that offers relationship benefits like higher interest rates on deposits or discounts on loan rates.
- Your future needs. For example, if you're planning to buy a car in the next few years and will need a loan, evaluate the bank's loan programs as well as its checking and savings accounts. Choose a bank that can support you as you grow.
- Account protection. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protects you against the loss of your deposits in the unlikely event that an FDIC-insured bank or savings association fails. FDIC insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Not all banks are FDIC members; look for one that is. Member banks are identified by the FDIC logo and the FDIC sign in the teller windows.
- Location. Is the bank convenient to where you live, work or go to school? Are there several branch and ATM locations? It can be expensive to use an ATM at another bank, because it may charge non-customers to use the ATM.
Types of Accounts
Your checking account is where you keep the money you use for regular expenses. With a checking account, you deposit money into the bank and then use your funds (get cash, make a purchase or pay for something) with a check, a debit card or ATM card, or electronically.
What to consider in choosing a checking account:
- Balance Requirements. How much money must you deposit into your account when you open it, and how much must you keep in your account on a regular basis?
- Fees. Be aware of the fees that may be charged to your account. These may include fees for falling below a minimum balance, a monthly service fee, fees to order checks, fees for check writing or fees for specific transactions such as ATMs.
- Interest. Do you want to earn interest on your checking account balances? These accounts usually require a minimum opening balance and average balance during your statement period.
- Other services such as Online Banking and Bill Pay let you check balances and pay bills online. There might be a fee for Online Bill Pay.
How to use your checking account
Once you've selected your checking account, you'll need to know how to use it.
Money goes into your account through deposits you make. These may be electronic deposits, such as having your paycheck deposited directly into your account, or you can deposit cash or checks at a branch or ATM.
For complete instructions on using your account,
read our Checking Account How-To's
Then, you can withdraw money from your account when you need it. A withdrawal is any money leaving your account - cash from an ATM, a purchase you've made at a store or a bill you've paid. There are several tools to make withdrawals from your account:
- Debit cards
- Electronic withdrawals
Checks. A check is your instruction to the bank to make a payment out of your account according to the information you've provided on the check (to whom and how much). You can use checks to:
- Pay bills
- Make payments to another person, such as gifts
- Make purchases at a store
- Get cash at a branch
Debit cards. A debit card, such as Commerce's Visa® Check Card, is a plastic card that gives you electronic access to the funds in your checking account. You can use a debit card to:
- Make purchases at a retailer, online or by phone
- Get cash back at participating retail locations
- Withdraw cash from an ATM
Electronic withdrawals. For some types of electronic transactions, you don't need a debit card. Electronic withdrawals can be done through Online Bill Pay, or you can establish them with a company you want to pay. For example, you might instruct your insurance company to automatically withdraw the amount of your car insurance premium on the 15th day of every month.
Keeping Track. Once you're making deposits and withdrawals, it's important to know how to keep track of the money coming in to your account, and the money going out.
Your savings account is where you keep the money you want to set aside. In a savings account, the bank pays you interest on the money you have deposited.
What to consider in choosing a savings account:
- Interest rate. What's the interest rate on deposits? Does the account pay a higher rate as your balance grows?
- Balance requirements. What amount is required to open the account? Can you avoid paying a service fee if you maintain a certain balance?
- Fees. What fees may be charged to your account?
- Related accounts. Will you be able to transfer funds easily between your savings and checking accounts?
- Withdrawal limitations. Will you be charged for making withdrawals over a certain number in a specific time period?
How to use your savings account:
You can make deposits into your savings account, and withdraw funds from it.
For many people, the easiest way to accumulate savings is to set up automatic transfers from their checking account to their savings account on a regular basis.
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