accounts can be a great way to manage your money and pay bills,
and they are easy to set up. If you don't have a checking
account now, college is a good time to open one.
Checking accounts can:
- Keep your money safer than if you carried cash
- Provide receipts for bills paid
- Remind you what you've spent money on (especially if you
use duplicate checks)
- Permit you to bank by phone and pay bills electronically
with your checking account and routing number
- Allow your employer to directly deposit your paycheck
into your account
- Provide you with an ATM or debit card that allows you
to get cash quickly (there might be an annual fee for this
- Help you save money by avoiding money orders or cashier's
Like most tools, a checking account can be useful only if
you take care of it. That means writing everything down,
especially when you use a debit card.
WHATS A DEBIT
Debit cards look like and act like credit cards, but
there's an important difference. Whenever you use your
debit card to pay for something, the money is taken
immediately from your checking account through an electronic
Debit cards also can be an easy way to get cash. Just
be sure to write down any withdrawals you make, just
like writing a check. Watch out for those fees when
you use your card at some ATM machines. They can add
Also, your debit card doesn't give you a "grace"
period the way a credit card does. So before you use
it, be sure you have enough money in your checking account
to cover the purchase.
The downside of a checking account is that it can cost a
lot in fees if you don't reconcile it. Reconciling your account
means to record all activity in your account and then determine
the reasons why your balance does not agree with the balance
on your checking account statement.
If you write a check or use your debit card to pay for something
and don't have enough money in your account to cover it, you'll
be in for a rude shock. That's called "bouncing"
a check or being "overdrawn."
Banks typically charge about $25 for that mistake, but they
can charge more. Plus you'll have to pay fees to the merchant
or store where you wrote the check (and they might not allow
you to write checks again). Your bank may note this in your
banking history, and this can hinder your ability to secure
The following pages will give you more information
on checking accounts:
TO CHECKING ACCOUNTS
THE RIGHT ACCOUNT