Financial Fundamentals Blog

What is a checking account and how do they work

Young woman using her laptop and tablet to look at her checking account balance


No matter who you are or how much you earn, money management is a necessary skill that involves creating a budget, tracking spending and saving money for financial well-being.


At the center of it all is your checking account. Not only is it essential for making purchases and paying bills but it also makes it easier to manage your money. Let’s take a closer look at how checking accounts work and how you can make the most of them.


How a Checking Account Differs From a Savings Account

A checking account is used for daily cash withdrawals and deposits. You can access the funds in your checking account by using your debit card, writing checks and making online transfers.


A checking account is an all-purpose place to store your money for short and medium-term needs. It serves as the foundation of your personal finances, which is where it differs from a savings account.


A savings account offers a dedicated place to store money for long-term goals and emergency expenses. Over time, the balance of your savings account will grow as it earns interest, contributing to your goals and financial security. The more money you set aside, the more it will grow.


Savings accounts don’t include check-writing or debit card abilities. However, you can transfer funds between your savings and checking accounts in case of an emergency.


7 Benefits of a Checking Account

There are plenty of benefits to opening a checking account, such as:


No Need to Carry Cash

You can freely withdraw cash by visiting an ATM, and your debit card allows you to conveniently pay for purchases anywhere credit cards are accepted.

Insured Funds

Your money will always be right where you left it. Checking accounts are federally insured to protect your deposits.


Establish and Build Your Credit Score

When you open a checking account and opt-in to services like credit monitoring and overdraft protection, it empowers you to establish and build credit. Typical banking activity doesn’t contribute to your credit score, but these services link the two for more comprehensive money management.


Schedule Payments

Take care of banking on your own time. Coordinate payments and go about your day knowing they’ll be withdrawn from your checking account exactly on schedule.


Track Spending Through the Mobile Banking App

Manage your money on the go. Get your balance and review recent transactions to track spending against your budget — anytime, anywhere.


Quickly and Easily Access Your Funds and Transfer Money

Instantly move funds from your checking account to your savings through online or mobile banking. You can even arrange transfers with external accounts at other financial institutions.


Pay Bills and Make Purchases Online

Whether you need to pay your rent or your dog walker, you can securely manage your expenses in one place with online bill pay.


How To Open a Checking Account

Do Your Research

While you could simply walk into a financial institution branch or visit their website and open a checking account, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not researching which account is best for your needs.

The truth is that not all checking accounts are created equal. Review your options carefully to understand what you’re signing up for. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to consider with each type of account, including:

  • Monthly fees
  • Overdraft protection
  • Sign-up bonuses
  • Rewards programs
  • ATM fees

Gather documents.

After you’ve decided on the type of checking account you want, check what you need to open the account.


At the least, you’ll need proof of identification or your Social Security number. Even if there’s no minimum balance requirement, you’ll likely need an opening deposit to fund your account.


Visit the branch or website.

Either visit a branch location near you or apply for an account online to get started. If you have any questions about the application process or services associated with the account, going in person can be helpful to get direct support from a representative.


Explore your account features.

Once your account has been set up, take time to familiarize yourself with the available features so you can easily manage your finances.


This could include setting up direct deposit with your workplace, automatic transfers to a savings account or arranging online payments for your billing schedule.


Discover the Checking Account that Fits Your Lifestyle

The account features and services that matter most to you will depend on your financial goals. Money management is personal, and the right checking account will support how you prefer to budget, track spending and save.


Take time to evaluate your options thoroughly, and determine your priorities. Learn more about the unique benefits of checking accounts with 7 17 Credit Union today.