The features that come standard with most checking accounts can be a big help when it comes to managing your money and getting a better handle on your cash flow. The following checking account tips can help ensure you’re getting the most out of this common financial account.
- Use a debit card. Debit cards allow you to access your checking account conveniently and securely, without having to carry a lot of cash or checks. You can use a debit card at millions of locations worldwide including places that don’t take checks like gas stations, restaurants and online merchants. Debit cards can also be used at ATMs for deposits, withdrawals or transfers between your accounts. With debit cards, your purchases are deducted directly from your checking account. What’s more, debit cards offer security if your card is lost or stolen or if fraudulent purchases occur.
- Link your checking account to your savings account. If you know you have a certain amount of money in your checking account at a certain time every month, an automatic transfer to your savings account is a great way to build your savings. Linking your checking account to your savings account can give you access to extra cash when needed and make it easy to transfer money between accounts. In addition, some banks allow customers to automatically transfer funds from their checking to savings account every time they use their debit card. (Learn more about Bank of America’s Keep the Change® programFootnote 1.)
- Learn how to manage overdraft fees. Overdraft fees are incurred when you spend more money than you have in your account. You can help avoid these fees by keeping a close eye both on your account balance and on the money you plan to spend. Some banks, including Bank of America, offer services that allow you to link your eligible checking account to other accounts to provide additional protection against overdrafts. With the Overdraft Protection Plan offered by Bank of America, funds are automatically transferred from the balance in the linked account if your eligible checking account balance is not sufficient to cover a transaction. There is no fee to set up the Bank of America Overdraft Protection Plan, but there is a transfer fee when you use the service. Please refer to your Personal Schedule of Fees for details.
- Track your spending using online and mobile banking and alerts. Online banking is a useful way to keep an eye on your account balance and spending. You can monitor your checking account information by logging into your account from your computer or mobile device. Online banking also enables you to pay bills electronically without having to deal with the mail or extra paper. In addition, many banks offer online banking alerts via email or text that notify you when your account balance drops below a specified level, or when a check you've written has cleared your account.
- Take advantage of automatic payments. Setting up automatic payments for recurring bills through online bill pay can be a helpful way to ensure your bills are paid on time and with no hassles. This common checking account feature can help eliminate the worry about whether your checks may be lost in the mail, the need for stamps and the hassle of setting aside time to pay bills. Automatic payments can also be a good way to ensure your bills are paid on time when you are traveling or away from home.
- Protect yourself. Many banks offer security features to protect you if your debit card is lost or stolen, including security features on the card itself (such as photo ID), monitoring for unusual purchasing activity and protection against liability for fraudulent transactions reported within a specified period of time. Check with your banking institution to learn more about the security features your bank offers to protect against theft and fraud. Bank of America offers security protection on consumer debit cards through the Total Security Protection® package. Bank of America also offers Zero Liability ProtectionFootnote 2, Guaranteed Credit, Fraud monitoring and optional Photo Security® to provide greater defense against theft, loss or fraudulent use of your card.
- Set up direct deposit. One of the easiest ways to get the most out of your checking account is by setting up direct deposit. With direct deposit your money is safely and securely deposited into your account, without you having to lift a finger.
These checking account features can make your life and your banking much simpler. Keep in mind, however, that while a checking account can be a powerful tool for managing your money, it is only one component in your financial toolbox.
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