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Research all your checking account options

Depending on where you choose to bank, you'll probably have access to several different kinds of checking accounts.

Before you open a checking account, it's important to do some research and shop around to find the checking account that's right for you and your situation. Here are some of the more common types of checking accounts offered by many banks:

Student checking: Student checking account features will vary from bank to bank, but the most common benefits include no minimum balance requirement, free checks, a free debit card, ATM availability and the ability to have your parents transfer money directly into your account. (At Bank of America, eligible students under 23 can get MyAccess Checking® with no monthly maintenance fees.footnote1)

Basic checking: This type of account works well if you use your checking account just to pay bills and a few other expenses. In order to avoid paying a monthly maintenance fee on the account, some banks will require that you use direct deposit or maintain a minimum balance.

Interest-bearing checking: With an interest-bearing checking account, you are paid interest on the money in your account. The bank will usually require a minimum deposit to open the account, and you'll likely have to maintain at least that minimum balance to avoid fees.

As you shop for a checking account, be sure to read the fine print and ask questions. Do you have to set up direct deposit, maintain a minimum balance or meet some other condition to avoid monthly fees? Do additional services like bill payments and overdraft protection have additional fees?

Debit card

With your checking account, you can request a Bank of America debit card. Use it to make purchases at merchants worldwide, make deposits to your account at deposit ATMs, and withdraw cash at ATMs wherever you are. This enhanced ATM card deducts money from your designated deposit account when you use it to make a purchase or get cash.

Automated teller machine (ATM)

Device activated by a debit or credit card; generally, the cardholder must enter a code to perform transactions. An ATM can dispense cash, accept deposits, transfer funds between accounts and allow account inquiries, depending on the ATM application used.

Interest

A fee charged for borrowing money. Also refers to money that a financial institution may pay individuals for keeping their money in an account there (such as an interest-bearing savings account).

Direct deposit

The process by which a customer's regularly received payment is deposited automatically into his or her checking or savings account, for example Social Security payments.

Checking that’s right for you

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