Want to get the most from your checking account? Here’s how!
If you’re opening a checking account, there are some features you should consider to ensure you’re getting the most out of your banking experience. From online and mobile banking to account insurance, it’s important to understand what each feature offers and the security measures in place to protect your money. To get you started, we’ll explore 10 common checking account features and the security that comes with them. Let’s dive in!
1. Online and Mobile Banking
Feature: With online and mobile banking, you can access your account information, view transactions and their details, transfer funds, pay bills, and even deposit checks from the comfort of your own home or on the go. You can also set up alerts to notify you of any suspicious account activity.
Security: Online and mobile banking often require multifactor authentication, like a password and a code sent to your phone. Additionally, your financial institution may use encryption to protect your data. Encryption converts your personal and financial data into a code that can be deciphered only by authorized parties, preventing unauthorized access. To ensure your safety, you’ll be automatically logged off your account after a few minutes of inactivity.
2. Debit Card
Feature: A debit card is a convenient alternative to checks or cash. With a debit card, you can make purchases at millions of merchants worldwide and withdraw cash from ATMs. Many debit cards also offer additional benefits, such as cash back rewards or other perks, which can make using your card even more appealing.
Security: When you use your debit card, you typically need to enter a personal identification number (PIN), a unique code to help protect your account from unauthorized access, to complete a transaction. Many financial institutions have widely adopted EMV chip technology, which encrypts your card data for an extra layer of security. Additionally, contactless payments use near-field communication (NFC) technology, allowing you to pay without having to physically hand over your card. If your debit card is lost or stolen, you should immediately report it to your financial institution to halt unauthorized use and get a replacement.
3. Check Writing
Feature: While many transactions can be done electronically, some businesses still require payment by check. With a checking account, you can easily write checks and keep track of your spending. Writing a check also provides a paper trail that can be useful for budgeting and record-keeping purposes.
Security: In addition to sequential numbering, checks come with several security features, such as watermarks, microprinting, and embedded security threads to help identify photocopied checks, and chemically sensitive paper, which causes the word VOID to appear when eradicator chemicals contact the paper for added protection against counterfeiting.
4. Direct Deposit
Feature: Direct deposit is a popular and convenient way to receive your paycheck. Instead of receiving a physical check, your employer can deposit your pay directly into your checking account. This means that you can access your funds right away without having to wait in line to cash a check or pay check-cashing fees. Also, you can schedule electronic bill payments around your direct deposits.
Security: Direct deposit offers several security features, including multifactor authentication to access your account, encryption to protect your personal and financial data during electronic transactions, and the elimination of paper checks that can get lost or stolen.
5. Electronic Bill Pay
Feature: With electronic bill pay, you can easily pay your bills online and avoid the hassle of writing checks and mailing payments. Electronic bill pay allows you to schedule payments in advance, ensuring that your bills are paid on time and helping you avoid late fees.
Security: Electronic bill pay removes the possibility of payments getting lost or stolen. Financial institutions use encryption and other security measures to protect your account information and ensure that your payments are secure. To stay safe, keep your account login information secure and monitor your account for any suspicious activity.
6. Automatic Transfers
Feature: You can easily set up automatic transfers from a checking to a savings account, making it easy to save money without having to think about it. With this feature, you can ensure that you meet your savings goals.
Security: Be sure to monitor your account and keep track of any automatic transfers to ensure that they are accurate and authorized. Make sure that you keep your account information secure to prevent unauthorized access and potentially fraudulent transfers.
Feature: An overdraft occurs when you spend more money than you have in your account. Some financial institutions offer overdraft protection, which can help you avoid overdraft fees. Overdraft protection may include features like linking a savings account to your checking account or establishing a line of credit.
Security: Be sure to monitor your account balance regularly to avoid overdrafts. If you do overdraw your account, be prepared to pay overdraft fees and any other associated costs. Be sure to keep your account information secure to prevent unauthorized access and potential overdrafts.
8. Account Alerts
Feature: Account alerts via email, text, or push notifications help you stay on top of your finances. You can customize alerts for low balances, large purchases, and unusual activity. Account alerts let you monitor your account activity in real time for greater peace of mind.
Security: By setting up account alerts, you can quickly respond to any potential fraud and prevent unauthorized transactions. It’s important to keep your contact information up to date with your financial institution to ensure that you receive alerts in a timely manner. Financial institutions take a proactive approach to monitor your account activity for signs of fraudulent activity. They use advanced technology and techniques to detect suspicious transactions and will often freeze your account or contact you immediately if they detect any unusual activity.
9. Account Insurance
Feature and Security: Banks and credit unions insure accounts – backed by the federal government. If your bank or credit union fails, the federal government will match your deposit dollar-for-dollar, up to $250,000 per depositor, including the principal amount plus any interest that accrued up to the date your financial institution permanently closes, providing you with peace of mind and security in an uncertain economic climate.
Feature: With eStatements, you can view your account statements online or on your phone, reducing the risk of identity theft from stolen mail or discarded paper statements. Not only are eStatements environmentally friendly, but they may also save you money if your financial institution charges you for paper statements.
Security: Your financial institution will use encryption and other security measures to protect your account information and ensure that your eStatements are secure.
When choosing a checking account, it’s important to consider the features that are most important to you and the security measures in place to protect your money.