As you start working and earning a paycheck, opening a checking or savings account can help you reach your financial goals. Read today's Money Mondays blog post to learn what you need to consider before opening a credit union or bank account.

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Money Mondays: Advice You Can Take to the Bank

Jun 12, 2017

Our Money Mondays series shares advice to help you manage your finances. This month, we're talking about opening a bank or credit union account to help you keep your money in a safe place, cash checks without paying fees, and save for the future.

Know your stuff

Knowing the services banks and credit unions offer can help you make the best decision for your finances. Both offer similar services, like checking and savings accounts or loans. Both insure your money and pay interest on the money that you keep in your savings account. However, credit unions are non-profit institutions so they tend to pay higher interest rates and charge lower fees than for-profit banks.

National banks are larger companies and often have the latest technology including online tools and smart phone apps that give you access to your accounts. They also give you widespread access to ATMs and branches in your community, state and even across the country.

If you prefer banking in-person, credit unions may offer more personalized services. And if your credit union partners with other credit unions, you may be able to access your money at other locations and use their ATM at no cost.

Get started

Before deciding on an account, ask yourself:

  • What kind of account do I need? With a checking account, you can use a debit card to take money out at an ATM, shop or pay your bills in person or online. A savings account earns higher interest than a checking account. Linking a savings account to a checking account can also help you avoid overdrawing from your checking account.  
  • In-person or mobile banking? National banks usually have the newest technology to help you manage your money electronically. If you prefer in-person banking, or if your bank doesn't offer online options, make sure there's a location close to you.

Ask the bank or credit union:

  • What are your interest rates and account fees? How many ATM locations does the bank or credit union have? Are there fees for using other banks' ATMs? Are there requirements to keep a minimum balance in your account to avoid paying a fee? Find out about these fees and consider limitations on savings if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits when making your financial plan.
  • What happens if I overdraw my account? Banks have policies about how soon after a check is deposited in your account that the money is available to you. It's not uncommon for people to pay bills or go shopping before a deposited check is accessible in their accounts. If this happens, you'll want to know what fees you may be charged. The bank may suggest that you open a line of credit or a credit card as a way to protect yourself from overdrawing.

Once you're ready to open an account, you'll need:

  • A valid driver's license or state-issued identification card;
  • Proof of address, usually a copy of your lease or a recent utility bill; and
  • Money to open the account for the first time. The amount depends on the bank or credit union and the type of account you want to open. The bank or credit union can give you specific information.

Additional Resources

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work.
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