While most of us start our banking journeys with one checking and one savings account, as our financial lives get more complex, having more than one checking account can make sense. Especially because having more than one bank account can make it easier to manage the comings and goings of funds.
Keep reading for insight into more details about this, as well as answers to such banking questions as whether you can open two checking accounts with the same bank and what the pros and cons of doing so are.
Requirements for Opening a Checking Account
Banks and credit unions offer consumers the chance to open both checking and savings accounts that allow them to manage their money. A checking account acts as a place to store money until the account holder is ready to spend it. The funds in this account can be accessed via checks, an ATM, and a debit card, so the account holder can spend their money without having to carry cash or make purchases with a credit card.
Before you open a checking account at a bank, do a bit of research. Of the financial institutions you are considering, inquire what kind of fees they charge, what services they offer, and if the account holder needs to make an initial deposit to open a checking account. Most banks and credit unions require an initial deposit of $25 to $100 to create a checking account. They also typically have a minimum balance requirement that dictates how much money there needs to be in the checking account at all times to keep it open.
Once you have chosen a bank or credit union where you’d like to open a checking account, you may need to provide some or all of the following information about yourself:
• Date of birth
• Identification number (Social Security number, Individual Taxpayer Identification
• Number, passport number and country of issuance, alien identification card number, etc.)
• Proof of a U.S. or state government issued identification card with their photo (driver’s license, U.S. passport, military identification, etc.)
• A bill with your name and address on it
• Birth certificate
Can You Have Two Checking Accounts at the Same Bank?
You might be wondering if you can have two checking accounts with the same bank. Sometimes, this kind of arrangement can suit a person’s specific needs (more on that in a minute). The good news is, yes, it is possible to have more than one checking account.
While each bank and credit union will have their own rules surrounding how many checking accounts someone can have with them, generally people are allowed to have more than one checking or savings account. They will be separate entities with separate account numbers, but they will both belong to you. If someone chooses to open multiple checking accounts at multiple different financial institutions then they shouldn’t run into any problems at all, as there aren’t any restrictions on how many different bank accounts someone can have.
How Many Checking Accounts Should You Have?
Just because someone can have multiple checking accounts doesn’t mean they want to or should have more than one checking account. How many checking accounts to have is a personal decision to make based on how you like to manage your finances. Generally, most people should have at least one checking and one savings account available to them. For plenty of people, this is as many accounts as they will need or want to have. That being said, there are some benefits associated with having more than one checking account. The perks can be appealing, so let’s cover those next.
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Reasons for Opening Multiple Checking Accounts
So, what are the benefits of having multiple checking accounts? Having more than one checking account can give people more control over how they manage their finances by allowing them to dedicate specific checking accounts for certain purposes. Let’s say that you want to automate your mortgage payment each month, but sometimes your mortgage and credit-card payments hit on the same day, leaving you at risk of overdrawing your account. Separate accounts are one way to manage this situation.
If your mortgage payment is $2,000 a month, you might want to open a second checking account and deposit exactly $2,000 a month into it. That way, when it’s time for that automatic debit to do its job, you know there is enough money in your checking account to pay the bill. If you have another checking account for general spending and that credit-card payment, you can stress less about each purchase, knowing you won’t accidentally fall short when that mortgage payment is withdrawn.
Or perhaps you have a side hustle — maybe you sell an item you make, or sometimes drive for a rideshare company on the weekends. You might want to keep payments you receive separate. A second checking account can help you do just that, for easier bookkeeping.
You might also use a secondary checking account to help save for a specific, shared goal with another person. Let’s say you and your significant other are saving to rent a beach house together next summer and will ultimately transfer those funds to another bank. Or perhaps you have a roommate and you both need to contribute to expenses equally each month. It can be helpful to have a separate checking account out of which you pay for shared expenses like rent, utilities, household supplies, and groceries. That way, you will know there’s always enough money set aside to pay your fair share each month. In situations like these, having a separate account can help manage your financial life.
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Pros and Cons of Having Multiple Checking Accounts
But wait: Before you go and open an array of checking accounts, let’s take note of some important implications. There are both advantages and disadvantages to consider before opening multiple checking accounts. Keep these points in mind before opening up additional checking accounts.
• It can be easier to manage automatic deposits
• You can set aside money for different types of purchases
• You can have more control and organization over finances
• If not organized and managed properly, it’s easy to get confused about how much money is in each checking account and what it’s supposed to be used for
• This confusion can lead to overdrafting, which can result in fees
• If each checking account comes with monthly maintenance fees, those fees can add up
How to Manage Multiple Checking Accounts
One of the disadvantages of having multiple checking accounts is that they can be hard to manage if the account holder (or multiple account holders) don’t have a plan for handling them in place. Whether there is just one account holder or multiple account holders, there needs to be a clear system for allocating money into each checking account, withdrawing money, and avoiding overdraft fees. Monitoring these checking accounts weekly is a good idea to make sure everything is working as intended. You may also want to schedule automatic transfers in and out, to make sure recurring payments (like rent or a mortgage) are happening when funds are available.
Everyone has options for how they choose to organize their finances, and maintaining multiple checking accounts is one option that some people prefer. Having multiple checking accounts may help you manage their financial life, but it’s necessary to have a plan in place to avoid overdrafting or taking on too many account maintenance fees. With a little forethought and smart scheduling, you can reap the rewards of having multiple checking accounts without running into any issues.
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Is it bad to have two checking accounts?
If managed correctly, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have two checking accounts. For some people, it may be a helpful financial tool. However, people with multiple accounts may risk incurring more bank fees and have to stay organized.
How many bank accounts can a person have?
There is no rule in place limiting how many different bank accounts a consumer can open at banks or credit unions. Consumers can open as many bank accounts as they want.
Can I combine two bank accounts?
Yes, consumers have the option to combine two bank accounts if they have accounts at multiple banks. For those looking to combine two bank accounts, it’s important to do research on which financial institution offers the best benefits and lowest fees before choosing which one to combine accounts at. Linking bank accounts is also an option.
Photo credit: iStock/Petar Chernaev
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SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.75% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 12/16/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.