How Many Bank Accounts Should I Have?

By Janet Siroto · May 20, 2024 · 10 minute read

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How Many Bank Accounts Should I Have?

If you’re wondering “How many bank accounts should I have?” the answer will likely be, it depends. Your personal and financial situation and goals will impact whether you have just one or two accounts or several of them with different purposes. For example, a recent college grad who is just entering the workforce will likely need fewer accounts than a self-employed person who is saving for a down payment on a house and their toddler’s future education.

There can indeed be advantages to holding multiple checking accounts or savings accounts, but having more than one or two will definitely require more of your time in terms of money management.

Key Points

•   Multiple bank accounts can be beneficial for managing diverse financial needs and goals.

•   Having just one checking and one savings account simplifies finances and reduces fees.

•   Specific savings goals might require separate accounts to track progress effectively.

•   Business owners and freelancers benefit from separate accounts to manage expenses and taxes.

•   Multiple accounts can aid in budgeting by allocating funds to different spending categories.

How Many Bank Accounts Do Most People Have?

When it comes to managing your money, many adults have, at a minimum, one checking account and one savings account at the same bank. Of course, there are plenty of other personal and financial circumstances that might make you consider opening an additional account. However, for most individuals, especially those who are unmarried, opening just one checking and one savings account usually covers their basic banking needs.

With just one checking account and one savings account, you eliminate confusion and can simplify your finances. If all of your paycheck goes into your checking account using direct deposit, you can set up recurring automatic transfers into savings for the date after your payment hits.

If you automate your finances in this way, money moves into your savings account and leaves what you know you’ll need in checking until your next paycheck.

It’s also wise to keep in mind that some banks, especially the larger traditional banks vs. online banks, may charge monthly fees for checking accounts or require a minimum deposit. If you bank at one of these bricks-and-mortar financial institutions, having only two accounts can reduce the fees you’ll need to pay.

💡 Recommended: Learn more ways to help simplify your finances.

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7 Reasons to Open Multiple Bank Accounts

Although two bank accounts may suit some people just fine, there are many people who may prefer or even need to open additional accounts. Among them may be those who are married or starting a family, those who are planning extended foreign travel, military personnel, freelancers, and/or business owners. For these individuals, there may be benefits to having multiple savings accounts or checking accounts for different financial needs.

1. Large Transactions

While couples do not necessarily need to share all of their finances, there are certain benefits to having a joint account for your household and family. This can be helpful, even if you still have a personal account for your own discretionary spending.

For one thing, this pooled account can help cover large monthly payments such as a mortgage, rent, or other household expenses equally.

Plus, rather than individual savings, you might want a shared savings account for emergencies, like a surprise medical bill or car trouble. Each partner might put a small amount into that fund every month, with a goal of having at least three to six months’ worth of basic living expenses covered.

2. Specific Savings Goals

Having dedicated savings accounts can also be a smart tactic to encourage you to put away money for future goals, whether that’s travel or saving up for a wedding or baby.

Some couples even prefer a shared account for debt payments (such as student loan debt or credit card debt). However, helping to pay off your partner’s debt is an important financial conversation to have before you start a new bank account for that purpose.

3. Saving for College

Saving for college is another reason parents might open an additional bank account. Can you have more than one bank account for this purpose? Of course, especially if you have more than one child.

Also, even an individual who is currently paying for school might see the benefits in having a separate checking account to manage and keep track of spending on books or other school-related costs. This would be distinct from a checking account for spending on food, clothes, and other everyday expenses.

4. Charity Donations or Family Healthcare

Other reasons people might consider opening additional bank accounts would be for charity donations or offering financial assistance to another family member, such as paying for eldercare. While there’s probably no reason why those monthly expenses can’t also be accounted for in your regular checking or savings account, keeping such things separate can improve some people’s money management.

5. Separating Finances

In some situations, partners may want to open additional accounts to keep some of their finances separate. For instance, in a married couple, you might both agree to put the majority of your paycheck into a joint checking account. However, you could each direct some of your earnings to a separate checking account for discretionary spending. For some couples, this can help keep the peace, since there’s no need to explain how much you chose to spend on new shoes or the latest cell phone model.

Or you might decide to open up different types of savings accounts to put some money into for an upcoming friends’ getaway or a similar goal.

What’s more, if one of you is starting a business (say, selling prints of your travel photos online), it would make sense to open a dedicated account for that, to keep your earnings and work-related expense payments in one place.

6. Creating Accounts for Your Kids

If you have a child you’d like to gain financial literacy, opening an additional account with them can be a wise idea. You can open a shared account and begin teaching your kid how to put money in the bank, withdraw funds saved, and see how interest is earned.

Since those under age 18 typically can’t have their own account, this can be a good way to instill good financial habits at a young age.

7. Budgeting Is Easier

Deciding which budget is right for you can take some trial and error, and some people find that keeping track of their finances is easier with multiple accounts. For instance, if you follow the 50/30/20 budget rule, you are likely putting 50% of your take-home pay towards the “musts” of life, 30% towards the “wants,” and 20% towards savings.

In this situation, you might find it clearer and more convenient to have two checking accounts from which you pay those two types of bills. You might even name one “musts” and one “wants,” if you like.

Recommended: How Much Money Should You Have After Paying Bills?

How Many Checking Accounts Should You Have?

If you’re thinking about whether to have multiple bank accounts, keep this in mind: There’s no single right or wrong answer. While there is no need to open five new savings accounts to plan for your next five vacations, how many bank accounts you should have can depend on your ability to organize your finances.

Some individuals might find they prefer having at least one or two extra savings accounts for savings goals. These savings goals could be anything from an emergency fund, travel fund, or saving up for a car.

That emergency savings account can be critical to have, by the way, to be prepared for whatever may come your way. Whether you want this account to be a separate fund in a different bank account or part of your overall main savings account, however, is really up to you.

Potential Downsides to Having Multiple Bank Accounts

Before you start opening up additional checking and savings accounts, consider these cons:

•   You risk incurring more bank fees. Some banks will charge you account fees for each and every account you open, which can take a bite out of your funds.

•   You will have to keep track of account rules. In some cases, there are minimum balance requirements, limits on the number of withdrawals, and other guidelines that can take up brain space, not to mention involve potential charges.

•   There can be an increased chance of overdrafting. No one is perfect, and the more accounts you have, the more opportunity there is to forget about some autopayments you had set up and wind up with a negative balance. This in turn can trigger overdraft and NSF (non-sufficient funds) fees.

Why Freelancers and Business Owners May Need Separate Bank Accounts

While large businesses inevitably need their own bank accounts, sometimes smaller enterprises or even individuals with side hustles overlook creating a separate business bank account.

Some banks offer small business accounts, which can be used by freelancers, side hustlers, or small business owners. Basically, you want to make it easy on yourself to track personal and business expenses separately, and having different bank accounts helps take care of a lot of the legwork.

An additional account makes it easy to track business expenses and deductions, like shipping costs for your Etsy account or treats purchased for your dog-walking gig. Plus, with all of your business expenses in one place, you are more prepared for an audit and have a better bookkeeping record, rather than sorting through every transaction and trying to remember if that coffee you had six months ago was for a work meeting or not.

A great benefit of having another savings account for your business or freelance work is that you can set aside money specifically for taxes.

Of course, as a business owner or freelancer, it’s also important to save for tax season, which is why opening a separate business savings account can also come into play. A great benefit of having another savings account for your business or freelance work is that you can set aside money specifically for taxes.

Recommended: Business vs Personal Checking Account: What’s the Difference?

Alternate Money Management Options to Consider

Whether you are looking to open a new checking and savings account with a new bank or just considering what works best for your financial needs, there are a number of reasons to consider an alternative bank account to a traditional bricks-and-mortar bank.

A new account could offer you better rates or features, lower fees, or greater interest earnings.

Here, some options:

•   Credit unions are banks that are run as financial co-ops, meaning each member has a small stake in the business. Banking with a credit union usually allows more flexibility and lower fees. As nonprofits, they are designed to serve their members, often paying higher interest rates on deposits as well.

•   Online banks typically offer lower (or no) fees than traditional banks because they don’t have to support physical locations. They often have higher annual percentage yields (APYs) on deposits, too.

SoFi is among these online banks. When you open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, you’ll earn a competitive APY and pay no account fees, which can help your money grow faster. You’ll also be able to spend and save in one convenient place, and access Vaults and Roundups to help build your savings.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Is it a good idea to have multiple bank accounts?

Whether it’s a good idea to have multiple bank accounts depends upon an individual’s personal and financial situation. A single person with a full-time job may do fine with one checking and one savings account. A married person with a day job and a side hustle, who is saving for a house and putting money aside for a child’s education, may prefer having multiple accounts to stay organized.

Is 3 bank accounts too many?

Three bank accounts is not necessarily too many, though it depends on a person’s situation. Having a checking account, a savings account for a down payment on a home, and a savings account for an emergency fund can be a good thing. However, if that number of accounts winds up charging too many fees or risking overdraft for the account holder, then it is possibly too many.

Do too many bank accounts hurt your credit?

Multiple bank accounts should not impact your credit. When you open a bank account, you are not requesting a line of credit, so it should not be reflected on your credit report nor should it lower your credit score.


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