Guide to Paying Online With a Checking Account

By Ashley Kilroy · June 21, 2024 · 8 minute read

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Guide to Paying Online With a Checking Account

You can pay with a checking account online, provided a company accepts this payment form. Many do, such as Amazon and Walmart. This can be a welcome convenience if you are trying to pay down or avoid credit card debt.

However, some online retailers don’t allow checking accounts as payment methods, so workarounds may be required in order to complete your transaction. Here’s how to shop online with a checking account and what to do if a business doesn’t support this form of payment.

Can You Pay Online With a Checking Account?

Shoppers can pay online with a checking account when online retailers accept this form of payment. Not all businesses accept checking accounts as a payment method on their websites. Many online retailers may only take credit cards or payment apps, so it’s important to check the website for accepted forms of payment.

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Where Can You Pay With Your Checking Account Online?

You can pay online with your checking account when a company’s website accepts it as a valid form of payment. For example, Amazon allows checking accounts as a payment option for purchases. So too does Walmart. Some companies may also accept electronic checks.

Recommended: Reasons to Open a Checking Account

How to Shop Online With Your Checking Account

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to shop online and pay with a checking account:

Find a Retailer That Accepts Checking Accounts

Start by finding an online retailer that accepts checking account payments. Some retailers don’t take payments this way, so it’s essential to double-check the website’s FAQ page, review checkout options, or chat with a customer service representative about payment options.

Verify Website Security

Before proceeding with your purchase, it’s crucial to ensure the website is secure. Look for the reassuring “https://” at the beginning of the URL and a padlock icon in the address bar. This signifies that the website encrypts data during transmission, providing a secure environment for your payment details. Additionally, the website’s privacy policy should explicitly state its commitment to protecting your payment information, further enhancing your sense of security.

Access Your Checking Account Information

To proceed smoothly, make sure you have your checking account information at hand. This includes your account number and routing number, which you can find on your checks or by logging into your bank account online. The routing number is always nine digits, while bank account numbers are typically from eight to 12 digits (but can be as long as 17), depending on your bank. Also, ensure you have sufficient funds in your checking account to cover the purchase amount.

Shop and Check Out

Add the items to your cart that you want to purchase, and proceed to checkout. When you reach the payment section, select the option to pay with a checking account or electronic check. These options may also be called “ACH” or “eCheck” when you go to pay.

Enter Your Account Information

When entering your checking account information, do so accurately. This usually includes typing in your account number, routing number, and sometimes the name on the account. You may also have to submit your address for additional identification information. Take a moment to double-check the information to avoid any potential errors.

Complete the Purchase

After entering your checking account details, review your order summary, and verify the total purchase amount. Once you’re satisfied, confirm the payment to complete the transaction. Depending on the retailer, you may receive a confirmation email and/or see an order confirmation page.

Monitor Your Account

After making the purchase, keep an eye on your checking account activity to ensure the correct amount has been deducted. Most retailers process payments within a few business days, so the deduction may not appear immediately.

You may also see a small charge — usually a few dollars — on your account from the merchant. Some online retailers issue this charge and immediately refund it to check if the bank account information is valid.

Pros and Cons of Paying Online With Your Checking Account

Paying with a checking account when shopping online has specific perks and drawbacks you should consider alongside your financial circumstances.

Pros:

•   Using a checking account can be a valuable option if you don’t have or want to use a credit card or debit card to shop online.

•   For some people, it can be easier to manage a budget using their checking account.

•   Online shopping with a checking account could potentially be cheaper, depending on what fees are assessed on different methods.

•   Unlike credit cards, you must have sufficient cash in your checking account to complete a purchase. This requirement can prevent you from impulse buying and going into debt.

Cons:

•   Many online retailers don’t take checking account information for payments, meaning you’ll need a credit card, debit card, or payment app to make online purchases.

•   Insufficient funds in your checking account can lead to overdraft fees and rejected transactions.

•   Checking accounts usually don’t offer the cash back rewards you can earn from using credit and debit cards,

•   Credit cards often have robust purchase protection policies, helping to secure you against fraud.

Alternatives to Using Your Checking Account to Pay for Online Shopping

Several alternatives to paying with a checking account online are available for shoppers. Each has different benefits and considerations, so it’s wise to choose the option that best fits your needs and preferences.

•   Debit cards: Debit cards connect to your checking account and can be used to make purchases online, just like credit cards. They deduct funds directly from your checking account after you make a purchase. Debit cards offer convenience and security, but you’ll need to monitor your account balance to avoid overdraft fees. Most online retailers accept this payment option. However, debit cards may not offer the same purchase protections that credit cards do.

•   Prepaid debit cards: Instead of a debit card linked to your checking account, you can use a prepaid debit card. This option entails loading funds onto the card from a checking or savings account and using it for purchases until the balance runs out. This can help control your spending or function as your main payment method if you don’t have a traditional bank account.

Prepaid debit cards are widely accepted for online purchases. While they don’t contain your bank account information, they also probably don’t have purchase protection or security alerts. You may also have to pay a fee to obtain one.

•   Credit cards: Credit cards allow you to spend money using a line of credit and pay the balance on a monthly basis. Credit cards can offer rewards points, cash back, and purchase protection. As with debit cards, nearly every online merchant accepts credit cards. However, it’s possible to spend an amount you can’t afford to pay back later. If you fall behind on payments, you can incur high interest fees and wind up with significant credit card debt.

•   Third-party payment services: Third-party payment apps like PayPal and Venmo allow you to link your checking account, debit card, or credit card to make purchases online without extra fees. These apps guard your personal information by keeping your payment details private from merchants. They may also offer features like buyer protection and the ability to split payments with friends.

•   Gift cards: Gift cards are prepaid cards loaded with a specific denomination that you can use to make purchases at a particular retailer or group of retailers. They are a convenient alternative to using a checking account for online shopping, especially if you want to give a gift or if you have a specific retailer in mind. They usually come in specific increments, such as $10, $25, $50, and so on.

•   Government benefits: If you receive the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food, you’ll get an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) account to hold the funds. Grocery stores and other retailers, including Walmart, Meijer, Instacart, and Aldi, accept EBT as a form of online payment.

Recommended: Pros and Cons of Using a Debit Card Online

Opening a Checking Account With SoFi

Paying online with a checking account is a viable way to make purchases on websites that accept this method. This technique can help prevent overspending and reduce fees, but it may not always be available and can be less convenient than other forms of payment, including debit cards and credit cards. As a result, it’s important to check which payment methods an online business takes and decide which one is best for your financial circumstances.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


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

What can you purchase online with your account and routing number?

If you have the account and routing number for your checking account, you can make purchases with online retailers that accept this form of payment. Because every retailer has its own payment policies, you will need to check their website to see which forms of payment they take.

Where can you pay online with a checking account?

You can pay online with a checking account with any retailer that accepts it as a method of payment, such as Amazon and Walmart. However, some retailers only accept debit cards, credit cards, and payment apps.

Can you pay online with your account and routing number?

You can pay online with your account and routing number if the online retailer accepts a checking account for payment. Many retailers don’t accept bank accounts for payment, so paying by debit card, credit card, payment app, or gift card might be necessary.


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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://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.

*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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