Sure, savings accounts can be a good place to stow extra cash and build wealth. You’ll typically earn interest, helping your money grow and boosting your progress towards your financial goals.
However, unlike checking accounts, you usually can’t spend straight from a savings account. What’s more, you may find that there are limitations on the number of withdrawals or transfers you can make from out of your savings account.
If you want to avoid getting entangled with savings account rules and restrictions or triggering fees, here’s advice. Read on to learn the ins and outs of spending money from a savings account.
How Does a Savings Account Differ From a Checking Account?
You might think the main difference between a checking account and a savings account is how you view them–namely, one is for now, and one is for later. But the bank also views these two accounts very differently. Here’s a closer look at how savings accounts work vs. checking accounts.
• Savings accounts typically earn interest while checking accounts which generally earn zero or very little interest.
• Savings accounts may come with cash transfer and withdrawal limits. A federal rule called Regulation D used to limit certain types of transactions from a savings account to no more than six per month.
• In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve lifted this rule to allow people to have easier access to their savings. Many banks, however, still enforce the six-per-month cap on savings account transactions.
• Savings accounts don’t usually come with debit cards that can be used to make purchases with money from that savings account. Only a few banks offer this service.
Can You Write a Check From a Savings Account?
Typically, you can’t write checks from a savings account. Of course, it’s always possible to transfer money from a savings account to a checking account and then write a check from there.
If you want to save money and have the ability to write a check with the money you save, you may want to consider opening up a money market account.
Money market accounts are a type of savings account that often pay a higher interest rate than traditional savings accounts and generally include check-writing and debit card privileges.
However these accounts often come with minimum monthly balances, and falling below the minimum can trigger fees. Like other savings accounts, money market accounts may limit transactions to six per month (which includes writing checks and debit card payments).
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How to Spend (and Save) With a Savings Account
To take advantage of the interest you’re earning on your savings, and avoid triggering penalty fees or the closure of your account, you may want to keep these savings account spending tips in mind.
Keeping Track of Your Withdrawals
It can be a good idea to find out what your bank’s policy is regarding monthly transactions from savings. Many institutions are sticking with the standard limit of six “convenient transactions” per month, while some are allowing more, such as nine transactions per month.
Convenient transactions include money transfers you make online, by phone, or through bill pay. Transactions, including ATM withdrawals and those that you make in person at the bank, do not typically count towards the monthly cap.
Paying Bills From Your Checking Account
Scheduling automatic bill payments from your savings account may put you over the savings withdrawal limit. It can be a better idea to have automatic bill payments or recurring transfers come out of your checking account.
Withdrawing Money Only for Large Expenses
If you withdraw money from your savings account for everyday spending, it can reduce the amount of interest you earn, and make it harder to reach your savings goals.
It can be wiser to only touch your savings when it’s necessary to cover an emergency expense or a large purchase (ideally, one you’ve been saving up for).
Building Your Savings
A savings account can help you work towards your financial goals, such as creating an emergency fund, making a downpayment on a home, or going on a great vacation. In some cases, you may even want to have different savings accounts for different goals.
To help achieve those goals faster, you may want to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into your savings account on the same day each month (perhaps after your paycheck gets deposited). It’s perfectly fine to start slowly. Even small monthly deposits will add up over time.
Maximizing the Interest You Earn
The higher the interest rate, the faster your savings will grow. That’s why it can be worthwhile to do some research into which institutions and which types of savings accounts are paying the highest rates.
Some options you may want to look into include: A high-interest savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit (CD), checking and savings account, or an online savings account.
Savings accounts generally aren’t designed for making frequent transactions. Instead, their main purpose is to provide a safe place to store money for the medium- to long-term. This is one of the key differences between checking and savings accounts.
Savings accounts still allow you to have access to your money, of course. To avoid exceeding transaction limits, you can visit the bank in person or use the ATM to make withdrawals or initiate transfers (since these transactions typically don’t count towards transaction caps).
To make the most out of your savings account, you may also want to look for an account that pays a higher-than-average interest rate.
Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account
Another savings option you may want to consider is opening a checking and savings account, which can combine the best features of each kind of financial vehicle.
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.
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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.50% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government 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, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.50% 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 4.50% 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 8/9/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. 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.