A savings account can be a great place to stash your extra cash. These accounts typically pay interest on your money, which can help you build your savings over time.
Unlike checking accounts, however, you typically can’t spend money directly from a savings account. In addition, there are usually limitations on how often you can withdraw your money from savings, or transfer money from savings into checking or a different financial account.
To make sure you don’t accidentally run afoul of savings account rules and restrictions and trigger fees (or worse–have your account shut down), read on. Here are some things to keep in mind before you spend money from a savings account.
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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.
One key difference is that savings accounts typically earn interest while checking accounts which generally earn zero or very little interest.
Another main difference is that savings accounts typically come with cash withdrawal and transfer 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.
Another difference between savings and checking: 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 typically limit transactions to six per month (which includes writing checks and debit card payments).
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 withdrawals, that you make in person at the bank or at the ATM do not typically count towards the monthly cap.
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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.
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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 small–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), cash management 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.
Looking for Something Different?
Another savings option you may want to consider is opening a cash management account, such as SoFi Money®.
SoFi Money allows you to earn competitive interest, spend, and save all in one place. And, SoFi Money doesn’t charge excessive transaction fees, monthly fees, or other account fees. Plus, you can access your money at 55,000+ (fee-free) ATMs worldwide.
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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.