It’s a nonstop day. The usual. You’re at the grocery store, grabbing a few things for dinner (note to self: hit the ATM on the way out!), then a much-needed coffee at the drive-through (swipe that debit card), before you drop your tween at her first day of basketball practice (remember to bring your checkbook). Phew. And you’re only halfway done.
In the middle of it all, you certainly don’t want the nagging feeling that you can’t access your money at a moment’s notice, that you’re missing spending perks or that you’ll be hit with unnecessary fees. So a good question for you might be, “What’s the best checking account for busy families?”
How about a checking account that matches your lifestyle? Robert Farrington, founder of millennial personal finance site The College Investor and father of two, suggests that banking for busy parents should include an account that is âconducive to an on-the-move life.”
With everything on your plate, you may not realize that as your family’s needs change, the way you manage your money will likely need to change too. The good news is that many financial institutions offer bank accounts for busy families like yours, designed with features aimed at supporting your active lifestyle.
To select the checking account that best serves your needs, Farrington recommends first examining your current patterns. âNotice how you deposit money and how you spend it,” Farrington says. âLook at your banking trends and see where you’re being charged.”
Next, identify the unique features offered by each new checking account you are considering. To help you do that, here are four key things to look for as you narrow down your search:
1. Cash back rewards: More bang for your buck
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it costs about $12,980 a year to raise a child. Even if your kids get their share of hand-me-downs and you don’t buy them everything they want, you’re still spending a lot. The biggest costsâafter housing (29 percent of child-rearing costs)âare food (18 percent) and child care/education (16 percent). None of that even includes birthdays, holidays and so on…
If you’re trying to find the best checking account for busy families, consider that all those purchases could be a little less painful with a checking account that rewards spending, typically in the form of cash back or rewards points.
Ashley Patrick, founder of the blog Budgets Made Easy, loves the idea of a checking account that offers rewards. Patrick, whose blog tells the story of how she paid off $45,000 of debt in 17 months, recommends that budget-conscious families use debit cards for purchases. âIf those purchases were rewarded,” Patrick says, âthat money would multiply.”
Say hello to cash back on debit card purchases.
No monthly fees. No balance requirements. No, really.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
If you’re using a checking account that rewards you for debit card purchases, some of those seemingly endless expenses can actually help you save a bit of extra cash. Discover Cashback Debit, for example, lets you earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.1 That means your monthly cash back earnings could yield $360 in total rewards each year. This feature of a bank account for busy families could pay for one night at your favorite family resort!
2. Easy account access: At home or on the run
You’re dropping off one kid, picking up the other, then have to get ready for a fundraiser. You are always on the go, so it’s time to find the best checking account for busy families that’s always right there with you. Patrick suggests opening a checking account with a bank that has a vast network of no-fee ATM locations. For example, Discover offers more than 60,000 no-fee ATMs around the U.S.
âI live out in the country, about 12 to 13 miles from town, so I need an ATM nearby,” Patrick says. âI usually go to town on Fridays or Mondays, get lunch for the kids, go to the store for groceries and get cash. Everything needs to be in one location.”
Besides getting money for day-to-day purchases, a conveniently located ATM is a must for depositing cash. Why make a special trip to visit your local branch when you can make deposits at an ATM that’s at or near a place you already frequent? Banking for busy parents is hard to imagine without this benefit.
âNotice how you deposit money and how you spend it. Look at your banking trends and see where you’re being charged.”
3. Online and mobile features: Save time in spades
In fact, you may not need a brick-and-mortar bank branch at all. Another option to consider is opening a checking account with an online bank.
The best bank account for busy families is one that offers maximum convenience. With an online checking account, all you need is a computer, tablet or smartphone to deposit a check (most online banks have a mobile app that allows you to take a photo of your check to deposit the funds). An online checking account also makes banking for busy parents effortless by allowing them to manage bills and bank statements from a deviceâeither while at home or out and about. Save the paper for your kids’ cute drawings that you tack up on the fridge.
Nermeen Ghneim, blogger at Savvy Dollar and mom of two, says the best checking account for busy families would offer a mobile app.
âI want to be able to access everything a bank can offer through my mobile device,” Ghneim says. âIt saves time, and it’s huge for a parent with a full-time job.”
Here are some of the other online and mobile features that are key if you’re looking for the best checking account for busy families:
Online transfers. Farrington says the ability to transfer money between accounts is especially important. Things come up unexpectedly and you may need to quickly transfer from savings to checking, or move those cash back rewards into a college fund for the kids. If you’re moving your cash back rewards into savings, you may even be able to make that happen automatically. For example, when you enroll in Discover’s Auto Redemption to Savings, we’ll automatically deposit your cash back into a Discover Online Savings Account every month.
Online bill payments. With everything else on your mind, you shouldn’t have to go through a stack of bills every month. The best checking account for busy families would allow you to set up automatic bill payments, so each month’s charges are automatically debited from your checking account.
Balance notifications. You should never be in the middle of a transaction and see those dreaded words: Insufficient Funds. Instead, you want to get a heads-up when your balance is close to zero, so there aren’t any surprises.
Debit card protection. While it’s important to be able to quickly and easily use your debit card, Ghneim says it’s just as important to be able to freeze it. Some banks offer a digital feature that enables you to switch your debit card on and off, so you can instantly freeze your debit card if it’s been misplaced or you want to curb spending.
Connecting to other digital applications. Nowadays, busy families rely on budgeting and spending apps to help manage their finances. A good bank account for busy families would be able to easily sync with those other tools online or via your mobile device so that you can efficiently manage your money and take advantage of the features of each app.
Farrington says that when selecting the best bank account for busy families, a no-fee checking account is a must-have, so it’s worth shopping around until you find one. For example, Discover Cashback Debit has no account-related fees.2 âYou shouldn’t have to pay a fee if you don’t keep a minimum balance,” Farrington says. âParents often don’t have the bandwidth to keep track of whether they’ve made a certain number of transactions.”
If you are getting hit with a checking account fee for any of the items below, you may want to consider a new checking account to make banking for busy parents easier:
In-network ATM withdrawals
Replacement debit card
Online bill pay
Stop payment order
Official bank check
If you’re exploring a new bank account for busy families, Ghneim advises to watch out for hidden costs. Even no-fee checking accounts will sometimes hit you with unexpected charges. âThere should be no hidden fees because if a family is living off a budget, it’s very stressful to incur unexpected fees,” Ghneim says. Farrington agrees: âThere are some things that might cost you money, like wire transfers, but you shouldn’t have to pay for most features these days.”
âThere should be no hidden fees because if a family is living off a budget, it’s very stressful to incur unexpected fees.â
Banking for busy parents just got easier
Above all, Farrington says you want to prioritize the features that are most relevant to your family’s needs and lifestyle. If you’re always on the go, you may care most about convenient, no-fee ATMs and mobile check deposits. If your schedule necessitates a lot of out-of-pocket spending, you may want to prioritize debit card cash back rewards.
Keep in mind that when it comes to establishing the best banking for busy parents, you have options. âThere are so many checking accounts being offered now,” Farrington says. As long as you’re aware of the features that are available, you can make an informed decision and choose the account that’s best for you and your family.
1 ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as VenmoÂ® and PayPal, which also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
2 Outgoing wire transfers are subject to a service charge. You may be charged a fee by a non-Discover ATM if it is not part of the 60,000+ ATMs in our no-fee network.
The post Banking for Busy Parents: 4 Essential Checking Account Features appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
When’s the last time you made an appearance at a bank branch? With the latest digital technology, there’s almost no reason to step inside a physical bank: Nearly three-quarters of Americans bank primarily online or from their mobile device, according to the American Bankers Association.
But you might still like the idea of having a checking account at a bank with a branch nearby. Why? Maybe you think online banks aren’t as convenient as stopping by your neighborhood branch to get cash (free coffee aside), the perks aren’t as good as with traditional banks or that online banks aren’t insured. Actually, these are three of several big myths about online banking.
âPeople who say online bank accounts are inconvenient may not know how they work,” says Monica Lam, founder of money-saving blog Lucky Mojito. âI can mobile deposit a check into my account at any time without having to drive to the bank and wait in line.”
Lam wishes she hadn’t fallen for common online banking myths and took the benefits of online checking accounts more seriously sooner. âIf someone had told me I could avoid using gas or spending time going to the bank to deposit my checks,” Lam says, âI would have switched a long time ago.”
By now you’re probably wondering, “What are the most common myths about online banking?” We reveal themâand debunk themâso you can understand why opening an online checking account might be right for you.
Myth 1: They’re inconvenient
Don’t just take Lam’s word that inconvenience is an online banking myth. Patricia Russell, a certified financial planner at FinanceMarvel, agrees. âSome online accounts offer 24/7 access to many features of the bank. You can open your account, view your balance, deposit checks, apply for loans and pay billsâall from the convenience of the mobile app or website,” Russell says.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans bank primarily online or from their mobile device.
In fact, some online banks make it easy and convenient to open an account. âOnline accounts are extremely easy to open,” says Miguel A. Suro, founder of the financial blog The Rich Miser. âAll you have to do is go to the website or download the app and follow the simple prompts.”
If convenience is on your mind, you may also worry about the ability to access cash without a physical bank branch, but online banks may have a large network of ATMs that you can use, Russell says. For instance, with Discover’s online checking account, called Cashback Debit, you can use your debit card at over 60,000 no-fee ATMs. How’s that for debunking myths about online checking?
Myth 2: The perks aren’t as good as with traditional banks
If you believe this, you’ve fallen for one of the most common myths about online banking.
Suro thinks one reason you may be able to score benefits from some online banks is that low overhead often means incentives can be passed down to the consumer.
One such incentive that disproves this myth about online checking is that many online banks charge low or no fees.
“You may be able to pay no fees for routine banking,” Suro says, “such as just having an account, ordering checks, ATM access and most money transfers.”
Discover Cashback Debit, for example, charges no fees. Period. That means you won’t be charged an account fee on your online checking account.1 Imagine, a host of potential fee-carrying features you no longer have to worry about!
Why should credit cards have all the fun?
Now you can earn cash back with your debit card.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
Another perk on the online checking account sceneâdiscrediting this myth about online checkingâis cash back rewards, which have more traditionally been associated with credit cards. With Discover Cashback Debit, you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases monthly.2 That means your monthly cash back earnings could yield $360 in total rewards each year. This perk could be covering a good portion of your coffee habit!
You may also find this online banking myth refuted with the fact that some online checking accounts offer higher yields compared to traditional banks, Lam says, which means you can potentially make some cash while your funds are stashed.
Myth 3: You have to be tech savvy to use online accounts
While you need to have a computer, tablet or smartphone to use an online bank and access an online checking account, one of the top myths about online banking is that you have to be a techie.
âThere is no need to know a lot about technology to have an online account,” Russell says. âSome banks know the importance of easy-to-use websites and mobile apps, so they often have a design that is simple and straightforwardâeven for those claiming not to be tech savvy.”
Lam, who recently opened a new online bank account, also challenges this myth about online banking. âI went online and filled out a simple form and instantly had access to my account,” she says.
Suro has had an online bank account for 10 years and has not found the technology to be challenging, debunking this myth about online checking. âIf you can manage your traditional bank’s account online via its website or app, you can manage an online-only account,” Suro says. âIt’s the same basic experience.”
âIf you can manage your traditional bank’s account online via its website or app, you can manage an online-only account. It’s the same basic experience.”
Myth 4: You won’t be able to talk to a human if there’s a problem
Another online banking myth is that you won’t be able to access good customer service for your online checking account because you can’t walk into a branch to talk to someone. Not so fast.
Some online banks have customer service representatives that you can call, and some may even have this service available around the clock (no need to even leave the comfort of your home if you have a question). For instance, Discover’s customer service is available 24/7.
âYou no longer have to make it to the bank before it closes, you can actually contact the bank in the evening and get an answer,” Russell says.
If you’re all about communication from your favorite device, note that some online banks offer digital customer service through the bank’s website or app, calling into question this myth about online checking. âMany online banks offer [live] chat,” Russell says. You may also be able to contact an online bank’s customer service through social media.
Despite the face-to-face opportunity, Suro doesn’t think bank branches are necessarily better at providing customer service. He once needed to send a wire transfer and easily figured out how to do it online. When his relative went into a branch to do the same thing, he got held up. “The whole thing turned into an ordeal that took over 45 minutes,” Suro says.
Myth 5: Online checking isn’t insured
One final online banking myth is that deposited money isn’t insured.
Online banks can be members of the FDIC, which means they insure your money up to $250,000 or the maximum allowed by law, Lam says. Before you open an account, you’ll want to make sure that the online bank is FDIC-insured. One way to do this is to call the FDIC’s toll-free number at 1-877-ASK FDIC (1-877-275-3342) and ask a deposit insurance specialist to confirm that the online bank in question is FDIC-insured. The FDIC’s online tool BankFind also allows you to search banks by name and informs you of their FDIC number and status, among other information. Banks often include language on their websites and in marketing materials noting if they are members of the FDIC, so be sure to look for that as well.
No myths about online bankingâonly a new reality
“Despite the benefits of online banks, many people don’t open accounts because of all these misconceptions,” Russell says.
Now that some of the common online banking myths have been challenged, you can more easily see the simplicity of online accounts and the time saved by banking onlineâtwo key reasons Suro is a huge proponent.
âThat’s why banking online is one of my core strategies for effortlessly saving money and moving through life more efficiently,” he adds.
1 Outgoing wire transfers are subject to a service charge. You may be charged a fee by a non-Discover ATM if it is not part of the 60,000+ ATMs in our no-fee network.
2 ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as VenmoÂ® and PayPalTM, who also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
The post 5 Online Banking Myths Debunked appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.