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CHECKING | The "Free" account, their hook into your wallet.

Howard Lake "Save Our Cheques campaign"

Different Types of Checking Accounts


I know I can’t be the only person who thought this… but prior to my very first day working for a bank I had no idea there was more than one type of checking account.

I figured a checking was a checking and a savings was a savings. I never thought of them as “products” that could have different costs and benefits.

Let's take a look at what a "Checking Account" really is.

The primary product of a bank, is a checking account.

A Checking Account is the product most people start with, and it's the hook to get you inside... so they can work on getting other products into your hands.

This is a bit of a misnomer, as few people under the age of 40 still write checks (or Cheques as they are called in other countries). Most people now days use BillPay or DebitCard to take money out of the "Checking".



In fact, for good reasons, check writing is becoming a thing of the past. 

As it started a checking account was created as a place to store your money so that you could safely go about not having to carry loads of cash. Then you could write a “check” which was a piece paper promising that cash to another person or company.         

~History~


Fact Monster[1] Provides an interesting brief history here is an excerpt:
            
“According to most history texts, it probably wasn’t until the early 1500s, in Holland, that the check first got widespread usage. Amsterdam in the sixteenth century was a major international shipping and trading center. People who had accumulated cash began depositing it with Dutch “cashiers,” for a fee, as a safer alternative to keeping the money at home. Eventually the cashiers agreed to pay their depositors’ debts out of the money in each account, based on the depositor’s written order or “note” to do so.”

~Recent Times~

            
People used checks as the primary non-cash payment method up until the 1970′s when ATM’s became widespread.

The use of credit cards and debit cards didn’t really take on as the preferred payment method until after the 1990′s really got underway.

Many people from older generations are still without computers or cards, but banks around the world debate even accepting checks in the future. The burden of processing a check and recovering from potential fraud are higher than ANY other type of payment method.

Just think how easy it is to order a new card VS getting a new account number and re setting up direct deposits etc.

~Interesting Facts~


The following was copied from ehow.com[2]:
“1971 - First true bank ATMs: Docutel introduces its Total Teller, the first true fully functioning bank ATM. 
1978 - The first IBM-compatible Diebold machine is installed at a bank in Indianapolis.
The Expansion of Card Usage
Although the usage of the debit card at the POS has not surpassed the credit card as the preferred card medium of exchange, it has made tremendous strides in its commonality. A paper written by Robert M. Hunt of the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia notes that from 1980 to 2000, consumer purchases via debit card rose from zero percent to 12 percent, and purchases made via check fell from 86 percent to 50 percent.

Future Implications

If the recent move by British banks is any indication, the use of debit cards will skyrocket over in the next 10 years. Banks in Great Britain have agreed to stop accepting checks by 2018 (we shall see). They note factors such as the high relative cost of processing checks, coupled with the decline in merchants that accept checks as payment.

~Now Days~

            
It’s interesting that they noted that checks will not be accepted in Great Britain by 2018. Although there is no such plan in the United States (yet), it does underscore the growing trend away from checks and toward debit cards as the preferred method of direct payment.

These days the check is not the preferred payment method of most institutions.

Due to a new law called Check-21[3] many companies are now clearing checks electronically anyway to avoid the hassles.

Have you ever tried to write a check at a store and the cashier ran it through then handed it back to you? Thanks to check-21 getting your “Canceled Checks” or even “Check Images” is becoming more and more unlikely. Those who need good records for tax reporting are now best off using the bank-provided online bill payment services (BillPay) for the safest and best record keeping.

~My Account~

            
There are many checking account types offered by banks all going by different names. But here are the basics and categories:
            
All checking accounts at their most base level are for unlimited use of your money. You put money in and then use it as you need it, whether that is to make a purchase or pay a bill.

The difference between accounts comes from what restrictions or privileges you get.


  • Some accounts offer free check orders, free bill payment services, even a small interest rate. 
  • Other benefits may include a discount on services such as transfers to other banks or countries, waived stop payment fees, waived Non-Bank ATM fees, and more. 
  • Sometimes the bank may give you an interest rate discount on a loan or a bonus on a CD. 
  • Some banks honor their higher value clients with discounts on brokerage trades. 
  • You could find you get a better insurance rate by having a long history and relationship with a specific bank. 
  • You may find a loan easier to get by having a history with the bank you are applying through.

There can be packages and accounts available for Students, Military Members, and Employees of Member Companies, The Elderly or retirees may have accounts with privilege. Those with lots of money almost always have special accounts available.

Once they have you firmly established into this "relationship" they can sell you all of these other "Products and Services". If you don't buy anything else, they won't be sad to see you leave. Buying other things is the only reason they still offer the Checking Account for a low cost, it actually costs the bank a lot of money to offer it.

How does it cost them money?

They have to process your transactions, protect you from fraud, have online services, call centers, tellers, etc, etc, etc. If you don't also borrow money from the bank, you are a cost to them (not a benefit). 

~Value~

            
Why do people with more money get more? 

The fact is, despite all the talk about fees and overdrafts in recent times, banks make over 80% of their profit from less than 20% of their clients. The wealthier the client the more money they bring in profit for the bank.

Consider: Wealthier Clients take out larger loans, and larger business loans.

Rightly, the bank provides special things for people who bring this important business. Hopefully that helps take out some of the wonder about checking accounts.

Side Note: This is also why when anyone with less than 1 million in the bank threatens to "take all my business elsewhere", the bank employee nods, smiles, and goes back to what they were doing without so much as a yawn when the person leaves, or hangs up.


The Insider



[1]     http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0001522.html
[2]     http://www.ehow.com/about_6192272_history-atm-card.html
[3]     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Check_21_Act


The Insider is a BIG fan of Dave Ramsey:

  • Go read/listen/watch Dave Ramsey and he'll teach you how to do it right!
  • Listen to The Dave Ramsey Show (HERE)

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Hi! My name is Darrell G. Wolfe. I am a wealth of random information and I make complicated things simple at DarrellWolfe.com.

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