balancing a checkbook with a calculator

We understand that not everyone may be a fan of crunching numbers and budgeting like we are. But even if you’re no financial guru, you probably like earning money and making it work for you. But to make your money work for you, you have to be strategic in how you use it. That’s why it’s smart to open a checking account with a community credit union like ours.

If you’ve never had a checking account before, you may be asking yourself, “What’s a checking account and how do I start one?” Not to worry. Rivermark will tell you everything you need to know. So grab a cup of coffee, a notepad if you want to jot a few things down, and sit back and relax. Here’s what you need to know about opening a checking account.

What’s a Checking Account?

A checking account is one of the first types of accounts many people, including our own members, open. It’s an account where you can direct deposit money from your paychecks or other sources of income. You can also deposit cash into your account in-person at a branch location. The money then stays in your account until you decide to access it.

You can access cash from your checking account in a number of ways. First, when you open a Rivermark checking account, you’ll be issued a free Visa debit card. The debit card can be used to make purchases at places like restaurants, stores, or gas stations. You simply swipe your card and enter your PIN (personal identification number) if requested. You will be able to set up your security PIN, usually a four-digit code, after you open your checking account and receive your card.

You can also use your debit card to make cash withdrawals at ATMs. This will allow you to have quick access to your cash even when branch locations are closed. When you open a Free Checking Plus account with us, you can get up to $12 in ATM fee refunds a month.*

Having a debit card makes online bill payments convenient and easy. You can use your debit card to make monthly payments for things like rent and utilities. Or you can choose to write checks instead. Once the check is deposited, the money will be withdrawn from your account. It’s important to keep track of your balance so you know how much available cash you have versus your posted account balance.

What are the Benefits?

There are many benefits to opening a checking account. First, it’s a safe place for you to keep your money. If you drop your wallet, for instance, and someone picks it up and runs off with it, the money you had in that wallet is very likely lost for good. But with a debit card, you can either call your credit union and cancel the card before anyone else is able to use it or, if you’re a Rivermark member, you can use the Card Controls feature in Online and Mobile Banking to turn your card on and off yourself. Additionally, your money is protected from any fraudulent purchases.

Money deposited in a credit union account is also federally insured up to $250,000. That means you can deposit your money with confidence, knowing it is being kept in a safe, secure place. Not only is your money insured, but you can also earn money when you open a checking account with Rivermark.

You’ll earn up to 3.00% APY on balances up to $15,000 with our Free Checking Plus account.* For example, if you keep $10,000 in your account, you’ll earn an extra $150 a year. Watch your money grow over time simply by keeping it in your checking account.

Don’t have $10,000? Not to worry. You’ll still earn interest on the money that you keep in your account. It’s a great way to earn a little extra cash with very little effort.

How Do I Open a Checking Account?

In order to open a checking account with Rivermark, you’ll have to first become a credit union member. That’s quick and easy to do. The only requirement is that you live or work in one of the 11 Oregon counties we serve or any county in Washington, or have a family member that lives here. If you do, then you qualify for membership. It’s that simple.

If you wish to apply online, all you need to do is fill out our online application form. You’ll need to have a photo ID ready in order to complete your online application. Once you complete the form, we will also run a credit report. In addition to opening a checking account, you’ll need to open a savings account in order to establish your membership.

You can open your Rivermark Savings account with as little as $5 and your Free Checking Plus account with as little as $25. You can then link the two accounts so you will have overdraft protection for your checking account. That means if you don’t have enough money in your checking account to cover a purchase, Rivermark will draw money from your savings account to complete the transaction instead.

Looking for More Info?

Hopefully, we’ve answered your questions about what exactly a checking account is and how you open one. But if you still have questions or are wondering about other financial products, feel free to reach out. We’re happy to talk to you about our services and even provide helpful resources and financial coaching to get you started on your financial journey. There’s so much more to learn, and we can help you every step of the way.

Now is the perfect time to become a member. Let us help you put some extra cash in your wallet. After all, a bright financial future begins with choosing the right path for yourself today.

*APY = Annual Percentage Yield. Rates are subject to change after account opening. Minimum opening deposit is $25.00. To earn the Free Checking Plus rate of 3.00% APY on balances up to and including $15,000, and 0.05% APY on balances over $15,000, you must meet the following monthly requirements: Twelve (12) posted and cleared debit card transactions; Log in to Online Banking; and receive e-Statements. In addition to earning the higher rate, you will receive automatic refunds on ATM fees, up to $12 maximum per month. If account requirements are not met, the rate will be 0.05% APY and ATM fees will not be refunded. Fees may reduce earnings. 

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