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What's a Checking Account?

A group of teenage kids smiling.

A checking account keeps your money safe at the credit union while giving you many ways to access and organize it. You need a checking account because cash doesn’t work for everything.

When’s the last time you purchased an item online using cash? You’ll need to make purchases at stores and restaurants using your debit card. Sometimes you’ll need to set up electronic payments to pay your rent. Plus it’s best not to carry a lot of cash. If it gets lost or stolen—it’s just plain gone.

There are 4 Primary Ways to Deposit Money to Your Account:

  1. Mobile Deposit: Deposit your check by taking a photo of it using your mobile phone. 
  2. Deposit By Teller: If you have a very large or unusual check, it’s best to make the deposit by teller. In most cases, your payroll check or small checks from friends and relatives will be accepted and credited immediately. The bank or credit union may place a hold on some items it to protect you and the credit union from fraud.
  3. Deposit By ATM: Most ATMs accept deposits. When you make a deposit by ATM, usually a certain amount is available for immediate use (usually $200). The remainder of your deposit may be held for up to five days. 
  4. Deposit By Electronic Direct DepositDirect Deposit is the safest and most convenient way to make a deposit. For payments that you receive regularly (like your paycheck) your money can be automatically deposited to your account. There are no holds on direct deposit funds.

Ways to Withdraw Money from Your Checking Account:

  1. Withdrawal By Teller: You can go to a Rivermark branch to withdraw cash or a check. Do bring some form of picture ID. A driver’s license or state-issued ID is best if you have one. If not, bring a passport or student ID card. You can use any Live Personal Teller Kiosk or go into the branch and see a teller. 
  2. Withdrawal By Check: A check is simply a piece of paper with your account information. It says that you promise to pay whomever it is written to. When you write a check, the funds may be deducted from your account immediately (yes, really!). When a check you’ve written has been paid by the credit union from your account, it has cleared your account.
  3. Withdrawal By Debit Card: A debit card gives you three ways to access your money. Use your PIN number at checkout and you can also receive cash back with this option. Different stores may have limits on the amount of cash you can receive. This is a good (and free) alternative to using an ATM machine.

How do I Keep Track of My Money?

The process of calculating how much money you have in your checking account is called balancing. You need to be sure the amount you spend isn’t more than the amount you have. The best way to balance is to check your electronic account each and every time money goes into or out of your account. You'll be able to easily track how much you’re spending and depositing as well as what fees you are being charged.

Tools You Can Use to Balance: Online Banking or Mobile App

Online Banking and the mobile banking app lets you view transactions on any of your accounts. It will show withdrawals, deposits and even copies of your cleared checks. You can also use Online Banking to transfer money between your checking and savings accounts, to make payments and more. Check your account regularly to help you stay on top of your finances.

Tools You Can Use to Balance: Monthly Statement

You will receive a monthly statement that will show every transaction in your account. It will show deposits, withdrawals, checks that cleared your account and also any fees or interest that you earned. You should compare every transaction on your statement with your records.

What is an Overdraft?

You may hear people tell you that a checking account is a big responsibility—and it is. When you have a checking account, it’s possible to spend money you don’t have. When you do—it’s called an overdraft. Causing an overdraft is NOT a good thing! 

  • Overdrafts will cost you a lot of money. When you overdraw your account, you will be assessed a fee (usually $25 - $35) for each overdraft item.
  • Avoid overdrafts! Too many overdrafts or not taking care of an overdraft promptly can reduce or revoke your banking privileges.

If you overdraw your account too frequently—or by too much—especially before you have a good history established; your financial institution can reduce your privileges (take away debit cards, etc.) or close your account.

  • You can be listed in a national “unwanted customer” database. Nearly all financial institutions belong to the ChexSystems network. If your account is closed for mismanagement, fraud or excessive overdrafts, then you will likely be reported to ChexSystems. Once you are in this database you may not be able to open any type of account at any institution for years.
  • What should you do if you get an overdraft in your account? Most people do have a banking “oops” at some time. Does that mean your responsible banking days are over? No. As long as you only make this mistake very seldom, you’ll be OK.

Usually you will be notified by mail that your account is overdrawn. Your overdrawn amount will also include any fees.

Determine whether your transaction was paid or unpaid by the bank or credit union then pay all parties you owe money to as soon as possible.

Ready to open your Rivermark Checking account?