1. Money

Checking Account Resources

Checking accounts are the place to keep the money you'll be using soon. If you use a checking account, you can easily buy things without carrying around cash. Whether you have a debit card linked to your checking account or you write paper checks, these accounts come in handy. Read on for ideas on getting the most out of your checking account. We'll even cover opening a checking account.
  1. Bank Account Reviews (36)
  2. Checking Security and Fraud (5)
  3. Minimize Fees (6)

Checking Account Essentials
A good checking account is important. You’ll send thousands of dollars through your checking account, and you need to make sure it’s the right one for you. The wrong checking account will leave you with less money, and mistakes can cause headaches. Learn the basics and where you should open a checking account.

Photo Checks
Photo checks are bank checks that allow you to put an image on them. You might want a picture of your smiling face, or you can use a photo that expresses your identity. You can either order photo checks from a printer, or you can print them yourself. Find out how to get your own photo checks.

ATM Deposits
ATM deposits are one way to make your life easier. Some people don’t know how to do it, or they’re not comfortable with the idea of deposits to ATM machines. What do you need to know before you try it? Here are the basics of making ATM deposits.

Clearing Checks - Risks and Scams
You may hear that a check you deposited has cleared, but what does that mean? The bank may tell you that the check has "cleared", but you may not be in the clear. Clearing checks is a confusing process, and scammers take advantage of that confusion. Make sure you know the risks of depositing and clearing checks.

Interest Checking
Interest checking accounts allow you to earn interest on easily accessible cash. They’re like a mix between checking accounts and savings accounts. Let’s look at the basics of interest checking accounts and some of the major providers.

8 Reasons to Stop Writing Checks
Do you really need to write a check? They've come in handy for years, but these days there just aren't many places that you still need to write a check to. Alternatives are safer, easier, greener, and cheaper. Let's see why you should strive to never write a check again.

Debit vs Credit - Using Debit vs Credit Cards in Everyday Life
When you use plastic, you've got to choose between debit vs credit. Which is best? Like all things in life, the debit vs credit decision involves tradeoffs. This page covers the pros and cons and helps you decide whether you should use debit vs credit in your everyday life.

Signing it All Away
The easiest (but most dangerous) way to endorse a check is to just sign the back. A simple signature, known as a blank endorsement, allows anybody to do anything they want. They can deposit it to your account, their account, or sign it over to somebody else.

Endorse Checks With Your Account Number
If you want to be certain that a check only gets deposited to your account, include your account number when you endorse the check. The bank will only deposit funds to an account you authorize, so it's harder for a thief to divert that money into his pocket.

Electronic Checks
When you write a check, you may assume that the piece of paper you write on will be deposited at a bank and processed manually. Electronic check conversion makes that process less and less likely. Instead of processing the piece of paper, some businesses prefer to turn your paper check into an electronic check. Learn how electronic checks work.

Student Checking Basics
Student checking accounts help students start banking. While marketing messages are attractive, student checking accounts are not always the best choice. Find out how student checking works, and what to watch out for.

Overdraft Line of Credit
An overdraft line of credit is a loan attached to your checking account. Instead of bouncing checks and paying large fees, you can borrow a few bucks and pay interest. When you spend all of the money in your checking account, you start borrowing against your overdraft line of credit. This page covers how overdraft lines of credit work.

Check 21 Basics
Check 21 is a law that allows banks to process checks more efficiently. Instead of shipping checks back and forth with trucks and airplanes, they create electronic images of checks and zap those images around electronically. Check 21 can make things easy for the banks, but harder for you. Let’s review the basics of Check 21 and how the law...

Problems With Writing Bad Checks
If you write bad checks, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. You’ll end up paying a lot in fees, you’ll lose the ability to write checks in the future, you risk legal troubles, and your credit can suffer. When you write a bad check, you risk that it will be returned to the person or business you wrote it to.

A Visual Example of how to Write a Check
When you first get your checkbook, you may not know how to write a check. It's really easy once you get the hang of it. This visual example shows how to write a check with pictures and descriptions of each step. In addition, you learn how to write a check in a way that reduces the chance of a scammer altering the check.

Writing Checks - Complete Guide to Writing Checks
Writing a check may seem simple to some, but not to everybody. Learn the basics of writing checks from start to finish. We’ll cover important steps and alternatives to writing checks.

Reward Checking
Reward checking accounts are accounts that pay especially high interest on cash. You have the ability to use the cash just like regular checking accounts, but there are a few strings attached. You can get a great deal if you use a reward checking account, but you need to be aware of the tradeoffs.

Bank Checks
Find everything you need to know about bank checks. Read tips on how and where to order bank checks, how to write them, and how you can stop writing them. Learn how to deposit bank checks, and what happens if you write bad checks.

Basics of How Checks Clear
When banks clear checks, the money is taken from a checking account and sent to the check recipient's account. However, there is a lot of confusion about how quickly banks clear checks and your risks when you deposit a check.

Balance Checking Accounts - Step by Step Guide
It is important to balance checking accounts regularly. You'll reduce the chance of bouncing checks, you'll pay less in fees, and you'll know if somebody is stealing your identity. How do you balance checking accounts? See our simple step-by-step process on balancing the books.

POS Fees - Definition - Point of Sale Fees
POS Fees are point-of-sale fees. Banks charge POS fees when…

Returned Checks Overview
A returned check is a check that the bank does not honor. If you are the check writer, it means that your bank will not pay the person or business you wrote the check to. If you received the check, a returned check is a check that you won’t get paid on. Let’s go over the basics of returned checks and what to do if you have one.

PIN Number - Definition of PIN Number
PIN stands for personal identification number. You use your PIN...

Floating Checks
Check float refers to the amount of time it takes for money to leave your checking account. Check float helps to keep some people out of trouble, but it will increasingly cause problems for those who rely on it. Make sure you understand what you’re doing if you’re taking advantage of the float.

Check Registers - Definition - Where to Find Free Check Registers
A check register is your personal record of your checking account. It’s a good idea to use your check register as a backup system even if you trust the bank. You can use the paper check registers that come with your checks, or you can use an electronic system. Let’s look at how check registers work and how you can get them for free.

Instructions and Problems With Signing a Check Over
If you want to sign a check over to somebody else, include their name with your endorsement. Sign the check and write "Pay to the order of John Doe". Remember that some banks don't allow you to sign checks over to another payee.

Outstanding Checks
An outstanding check is a check that that you wrote, but has not yet hit your account. The money is still in your account because your bank has not taken the funds out. Let's review how outstanding checks work and what you need to watch out for.

Pay to Cash – Checks
Pay to cash is a way to write a check without including the recipient's name. A check that says "pay to cash" can be cashed or deposited by anybody. These checks can be convenient, but they are also risky. This page covers the basics of writing and depositing checks payable to the order of cash.

NFL Checks - How to Get NFL Personal Checks
Want to support your favorite team of touchdowners and tacklers? NFL checks are one more way to do so. More and more fans ask how they can get their favorite NFL team on personal checks. It’s not easy. This page gives you a few ideas on how you can get NFL checks.

Debit or Credit?
When you purchase with plastic you’re often asked in if you’d like to make it a debit or credit transaction. What’s the difference? The choice you make determines how your purchase is processed, who pays the bill for that processing, how long it takes, and what your rights are.

Direct Deposit From Setup to Sit-Back
Direct deposit is a great way to move money electronically. You don't have to mail or sign any checks over to the bank, and your money tends to move more quickly when you use direct deposit. Read on for more information about direct deposit and setting up direct deposit for your accounts.

Before You Print Your Own Checks - What You Need to Print Your Own Checks
Before you print your own checks, make sure you know how to do it correctly. You can save a lot of time and money, but simple mistakes can ruin all of your gains. This page will show you how to successfully print your own checks and avoid hassles.

Cashier's Checks - Overview and Discussion - How to Get Cashier's Checks
Cashier’s checks are checks issued by banks. Cashier’s checks are most often used when a payee is not certain that a check will clear, or when rapid settlement is necessary. Here, we’ll cover some of the details on cashier’s checks.

How to Order Personal Checks - List of Options on Ordering Personal Checks
When you write checks, you have to refill your bank account as well as your checkbook. What’s the best way to order personal checks after you’ve used your bank-issued checks? This page covers the options available to you.

ChexSystems - What Happens if You Write a Bad Check?
Readers often ask what happens if you bounce a check. Will it affect your credit score? The answer is no, but you should still avoid writing rubber checks. ChexSystems tracks and reports people who have had trouble in the past, and some banks will deny you an account if ChexSystems has bad information on you.

Overdraft Protection Plans - Avoiding Fees
We all make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes involve writing a check for money that isn’t available in our bank account. If you face this risk, you’ll want to know about overdraft protection plans and how to avoid fees.

How to Earn Interest With Your Free Checking Account
Free checking accounts are wonderful because you get a lot of features for free. However, you have to give up a very important feature: earnings on your free checking account balance. For those of us who want to earn a little extra, there is a way to earn interest and still have a free checking account.

Debit Cards - The Basics
Debit cards are similar to credit cards, except debit cards pull money out of your checking account. Debit cards do not create or increase a loan like credit cards do.

Checking Account Holds
Does your bank place a hold on your funds? It’s important to know how a hold works, what can cause it, and what your bank’s rules are. Most importantly, you need to know how to keep your bank from freezing your entire account.

10 Essential Checking Account Terms
In order to get the most out of any checking account, you'll want to know what these terms mean.

Insufficient Funds
Definition of insufficient funds. A situation where your account does not…

Stop Payment
Definition of stop payment. To request that your bank not….

Bounced Check
Definition of bounced checks. Checks that your bank won't pay because…

Definition - Certified Check
A check guaranteed by the bank to be good.

Definition - ACH (Automated Clearing House)
Automated Clearing House. A network of financial institutions that facilitate electronic transfers.

Definition - Check Cards
Definition of Check Cards

Expedited Recredit
Expedited recredits are a right you have under the Check 21 law. If there is an error related to a substitute check, the bank must provide an expedited recredit if you properly dispute the error. Let’s look closer at expedited recredits and what you can expect from them.

Substitute Checks
A substitute check is an image or copy of a paper check. Substitute checks under Check 21 must meet certain requirements so that they can be treated just like traditional checks - banks must accept and honor substitute checks without requiring the original. Let’s take a closer look at substitute checks and how they affect you.

How to Fill Out a Check
If you’re new to checkwriting, you may not know how to fill out a check. The process is easy once you learn the basics. Learn how to fill out a check properly, and what you can do to stop writing checks if you want to use alternative forms of payment.

Endorse Checks Payable to Multiple People
Some checks are made payable to multiple people. For example, a check may be written to a husband and wife. The right way to endorse these checks depends on how they're written.

How to Endorse Checks
You've got a check to deposit. Do you need to endorse checks before they go to the bank? Learn how to endorse checks - if you even need to - and how to minimize risks.

Duplicate Checks - The Basics
Duplicate checks are checkbooks that keep a record of every check you write. With duplicate checks, you can see who you paid, how much, and when. They may be handy if you like to quickly flip through old transactions, but they have their drawbacks as well.

How do I Reorder Checks?
So it’s time to reorder checks. There are a few ways you can handle it, and they all have advantages and disadvantages. Find out how to reorder checks, where you can do it, and how to be safe.

How to Verify Funds
Can you verify funds on a check somebody writes you? It may be helpful to know if the check will bounce ahead of time. You can avoid bank fees if you verify funds, and you can start taking steps to collect a valid payment from the person.

How to Cash a Check
How do you get access money when somebody writes you a check? You need to know how to cash a check or deposit it. It’s important to avoid risk and fees when you cash a check, so let’s go over your options.

Bank Drafts
A bank draft is traditionally a check drawn on a bank’s funds, such as a cashier’s check. When paying bills, the term bank draft is sometimes used to refer to an automatic transfer from your bank account to your service provider.

My First Check - What I Wrote my First Check For - What I Wish I Knew
What was it like when you wrote your first check? Is there something you didn't know but wish you did? Share your story and learn about writing checks from others.

High Interest Checking
With high interest checking accounts, you can earn impressive returns while keeping access to your cash. Rates are often higher than savings account rates, but there are strings attached. Find out how high interest checking accounts work and where to open one.

A Visual Example of How to Write a Check
When you first get your checkbook, you may not know how to write a check. It's really easy once you get the hang of it. This visual example shows how to write a check with pictures and descriptions of each step. In addition, you learn how to write a check in a way that reduces the chance of a scammer altering the check.

Endorse - Definition
What does it mean to endorse a check? It more or less means you sign it so the bank can do something with it. Find out what endorsing is all about.

No Check Register? No Problem
Check registers are the best way to keep tabs on your checking account. What if you don't have one? It's not difficult to find a solution.

Bouncing Checks?
When you bounce a check, it costs money and can lead to other problems. Find out how to stop bouncing checks for good.

Check Amounts Don't Match
What happens when the amounts on a check don't match (the numbers written out with words are different from the numerical digits)?

Types of Checking Accounts
Find out what your options are when it's time to open a new checking account.

After I Write a Check
Make sure you have funds in your account when you write a check. The money may be due before you realize it.

Where is the Account Number on a Check?
Find out where your account number is located.

Learn the Parts of a Check and What all the Numbers Mean
Find out what goes where on a check. What do the numbers on a check mean?

Outstanding Checks
You wrote a check and it was never deposited. What should you do?

MP on a Check
Find out what those letters next to your signature mean.

Checking Account Fees
As checking account fees creep higher, you may wonder if free checking even exists anymore. Banks have cut back their offerings, and even added checking account fees to products that used to be free. While free checking is harder to find, it’s not impossible to avoid fees.

Stolen Debit Card Risk
You are protected if your debit card is used by a thief. However, you have to act fast. Compared to credit cards, stolen debit cards carry a lot of risk. This page covers the basics of stolen debit cards and your liability.

Can You Use an ATM Card as a Debit Card?
Find out if your ATM card can be used as a debit card.

How to Use a Debit Card
New to debit cards? Learn how to use them to get cash and go shopping.

Debit Card Rewards Programs - List of Cards, Tips, Types of Programs
Find out about debit card rewards programs: which banks offer them, and what rewards you can expect.

Debit Card Minimums – Illegal or Just Annoying?
Can merchants require that you spend a minimum amount when you pay with a debit card?

Where and How to Get Debit Cards
Find out what kinds of debit cards are available and where to get them.

Can you use a Debit Card at an ATM?
Find out about withdrawing cash and more with your debit card.

Can I use a Debit Card for PayPal?
Find out how to use a debit card with your PayPal account.

Can I Use a Debit Card Online?

Do Debit Cards Affect Credit?
Debit cards, for the most part, do not affect your credit.

Debit Card Reward Gotchas
Find out what to watch out for as you sign up for debit card reward programs.

Where to Find Free ATMs
Don't spend money on ATM charges. Find out where to get cash for free.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.