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Many people consider bank accounts to be fairly standard. They are simply a place to put your paycheck and pay your bills.
However, if this is how you view your bank account, you could be missing out. Here we’ll explore 12 ways to get the most out of your bank account.
1. Set Up Auto Pay
This is one of the best ways to organize your finances and allow your bank account to help you to save money.
Many companies offer discounts if you pay via Auto Pay, but many people are still behind on this bank account feature. You can set up auto pay for your utilities, insurances and other bills, so that once your salary hits your account, the payments for these bills will be automatically taken from your account.
Not only is there the possibility to get a discount from the company, but you don’t need to worry about incurring late payment fees if a paper statement gets delayed in the mail. Automating your typical monthly bills will also save you time, as you don’t need to manually make a payment for each bill, each month.
2. Set Up Alerts
Many banks allow you to configure alerts on your accounts. You can set up your accounts so you receive an email or SMS to notify you of certain activity.
For example, you could set up an alert so you are notified if your account balance drops below a specified amount. This can help you to avoid overdraft fees. You could also set up an alert to let you know if you’ve received any funds, so you don’t need to keep checking your account if you’re expecting a payment.
Alerts can be a great way to maintain awareness of your account activity without needing to be near your computer or an ATM. You can keep track of the transactions or activities that are a priority for you automatically. You just need to make sure that your account profile contains your up to date email address and cell phone number.
3. Use Round Up
If you struggle to save each month, you are likely to appreciate “round up”. This feature is offered with many bank accounts and it can be a way to increase your savings without a great impact on your typical finances.
Each time you use your debit card, your bank will round up the charge. For example, if you swipe a purchase totaling $6.87, $7 will be charged to your account. You are unlikely to notice that $0.13, but if you think about how many times you use your debit card each week, you can appreciate how it can quickly add up.
You can designate which savings account where you want your round up funds, so it can help you to meet your regular savings goals.
4. Link Your Bank Accounts
Account linking is a common feature and it is not only convenient, but it could help you to avoid bank charges.
When your accounts are linked, you can quickly facilitate transfers and manage all your accounts using one dashboard. This is particularly handy if you have more than one checking account and several checking accounts as you can move money around and avoid going overdrawn if you have an unexpected expense.
However, there is another potential advantage to linking your bank accounts. Many banks that impose monthly maintenance fees will waive them if you link your checking and savings accounts. Alternatively, you may be able to use the average balance across all your linked accounts to meet the minimum requirements to avoid paying a maintenance fee.
5. Register for Online Banking
Even if you have a local branch nearby, you cannot overlook the convenience of using online banking. Online banking platforms are typically very easy to use and you can perform all the activities that you would normally be able to do in branch or at an ATM.
Another advantage of using online banking is that you may be able to access exclusive online only products and services. This could be something as simple as accessing a savings account offering a higher rate, but the perks can vary depending on your bank and its policies.
The great thing about online banking is that you can manage your accounts at any time of the day or night. If you want to pay bills, check your balances or reassess your budget, you can do it even if it is outside normal banking hours.
6. Download the Bank App
While online banking is great, there will be times when you want to check your account or organize transactions on the go. This is where the app for your bank is a great resource. Most banks have an app for iOS and Android devices, which you can download from the Apple Store or Google Play respectively.
Once you sign in with the app, you can do almost anything you’d normally do using online banking. However, the apps make it very easy to set up custom alerts, so you can literally carry your banking platform in your pocket.
Whether you’re having a busy day away from home or you’re on vacation, you don’t need to be in the dark about what is happening with your bank accounts.
7. Create Multiple Accounts
Many people have several savings goals at any time. You may be saving for something short term, planning a large purchase such as a car or home and everything in between. So, it can be very challenging to manage all of these savings goals with just one account.
If you only have one account, you may lose sight of what funds are for what goal and end up spending more than you should. So, one of the best ways to get the most out of your bank account is to have separate funds for each savings goal.
With many banks, this will involve having multiple accounts, but some banks have created a provision for this, where you can divide your savings account into different pools. You can set up new pods, pools or funds for each new savings goal and even set up automatic transfers, so you save your target amount each week or month.
The advantage to this is that you don’t need to open multiple accounts, and in some cases, worry about meeting the maintenance fee waiver criteria for multiple accounts. However, if your bank does not charge maintenance fees, having multiple savings accounts does have advantages.
You can have a debit card linked to one account, such as your short term savings, but decline a card for the account holding funds for long term savings. This will eliminate the temptation to dip into the account and swipe for a purchase that isn’t included in your savings goal.
8. Use The Bank Account Budgeting Tools
These days many banks offer free budgeting tools with their accounts, so be sure to make use of these. If you want to get your finances under control and work towards your long term financial health, a budget is crucial. However many people write out a budget and then put it in a drawer, forgetting all about it.
However, with banking budgeting tools, you can check your budget each time you log in to your online banking portal. This makes it far easier to make adjustments to your budget and ensure that your spending is on track to meet your financial goals.
It is well worth spending a little time to familiarize yourself with your bank account budgeting tools, setting up your spending categories and limits. Once you’ve done this, most tools will autofill and update how much you’ve spent in each category each time there is a transaction on your account.
9. Authorize Overdraft Protection
Many banks now offer the option of overdraft protection, but you will need to authorize this feature. Essentially, you’ll need to provide your bank authority to take funds out of your savings account to cover any negative balance in your checking account.
Since unauthorized borrowing fees can quickly add up, this is a great feature to avoid costly charges. You don’t need to watch your account diligently, as if you slip up and not anticipate a charge, the overdraft protection will kick in and auto transfer the required funds.
Just watch for any fees or charges for this feature. Some banks impose a fee for each overdraft protection transfer. While this is typically far less than an unauthorized borrowing fee, you still need to be aware of any potential cost of this service.
10. Check for Account Perks:
While you may simply want an account to park your paycheck before paying bills, your bank account may offer additional perks that could save you money on your day to day expenses.
Many banks now offer optional perks and additional services to their customers. Some of the common benefits include cell phone protection, shopping discounts, buyer protection and extended warranties, and roadside assistance.
In most cases, the only thing you need to do to access these perks is use your account debit card or auto pay for the relevant bills. For example, to access cell phone protection, you’ll need to pay your cell bill through your account.
However, the cell phone protection is usually an optional extra from your service provider, so you could trim the cost of your bill.
11. Set Up an Auto Transfer for Savings
Whether you have a short term or long term savings goal in mind, you’ll only get there if you are saving regularly. Your bank can help you to accomplish this with an automatic transfer into your savings account. You can set up the transfer to move a portion of your salary into your savings account each payday.
Since you move the money on payday, you won’t need to remember to leave money in the account for savings purposes or go to the hassle of performing a manual transfer. Once you get used to the transfer happening, it will be simply like another monthly bill, and you will adjust your spending accordingly.
You may even find that you have additional money spare at the end of the month that you could funnel into your savings to grow your fund even faster.
12. Take Advantage of Other Savings Options
While it is tempting to simply allow money to sit in your easy to access savings account, if you want to get the most out of your bank and bank accounts, take advantage of other savings options.
When you log into the online banking portal or app, you may find suggested financial products recommended for you. This could include CDs or other higher interest savings options.
You will need to carefully consider each of these products to ensure that it meets your specific needs. However, you may be able to access a far better rate if you’re prepared to tie your funds up for a set period or meet the other account requirements.
Bank accounts have become more than just somewhere to deposit your paycheck, so you need to ensure that you are getting the most out of your bank account.
With these 12 ways, you can start to enhance the functionality of your account and work towards your financial goals.