Direct deposit—or the electronic transfer of your paycheck from your employer directly into your personal checking or savings account—is a smart idea for several reasons.
- Because direct deposits are processed as electronic funds transfers (EFT), you don’t have to wait for a check to clear. The deposits are instantaneous, giving you access to funds sometimes a full day earlier.
- Your paycheck is more secure. You lessen the risk of losing a printed check, either through the mail or in your home or car before you’ve had a chance to deposit it.
- You save yourself a trip to the bank, which can be challenging for those who work full time.
- Your money is still deposited, even if you’re unavailable. If you are out sick or on vacation, you don’t have to worry about picking up your check or getting to the bank to deposit it. You will have access to your funds regardless.
- Many banks provide no-cost or low-cost checking accounts for customers with direct deposit because it saves them the cost of processing paper checks.
- You can allocate your check to multiple accounts, making it easier to set aside a portion of your salary to a savings account or emergency fund. This makes it much more likely for you to save.
But what if you don’t currently have a bank? Opening a checking account is easy. You can visit credit unions or banks near your office or home to compare the requirements. Some people think bank fees will be too high, but it’s important to remember that check-cashing services charge fees as high as 5 percent per transaction.
With a checking account, your money is stored safely, you have options to pay your bills electronically, you’re less likely to spend cash on items outside of your budget, and you build your credit history.
By shopping around, you can find a bank with low to no fees. Then, avoid additional fees or overdraft charges by maintaining your minimum balance and following other rules specific to your bank.