Can I Have More Than One Checking Account At a Time? Checking Account Basics 101

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Getting Started

First, you need to open an initial bank account before you consider opening a second to answer the question “Can I have more than one checking account at a time?”

Choose a local bank or credit union in your town or opt to open a checking account online with major banks such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America or Chase. You’ll usually need a modest minimum deposit to open an account, such as $25 to $100. Most banks will let you withdraw this right back out. So if money is tight you usually don’t have to worry about “losing” access to your cash.

Proving Your Identity

During the account opening process, whether online or in-person, you’ll have to provide several pieces of personal information. This is so the bank can verify your identity and also make sure you don’t have a history of writing fraudulent or bad checks. Most banks will run your social security number and driver’s license number through bad check writing databases like ChexSystems or Telecheck, which we’ll discuss later in this guide.

Tips on Having More than One Checking Account

You can indeed choose to have more than one checking account at a time. However, keep in mind that you must carefully balance both accounts to avoid unwanted overdraft fees and other potential problems associated with bounced checks. Whether you have one, two or three checking accounts, try as hard as you can not to pay any monthly maintenance fees. Also, consider carrying only one checkbook at a time to make your financial life a lot easier. However, if you need to carry different checkbooks for financial purposes be sure to have them look markedly different so you don’t accidentally write checks from the wrong account.

Deposit Basics

Your selected bank or credit union will accept your deposits once you are a customer. You can stop by a branch office with cash, money orders, or checks. Most banks also let you make deposits through the ATM, but you’ll need a debit card to do this.

Many employers also allow you to have your paycheck direct deposited into your bank account. This enables you to get immediate access to your money on payday without having to deal with cashing or depositing a paper check. However, whether this can happen depends upon your company.

If a parent or your Great Aunt Lil gives you a personal check for Christmas, the bank will usually hold such deposits for anywhere from three to 10 days, especially if it’s an out-of-town check. This is to ensure that the check writer doesn’t pass a bad check. You may be able to access some of the money–like the first $100–during this holding period but it depends upon your bank. Cash, postal money orders and paychecks are usually available right away, however, this can depend upon your selected bank or credit union. Some money order deposits will be held to ensure the document is not fake. Deposit holding policies are usually much stricter in the first several months that your checking account is open.

Check Writing Basics

You can write checks to pay your rent, cable bill, and even groceries. But keep in mind that the money must be in your account or the check will “bounce” when the check recipient deposits the check into their bank account. This is not only embarrassing and financially destructive to your personal spending plan, but also illegal. Every state has criminal prosecution laws that can apply to bad checks.

While getting arrested for making an honest mistake with a check is somewhat rare, if you make a habit of presenting “bad checks” you might find yourself behind bars for up to a year. Not to mention this creates a criminal record, making it very difficult for you to obtain jobs or credit in the future.

At the very least, bounced checks incur fees from your bank and the merchant. So if you write a $10 check for gas that bounces, you could wind up paying $80 total for that mistake through fees from the bank and the merchant depending on fees charged.

Additionally, if you bounce too many checks, your bank will close the checking account. Often this is reported to ChexSystems or Telecheck for five years. This can seriously hamper your ability to not only live the affirmative answer of can I have more than one checking account at a time, but also makes it hard to write checks at stores.


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