What is the Difference Between Checking and Savings Accounts?

If you’re new to banking, you may be curious about which account is right for you: checking or savings? Should you open a checking account to get access to a debit card? Or, should you open a savings account to take advantage of interest? Do you really need both? Learn more about the differences between checking and savings, and find out how both accounts can benefit you.

Checking Accounts: Money for Everyday Needs

The main difference between checking and savings accounts is that checking accounts are primarily for accessing your money for daily use while savings accounts are primarily for saving money. Checking accounts are considered “transactional,” meaning that they allow you to access your money when and where you need it. While both allow you to access your money, you may consider it easier to do so with checking accounts. Since these accounts are designed to give you easy access to your cash, they often come with debit cards, checks, and even offer digital payment options like Apple Pay. In contrast, savings accounts have a limit on the number of withdrawals you can make each month.

While checking accounts are convenient for daily cash needs, it’s important to remember that they may be age restricted. Most banks won’t allow people under the age of 18 to open a checking account without a parent or legal guardian as a co-owner of the account. Before opening a checking account, make sure that its terms fit your financial needs and your lifestyle. Learn more about how to open a checking account.

Compare checking account options.

Savings Accounts: Money for Long-Term Goals

When it comes to setting aside money for a long-term need or goal, you should consider a savings account. Savings accounts are designed to hold money over a long period of time to help you save for larger goals (rather than everyday purchases). As your money stays in the account, it will accrue interest and grow over time. This means that you will need to visit your bank, set up a transfer online1, or make an ATM withdrawal to access your money.

Keeping some of your money in a savings account is a great way to set it aside for emergencies or large purchases – its limited access will keep you from spending it on day-to-day necessities. There are also dedicated savings accounts for kids, though a parent or guardian is usually required as a joint owner. Learn more about how savings accounts work.

Compare types of savings accounts.

Checking vs. Savings Accounts – Which is Best for Me?

If you’re trying to decide between savings or checking, it’s best to consider what you need from your bank account. Ideally, you should open both a checking and a savings account to enjoy the benefits of each. Santander Bank offers a range of checking and savings options so you can choose the accounts that are right for you. Learn more about our personal banking products or visit your local branch to speak with one of our banking associates.

New to bank accounts, or have additional questions? Visit our checking and saving resources to get answers to frequently asked checking or savings questions.

1We limit withdrawals and transfers out of your savings and money market savings accounts. You can withdraw or transfer funds from a savings or money market savings account a total of six (6) times per Service Fee Period (such as by automatic or pre-authorized transfers using telephone, online banking, mobile banking, overdraft protection, payments to third parties, wire transfers, checks, and drafts). If you repeatedly exceed these limits, we may close or convert your account to a checking account, which may be a non-interest-bearing checking account.