The difference between checking and savings accounts

Checking and savings accounts are both important parts of a financial tool kit, but they’re not interchangeable. Understanding how each works and their key differences will help you get the most from each one.

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Checking vs. Savings


Offers easy access to your funds:

ATM withdrawals (may be capped at a certain amount daily)

Debit card takes funds directly from your account

Comes with a traditional checkbook

Easy transfers to pay bills online


Designed to save for long-term goals:

Typically offers higher interest rates

Limited access so you won’t be tempted to use for impulse buys

You may need to move money into checking to make frequent withdrawals

Can be linked to checking so you can transfer funds between accounts

You might use it for …

  • Paying bills
  • Grocery or other everyday shopping
  • Building an emergency fund
  • Saving for a big-ticket item, like a vacation or a car

You might pay fees for …

  • Not carrying a minimum balance
  • Using other banks’ ATMs
  • Withdrawing more money than is available in your account


  • Not carrying a minimum balance
  • Excessive withdrawals—different banks have different rules

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures deposits up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category. That means you’re protected if your bank were to fail.

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The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial, tax or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional and tax advisor when making decisions regarding your financial situation.

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