Skip to main content

What is a Checking Account?

A checking account is a bank account designed for your everyday transactions and deposits. Checking accounts make managing your money more accessible using debit cards, checkbooks, and mobile banking.

In this article, you'll learn more about what a checking account is, how it works, and the types of checking accounts available to you at Citi.

What Is a Checking Account Used For?

Checking accounts are used for cash deposits and withdrawals. Checking accounts are also called transactional accounts. It's a safe place to keep and manage your money.

You can withdraw funds from your checking account to shop and pay bills and access your money by using a debit card or an ATM card. You can also conveniently send money with an ACH transfer, wire transfer, or mobile payment feature.

How Do Checking Accounts Work?

Financial institutions like Citi offer checking accounts so you can make deposits and transactions. Now you can use mobile banking, online banking, debit cards, and direct transfers to send your money where it needs to go. Paper checks are no longer required but can be used with checking accounts when you need them.

For example, if you want to send your friend money for helping you move into your new apartment, you can simply send them an instant payment from the Citi Mobile App without having to go to an ATM or bank branch.

To ensure you have funds available when you need them, you can, for example, make cash deposits at your bank, utilize mobile check deposits, or set up direct deposits from your employer.

Types of Checking Accounts

Checking account types available to fit your financial needs include standard and priority accounts.

Standard checking accounts

A standard checking account is the most basic type of bank account. You can write checks and use your debit card to make purchases and pay bills. A Basic Banking Account from Citi features unlimited check writing.

A minimum deposit is typically required to open a standard checking account. Depending on the type of checking account you open, the deposit can range anywhere from $1 to $50. You do not need a minimum deposit to open a checking account with Citi, but you may need to meet balance requirements to stay in a certain Relationship Level or avoid monthly maintenance fees.

Premium Checking Accounts

Premium checking accounts offer you all the services involved in a standard checking account along with personalized banking and travel benefits.

These benefits can include waived fees for ATM withdrawals and foreign transactions and larger daily withdrawal limits than a standard checking account.

How Much Money Should I Keep in My Checking Account?

It's best to keep one to two months? worth of your monthly expenses in your bank account if you can afford to. Track how much you spend on living expenses like bills, groceries, gas, and occasional spending to figure out how much you'll need to set aside in your checking account.

You can add extra funds to your expenses to provide you with a cushion to avoid overspending, overdraft, and maintenance fees. The extra money in your account will ensure your account doesn't have a zero balance in-between deposits.

It's also good practice to check your bank account regularly, so you always know what's coming in and going out. You don't want to have a transaction declined because of a previous withdrawal you forgot to account for.

How to Choose a Checking Account

It's wise to consider factors like insurance, deposit requirements, fees, and rewards when choosing a checking account. When you understand what you need in a bank account, you can find the account that best aligns with your lifestyle.

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself when choosing a checking account:

Do you want to bank online or in-person?

If you consider yourself pretty tech-savvy, you may prefer a checking account that offers online and mobile banking. Online banking gives you easy access to your account 24/7, and you can automate paying your bills and transfers to your savings account.

If you prefer dealing with cash, write checks often, and would rather make your deposits in person, opening a checking account at a brick-and-mortar location is a good choice.

Citi offers omnichannel banking, bringing a modern online and mobile banking experience as well as a large network of fee-free ATMsFootnote 1.

Does the account offer benefits?

Are you in need of a bank account that offers more than just making deposits and withdrawals? Some checking accounts can provide travel and banking benefits for your purchases.

Why You Should Open A Checking Account

A checking account is a safe and convenient way to access your hard-earned cash and easily manage it with digital banking tools.

The features of a checking account can include:

  • Unlimited check writing
  • Online banking
  • Mobile banking
  • Debit card access
  • Overdraft protection
  • Automatic payroll deduction
  • Reimbursed fees at non-bank ATMs

Learn more about opening a Citi checking account to take advantage of huge benefits like digital wallets and fee-free ATMFootnote 1 access across the U.S.

1Citibank customers can get cash, get information, and make transfers between their eligible linked Citibank accounts with no surcharge fee when they use their Citibank® Banking Card at ATMs in the U.S. located at Citibank branches, ATMs at select retail store locations, and ATMs participating in the MoneyPass® Network; regular account charges apply. ATMs in retail stores and at other non-Citi locations are not owned or operated by Citibank and offer fewer functions. Use the Citi Worldwide ATM/Branch Locator on Citibank Online or the Citi Mobile® App to find the nearest ATMs and branches, including non-Citibank ATMs in the U.S. with surcharge free access. MoneyPass is a registered trademark of Fiserv, Inc.