skip to main content

Banking Basics: 5 Types of Bank Accounts

Written by
This article was created with the help of AI technology, thoroughly edited by a member of our editorial staff, and vetted for accuracy by one of our fact-checkers.
Read time: 4 min
Updated on April 11, 2024
young woman with long curly hair working at desk with her laptop, phone, and calculator
You love your money. You want more of it. That’s why you work. But once you get that fresh new paycheck, what do you do with it? Are there other ways to bank your money rather than just a simple checking account? Yep. Get the basics of bank accounts from OppU.

Bank accounts can be a necessity for modern life. They’re convenient (using a debit card is faster and simpler than cash—the people in line behind you at Starbucks thank you), they’re safe (money in the bank is insured up to $100k), and many types of bank accounts pay interest (meaning your money earns you more money). So, let’s dive into the basics of bank accounts and see which can work best for you now.

Checking Account

A basic checking account is what’s known as a transactional account. These are designed for daily purchases. You deposit money into a checking account with the intention of spending, rather than saving. A checking account will come with—you guessed it—checks, and/or a debit card for a more convenient way to spend.

Unlike other accounts, checking accounts don’t usually pay interest. And you’ll want to watch out for penalties like overdraft fees. There may be other limitations or fees as well. Some banks only allow you to write a certain amount of checks per month. So make sure to read the fine print when evaluating new checking accounts.

Savings Account

A savings account is designed to save you money. The money you put into a savings account will actually grow over time by accruing interest. Interest is, essentially, the money you charge the bank for letting them store your money. This value is expressed in a percentage called the interest rate. If you put $100 in a savings account that pays an interest rate of 1%, at the end of the year, your savings account would have $101. You earned interest!

The amount of interest that accrues, the service fees, and the minimum opening deposit will all vary depending on the bank. These are all details you’ll want to know before deciding which bank and savings account is right for you.

Certificate of Deposit (CD)

A CD account allows you to save money at a set interest rate for a specific amount of time. While a CD is also designed for saving, it’s different than a savings account. With a CD you don’t have access to the money you’re saving throughout the life of the certificate. Because of this, the interest that accrues on a CD is usually higher than a savings account.

Think of it like putting money into a time capsule and burying it in the backyard. Only this time capsule is magic, and it multiplies your money. That’s a CD. The life of the certificate can last a few months to several years. If you’re considering a CD, make sure you won’t need to withdraw the cash before the certificate is over, as this could lead to fees and penalties.

Money Market Account

A money market account is also similar to a savings account, only you’re required to maintain a certain amount of money in the account; having less will lead to fees. Another difference from a traditional savings account is that the interest accrued in a money market account will fluctuate based on the financial markets. Some accounts will even have the option to withdraw funds using checks.

Money Market accounts typically pay out higher interest rates, but of course they also require more money to get started. You have to pay to play.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA)

IRAs are all about retirement. They’re broken down into two types: a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA.

A traditional IRA is tax deductible and allows deposits of up to $6,500 per year (or more if you’re over 50 years old). The limit will increase to $7,000 per year in 2024 and may continue to rise in the years that follow. You contribute to this account through your yearly income. With a Roth IRA, the taxes are deducted when the funds are deposited, so you don’t owe taxes when you withdraw your funds. However, there are certain requirements and contribution limits for both types, so talk to your employer or provider to get more information.

No matter which bank account(s) you use, the important thing is to focus on saving. Having a checking account is necessary for everyday spending, but it’s also beneficial to have other accounts for long-term saving.

California Residents, view the California Disclosures and Privacy Policy for info on what we collect about you.