Can You Live Without a Checking Account?

November 10, 2017
Checking accounts are the most accepted tool for people to manage their money and their spending. While such accounts make paying bills, withdrawing cash and depositing pay checks easy, there are alternatives. These alternatives can be useful for those with low income who want to avoid the fees and account minimums that are sometimes associated with checking accounts.
Can You Live Without a Checking Account?

Here are some tips for managing your personal finances without a traditional checking account.

1. Use a prepaid debit card. Prepaid debit cards are the best option for depositing a paycheck. Some of these cards will even waive monthly fees if you set up direct deposit. This means that your employer will deposit your check in your card account so that you do not have to do it manually. This is the easiest way to access your money if you do not have a checking account, but your job pays you with a check.

2. Open a savings account. Another option is to have a savings account (but not a checking account) at a traditional bank. You can deposit your money in a savings account and then transfer it to a prepaid debit card or withdraw it as cash. This will give you a safe place to keep your money without exposing you to the fees associated with a checking account. You just need to be aware of any fees or account minimums associated with the savings account. In general, it is easier to avoid fees with a savings account than with a checking account.

3. Use cash whenever possible. You can manually withdraw money from your savings account or get a prepaid debit card that offers fee-free or low-fee ATM access. Cash can 1) help you manage your budget more easily and 2) help you cover day-to-day expenses without having to rely on a debit card or credit card.

4. Apply for a credit card. Credit cards can be a source of debt, but they do not have to be. Correctly managed, a credit card can help you cover expenses and make online purchases without a traditional checking account. The key is to pay off the balance each month by the due date. If you can do this, you will not be hit with any interest charges.

5. Forego credit cards in favor of online personal loans. Another option is to forget credit cards altogether and instead use online personal loans to cover extra expenses. These loans are easy to apply for, and the money can be deposited into a prepaid debit card account within a few hours of loan approval.

A compromise could be to have a checking account, but only so that you can transfer your money to a savings account, withdraw it as cash or put it in a prepaid debit card account. Some banks will waive fees if you have both a checking and savings account, so this could be a viable option if that is the case at your chosen bank. You would use the checking account to move funds to other accounts, but you would not use it to manage your spending.