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Can I get a savings account with a debit card?

Some banks are now offering savings accounts with debit cards.

Americans are increasingly using debit cards in favor of credit cards when making everyday transactions. Data from the Federal Reserve suggests that debit cards are almost as common as cash when making small purchases. While debit cards are commonly linked to checking accounts, some banks are beginning to offer debit cards for their savings accounts too.

Savings accounts with debit cards

A savings account allows your money to accrue interest so that your savings grows over time. Most banks don’t offer debit cards linked to savings accounts because they’re designed to help you save money while debit cards are designed to help you spend it.
However, some savings accounts — such as NBKC and Synchrony — will give you a debit card to withdraw from your savings account at an ATM. Or, use it like you’d use your normal debit card attached to your checking account.
For big purchases you’ve been saving for or emergency purchases when your checking account is almost empty, easy access to your savings can be great. But it has its drawbacks.
Remember that if you withdraw money from your savings account, it won’t accrue interest — defeating the purpose of having a savings account in the first place. Also, if you withdraw from your savings account more than six times per month, you could be charged additional fees or even have your account closed. Although this rule is temporarily suspended, so you’ll need to contact your bank to see if this is still the case.

Interest-earning checking accounts

If you want to combine the easy access a debit card provides with the ability to earn interest on your account balance, you might want to look for an interest-earning checking account. Like a regular checking account, they provide minimal ongoing fees, easy access to funds whenever you want and the use of a debit card. Or, even set up direct debit transfers to schedule automatic payments from your account.

At the same time, you’ll earn interest on your balance. While the interest rate is typically not as high as what you could receive on a high-interest savings account, these accounts are less likely to come with maximum monthly withdrawal limits. However, they can come with a range of terms and conditions attached, such as a minimum monthly deposit or minimum account balance.

How do I compare interest-earning accounts?

If you’re looking for an interest-earning account with a debit card, here are some things to consider:

  • Compare the maximum interest rate you can earn on each account. Does this rate apply at all times or are there certain conditions that need to be satisfied each month?
  • Check the fees. Fees are an important factor when determining the value of any bank account, so check for any monthly service fees, annual debit card fees, transaction fees, ATM withdrawal fees and overseas transaction fees that may apply. Also consider whether any ongoing monthly fees can be waived if you meet a special requirement, such as depositing a minimum amount each month.
  • Compare the ways you can access the funds. Can you make ATM withdrawals, online transfers and direct debits? Can you also use the card in a store, and is there any limit on the number of times you can access your account each month?
  • Weigh the benefits of the debit card you get. Visa and Mastercard are accepted at tens of millions of locations around the world, but if you have a preference for either brand, make sure you choose an account with the right type of card attached.
  • How easy is it to use online banking services? More and more everyday banking transactions can be completed online, so check out each bank’s Internet banking service reviews and mobile banking app. Online banking that’s simple and convenient to use can save you a lot of time and stress.
  • What kind of customer service do they offer? Make sure the account you choose is offered by a bank with a reputation for providing prompt and helpful customer service.

Bottom line

The way we use money is evolving, and banks are evolving alongside us. If cash is king, then debit is the new queen and she’s gaining power. Both checking and savings accounts now offer interest-earning options with linked debit cards so it’s easier than ever to access your money.

If you’re saving the money for a major purchase or retirement, a savings account will offer you the highest interest rate while still giving you access in case of an emergency. However, if you want regular access to your money, the lower interest rate on a checking account might be worth the tradeoff for getting rid of maximum monthly withdrawals.


What’s the best option if I don’t need access to my money right now?

If you don’t need access to your money for a while, you might find higher interest rates with a certificate of deposit than a savings account.

What’s the difference between a debit card and a credit card?

A debit card takes money that you already have directly out of your bank account. A credit card is money that you’re borrowing and you pay back (usually with interest). Read our debit card guide if you want to learn more about the differences between the two.

Does it matter if I get a Visa or Mastercard?

While some people have a preference for one card over the other, most major retailers accept both companies and offer similar benefits.
Image: Shutterstock

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