As age creeps up on you, you'll want to plan your financial situation accordingly. The good news is, there's a myriad of deals and discounts aimed towards senior citizens and retirees.
That's why banks offer special "senior checking" accounts geared toward their older customers. Although they can come with their perks, they also come with drawbacks.
When you're older and retired, the last thing you should be worried about are higher fees from your bank. Here's how to decide if a senior checking account is worth it for you.
What is a senior checking account?
Checking accounts for seniors are similar to a regular checking account, but may come with perks such as waived fees. Finally, fees begone!
Commonly these accounts waive fees if a monthly direct deposit is coming into the account, or if you maintain a minimum balance.
You can qualify for a senior checking account as early as age 50 or 55.
The perks of senior checking accounts
The accounts can offer a multitude of benefits, such as:
- Waived account maintenance fees
- No overdraft fees
- Free checks and money orders
- Discounted or free safe deposit boxes
- Interest on your deposits
- Free personalized financial advice
- Discounts on movie tickets
Keep in mind that these perks vary greatly by instution and even by state. In Massachusetts, seniors age 65 or above receive checking accounts AND savings accounts for free at state-chartered banks.
All of these perks can help you save in the long run, especially if you prefer to go to physical bank branches, rather than do your banking online.
The challenges of senior checking accounts
A few of the negatives you may face with a senior-oriented account include minimum balance requirements, maintenance fees and even overdraft fees.
For example, TD Bank's 60 Plus checking account charges a $10 maintenance fee, double that of some regular checking accounts, if you can't maintain a daily balance of $250. That's as much as $120 a year!
On top of that, the overdraft fee is $35, which can be charged up to five times.
At other banks you'll incur a fee if you can't maintain an average monthly balance in the account, or make a minimum direct deposit monthly. Or, there may be a minimum balance that must be met before you can start earning interest on your account.
Is senior checking right for you?
Before you sign up for a senior account, compare your needs to the perks that are offered. And make sure you can follow the rules, to avoid potential costs.
If an account requires a minimum direct deposit, you might easily comply if you’re already making regular withdrawals from an IRA or 401(k).
If you just set up the withdrawals to automatically direct-deposit into your senior checking account, you might easily sidestep an account fee. This could make senior checking — with all of its perks — a better deal than some regular checking accounts.
If you’re looking to generate higher interest, you may find high-yield checking accounts that offer better interest with no fees.
For example, the Charles Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account has no monthly fee at all, includes unlimited ATM fee rebates and has no foreign transaction fees. That's perfect for seniors with the travel bug.
A high-yield savings account is another option that can also allow you to generate significant interest, with no or low fees.
Consider that a lot of the perks associated with a senior checking account may be given to you anyway if you have a long-standing relationship with the bank and high account balances.
Banks like to keep their high-balance clients happy, so that they don't take their business elsewhere.
Compare your local institutions, or accounts within your current institution, and if you're not likely to save money with a senior checking account, then don't bother.