What is a senior checking account?
Checking accounts for seniors are similar to regular checking accounts, though typically it can be easier to avoid annoying fees. You might qualify for senior checking as early as age 50 or 55.
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Benefits of a senior checking account
The accounts can offer a multitude of benefits, including:
- Waived account maintenance fees
- Interest on your deposits
- No overdraft fees
- Free checks
- Discounted or free safe deposit boxes
- Free personalized financial advice
- Discounts on movie tickets
These perks might be very appealing to you, especially if you prefer to go to physical bank branches rather than do your banking online.
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Drawbacks of a senior checking account
One of the main drawbacks of a senior checking account is that many come with requirements that some seniors may have difficulty meeting.
You might incur fees if you can't maintain an average monthly balance or make a certain amount of direct deposits each month. Or, there may be a minimum balance that must be met before you can start earning interest on your account.
For example, TD Bank offers TD 60 Plus Checking SM), which comes with free checks, money ordes and paper statements, plus allows you to earn interest on your balance. But the checking account charges a $10 monthly 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.
Keep in mind that the account perks can vary greatly by institution and may not have as much value in your state. In Massachusetts, seniors 65 and older are eligible for free checking accounts and savings accounts at state-chartered banks.
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Is senior checking right for you?
Before you sign up for a senior checking account, make sure you can follow the requirements — to avoid potential costs.
If an account requires direct deposits, you might easily comply if you’re already making regular withdrawals from an IRA or 401(k).
You can sidestep senior checking fees if you set up those withdrawals to automatically direct-deposit into your account. This could make senior checking — and its perks — a better deal than some regular checking accounts.
But another thing to consider is whether the benefits of senior checking match your needs.
Maybe what you really want is to generate higher interest. You may find a high-yield checking account that offers better interest than senior checking, and with no fees.
For example, the Charles Schwab Bank Investor Checking™account charges no monthly fees, includes unlimited ATM fee rebates and has no foreign transaction fees. That's perfect for seniors with the travel bug.
And, know that many of the perks associated with senior checking may be given to you anyway, particularly if you have a long-standing relationship with the bank and have kept a lot of money in your savings account or have maintained other high balances.
Banks like to keep their loyal customers happy, so they won’t take their business elsewhere.
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