Information from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Bank Account Basics

What is a bank account

A bank account is an account in a bank or credit union where you deposit money, and can withdraw it as needed.

What are the benefits of a bank account

A bank account is a great place to store your money safely. It can be used to withdraw money, make bill payments, online transfers, etc.

How safe is the money in a bank account

If the account is an FDIC-insured bank or NCUA-insured credit union, money up to $250,000 is safe.

What type of accounts are offered by banks and credit unions

  • Checking account
    The most basic type of bank account is a checking account. Checking accounts give you a debit card, checks, and are a great place to store your money for everyday expenses.
  • Traditional savings account
    A traditional savings account allows you to store money while earning a small amount of interest. Traditional savings accounts are a good place for emergencies and short term savings goals.
  • Certificates of deposit
    A certificate of deposit (CD) is a savings account that holds a fixed amount of money for a fixed period of time, such as six months, one year, or five years, and in exchange, the issuing bank pays interest. 

Questions to ask when choosing a bank account

  • Does the account have monthly fees or a services fees and can I afford them?
  • Is there a minimum balance requirement for the account and can I afford it?
  • How broad is the ATM network? Will you be able to access your money easily if you travel?
  • Are there branches near you that allow you to deposit or access your money?
  • How do overdraft fees work?
  • Are there fees for ordering checks?
  • Does the account have FDIC or NCUA insurance?