If you are new to banking, then it can seem like a confusing subject. All the different banks, accounts and cards on offer can make the task of starting to bank a daunting one. However, the basics of banking are quite simple, and once you know them you will be on your way to all types of monetary products. Here are the basics of banking and how they can help you look after your money:
Why get a bank account?
Using banks and having a bank account has become an essential part of society. Once you start working or have incoming and outgoing money, you really need to get yourself a bank account. Banks are an easy and convenient place to store your money, and allow you to access it various places. Although there are alternatives such as credit unions, banks are the easiest and most readily available tools to store and access your money.
Basic bank accounts
To get started with banking you will need to open a basic bank account. Deciding which account and bank is right for you can take some research, but once you have decided this you need to open an account. Basic accounts usually issue you with a chequebook and a debit card. If you have regular income then you may also be entitled to a credit card, but at first it is best to stick to the basics.
How to get an account
To get an account you usually apply at your local bank, and they will ask for forms of identification as well as checking your credit report to see if you have mishandled bank accounts in the past. Getting a bank account is usually not very hard, and as long as you have identification and can pay some money into the account you should be able to get one.
Using at ATM
Once you have an account open you will be issued with a cash or debit card, which you can use in an ATM or cash machine. This card is protected with a unique 4-digit PIN number. You will be issued with a number to start with, but you can change this at any time. To take cash out you simply place your card in the machine, type in your number and then follow the instructions. You can also buy items with your card in shops or online by quoting your card number or entering your PIN in a machine.
Using a chequebook
You may also be given a chequebook with your account. A cheque is something you can use to pay for items and also to pay other people. You right who the cheque is payable to, and the amount, and then that person can put the cheque in their account. This will usually take a few days to clear so it is a good way to spend money if you are low on cash right now but will have money in your account in the next day or two.
In addition to a normal 'current' account, you might want to open a savings account. Money that you put into a savings account is not as easily accessible as a current account, but will make you money by adding interest to your savings. Over time your money will grow, which is good for money that you don't immediately need. Having a savings account is basically like getting paid to store your money safely. Whatever account you open, make sure that you shop around and get the accounts for your needs.
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Peter Kenny is a writer for The Thrifty Scot.
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