A Guide to Bank Accounts—Find What’s Right For You

Personal savings
Two people looking at a computer and smiling with document in hand

When it comes to managing your money, you can choose from many bank account options. How do you know what’s right for you? Whether you're saving for a rainy day, managing daily expenses or planning ahead, understanding account types and how they work can help you make informed decisions. Here are some common types of accounts, their benefits as well account ownership and who can access the funds in your account:

Savings account—Build your nest egg

A traditional savings account is a great choice for people looking to set funds aside for future use while earning interest. This could be for emergency funds or short-term goals. You can still access your money, although some banks may charge fees for frequent withdrawals. Savings accounts provide a safe place to grow your funds while earning interest. Plus, all savings accounts at Banner are FDIC insured, so you can rest easy knowing your funds are secure. See our blog Five reasons to have a savings account.
Of course, you can save money in other types of accounts. For example, a High Yield Relationship Savings Account offers a higher interest rate than a regular savings account, helping your money grow faster. If you’re a saver who can keep a higher balance and want to maximize your return, this may be right for you. 

For long-term goals, consider an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), where you can set money aside and take advantage of tax-deferred growth. Banner offers several IRA plans that allow your savings to potentially grow or compound more quickly than in a taxable account. 

Another good long-term savings vehicle is a Certificate of Deposit (CD). Want to save with a higher interest rate and don’t need your money right away? A CD is a smart choice. In a CD, you agree to leave money untouched for a fixed period of time—and you get a higher rate of return for keeping your funds on deposit for the full term. Learn more in our blog, Understanding Certificates of Deposit and CD Ladders.

Checking account—For everyday convenience

For daily transactions, a checking account is usually the way to go. This account is ideal for handling everyday purchases like groceries, utilities or rent. Unlike savings accounts, checking accounts usually don’t earn interest, but they provide flexibility for withdrawals and payments. Banner’s personal checking account options feature online bill pay, a debit card, and no monthly maintenance fees with qualifying activities. 

Money market account—Best of both worlds

Money market accounts (MMAs) combine features of savings and checking accounts. For example, Banner’s Money Market Savings account offers higher interest rates than a basic savings account and comes with limited check-writing privileges that most savings accounts don’t have. With a higher minimum balance requirement than a basic savings account, MMAs are suitable for people who want to earn more interest while retaining some access to their funds for occasional expenses. 

While it’s helpful to know what kinds of accounts are available, it’s also important to understand account ownership and who can access the funds: 

Primary vs. secondary account owners

A primary owner is the main owner and user of any type of bank account, credit card or loan. This person is legally responsible for the account, any debt on the account and its maintenance. The primary owner can authorize changes like adding other authorized users and allowing access to a debit card on a checking account. Secondary account owners, or authorized users, may be given limited access to the account. For example, with some business accounts, a secondary owner can make deposits into the account but may not be able to withdraw money from it. 

Joint account and joint account owners

On a joint account, two individuals are both considered primary account owners and are equally responsible for all charges made by each other and any authorized users of the account. This is common for married couples or family members like a parent and child. Opening a joint savings account is a great way to motivate one another, especially when trying to save for a vacation or home. A parent may use a joint account to easily monitor a child’s spending, while helping them learn smart financial habits.

Accounts with cosigners

Cosigners on a bank account share liability for the account, but do not have equal access to the funds or assets attached to the account. Co-signers usually become involved when one person on the account takes out a loan. A co-signer, often a parent or guardian, agrees to take responsibility if the primary account owner defaults on the loan. If the loan payments are not made on time, the late payments will reflect on the credit of the co-signer.

Choosing the right bank account and ownership arrangement depends on your financial goals and needs. Explore our website or visit your local branch to learn more.