If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What can checking accounts be used for,” we have news for you. Checking accounts have changed over the years and are no longer tied to physical checks like they were in the past. Despite their name, you can do more than write checks with a checking account. Today, banking with a checking account and the tools that come with it can be a foundational element of your banking strategy.

Let’s look at a few more modern ways you can easily use your checking account – from managing your spending to setting fraud prevention alerts.

1. Accept direct deposits

Receive your paycheck the day it’s issued, without having to pick it up from the office or deposit a paper check. Direct deposits grant you convenience and security. You can rest easy knowing your income is coming straight to your account with no detours along the way. And, knowing the exact day and time your money will be available can help you plan for spending and expenses each month.

2. Set up checking account alerts

Avoid missing payments, late fees and potential fraud by setting up payment reminder account alerts. You can also be notified when your checking account reaches a certain balance, which you can choose, allowing you real-time intel on how much money you have at-the-ready. Other account alert options include notifications when checks clear your account, transaction confirmations, among many more.

3. Pay with a debit card

Enjoy the convenience of cash without having to carry it in your wallet or regularly stop at an ATM. Debit cards can be a tool to curb spending that might occur with a credit card, helping you avoid gaining more debt. With debit cards, money will immediately be withdrawn from your checking account when you tap, swipe or insert when paying a transaction. Paying with a debit card in some instances can also help you avoid transaction fees at some merchants and stores that charge for credit card processing.


4. Transfer money between accounts and build savings

With checking accounts, you have the opportunity to set up automatic transfers to your savings accounts – helping you build your savings automatically. Many financial professionals recommend “paying yourself first,” which you can achieve through these scheduled transfers from your checking to savings account.

5. Manage your money online from paying bills to tracking spending

Through online and mobile banking, you can review your checking account balance, transfer funds between your accounts, easily make transactions and much more – from anywhere with an internet connection or mobile data access. Being able to quickly check on your funds and review recent transactions can help you better manage your money.

You can also use your checking account to pay your monthly bills, including setting up recurring payments. You can avoid the fear of missing important payment deadlines by quickly making online payments or enabling bill pay. If your checking account offers a corresponding mobile app, check to see if you can deposit checks through it as a fast and secure way to cash physical checks you receive throughout the year.

Maybe most importantly, your checking account serves as the one place where you can both receive your paycheck and pay your household bills. This allows you to track your income and expenses daily, knowing exactly how much money is coming in and going out each month. This is a critical component to budgeting and financial confidence. Some online banking platforms provide money tracking tools that show your income and expenses as daily, monthly or annual charts with purchase categories like shopping and groceries for more detailed budget information.

6. Take advantage of checking account perks

Checking accounts can offer a variety of benefits, such as competitive interest rates, overdraft protection, welcome bonuses and low or no monthly maintenance fees.

Look beyond the paper check function of your checking account to see how it can work for you. It can be an important part of your financial plan as you learn your spending habits whether in your budget, savings goals, debt management, and more.

UMB personal banking solutions offer convenience and simplicity to meet all your financial needs. From home loans to auto financing and everything in between, see how UMB personal banking can work with you to find the right products for your life and lifestyle.