Having the same savings and checking account numbers can lead to serious problems that can damage your personal finances for years. While some banks might issue the same account number for your savings and checking accounts, it's very rare and this isn't a convenience – it's a potential disaster waiting to happen.
Understanding what bank routing and account numbers are and why it's important to keep your savings and checking account numbers different will help you protect your credit history and score, potentially saving you many thousands of dollars.
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Savings vs. Checking Account
A savings account is a financial instrument that lets you safely deposit money, where it can earn interest and the money will be available when you need it. Even if you don't earn interest and pay fees, a savings account lets you safeguard your money while allowing you to make payments digitally.
If you're planning on paying bills on a regular basis, you'll want to open a checking account. You'll get more payment options (paper checks, debit card, mobile app) with a checking account than with a savings account. You'll also have fewer limits – such as how many transactions you can make per week or month – with a checking account.
The ability to make payments more easily out of the account is the main difference between a savings and checking account.
With either account, you deposit cash or make electronic deposits into the account. You can accept personal and business payments. For example, you can have your paychecks direct deposited into your savings or checking account.
Unless you have a reason for wanting a savings-only account, you might want to start with a checking account. Some people open a savings account to keep money separate, such as using certain funds for a Christmas club, emergency fund, children's college fund or annual vacation fund.
Read More: Check Routing Number vs. Account Number
Routing Number vs. Account Number
Whether you have a savings or checking account, your deposit slips and checks will have a routing number and an account number on them. The routing number identifies the bank so that banks can "talk to each other" during transactions and identify where money needs to be sent. Your account number identifies you to your bank so they know who is making a withdrawal or deposit or writing a check.
Try to Keep Your Accounts Separate
The problem with having the same savings account number on checking accounts is the possibility of making a mistake and withdrawing money from the wrong account. If you do this, you might overdraw the account. You won't have enough money in your account to cover your transaction.
If this happens when you're issuing a payment to someone, such as writing a check, the check will "bounce," costing you an overdraft fee and the person who had the check rejected by his bank charged with a fee. You'll not only have to pay your fee, but, out of courtesy, the fee of the other person. This is why few financial institutions offer this option.
Some late payments might get reported to the credit bureaus, damaging your credit history or score. Most lenders and businesses don't report late payments unless they are 30, 60 or 90 days late, and will often not report if it's your first offense.
If you're opening both savings and checking accounts at top banks and credit unions, ask if they give you the same account number or if you can have separate account numbers. If you want to link your accounts for easier transfers between them, ask about this option, which is usually available.