New Visitors Privacy Policy Sponsorship Contact Us Media
Baby Boomers Family Green Home and Auto In Critical Condition Just Starting Out Lifestyle Money
- advertisement -
News & Advice Compare Rates Calculators
Rate Alerts  |  Glossary  |  Help
Mortgage Home
Auto CDs &
Retirement Checking &
Taxes Personal

10 must-know checking account terms

Checking BasicsThere's a lot more to checking than balancing your checkbook, and many people have trouble even doing that. If you want to be organized and informed, you need to learn the lingo of the checking world. We've picked the top 10 checking account terms to help get you started.

ATM surcharge -- Fee charged for a non-account holder to use a bank-owned ATM. Example: You have an account at Bank A but use Bank B's ATM. Bank B will charge you a surcharge. Make sure to review what your bank charges you to use another bank's ATM system. You may have to pay a surcharge to Bank B plus a non-bank owned ATM charge to Bank A.

Debit card -- A payment card that is linked directly to a customer's bank account. Both PIN-based transactions and signature transactions remove a purchase price from a customer's checking account almost immediately.

- advertisement -

Electronic funds transfer -- The transfer of money between accounts by consumer electronic systems, such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and electronic payment of bills.

Interest checking account -- Liquid account, providing FDIC insurance to $100,000 per person, that permits unlimited check-writing and typically pays interest.

Lifeline account -- A no-frills account for low-income customers, which is mandated by law in some states. These accounts are typically checking and savings products that have little or no monthly fees, require little if any minimum deposit and balance, and allot a set number of checks each month.

Money market account -- A bank account that restricts the type and number of certain withdrawals and earns interest similar to that paid by money market funds.

Negotiable Order of Withdrawal account -- Liquid account, providing FDIC insurance to $100,000 per person, that permits unlimited check-writing and typically pays interest. Also known as a NOW account.

Overdraft -- The amount that a check exceeds the available balance in the payor's account; also insufficient funds.

Returned or "bounced" check charge -- Also referred to as an NSF or non-sufficient funds fee. The amount of money charged to an account holder whose account has insufficient funds available to pay the check, which is returned to the party who cashed it unpaid.

Service charge -- Fees charged to customers for specific services or as a penalty for not meeting certain requirements, such as insufficient funds in a checking account.

For a complete list of checking terms, check out our glossary.

-- Updated: April 9, 2003

Must-know terms
See Also
Post-attack law leaves bank accounts wide open
Debit cards don't offer equal protection
Find the best checking account for your lifestyle
Checking glossary
More checking stories

Print   E-mail

Checking and Savings
Compare today's rates
Interest checking 0.34%
MMA 0.39%
$10K MMA 0.35%

  How long will your savings last  
  How to reach a savings goal -- with scheduled payments  
  Watch your savings grow with regular deposits  
Checking Basics
Manage your account in a fee-friendly way.
What's the best checking
account for me?
ABCs of ATMs
What are all these fees?
Is online banking secure?

Banking glossary  
News archive  
Keep an eye on the leading rates  
Find a high-yielding CD

- advertisement -
Looking for more stories like this? We'll send them directly to you!'s corrections policy
top of page
- advertisement -

About Bankrate | Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights | Online Media Kit | Partnerships | Investor Relations | Press Room | Contact Us | Sitemap
NYSE: RATE | RSS Feeds |

* Mortgage rate may include points. See rate tables for details. Click here.
* To see the definition of overnight averages click here. ®, Copyright © 2015 Bankrate, Inc., All Rights Reserved, Terms of Use.