How many bank accounts do you need?

Banking » How Many Bank Accounts Do You Need?

Are multiple accounts more secure?
Are multiple accounts more secure? © wongwean/

These days, it's hardly news to hear about a security breach at a financial institution or an instance of identity theft. But, in addition to taking the usual precautions, it may make sense to double up on the number of banks or credit unions you belong to, Johnson says.

"The average person only needs banking relationships with two financial institutions," Johnson says. "One institution should have your primary checking and savings accounts, and the other should serve as more of a backup or secondary institution. The account at your secondary institution should be available just in case you are temporarily unable to access your accounts at your primary institution."

But, while it's good to have a backup, consumers should remember that a secondary institution is only there for access in case of an emergency. Assuming the depositor has less than $250,000 in the account, the money is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

"From a liability perspective, you'll be made whole either way," says McCloskey, who adds that individuals with more than $250,000 should definitely look into using multiple financial institutions, or make sure that the ownership title on each account reflects a different depositor in order to qualify for FDIC coverage.


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