Whether it’s to deposit your salary, direct debit your electricity bill, save for a trip or make unexpected payments, bank accounts are for much more than just income and expenses. Knowing how to manage it properly will give your financial health a boost. 

Bank accounts are where you keep money. You can use them to receive your salary, withdraw or deposit cash, transfer money, schedule payments and so much more.

For many people, opening a bank account is their pathway into the financial system. Knowing what accounts are out there and which one will best suit your needs is the first step to getting the most out of your bank.

Types of bank account

There are two main types of account: current and savings. Each type consists of accounts for young people, students, pensioners and other groups, including joint accounts. While they all let you take out money when you need it, they earn different rates of interest. 

  • Current account: Ideal for straightforward transactions like receiving your salary, withdrawing cash and direct debiting your electricity bill. You don’t get returns or earn interest on them.
    Their associated products include credit and debit cards, personal loans and mortgages.
  • Savings account: Its main aims are to save and earn interest. Holders always have access to the balance to make and receive transfers, but cannot receive their salary, set up direct directs or link a card to these accounts.
  • Other accounts: To meet the needs of different customer types. Securities accounts are for people who invest in shares and bonds and need to hold their assets there. Interest-bearing accounts are a hybrid of current and savings accounts that enable you to earn interest on your money, receive your salary and withdraw cash from ATMs

Banks can offer different accounts based on their location, and to groups like sole traders, SMEs, large enterprises and young people making their first foray in the banking world and looking to save for the medium to long term.

This article titled “Consejos para enseñarle finanzas a tus hijos (Tips to teach finances to your children)” (in Spanish) on Santander Consumer España’s “Tu Futuro Próximo” blog explains the importance of little ones learning about finances. 

Bank account fees

Fees are amounts you pay to banks for their services. The most common are for maintenance, management, transfers and overdrafts. There are also card fees for issuance, maintenance and ATM withdrawals that, although not for the account itself, are worth knowing about. To delve further: 

  • Maintenance fee: Charge for keeping an account open and the money in it. 
  • Management fee: Charge for transactions and queries like transfers, direct debits, reports, etc.
  • Transfer fee: The cost of sending money between domestic or foreign accounts.
  • Overdraft fee: Charge to customers when there is insufficient balance to pay outgoings. The bank will apply the fee when the account balance is negative. 
  • Card fee: Charge for issuing, swapping and maintaining credit and debit cards. Charges may apply for using cards at certain ATMs at home and abroad.

Banks can reduce or waive fees if the customer meets certain conditions or takes out other products like having their salary, pension or unemployment benefit paid into their account; making a minimum number of transactions; or taking out an insurance policy.

Fees could vary according to where we live. You can check all fee-related concepts on our websites in the countries where we operate and regulators’ websites.

Terms and conditions. What are they and how do they affect you?

They are the obligations you assume when opening an account. Failing to fulfil them could lead to missing out on benefits (like no fees) or paying penalties. The most common are: 

  • Term: The minimum period you must hold the account. This usually occurs when the bank gives a gift like a TV or mobile phone for opening an account. Failing to observe the term could force you to pay back the value of the gift.
  • Receipt of salary or pension: A common thing that can help bring down fees. If you don’t receive the agreed regular income in the specified period, the bank could automatically trigger fees.
  • Average balance: The commitment to keep an average monthly balance. This can also be agreed to avoid fees or having to pay interest on our savings.
  • Credit card: Customers get a credit card linked to their account, often with a minimum use commitment, which can also trigger fees.

Using your bank account properly will boost your financial health and help you reach an economic level where you can meet payment obligations and plan your future confidently.

Sound account management will enable you to achieve financial and personal goals like buying a house or a new car; saving for retirement; studying; and travelling. 

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