Technically, you can have as many checking accounts as you want. You can open multiple with the same bank, and you can always join other banks.
But why would you want to do that?
The purpose of a checking account is to keep money in the short term to spend it. And to do so, you want it to be easily accessible.
If you add more checking accounts, it makes personal finance more complicated. It’s harder to know what account you’re using or what’s your balance on each of them.
Think of how complex it can become. If your checking account is linked to a savings account, it will take money from this account if you don’t have enough balance (which may include fees).
Luckily, there are free services (such as Capital One) to monitor all your balances in one place. But anyway, is it worth the complexity?
How Many Checking Accounts Should I Have?
We use checking accounts to spend money and savings accounts to save it. If you’re going to spend it, you generally don’t want to keep a high balance. You only load the amount you expect to spend for this month.
So if you wanted to open ten checking accounts, most of them would either have zero balance or a few hundred bucks. It’s not the norm, but banks may charge you maintenance fees for accounts you don’t use — especially with zero balance.
Let’s get things more complex. Suppose you buy a monthly subscription, which will charge you automatically. If you buy a dozen of these, it’s a mess. You don’t know which account is linked to each membership, and you may not have enough balance on all of them.
By default, you end up using one or two. The other dozen have no purpose and only make personal finance harder.
I don’t know about you, but it’s not fun spending one hour per day trying to manage your money. That’s why a single checking account is ideal for most people.
But is there any situation where you may want more than one? There is.
Should You Open Another Checking Account?
If you can open a checking account with a different bank, you get extra fraud protection.
The thief can now take all your money and empty your bank account. You don’t have much protection in this situation, but you can minimize the damages:
- Make that you need to verify your identity to use funds from your savings account
- Know what you spend on average with your checking account every month. Set that as your withdrawal limit. If you want to lift it, you have to contact the bank and verify your identity
- If you want to spend money, keep it on another checking account you rarely use. And if you want more money on your low-limit account, you transfer it from this second checking account
If you rarely use the second account, scammers shouldn’t be able to find it. And if they steal your low-limit account, they can only spend a few hundred dollars.
Also, try setting a credit fraud alert if you’re suspicious. This will restrict most actions of your account so that you can only perform them after verifying yourself.
Why You Should Have 2-3 Checking Accounts
Assuming you have no issues with fraud, why would you want another checking account?
You may open another one for emergencies in case your bank stops working for whatever reason (suspended accounts, maintenance…). If you open one with another bank, you can still spend money while the other one unblocks.
Most of the time, you’ll use a single one. You can open more without problems.
As long as you access them with a debit card, nothing you spend will affect your credit. However, the law requires lenders and companies to check your account balance to see if you can afford their services. Otherwise, they may put you in debt (learn more about accessible income here).
Some checking accounts may offer a 0.05% APY (annual percentage year). But if you’d like to get 0.20%-0.40% APY, learn more about cash management accounts.