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Unlocking Financial Freedom: Ready, Set, Spend

With the many options out there today, managing your personal finances efficiently is more critical than ever. Typically, a Spending account (or Checking Account) is a rite of passage during a first job and there is a desire to spend these earnings. While the rise of digital wallets and other fintech options may tempt some to overlook the importance of traditional Checking accounts, they remain an indispensable cornerstone of personal finance.

Understanding Checking Accounts

Checking accounts are named after the physical “check” that is still used today (albeit not as often as in the past). While checks have since been replaced by Debit Cards and payment apps, the word “Checking” in the name has stuck around. Checking accounts offer unparalleled convenience and accessibility. With a checking account, individuals can deposit their income, pay bills, and make purchases using checks, debit cards, or online payments.

Checking accounts are often confused with Savings accounts and both may have similar features. However, a Checking account is primarily used for everyday transactions, such as depositing income, making purchases, paying bills, and withdrawing cash. A Savings account is designed for accumulating and saving money over time in a way that is easily accessed and spent if needed (like saving for an emergency fund).

Christian Financial offers two types of Checking accounts for consumers, an Electronic Checking and an Essential Checking Account.  Electronic Checking offers no monthly fee with E-Statements. Essential Checking has a $6 monthly fee (waived for those over 62) and includes paper statements, as well as four free overdraft transfers from savings per month.

Requirements for Opening a Checking Account

If you’re applying as a new member or existing, and you’re over 18, you can open an account online quickly and easily. If you’re applying as a new member, you’ll be required to upload a valid photo ID and provide your personal information. In addition, you’ll have to answer some questions to validate your identity. To fund your new accounts, you’ll need at least $25 to fund a new Checking account.

If you’re opening an account for a minor (under 18), be prepared to provide a birth certificate, social security card, and student ID (if applicable).

If you’re applying as an existing member, you can open a new Checking account most easily through Online or Mobile Banking.

At CFCU, Checking accounts can be opened with a parent or guardian starting at age 13 or individually without a parent starting at age 17.

How to Open a Checking Account at CFCU

To open an account in person (required for minors, optional for adults):

  1. First start by making an appointment at the branch of your choice during a time that is most convenient for you.
  2. Once you’re at the branch for your appointment, our friendly financial service representative will take your information and scan your documents.
  3. Your accounts are now open! To fund them, you can fund via cash, check or cash advance on a credit or debit card. Checking accounts require a minimum initial deposit of at least $25.
  4. Your branch should provide you with a debit card and have you test it at the ATM before you leave.

To open an account online (18 and over):

  1. Apply online and enter your personal information.
  2. Choose how you’d like to fund your new accounts (existing account, electronic check, or credit card).
  3. Upload your driver’s license (if you’re applying as a new member)
  4. Sign your new account documents, and you’re good to go!
  5. A debit card will be mailed to you in about 10 business days, unless you’d like to pick it up at a branch, in which case you can get a debit card much sooner.

Joint Owners and Beneficiaries

What is a joint owner? At Christian Financial, you can open a Checking account with additional roles if desired. A joint owner is a person you can add as another owner of your account. This means they have complete ownership of the funds in the account and can perform any kind of transaction, the same as the primary owner. If you are opening an account for a minor 16 or younger, a parent as joint owner is required. Typically, these are people you trust the most – family members, a spouse, etc.

A beneficiary is a type of role you can give to someone that you would like to own your funds in the event of your passing. Once you pass away, this person will be able to access the funds in the account.

You may choose to add more people to your account, or none at all. The choice is up to you!

Factors to Consider When Opening a Checking Account

There are many factors to consider when opening a Checking account. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Fees. Are there any monthly fees or transaction fees? How much is the overdraft fee if you go negative in your account? Christian Financial’s E-Checking account offers no monthly fee.
  2. Digital access. Can you get access to your account through a mobile app, online, or through other means? Christian Financial’s app is highly-rated in the app store, with 4.8 stars in both the Google Play and App Store. Plus, CFCU’s Mobile app includes Money Management, a digital budgeting tool and aggregator, so you can see all your spending and create budgets, all in one place.
  3. How important is fee-free ATM access? How often are you going to need cash? Many people assume credit unions have a limited ATM network, but CFCU’s access to the CO-OP ATM network means our members get access to 40,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide.
  4. Customer service. Is having access to local customer support important to you? What about access without having to wait on hold? Christian Financial’s online chat and support is 100% local, meaning you can get help without having to wait on hold or even talk to a person.


In conclusion, there are many options when it comes to Checking account, but choosing the right fit for you is important.  It’s a rite of passage and indispensable account for teenagers especially as they gain financial independence, and parents can certainly help their young adults by guiding them to the right Checking account. When you’re ready, CFCU is here to help you spend – with low fees, easy access and friendly member service.