What's New in Checking?

Jan 13, 2018
Checking Accounts, Current Events

Editor's note: It's challenging to keep up with the pace of innovation in financial services. Look for Beth's weekly column "What's New In..." to help you make sense of it. Each week, she will focus on a specific topic and highlight innovations, research and other developments you need to know. This week it's that old tried and true checking account. In case you missed it, last week we released our Checking Unit revamp which has garnered rave reviews and almost 2,000 teacher visits. 


  • As a teacher I know I always drilled into my students to a) use online banking  and b) to check their balances at least once a week.  It has never been more critical to monitor our balances.  Take this week’s Capital One double counting debit card transactions as a good illustration of why we tell them this!
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  • I was making a deposit at a bank the other day and observed as a woman tried to deposit cash into her son’s account.  Did you know you can’t deposit cash into other people’s accounts anymore? Bankrate.com offers some options.
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  • I once read a statistic about millennials preferring going to the dentist over setting foot in a bank.  It looks like some big banks are catching on to this and are creating mobile-only or mobile-first bank accounts marketed towards millennials.
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  • The banking industry will have to further rethink checking accounts in the age of P2P payment systems and a variety of alternative payment methods that go directly between parties or directly onto credit cards.  The number of checks written has dropped 60% since 2000.  Check out this article from The Financial Brand for more insight. 
  • If your students are going off to college soon, this CFPB post about college sponsored checking accounts is a must-read.  These accounts, often tied to a student’s ID card,  may carry significant fees, and usually provide some sort of kick-back to the institution.     

“…colleges now have to publicly report on their websites how many students use their sponsored accounts, how much those students pay in account fees, and how much money they get paid to promote these accounts by the account provider.”

This article includes several helpful and informative links for students and their families to help them do research on the institutions they might be considering, as well as CFPB publications aimed at helping students choose a bank.  For anyone wanting to dig into the details, there is also a link to the CFPB Annual Report to Congress on Student Banking (December 2016).

  • When discussing the “unbanked,” some people are choosing to be in this voluntarily.  Nerdwallet discusses why people are saying no thanks to banks.  Another Nerdwallet article describes a product called second chance checking accounts for the involuntarily “unbanked.”  What are second chance checking accounts?

“Second chance checking accounts provide a bridge to the banking world for those who lack access. That includes nearly 16 million Americans in households without bank accounts.” 

These accounts offer a way back into the banking world for people who have had previous accounts closed or otherwise been denied a regular checking account based on a negative history. Walmart’s “GoBank” (GreenDot Bank) is available nationally and is included in the “Checking Alternative” Activity in this unit. While second chance accounts don’t offer all of the services of a regular checking account (like no overdraft protection, since you need to prove you won’t do this,) and will charge a service fee, this option may well be the most cost effective way of getting back in the banking game.  Using check-cashing services and prepaid debit cards will not improve your banking history.

This article provides a detailed “pros and cons” section as well as a state-by-state listing of institutions offering these accounts in case you want your students to research a locally available option.


About the Author

Beth Tallman

Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an M.B.A. in finance and thoroughly enjoyed her first career working in manufacturing and telecommunications, including a stint overseas. She took advantage of an involuntary separation to try teaching high school math, something she had always dreamed of doing. When fate stepped in once again, Beth jumped on the opportunity to combine her passion for numbers, money, and education to develop curriculum and teach personal finance at Oberlin College. Beth now spends her time writing on personal finance and financial education, conducting student workshops, and developing finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.