How to manage manage your your checking checking account. account.

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1 How How to manage to manage your your checking checking account. account.

2 Introduction Welcome to Desert Schools Federal Credit Union. Congratulations on your first checking account! It s the perfect time for you to discover the benefits and responsibilities that come with a checking account. In this booklet, you will learn basic information about checking and how to handle your account. By learning how to take care of your new checking account, you ll be able to handle your day-to-day finances. If you have any questions or would like further information, don t hesitate to call our Member Assistance Center at (602) or (800) So let s get started! pg 3

3 First things first: What s a check? It s simple: A check is a piece of paper that represents cash. A check is a promise that you will pay a certain amount of money. When you write a check, you are requesting Desert Schools to pay to the payee (the company or person to whom the check is written) the amount you authorized to withdraw from your account. After a check has been deposited or cashed, it has been negotiated. Your Desert Schools checking account gives you multiple benefits It s safer than cash You don t need to carry large amounts of cash, just your checkbook or your debit card. If you shop or pay bills by mail, paying by check is safer than cash. It s easy to access You can check your Desert Schools checking account online through our epal online banking application, by phone through PAL, and through ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) nationwide. It s proof of payment Every time you write a check, you leave a trail that proves that you paid someone: in your check register; a carbon copy, if you are using duplicate checks; on your monthly account statement; and an electronic printable image of your cleared check on epal. How to write a check Writing checks is easy; it only takes some practice on your part. There are two things you have to remember: Always use a black or blue pen, and write neatly. Colored gel pens and pencils may not be read by check processing systems or can be easily altered. pg 4

4 Only write checks when you have enough money in your account! When you write a check, you'll complete these six spots: 1. Date: Write in the day you are filling out the check. 2. Pay to the Order of: This is the space where you write in the name of the person(s) or company to whom you are writing the check. You can write a check to multiple people; just make sure you write the word and or or between their names, this will let the financial institution know your want the check negotiated by one or more individuals. 3. $ Amount (in numbers): To avoid anyone adding more numbers, start writing the amount at the left, don t leave any spaces and include decimals (e.g. $10.00). 4. Dollars (in numbers): Start at the left side and write any cents as a fraction, not as a decimal. This confirms the amount you wrote in numbers (e.g. 0/100 for.00). Draw a line through the extra space. 5. Signature: This is the space to sign your name, as it appears on the application form you filled out when opening the account. Never sign a check until you re ready to use it. 6. Memo: Write down the reason why you wrote the check (i.e. books for school, your account number when paying your cell phone or tuition, etc.). James C. Morrison 1765 Shiridan Drive Your City, State That s it! This is how you write a check. Remember that you have to enter the check into your check register. We ll show you how to do that next. pg 5

5 Managing your check register Every time you write a check, make a deposit, withdraw money from an ATM or pay using your debit card, you should write the transaction immediately in your check register. It s very important to make a habit of keeping track of your transactions. In doing so, you will avoid overdrawing your account, meaning that you try to pay more money to someone than what you have available in your account. Let s get to know your check register! 1. Number or Code: This is the space to write the check number. You ll find it in the upper righthand corner of each check. Notice that every check has a different number. Also, this is where you fill in a code* for transactions you make when you aren t writing a check. 2. Date: Write in the date of the transaction. 3. Transaction Description: Briefly write down your transaction. Did you write a check? Did you get money out of an ATM? Did you pay using your debit card? If so, to whom? Did you deposit money? 4. Payment/Debit: This is the amount of your transaction (i.e. check, ATM withdrawal) 5. Check Marks*: When you get your statement, place a " through this box if you see the transaction listed. 6. Deposit/Credit: After you make a deposit, this is the space you use to write the amount. 7. Balance: This is where you add up the money you deposited. It s also where you subtract the checks, withdrawals and fees from the amount you have. The balance is the money you are left with after adding and subtracting. pg 6

6 NUMBER or code PAYMENT/fee/ withdrawal (-) DEPOSIT/CREDIT (+) DATE TRANSACTION DESCRIPTION BALANCE *Codes AD AUTOMATIC DEPOSIT AP AUTOMATIC PAYMENT ATM CASH WITHDRAWAL DC DEBIT CARD FT FUNDS TRANSFER SC SERVICE CHARGE (FEE) TD TAX DEDUCTIBLE pg 7

7 How to make a deposit Each time you want to deposit a check (e.g. your paycheck or a gift) or cash into your Desert Schools checking account, you can choose to do it by 1. Making the deposit in an ATM 2. Visiting a Desert School branch or a shared branch* 3. By mail addressing the envelope to: Deposits Desert Schools Federal Credit Union PO Box 2942 Phoenix, AZ Remember that whenever you are conducting a transaction at a branch, you will be asked to show a proper ID. If you don t have one, you will have to bring a school ID with a photograph, only if you are less than 18 years old, along with your Desert Schools debit card, a Social Security card or your birth certificate. Whenever you receive a check, you should deposit or cash it as soon as possible. A check becomes stale after six months of its original date, meaning that Desert Schools won t negotiate it, unless it is a government check. When you deposit a check, it might have a holding period of up to three to six business days (there s an extended hold of up to eleven days). During this holding period, we will determine if the money is available or if the check is fraudulent. Before you spend any money, make sure that the check has been cleared and that the funds are available in your account. Otherwise, you may overdraft your checking account. But wait! Before you deposit a check, you have to endorse it let us show you how to do it in the next section. pg 8

8 *What in the world is a shared branch? Desert Schools Federal Credit Union belongs to the CU Service Center Network, which is a group of credit unions that came together to share their branches and provide services to all their members. This means that whenever you re not close to any of our branches, but need to make a deposit, cash a check or withdraw money from your account, you can stop by any credit union that belongs to this network and do it with no problem. Make sure to look for this sign pg 9

9 Endorsing a check three ways to do it In order to deposit a check into your account, you need to endorse it on the back. Some helpful tips: Always use a black or blue pen. Sign your name the same way it was written on the check you received. If you re name was misspelled, also sign it the correct way on the following line. You can endorse your check three different ways: 1. Blank Endorsement Simply sign your name on the back of the check when you re ready to cash it or deposit it into your account. If you lose an endorsed check, someone else could cash it. 2. Third-Party Endorsement Do this when you want someone else to cash the check. Write the phrase Pay to the order of and the person s name. Then sign your name below it. That way, the financial institution knows that only that person can cash the check. pg 10

10 Endorse Here 3. Restrictive Endorsement The phrase For deposit only followed by your name says the check has one purpose: It must be deposited to your account and not cashed. This endorsement offers you added protection. So, how much money do you really have in your account? Once a month, Desert Schools sends you your checking account statement through the mail, or you can choose to receive it online on epal. The statement shows your account balance at the beginning and end of your statement cycle, which is determined by the last digit of your account. It also lists the deposits, transfers, withdrawals and other transactions you ve made including checks that have been negotiated and any fees. So you can be sure that everything is on track, compare the statement to your check register. Keep a calculator handy to double-check your math, and make sure you ve correctly recorded all checks, fees, deposits, withdrawals and ATM transactions. pg 11

11 Let s get down to work Let s balance your check register! To balance your account, compare your statement and your register to see how much you deposited into your account, how much you spent and how much you have left. Let s start! 1. Check or review your statement and find the first check number listed. 2. Go to your check register and look for that same check number; put a check mark in the ( ) or check-mark column. 3. Repeat this for every check on your statement. When you see items in your register that are not in your statement, it means that they cleared your account as of your statement end date. 4. Don t forget about the transactions with your debit card. Check your receipts for those amounts on your statement. Put a check mark in the ( ) column of your register for each. 5. Now it s time for the deposits. Just as you did with the checks and debit card transactions, find the deposits on your statement. Check-mark them in the ( ) column in your register. 6. Look for service fees and charges on your statement. Also, look for dividends (extra money) Desert Schools may pay to your checking account. 7. Enter the fees in your register and subtract them from your balance. 8. Enter the dividends in your register and add them to your balance. You re done! Don t worry if the check register balance doesn t match the monthly statement. This is normal because of transactions that haven t cleared yet. Also, if you made a deposit after the statement date, it will be included on your next monthly statement. But remember, even if the statement shows that you have more money, always remember to check your register to avoid overdrawing your account. pg 12

12 Two words you don t want to hear: Overdraft and Bounce An overdraft (a.k.a. non-sufficient funds or NSF ) happens when you write a check for more money than what you have in your account. Desert Schools may pay the check, notify you and charge you an overdraft fee, unless you have a line of credit for overdraft protection. We ll tell you more below. If Desert Schools doesn t pay the check and returns it to the person or business to whom it was written, the check bounces. When a check bounces, you will probably have to pay fees to Desert Schools and to the business you gave the check. When you overdraft your account, not only Desert Schools takes notice. There are consumer reporting agencies that might also know how you handle your account (e.g. Chex Systems). Whenever you want to open another account, that financial institution will check with these agencies to see if there are any overdrafts in your history. Line of credit A line of credit is a loan. But unlike some loans, this money is not given to you all at once. It can be used as a backup for overdrafts or when you need money for unexpected expenses. As you take out money, the available money decreases. As you pay back the money and interest on the amount used, the available money (or credit) increases. If you are 18 years or older, when you open your checking account, you can also apply for a line of credit. pg 13

13 Paper or plastic? Get your hands on your plastic debit card! Whenever you go out to the movies, to the mall or to eat with your friends, don t carry your checkbook. Bring plastic. When you open a checking account at Desert Schools, you receive a Visa debit card that can be used to make purchases instead of checks and to take out money at ATMs. In order to use your Desert Schools Visa Debit Card, you need a special personal identification number (PIN) (e.g. 1234). Whenever you use your debit card for a purchase, you either have to swipe the card through the machine at the register and enter your PIN or sign a sales slip for the amount of your purchase. For security, it is better to sign. Depending on how the transaction is processed, in either a matter of minutes or up to a few days, the money will be deducted directly from your checking account. Want to get cash, transfer money or make a deposit*, but don t have time to stop by a Desert Schools branch? Then, ATMs are your best bet. Usually, you can find ATMs outside Desert Schools branches or at other financial institutions, shopping malls, supermarkets, convenience stores and community colleges. If you want to save money, we recommend using only Desert Schools or Co-Op Network ATMs. When you use another financial institution s ATM, you may be charged fees twice once by Desert Schools and once by the ATM you are using. As you do with any other transaction, every time you use your debit card write it in your check register, including any fees. *Note: You can make deposits only at Desert Schools or shared branch ATMs. pg 14

14 Better to be safe than sorry Useful safety tips Debit card safety When choosing your PIN, choose numbers that are not easy to guess (don t use your birthday or address). Memorize your PIN by heart! Don t share it with anyone else or write it on the card. When using ATMs, don t let others see you entering your PIN. Try not to take out cash at night, or at least use well-lit or drive-up ATMs. Keep your ATM receipts in a safe place. Remember to enter all transactions and fees in your register to avoid overdrafts. If you lose your debit card, contact Desert Schools right away; we ll send you a new card and temporary PIN or you can pick up a new card and PIN at any branch. If you don t report a lost or stolen debit card, you re still responsible for it and might end up paying for any purchases or withdrawals (even if you didn t authorize them). Dos and don ts of checking accounts Do remember that checks represent cash; keep them in a safe place. Don t make out a check to Cash or Bearer, and don t sign a check until you re going to use it. If you lose the check, anyone can cash it. Do bring the proper ID when cashing a check. We need to follow security measures to protect your money. Don t forget to keep track of all your transactions, and enter them in your check register. pg 15

15 What if your checks are lost or stolen? Step 1: Call Desert Schools and report it. We ll place a warning on your account and watch to see if someone else tries to get your money. Or you can choose to close the account and open a new one. Step 2: Notify the police if you think your checks have been stolen. Lost? Stolen? pg 16 How to manage your checking account

16 So there you have it You now have the basics on your checking account! Keep in mind: Treat checks as cash be sure to keep them safe. Always write your transactions in your check register. Don t write a check or take out money unless you re sure how much money you have left in your account. If you have any questions, please call our Member Assistance Center at (602) or 1(800) Desert Schools Where You Belong (602) (800) How to manage your checking account pg 15

17 NOTES pg 18 How to manage your checking account

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