Banking & Financial Tips - University of Houston
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Banking & Financial Tips

You are free to open a banking account at any bank of your choosing. In deciding on a bank, keep in mind that banks offer a variety of accounts. Some accounts require a minimum deposit, fees per check, monthly service fee, and some offer free automated banking. You can visit bank websites and/or call different banks to see which bank offers the best plans and has convenient locations.

TDECU is your on-campus premier financial institution offering a full line of products and services to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff, and university organizations. You will pay NO monthly service fee for your TDECU FREE checking account. Plus, your account will earn interest. Stop by today and discover a better way of banking.

Other banks in the Houston Area:

Information on creating a budget, how to write checks, and other financial tips can be found at the mint.

Savings Accounts

Money that you want to save can be kept in a savings account where it will earn a modest interest. Many banks do require that a minimum balance be kept. If the balance falls below the minimum, then the bank will charge you a fine or penalty. If a customer has a savings account and a checking account in the same bank, then the customer can transfer money from one account to another. Usually, a customer will keep a larger amount in their savings and withdraw it when they really need it. It is less for day-to-day expenses and more for emergencies. Banks will offer various types of savings accounts. A brochure and customer service representative should be able to help you decided which one is best for your needs.

Checking Accounts

People open checking accounts in order to pay for their everyday expenses in a quick and easy way. It is usually both convenient and safe. People usually mail checks to pay expenses such as rent, telephone, and utilities. Like savings accounts, banks offer different types of accounts based on different needs of the customer, particularly how many checks will be written each month and what the minimum monthly balance will be. Paying by check is particularly Helpful because it helps keep a record of payments you have made. When opening an account, use your passport as identification and use your name as it appears on the passport to avoid confusion.

Money Orders

While you are waiting to open a checking account, or if you have a problem opening a checking account, you can obtain a money order by going to the customer service counter of the post office or grocery store for a money order. You give them cash and in turn, they give you a special check for the specific amount you requested. There are two copies; the top official check and the bottom copy/receipt. You should fill out the payee and then keep the copy. The post office or grocery store will charge you a fee for doing this service. It is usually between 50 cents and 2.00 dollars. This is both safe and easy.

ATM Cards/Debit Cards

An automatic teller machine is a computerized machine through which bank customers can make deposits or withdrawals at any time of the day or night. To operate an ATM, the customer needs a card that is issued by the bank. You must sign the back of the card. Some banks issue the card instantaneously. Other banks will mail the card to you. You will usually receive it a week or two after opening your account. You will receive a PIN (Personal Identification Number) in the mail as well, though not in the same envelope as the ATM (or Debit) card. There are ATM machines outside of banks, in grocery stores and on campus. If you use ATM machines from places other than your own bank’s machines, you could be charged a fee. CAUTION: USING ATM MACHINES AT NIGHT, PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY ARE OUTSIDE CAN BE DANGEROUS. IF YOU MUST GET MONEY, GO TO AN ATM LOCATED IN A MALL OR GROCERY STORE. HAVE A LOOK BEHIND YOU BEFORE YOU START YOUR TRANSACTION.

Debit cards are similar but can be used to pay for transactions at most stores, restaurants, and gas stations. They are obtained from the bank where you have your account. They debit money from your checking or savings account. You can also use a debit card to get cash from an ATM or from a store once you have made a purchase. Sometimes the debit card is referred to as a check card because it allows you to do the same thing as writing a check but with the convenience of electronic transactions. Some banks offer a combination debit and credit card. This means that once your checking account funds have been used, it becomes a credit card that loans you the money.

Check your credit history and bank records frequently. Look for signs of inaccurate or suspicious activity.

How to Write a Check

Here are the steps to follow when writing a check:

  1. Write the date on which you are “Issuing” or writing the check.
  2. Write the name of the person or business to whom you are making the payment (use the WHOLE LINE or draw a line after the writing so nobody else can alter or add to it.)
  3. Write the dollar amount in numerals (i.e. $20.53) and put the first number right after the dollar sign. Do not leave room for someone else to add a number to it (e.g. $420.53).
  4. Begin writing on the far left and fill in the entire line with the name of the store or person to whom the check is going to be paid.
  5. On the next line, write out the dollar amount (Twenty Dollars and 53/100). Follow the same guidelines as stated above, to avoid people altering your check.
  6. Sign your name as it is printed on the check.
  7. Note the purpose of the check in the lower left-hand corner. If you have an account number for a bill you may put the number here, or use it to remind yourself later what the payment was for (i.e. groceries).

For more tips and help on writing a check.