Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

Market Wisdom

Some Great Alternatives to Checking

It is possible to survive without a checking account; and even live a fairly normal middle class life in modern day America. There are actually a wide variety of excellent alternatives to checking out there.

Many of these alternatives are actually superior to checking accounts and do more to protect your money and financial position. A few of the best alternatives to checking accounts available are:

  • PayPal – the often maligned digital wallet actually has some advantages over most checking accounts. These advantages include:


  1. The ability to open an account without running a credit report.


  1. The ability to instantly transfer money online.


  1. Real MasterCard debit card; unlike bank cards these do not allow you to spend more than is in your account.


  1. The ability to transfer money in and out of bank accounts.


  1. Access to lines of credit for small businesses and merchants. Note: you will usually need to run more than $20,000 through PayPal to access these.


  1. Ability to withdraw cash via ATMs and retailers’ cash registers.


  1. Excellent customer service.


  • Accountnow – This is actually a basic checking account from California based Metabank that is available to anybody without a credit check. In exchange for a flat fee of $9.99 you get the ability to deposit up to $10,000 in an account. Its benefits include:


  1. The ability to receive salaries, wages, tax refunds and government benefits by direct deposit.


  1. A Visa debit card that can be used for retail and other purchases.


  1. Real debit card that will prevent you from spending more than your limit.


  1. The ability to withdraw cash at Citibank ATMs for free.


  1. A bill pay feature that allows you to pay with paper check if need be. Account Now itself cuts and mails the checks.


  1. Really good customer service. Far better than that offered by American Express’s Bluebird Solution.


  • Walmart Money Center – The nation’s largest retailer offers a wide variety of financial services through these counters in its stores. Some of the advantages include:


  1. The ability to cash almost any pay or government-benefits check for a modest fee.


  1. Low cost money orders and transfers.


  1. The ability to load cash or funds from a check onto gift cards.


  1. Some stores offer other products including auto insurance.


  1. Access to Walmart Pay, a QR code based payment app similar to Apple Pay.


  • Xoom – This service now owned by our friends at PayPal, allows anybody to transfer funds to other countries online. A great alternative to traditional money transfer that is more convenient.


  • Bitcoin – A block chain based solution that allows for secure and confidential via encryption. The problem is that it can be very hard to convert to dollars. Although you can achieve that through solutions like Braintree and Coinbase. There are now some solutions including iPayYou for Twitter and StarChat for Telegram that let you send bitcoin via social media.


  • Credit Cards – If you have a good credit score; and the means to pay the balance, the use of credit cards for payment is often cheaper than checking accounts. Persons such as freelancers, sales professionals and small businesspeople who may have unsteady cash flow should definitely consider using credit cards as an alternative to checking. Tip: it is now possible to pay most bills online via credit or debit card.


  • Electronic Bill Pay – Most banks and credit unions offer some form of electronic bill pay that uses an electronic funds transfer from your account to make payment. This is usually free and fairly easy to use; it is often included in checking accounts, so you may already have the service. Advantages include:


  1. Funds go directly to creditors so you know the bill is paid.


  1. Payment gets made quickly often instantly so bill gets paid instantly.


  1. You can send the payment when you want. That means you can wait until funds are available to make payment.


  1. Account is balanced automatically.


  1. There’s no chance payment will get lost or delayed in the mail.


  1. Reduces use of paper checks and risk of identity theft. The bad guys cannot steal your check from the mail and get their hands on your account numbers.


  1. No money spent on checks or on stamps for envelopes.


  1. Ability to check your account any time online.


  • Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay – These are digital wallets available on popular phones. They can be used for brick and mortar pay; but are not accepted by many major retailers, including Walmart, Kroger supermarkets and Costco. Currently none of them can be used for online bill pay but that might change in the near future. They work by allowing direct access to your bank account or credit card balance so there are security risks.


  • Walmart Pay – Walmart’s digital wallet appears to be a little more versatile than the Apple and Android solutions. One advantage to it is you can use it at Walmart and load from a Walmart money card.


  • Venmo – This is an app that is used to share money between phone users. Some merchants can accepts it via Braintree. Currently it can only be used to transfer funds between individuals; but its owner PayPal is testing a brick and mortar payment option at select locations. It can now be used to pay at some through some Aps as well.


  • Postal Money Orders – An old reliable method that is still easy to use. Currently you can send up to $500 for $1.25 and $1,000 for $1.65. You will have to go to the post office and bring cash. The big advantage to these is you can send money without disrupting your checking account.


  • Debit Cards – If you have one of these through PayPal; or a checking account, they can be used for electronic bill payment. Any company or agency that takes credit card payment should accept these if they have the Visa or MasterCard logo on them. The big drawback is funds come directly from your bank account, some banks will let you exceed your balance with them so be careful because that can lead to overdrafts.


So yes folks it is possible to pay your bills and avoid the danger of overdrafts. Be careful because none of these methods is fool proof but some are better than checking accounts.

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