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Your bank likely won't offer a debit card for your savings account. That's because savings accounts aren't meant to be used for frequent spending, but rather to help you accumulate money over time.
While you may not have the option to make purchases against the balance of your savings account with a debit card, your bank may offer you an ATM card instead. ATM cards have fewer functions than debit cards and the bank may limit the number of transactions you can make each month with one. You can withdraw cash from your savings account with an ATM card, but most can't be used to make direct purchases from savings.
Here's what to know about the alternatives available when a debit card isn't an option.
Most Savings Accounts Don't Offer Debit Cards
In most cases, you won't have the option to use a debit card to pay for items from your savings account. This can be inconvenient, but intuitively it makes sense: A savings account is a vehicle for keeping your hard-earned savings intact, and a debit card perhaps makes that money too easily accessible.
Another reason for this limitation is that, according to Regulation D of the Federal Reserve Act, banks were traditionally required to keep a fixed amount of money in their own reserve, making it inaccessible to consumers. To keep those reserves intact, institutions added restrictions to prevent consumers from withdrawing too much of their savings.
In March 2020, however, the Federal Reserve eliminated these requirements for most banks in order to help consumers have greater access to their money and to credit during the pandemic. But banks weren't required to end their restrictions, and many still limit the number of transactions you can make from your savings account.
A common limit is six transactions per month. Some institutions have increased the number of transactions you can make since the Federal Reserve changed the reserve requirements. For example, American Express' online bank offers a high-yield online savings account that doesn't charge fees and has increased withdrawals from six to nine per statement cycle.
How to Access Money From Your Savings Account
You do have options beyond using a debit card for a savings account withdrawal. If your bank offers an ATM card for savings accounts, you'll be able to withdraw cash from savings at an ATM. Or, if you have both a checking account and a savings account at the same bank, you'll have the option to choose which account to withdraw money from when you go to an ATM.
Another option is to transfer money from your savings account to your checking account, which is typically fast and easy if you have both accounts at the same institution. Then you can use your debit card to withdraw money from your checking account.
In both cases, look closely at your schedule of fees to understand any withdrawal limits in place, and how much you'll be charged if you exceed them. Chase, for example, charges a $5 fee for transactions that exceed six per month, up to a monthly limit of $15. However, some banks and credit unions, like Citizens Bank, set no limits on savings account transactions. If you frequently exceed bank limitations, the bank may convert your savings account to a checking account.
Safely Withdrawing From a Savings Account
It can be a nuisance to have limited access to your money, but you may ultimately benefit from it if you'd otherwise be tempted to spend the money you've diligently saved.
Fortunately, an ATM card or instant online transfer to a checking account can help. But like all consumers, remember to take the time to understand your bank's regulations and fees before making a withdrawal or transfer from your savings account.