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Lenders typically consider several different factors when you apply for a credit card. Having a healthy credit history is perhaps most important because it shows that you're capable of being a responsible borrower. There are other requirements beyond that—your annual household income and monthly housing payment may also come into play—but having a checking account isn't among them.
Roughly 7.1 million U.S. households don't have a bank or credit union account, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). And even though having a bank account isn't required to open a credit card, you might want to consider getting one anyway. It can make it easier to manage your credit card and keep your financial health going strong.
Having a Bank Account Makes Managing a Credit Card Easier
When we talk about bank accounts, we're generally referring to checking and savings accounts. Each serves its own purpose when it comes to managing your finances, and both can help you manage your credit card in various ways. A checking account is meant for the frequent withdrawals and deposits associated with everyday spending. Checking accounts allow for unlimited monthly transactions with little to no fees. Find out how to get a checking account, and learn more about he benefits of having one.
Meanwhile, a savings account is exactly what the name implies. It also allows you to set aside money long term, potentially earning interest on your deposits. Most banks and credit unions tack on fees or change the account type if you make too many withdrawals from a savings account in a given month.
For right now, let's focus on checking accounts. Having a checking account lets you see your spending history, deposits and account balance in one place pretty much in real time. What's more, a checking account provides a simple way to pay for various goods and services. You may be able to have your paycheck directly deposited into your account as well. And since bank checking accounts are insured up to a certain amount, you can rest easy knowing that your money is in a safe place.
When it comes to your credit cards, you can set up automatic bill pay from your bank account so that you never miss a payment—a simple perk that can go a long way to protecting your credit score. If you have a cash back credit card, a checking account makes it easier to redeem your rewards. In most cases, you can receive your cash back as a direct transfer to an eligible bank account.
How to Pay Your Credit Card Bill Without a Bank Account
It's still possible to pay your credit card bill without a bank account, though you'll have to take a few extra steps. Here are your options:
- Money order: This form of payment works like a regular check, except that it isn't linked to a checking account. Instead, you purchase a money order upfront using cash. You can do this at a post office, Walmart, Western Union or elsewhere at a cost of anywhere from $1 to $5 per transaction.
- Cashier's check: A cashier's check is similar to a money order, but is guaranteed by the financial institution that issues it. They're typically only available to account holders, but some banks and credit unions may allow you to purchase them upfront in cash without an account. Just bear in mind that the fee probably will set you back about $10.
- Cash: Some credit card companies accept cash payments. For example, you can make payments toward a Chase credit card using cash at one of their ATMs. If your credit card issuer has a physical location nearby, you can pop in or call to see if cash payments are accepted.
Benefits of Having a Credit Card and Checking Account at the Same Bank
There's one other benefit of opening a checking account: If you do so at the same bank that issued your credit card, chances are you'll have access to their mobile app and online checking features. This allows you to link up your accounts, making it easier to manage your financial life because everything will be in one place.
You can schedule automatic transfers from your checking account right to your credit card and keep track of your transaction activity across all your accounts. This kind of simplicity can prevent overspending and keep your budget intact.
The Bottom Line
Carrying cash on your person or storing it in your home or car aren't the safest options. Establishing a checking account is a more secure way of managing your financial life. It also makes it that much easier to stay on top of your credit card bill payments. If you're considering getting a new credit card, Experian CreditMatch™ provides credit card offers that are personalized to you—and you can rest easy knowing viewing offers won't affect your credit scores.