multiple bank accounts??

I apologize if this gets a bit wordy and I do tend to overthink things so would like some input if there’s a simpler way or something I’m missing…

I understand the difference between budget accounts and savings vs the actual bank accounts.

So I know I don’t need more than one account to track my savings goals, etc.

And I do like the simplicity of having fewer accounts.

However, I am wondering what (if anything) people find it helpful to have separate accounts for?

Right now, we do have 2 checking and 2 savings accounts at the same bank – just because those had been setup that way for awhile – no real particular purpose at this point for them. 

I have been trying to decide whether to keep using them, or close one of each. 

I was thinking along the lines of using a second checking account for online purchases - like from Amazon or through Apps etc.  We do buy our household and grocery stuff that way frequently, as well as other less frequent purchases.  The thought around that is if the debit card got compromised there is only certain money there – not everything.  And if we had to shut that card down, we still had access to our main account and didn’t need to re-setup all our bills, etc. to be paid with a new card.

But not sure if the extra work to set this up and manage it is worth it?  Transferring funds.  Making sure the money is there.  Extra accounts to reconcile, etc.

Are there any other suggestions for making online purchases without compromising our entire account balance or main debit card?

Or would you just keep the one account/one card and let the chips fall where they may and minimize the fallout if it happens?

I suppose I could use prepaid debit cards for some of that stuff – but then that is another aspect of it to manage as well.  And needing to keep track of balances there, etc.  Plus a lot of times they have fees.

I had thought about a credit card for these purposes, but we are trying to get away from credit card usage as we don’t currently carry a balance and are trying to get rid of the rest of our debt.


Any suggestions are appreciated.


10replies Oldest first
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Active threads
  • Popular
    • WordTenor
    • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
    • WordTenor
    • 1 yr ago
    • 5
    • Reported - view

    The reason to have a separate account is because having the account itself gains you something. So if having an account at the local credit union gives you access to some brick and mortar bank features, or makes it easier to pay your car loan you have through them, that’s a good reason to have a separate account. If a credit card suits your lifestyle better in terms of its rewards. That’s a good reason to have that credit card. 

    so with that in mind:

    2 checking and 2 benefit. Consolidate. Presumable the savings gets you more interest to I’d keep one savings, but I also might look into putting your savings into an online higher yield account. 

    There might be a case there for protecting your debit card from online shenanigans, but if you’re using YNAB, there’s not much reason to not have a good rewards card. If you can follow your categories, it doesn’t matter whether you use credit or debit. So I’d urge you to get really good at YNAB, maaaaybe if you really feel you won’t have the self discipline to mind your categories, keep the second checking account but use it for online purchases only and work toward using YNAB well. At that point I’d have checking, savings, credit. Done. 

    Like 5
  • Yes, what WordTenor said.  I have a checking account at a local CU, (also a savings and Money Market account there, but they're not currently used) and an online High Yield savings account.  And daily purchases are put on a card.  I don't increase my debt, because I only buy things on my card that are already budgeted for in the proper categories on my budget.  So the card gets paid off each month, and no extra debt involved.

    I really dislike debit cards because of the direct access they have to your account.  If your CC is compromised, you simply cancel it and order another one.   Your checking account still has all  the money in it.  If your debit card is compromised, all the money in your checking can be drained out.  Granted, there might be some protection from the bank, but until they're done investigating, they don't return your money.  I've known a few people who have had this happen, and it's very stressful and frustrating. and can take SEVERAL weeks before money is returned... I don't even HAVE a debit card for my checking account.

    Like 4
  • All of the above replies are great and I’d repeat the same. That being said, I manage multiple accounts for various features or benefits that each account offers separately, and YNAB handles this smoothly. I only have one checking account, and I’m not sure the benefit of having multiple checking accounts would offer. There are probably better ways to keep your accounts secure (like Bruce said, not even having a debit card). I do have a couple savings accounts, PayPal (for online purchases), Betterment cash reserve, etc.

  • Definitely some good suggestions 

    I’ll probably include some  I just need to work out the details with hubby

    I appreciate the help 


  • The running balance in conjunction with scheduled transactions makes it trivial to make cash-flow decisions. For example, can I transfer to savings for more interest or back to checking for an unusually large outflow?

    Like 2
  • BNL said:
    Are there any other suggestions for making online purchases without compromising our entire account balance or main debit card?

    Yes, use a cash back credit card. I use the Amazon Prime Chase CC for all Amazon purchases and Citi Double Cash CC for everything else. Putting it on a card makes it a lot easier to manage your checking account balance since you only have to pay them once a month. When using YNAB correctly, all of these purchases are backed by cash and are budgeted for in your categories.

    Like 1
  • I have a few savings accounts solely because I've opened them for the sign-up bonuses. Their rates vary, so I just transfer to whoever has the highest rate. It's not hard to reconcile when there's only an interest transaction each month.

    I've had my credit card compromised numerous times. I shudder to think of the mess if those were on my debit card. The rewards and warrantee extension are reason enough on their own. As such, I don't need a "sacrificial" checking account. 🙂

    Like 4
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui I too have a couple savings accounts. I currently have Ally and Barclays, two of the historical interest rate leaders.

      I also have a couple checking accounts. My main account is online. I left my old CU checking open because it allows me to deposit cash into their ATMs which are all around my area.

  • WordTenor said:
    There might be a case there for protecting your debit card from online shenanigans, but if you’re using YNAB, there’s not much reason to not have a good rewards card. If you can follow your categories, it doesn’t matter whether you use credit or debit.

     This is so true, I recommend the OP heed this advice.  Last year I cancelled all my cards a la Dave Ramsey, but now I use them responsibly, only for budgeted expenses, and I get 2% cash back on basically all of my purchases, 5% at Amazon.  Do I spend slightly more than if I were using debit or actual cash envelopes, like I did for awhile?  Maybe, but I'm happy with my progress and I know my spending is under control and that I always have cash on hand to pay off my credit cards today.

    On the other hand, I did use YNAB (or Every Dollar for awhile) with cash envelops for my on the go categories (groceries, eating out, fun $) for about 6 months before I applied for my current credit cards and started using them the YNAB way, so I knew I was going to stick with my budget at that point.  So, if you're not sure you'll stick with it, give yourself the time to build up your YNAB muscles.

    As for the OP's original question, today I technically have 4 checking accounts, but that's due to some strange circumstances right now (waiting for my tax refund to arrive to close one account that I no longer use,  I had to open with a local credit union for my mortgage refinance last week, another credit union was used for my Airbnb business before Covid and currently just sits there unused).  I will probably use the new account to direct deposit my mortgage payment from my account, so I can pay it more easily, or maybe I will not use it at all, I'm not sure yet.  But they also gave me a free savings account that has higher interest on the first $5k than my online HYSA, so I will move $5k there to take advantage of that. 

    Minimizing the # of accounts makes YNAB easier to use because you don't have to reconcile so many accounts, but that doesn't mean you can't have more accounts if you have a good reason to have them.  Just don't make too much work for yourself for no good reason.

    Like 5
  • I have only 2 bank accounts thanks to YNAB.

    I have one for checking and it has my all wishes inside it. So it has always money, as I save for new washing machine coming in few years (current is 8 years old almost) - so it will break one day. I will have money on my checking. Besides want to save on a week trip in my favourite city in my country. That taking space. Also on my checking I keep budget in order, so I always fill the need of my budget. There is always money.

    As well I am having 500 euros for rainy days here. One payment late? No problem, can pay rent.

    My rent is under 500 and has internet, water, all unlimited. I get late payment, put back on rainy days.

    The second account is in ANOTHER bank.

    Better interest, almost 1%, not too tempting to take money and I have 25 000 + on it waiting real need. Unemployment, or something big, that I couldn't afford. We have social help here in country, so no anytime soon I need it, but once in a while I quit my job to live on my savings for a year and then go back to job.

    This is why I don't need several accounts. Twice is enough.

    Who likes transferring between account envelopes? Life is complicated already.

    Like 3
Like Follow
  • 7 mths agoLast active
  • 10Replies
  • 603Views
  • 7 Following