Debit Card Mailbag: New Answers to New Questions

by
Adam Rust

Question: Can I transfer money from a savings account to a checking account?

You can always transfer money from one to the other inside your general account. If you have both types of accounts, all you have to do is request an “internal transfer.”

If you have accounts at different banks, it will take more than one step. First, you will have to make an internal transfer of funds from your savings account to your checking account. From there, you will have to request an external transfer. Usually, it is easier to do this from the account where you intend to receive funds. You would go to that account, input the routing and account number of the account from which you plan to pull the funds and initiate the transfer. If this is the first time you have sent money between those accounts, you may need to verify that you own both accounts. One common approach used by banks these days is to send two small "micro-deposits" from the receiving bank (the one you intend to make a deposit) to the sending bank. The sums will be tiny – i.e., both will be less than 20 cents. The bank will ask you to verify the amounts. This step can take one or two days, depending on the speed of bank-to-bank ACH transfer. Once it has been verified that you own both accounts, then you can send the money.

Question: Can I Deposit Cash in a Surcharge-Free ATM network?

You may be able to do so. Some surcharge-free ATM networks have traditional branch bank and credit union ATMs inside their systems. If those ATMs can accept deposits, then you will be able to do so. However, it is rarely the case that stand-alone ATMs in grocery stores or gas stations will take deposits. The networks say that they intend to roll out machines with this capacity shortly, and indeed, some may already be in your community.

Picture of card

Question: Why Do Banks Need my Social Security Number if they do not intend to check my credit?

Banks like Varo, Waleteros, and Akimbo (offered through WiseWage.org) do not check credit. However, they do ask an applicant to provide some pieces of identifying information. You will need to supply your social security number, (or ITIN in the case of Waleteros), your birth date, your physical address, and your email address.

They do not ask for that information to run credit. Instead, the debit card companies need it as a regular part of the “Know-Your-Customer” rules that the federal government applies for banks. The KYC rules are intended to protect the US banking system from illegal activity.

They ask for your email address so that they can verify your identity. When you apply, the card companies will send an email to your inbox with a verification code. These steps protect you because they ensure that no one will hijack your account.

They ask for your physical address because they need to know where they can send your new card. You will want that card – and the bank wants you to have it – but it requires a physical address to give it to you. Note: they cannot send a debit card to a P.O. Box.

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