Some financial institutions will require you to link a bank account (also known as a transaction account) to your savings account.
The purpose of a required linked account is to separate savings, which you’d like to accrue interest, from the funds you use for everyday transactions like ATM withdrawals, paying bills and receiving wages.
For example, you might set yourself a savings amount that you don’t want to go below, and keep at least that much in your savings account at all times.
How do I set up a required linked account?
As we’ve said, some institutions will call for a required linked account when you first open a savings account. In that case, the institution will guide you through the process or do it for you automatically.
However, you might want to link an external account at another bank or, at a later date, you might want to link other internal accounts. You may find that one or both institutions you want to have a link with have an app to help you. Otherwise, just contact your institution or check their website.
Usually, with a required linked account (or any linked account), you will need to have the following details about the account you're trying to link:
- Bank name
- Bank location (city and state are usually all you need to provide)
- BSB number
- Account number
You can also link an account to automatically make or receive payments (as opposed to moving funds between banks), such as receiving your pay or automatically making a mortgage or other loan payment each month.
The pros and cons of linking accounts
Putting aside required linked accounts for a moment, what about when your bank account and your savings account are with different banks? Is it better to have both accounts with the same bank?
Here are some of the pros and cons of linking accounts:
- Convenience – Having all your accounts with one financial institution makes coordinating and managing your money a lot more convenient.
- No waiting time between transfers – Electronic transfers between different financial institutions can take several business days. If you’re transferring between accounts in the same bank, it’s usually instant.
- Overdraft protection – If your bank account is linked to your savings account, you may be offered protection from overdraft fees. For example, you can arrange an automatic transfer of money from your savings to your bank account if you overdraw.
- Comparison shopping – You might find the best accounts in each category are at different institutions. You’ll have more options to find the best fit for your needs if you are free to choose between bank and savings accounts that are independent of one another.
- Overdraft protection – I know we just said this is a pro, but if you find you are using your overdraft protection on a regular basis to top up your bank account, you’ll be chipping away at your savings. In that case, you might be better off with an arrangement that helps you to develop better savings habits.
- Inconvenient to manage – Having separate accounts with different institutions can be a nuisance to manage.
Whether you choose to link accounts will depend on your own preferences and needs. So weigh up the pros and cons and decide if linking accounts will be helpful to your situation.
Of course, if the institution demands a required linked account, the decision is taken out of your hands.