Charles Schwab Bank Review: Checking, Savings, and Other Financial Features

Andrew Reyes
An image of the exterior of a Charles Schwab bank branch.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Charles Schwab is a multinational financial services company. In addition to its investment, financial planning, and retirement services, the firm offers personal banking accounts, including checking and savings accounts.

Some of the features of these checking and savings accounts, such as the ability to use them internationally and the chance to connect them to other Schwab accounts, can prove advantageous.

However, these accounts are not the best option for everyone, so you need to understand what Schwab provides and the pros and cons so that you can decide whether Schwab accounts are the best for your needs.

Charles Schwab Account Options

Charles Schwab offers both checking and savings accounts. The company also has custodial accounts for students and young people. One of these banking accounts’ primary features is that you can connect them to other Schwab accounts such as a trading or investment account.

Schwab’s personal banking accounts earn interest. Despite Schwab’s premium image, from being associated with a full-service investment company and the ability to use your accounts internationally, there are no account minimums or fees if you meet the requirements.

Checking Accounts

Charles Schwab offers a checking account that it calls Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking. This checking account gets linked to a Schwab brokerage account; you need to open a brokerage account as well if you do not already have one.

This account pays interest, and the current annual percentage yield (APY) is 0.03%. While that is not a lot, it is on par with other brokerage-linked checking accounts from financial services companies.

The High Yield Investor Checking does not have any annual fees, and there are no account minimums.

This checking account also comes with a couple more perks. If you travel internationally, you can use your debit card, called the Schwab Bank Visa Platinum Debit Card, without incurring foreign transaction fees. You can also access ATMs worldwide. Though some ATMs charge usage fees, Schwab promises to reimburse account holders for any fees they may get charged at ATMs.

The checking account has a mobile wallet that you can use for payments instead of a physical debit card. There is also a mobile app to manage your account and deposit checks.

Savings Accounts

Charles Schwab offers a High Yield Investor Savings account, which you apply for separate from a checking account. The APY is a modest 0.05%, but this rate is on par with similar types of savings accounts at Schwab’s competitors, and there are no balance requirements to earn this amount.

You can deposit money through Schwab’s mobile app, and you can make withdrawals using the bank’s debit card. Like the checking account, the savings account will reimburse account-holders if they incur any fees while using ATMs. There are also no fees or monthly balance requirements.

This savings account is for customers who want access to their money and want to move it between other Schwab accounts quickly. Those who would like to earn higher yields but do not care as much about easy access to their funds can opt for other Schwab products.

For example, Charles Schwab has fixed-income investments such as certificates of deposit (CDs), which have APYs of between 0.1% and 0.5%. The catch is that you need to keep all funds in a CD for the entire term (between one month and 2.5 years, depending on the yield).

Education and Custodial Accounts

Schwab has several options for savings accounts for family members. You can create a brokerage account for a minor. These custodial accounts allow an adult to teach a young person about investing while helping them save money for future investments or their education.

Schwab also has a 529 College Savings Plan, which is an investment portfolio that allows users to save money for college. These accounts do not have minimum deposit requirements, but users may have to pay fees of 0.25% to 1% to cover the costs of any funds that are in the investment portfolio. On the other hand, 529 accounts have tax advantages.

Parents can also open an education savings account (ESA), which they can use to pay for educational expenses from kindergarten through college. If the account holder uses it for qualifying expenses, the money is tax-free.

Charles Schwab Pros and Cons

Charles Schwab offers some significant advantages to certain customers who open banking accounts with them. At the same time, Schwab banking has some disadvantages that may make their accounts a poor choice for some customers.

Advantages

Here are the advantages of Charles Schwab’s checking and savings accounts.

  • Both checking and savings accounts pay interest.
  • ATM usage is always free, and if you get charged a fee at any ATM, Schwab reimburses you.
  • You do not have to pay a foreign transaction fee when you use your debit card abroad.
  • You can easily transfer money between your checking account and other Schwab accounts, such as a trading account or money market account.
  • There are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages may make Schwab’s banking options less than ideal for some customers.

  • Though both checking and savings accounts pay interest, the annual yield is very low.
  • You need to open a Charles Schwab brokerage account to open a checking account.
  • You need to fill out a separate application to open a savings account.

Who Is Charles Schwab Best For?

Charles Schwab bills itself as a bank for investors. If you have trading, investment, or retirement accounts with the company, it makes sense to use their checking and savings accounts because you can easily move money between accounts and manage all your finances in one place.

People who do not have other accounts at Schwab may benefit from checking accounts if they plan to open investment accounts or get a loan later.

The checking account also comes with a debit card with no ATM fees worldwide or foreign transaction fees. Those who travel frequently for work or tourism will also find a Schwab checking account attractive.

How to Open an Account at Charles Schwab Bank

You need to follow specific steps to open a checking account. You can open an individual or joint checking account online or by phone at 866-232-9890. Technically, you open a brokerage account and a bank account at the same time if you do not already have a brokerage account.

When you open the account, you need your name, a physical address (not a P.O. Box), your Social Security number, and your initial deposit. You can make your initial deposit by mailing in a check, transferring money from another bank, or depositing a check with Schwab’s mobile banking app. If you already have another Schwab account, you can simply transfer money from there.

You have to fill out a separate application for a savings account. After filling it out, you can upload it to the Schwab website, send it via snail mail, or fax it to Schwab.


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