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I understand the exact difference will vary from bank to bank. But in general, I understand that savings accounts have a higher interest than checking. So if it's that simple why not always use the savings account and put all the money into it? I'm guessing there's other restrictions like how often you can make withdraws/deposits from a savings account. Is a tax free savings account just a specific type of savings account? From what I read checks can only be made from checking account but I never pay by check.

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  • In the U.S. at least, you cannot get a debit card connected to a savings account. So your only option is to pay electronically (probably not possible for groceries, Starbucks, etc.) or to withdrawal the cash before hand.
    – Nosjack
    Aug 12 at 18:25
  • First result on Google: nerdwallet.com/article/banking/checking-vs-savings
    – 0xFEE1DEAD
    Aug 12 at 18:43
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    @0xFEE1DEAD that seems to be focused on differences related to US regulations, which wouldn't apply in Canada
    – yoozer8
    Aug 12 at 20:09
  • @Nosjack There is usually no obstacle to connecting a debit card to a savings account, at least if you have a checking account as well. (I've never had only a savings account at a bank, so I don't know if a checking account is a requirement to get a debit card in the first place.)
    – chepner
    Aug 12 at 20:11
  • In the US, at least, checking accounts are expected to be a lot more active than savings accounts. I'm sure it's a pre-computer legacy thing that simplified the accounting, and now lives on through inertia.
    – RonJohn
    Aug 12 at 20:22
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(This is a Canadian-focused answer and comments from Americans about how it's different there are not needed, thanks.)

Once upon a time, there was a huge difference. Only with a chequing account could you be out and about, nowhere near a bank, and pay people for stuff from your account (by writing them a cheque.) But now we have debit, and you can totally pay people by debit from your savings account. It's a choice.

One big driver of the choice is service fees. For example, your savings account may pay you some piddly interest, and then charge you $1 for each withdrawal. Your chequing account won't pay interest, but might give you 30, or even unlimited, free withdrawals a month.

For example, ScotiaBank (which doesn't seem to call accounts chequing any more, though some are called saving) has a table of fees. Comparing these is the way you would choose the account that works for you.

It's also possible that your chequing account has overdraft protection that might let your automatic payments still happen even if you don't have quite enough money in the account, or let you withdraw more than you have at an ATM. This would vary branch by branch, and you probably shouldn't rely on it, but it's another difference: savings accounts would never have overdrafts.

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  • Checking accounts might also waive fees if you make a certain number of transactions a month, while the saving account's fee waivers would usually require consistent inflow. Aug 13 at 13:43
  • In Canada, are the banking regulations different between savings and chequing accounts? Aug 13 at 14:43
  • unless you run a bank I don't think it matters. Things like deposit insurance, reporting any interest you earn for tax purposes and so on will all be the same. Aug 13 at 14:51
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    The reason I ask is that in the U.S., the regulatory differences between savings and checking accounts are the cause of the differences in features and fees, and I was wondering if it is the same in Canada. Yes, I know that this is an irrelevant comment. Sorry. :) +1 for your answer. Aug 13 at 14:57

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