When making an online money transfer, why is one often asked whether the source account is checking or savings?

Example in Merrill Edge (https://olui2.fs.ml.com/MoneyMovement/MakeTransfer.aspx):

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  • 1
    Savings accounts are limited to 6 electronic transfers a month (due to obtuse Federal Reserve rules) but that doesn't answer what motivation Merrill Lynch may have for asking.
    – user662852
    Feb 27, 2018 at 1:47
  • @user662852 thanks, I wasn't aware of that limitation. Feb 27, 2018 at 2:06
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    At least with my accounts (credit union), checking and savings have the same account number. So the transfer has to know whether the money is coming from or going to checking or savings.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 27, 2018 at 2:09
  • 1
    For interest money.stackexchange.com/questions/74841/…
    – user662852
    Feb 27, 2018 at 2:13
  • As others have said, the very simple answer is that you can have two accounts with the same number.
    – Fattie
    Feb 27, 2018 at 11:23

1 Answer 1


why one is often asked whether the source account is checking or savings?

Some of this is legacy. Once upon a time Account Number were repeating for Savings and Checking [as well as Currency]. Hence the Account type together with Account Number was unique.

However in recent times, all banks have unique account numbers.

Most clearing formats; for example ACH clearing uses the NACHA file format. Although this doesn't directly have Account Type; there are different TRAN CODES depending on the account type. For example 22 for deposits into Checking Account and 32 for deposits into savings account ... etc.

There are different rules governing savings account and checking account from Federal Reserve as indicated in the related question. There are also different clearing rules [I don't recollect specific rules and could be incorrect] mostly to do with claims / or disputes by originator that he had not initiated the payment. Some of this could also be legacy as checking account once upon a time was meant to be used by business entity and individuals were meant to use savings account.

Will the payment get rejected if incorrect account type is specified? I am not sure; this would depend on the pre-validation checks that the receiving Bank would apply to the payment.

  • 1
    As I commented above, while different account numbers for checking and savings may be the case for banks (I don't know either way), it is most definitely not true for all credit unions, since my accounts share the same number. So anyone wanting to do on-line transfers must take this into account, or lose those customers who bank with credit unions.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 27, 2018 at 18:42

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