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We're the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.

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What is the difference between a checking account, a demand deposit account, and a NOW (negotiable order of withdrawal) account?

Answer: A demand deposit account is just a different term for a checking account. The difference between a demand deposit account (or checking account) and a negotiable order of withdrawal account is the amount of notice you need to give to the bank or credit union before making a withdrawal.

Most demand deposit accounts (DDAs) let you withdraw your money without advance notice, but the term also includes accounts that require six days or less of advance notice.

NOW accounts are essentially checking accounts where you earn interest on the money you have deposited. With a NOW account, the bank or credit union has the right to require at least seven days written notice of a withdrawal, though this is rarely done.

Not all accounts that give you checks are “checking accounts.” Other deposit products, such as money market accounts, may allow you to write checks, but they are not generally suited for day-to-day business, given the restrictions on their use. In addition, a lender may give you checks to access credit, such as a personal loan, home equity loan, or other lines of credit. These types of checks allow you to access your loan.

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The content on this page provides general consumer information. It is not legal advice or regulatory guidance. The CFPB updates this information periodically. This information may include links or references to third-party resources or content. We do not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. There may be other resources that also serve your needs.