A checking account is an essential personal finance tool. In this article, we’ll show you how to open a checking account and explain everything you need to do it.
Step 1: Choose the Right Bank and Checking Account
Opening a checking account is a fast, easy process. In most cases, you can fill out an application online without even having to visit a local bank branch.
The slightly harder part is finding the right bank and a checking account with all the features you need. If you take some time and make an informed decision now, you can avoid the hassle of switching to another bank in the future.
When you’re considering which bank or credit union to bank at, there’s always the choice between banking locally or choosing something more widespread like a nationwide online bank.
Local banks and credit unions are oftentimes known for their better customer service and convenient brick-and-mortar locations, while online banks tend to offer lower fees and can save you money over time. Make sure you spend a good amount of time exploring your options!
Step 2: Gather Identification and Apply
You really only need three things to open a checking account… an application, identification, and proof of address. This is to prevent identity theft and verify that it is you opening your own account.
Even if you chose a traditional bank, you may be able to open an account online if that’s more convenient for you given the limited hours most banks have.
To open a checking account, you’ll fill out an application with information including your name, date of birth, Social Security Number, address, and telephone number. If you want to open a checking account in person, most banks require two forms of government-issued identification. Accepted documents include:
- Social Security Card
- Driver’s License
- State ID
- Birth Certificate
If you’re not an American citizen, you can open a checking account but you may need to go through a few additional steps and will likely have to apply in person.
If you’re filling out the application online, you’ll need to include the identification number from a piece of government-issued ID.
When you open a checking account in person, you will need to bring proof of address which can be a utility bill that is in your name. If you’re opening an account online, you may need to upload a copy of a utility bill.
Once you’ve completed the application, the bank may run a credit check before allowing you to open a checking account. If your application is refused, you may have better luck with a second chance bank.
Step 3: Make an Opening Deposit
Once your checking account application is approved, you’ll want to fund your account with an opening deposit. If you didn’t choose an account with no minimum balance, be sure your opening deposit meets the minimum deposit requirement otherwise you’ll be charged a fee.
You can put money into your new checking account by transferring money from an existing account, with cash when you open a checking account in person, or by mailing a money order in the case of an online checking account.
You’ll then receive the following either in person or in the mail:
- A debit card
- Your checking account number and routing number (a nine-digit number used to identify your bank in a financial transaction)
- A few checks (if you want more, you’ll need to order and usually pay for them)
You can set up automatic bill pay from your checking account so you never make a late payment again and don’t have to sit down and write out a bunch of checks every month. This is one of the many reasons to have a checking account.
If your employer offers direct deposit, you can provide your human resources or payroll department with your checking account and routing numbers and your paycheck will be automatically deposited right into your checking account. No more standing in line to cash your check!
If you’re nervous to open a checking account, don’t be. It’s a very straightforward process that takes just a few minutes. Once you have opened your checking account, you can put it to work for you to make your life easier.
Opening a checking account will save you lots of time and hassle. For a good place to start, check out The Best Online Checking Accounts – No Deposit Required!