A checking account is an essential personal finance tool. We’ll show you how to open a checking account and explain everything you need to do it.
Choose the Right Checking Account
Opening a checking account is a fast, easy process. You can often do it online without even having to visit a local bank branch in most cases.
The slightly harder part is finding the right bank and the right checking account. You want to make an informed choice so your bank and checking account fit your needs and you don’t have to go to the trouble of switching banks in the future. A good bank can be an important part of your overall financial health.
A local bank can offer a lot of customer service since you can walk into a branch and speak to a customer service employee but online banks often offer a higher interest rate on checking accounts than do traditional banks.
When choosing a checking account, be sure to choose one that has as few fees as possible. There are many no-fee options.
What You Need to Open a Checking Account
You really only need three things to open a checking account, an application, identification, and proof of address.
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.
You’re Approved, Now What?
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 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 receive documents that provide your checking account number and routing number (a nine-digit number used to identify your bank in a financial transaction), you may receive a few checks (if you want more, you’ll need to order and usually pay for them), and a debit card which you can use to make purchases and withdraw money from ATMs. If you applied online, you’ll receive these things in the mail, usually within a few business days.
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. 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 straight forward process which takes just a few minutes. And 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. Find the right account today.