If you’ve never opened a bank account on your own, it can feel overwhelming. After all, there are hundreds, if not thousands of banks and credit unions to choose from! But no matter which one you pick, the process of setting up an account and becoming a new customer is easy and relatively quick. When it comes down to it, it’s as simple as finding a bank, giving a few pieces of personal information, and depositing your money into the account.
Here’s how to open a bank account.
Visit The Branch Or Website
Once you decide whether you want to open an account at a credit union or bank, your next step is paying a visit either online or in person. Both have the same outcome, but opening an account online is easier, more convenient, and safer. Just be wary of fake websites that look like the bank’s official page (make sure you typed the correct URL).
Regardless of whether you open an account online or at a physical location, you will need your:
- Government-issued ID (e.g.., a driver’s license, passport, or military ID)
- Social Security number
- Physical and mailing addresses
- Deposit money
Select Which Account You Want
Banks and credit unions offer a wide range of financial products to help you manage your finances, such as:
- Checking accounts
- Savings accounts
- Money market accounts
- Certificates of deposit (CDs)
And under each of these, you can find even more products. If you sign up for the bank’s premium membership program, you will find products with additional perks, although they also come with more costs.
When deciding on a product, look for something with a combination of features and fees that align with your financial needs. For example, many banks offer unique benefits to students. So if you are enrolled at university, you would want to look for an account that waives fees for students or provides some other exclusive perk.
Fill Out Your Information
When you create a new account, you will have to submit personal details so the bank can verify your identity. Banks are compelled by law to confirm customers’ identities and necessitate a physical mailing address during the application process. Other information you will need to give includes:
- Your name
- Date of birth
- Mailing address
- Social Security number
If you complete this process at a branch, the banker will copy your information to keep on file. But if you are creating a new account online, you just need to enter the details into a text form.
Your Financial History
Banks don’t require that you have a perfect financial history to open a new account, although it doesn’t hurt. Most financial institutions perform a credit check to determine your financial health and liability. These are considered “soft” checks and don’t hurt your credit score. While bad credit doesn’t mean you will receive an automatic rejection, it does affect your chances.
Agree To The Bank’s Terms
When you open a new bank account, you will sign a form stating that you accept the bank’s regulations and take responsibility for specific account activity, such as overdraft fees. The lengthy walls of text and fine print may be tedious to sort through, but it’s important to read so you know exactly what you agree to. Your money is an important topic for you and the bank, so having a good understanding of the institution’s policies is in your best interest.
If you are younger than 18, you will need an adult to help you open an account. Banks do issue debit cards to minors, so don’t worry about having access to your money. For legal purposes, you just need someone older than 18 with you.
Print, Sign, And Mail
This step mainly applies if you are opening an account online, but not every bank requires it. But before your account is entirely ready for use, you need to print, fill out, and send a document to the institution. Depending on the bank, you might sign a digital disclosure and consent form to legalize the contract. But if the bank wants you to send a document with your signature, you will need to complete this step before using your account.
Add Money To Your Account
Banks typically require a deposit for new checking and savings accounts. The amount varies depending on the bank. Some may only need $25, while others request $100. You have a few options when it comes to paying this deposit and putting money in your account:
- Cash deposits
- Depositing checks and money orders
- Direct deposit through your employer
- Electronic transfers between accounts
Use Your New Account
After you complete these steps, you will have a shiny new bank account. If you opened the account in-person, you might receive your debit card immediately. If you opened it online, you would have to wait for the card to come in the mail. Depending on when you receive your debit card, you can use your account right away.
- Pritchard, Justin. “Here Are Easy Step-By-Steps Instructions How to Open A Bank Account.” The Balance, 19 June 2020, www.thebalance.com/how-can-i-easily-open-bank-accounts-315723.