The list of benefits that a bank account offers is long. Opening a checking or savings account is a move that can help you manage your money, allowing you to save for big goals and grow your wealth over time. They are a safe and secure way to save money, give account holders access to their money anywhere, and are often cheaper than alternative financial services.
Opening a bank account is fairly simple and straightforward. In this article, we’ll break down how to open a bank account and what you need to do it.
What do you need to open a bank account?
At a minimum, here’s what you’ll need to open a bank account. Keep in mind that some institutions or accounts may have more specific requirements.
1. Basic information
You’ll need to provide the financial institution with some basic information to open a bank account. This includes your identifying info like your name, birth date, individual taxpayer identification number or Social Security number, and contact info (your address and phone number).
If you don’t have a Social Security number, don’t count yourself out just yet. Contact the bank you wish to open an account with for more information; they may allow you to provide another type of identification number.
2. A valid, government-issued photo ID
You’ll need to provide a valid, government-issued photo ID like a passport, driver’s license, state-issued ID, or military ID. If you do not have one of the mentioned forms of identification, your bank may accept alternatives.
3. An initial deposit
Many banks will require an initial deposit to open an account. This could be anywhere from $5 to upwards of $100, depending on the institution. If you’re joining a credit union, this deposit represents your ownership of a “share” in the credit union.
If you’re under 18 or plan on opening a joint account with another person, you may need to bring a few extra items.
Every financial institution has their own requirements to open an account for a minor; it’s best to contact the organization directly and ask what those requirements are. If you’re opening an account with another person, such as a spouse, you must provide all of the information that we mentioned above— identification documents and contact information— for each person on the account.
How to Open a Bank Account
To open a bank account, follow these five easy steps.
1. Decide where you want to do your banking.
The first step to opening your bank account is to find the right place to do your banking. Start by narrowing down your search to either a credit union or bank. (We may be a little biased here, but you can read more about credit unions and how they help communities like yours in this blog post.)
After you decide, start your search for the right institution by comparing things like reviews, product offerings, fees, and additional services.
2. Decide what type of account you want to open.
Once you have found the perfect credit union or bank, you should decide what kind of account you want to open. There are a whole host of account products out there, but the two that you’re probably most interested in are checking or savings accounts.
A checking account is good for everyday spending. You’ll get a debit card with this account, which allows you to easily make purchases and have access to your funds wherever you go.
A savings account provides a safe place to keep and save up your money. While you can withdraw money from a savings account, many savings accounts have monthly withdrawal limits. This type of account is a good choice for saving for big goals.
Keep in mind that some institutions may require you to open a savings account in order to open a checking account. You don’t necessarily have to keep any money in your savings to use your checking, but you’ll have to keep the account open.
3. Visit your local credit union or bank branch.
Next, visit your local credit union or bank branch. Let the bank staff know that you are there to open an account. They will help guide you through the next steps and help you fill out any required paperwork.
4. Provide the required documentation and make your initial deposit.
You’ll need to provide the information that we mentioned earlier, so make sure to bring your ID with you! You’ll also make your initial deposit when you open the account. Once you sign the required paperwork, your account will be open and you'll be good to go.
Can you open a bank account online?
In many cases, yes! Plenty of financial institutions offer online banking portals that allow you to open and access your account online.
Simply go to the bank’s website and look for the area that says “open an account” or “apply now”. Be sure to double-check the product you’re applying for, as some banks allow people to apply for loans online.
Next, fill out the required application. You’ll need to provide the same information that you would if you applied in person, and some banks may require you to attach a photo or scan of your photo ID. You’ll also need to pay your initial deposit by providing a routing and account number to an existing account.
Closing Your Old Bank Account
If you have an existing bank account that you no longer wish to use, be sure to close the account. This can prevent you from racking up unwanted fees due to account inactivity or dipping below a minimum balance threshold. Closing a bank account will not affect your credit unless you close it with a negative balance.
Before closing your account, be sure to switch over any automatic deposits or withdrawals to your new account including your paycheck and bills like utilities, mortgage payments or rent, and subscriptions. Update any cards you may have on file for online shopping, doctor’s offices, etc. to your new debit card. Change over any recurring transfers or linked accounts you have, including apps like Venmo or Paypal. This will ensure that your bills get paid on time.
Opening up a bank account is a small step that can open up a whole new world of financial possibilities. If you’re ready to open a bank account, Amplify Credit Union is ready to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Whether you’re visiting a branch in person or applying online, we’re here to help.