How to Open a Checking Account

Katie DuncanJuly 6, 2022

Reviewed By: Amplify

Cartoon check with pen on it

A checking account can be a powerful tool to help you manage your finances. Not only is it a safe place to keep your money, but it can be great for helping you budget, tracking spending, and growing your wealth.

If you don’t have a checking account yet but are hoping to soon, we have everything you need to know.

How to Open a Checking Account

Nowadays, opening a checking account is easy. Here’s how to do it in four easy steps.

1. Choose your bank.

The first step to opening your bank account is to choose your financial institution (FI). If you aren’t sure where to start, narrow your search down between a credit union or bank. (We may be a little biased here, but you can read more about what credit unions can do for you and others in this blog post.)

If banking locally or having a nearby brick-and-mortar location is important to you, do a quick Google search to see what is in your area. Once you have a few options, begin comparing things like:

  • Fees: Many banks charge fees for opening and maintaining a checking account. If saving money on bank services is important to you, opt for an institution that offers fee-free banking like Amplify.
  • Product offerings and services: Chances are, you’ll need more than a checking account from your bank in the future. Do the banks offer home and auto loans, financial planning, and more?
  • Reviews: What are other people saying about these banks? Do they have good experiences with them?

Doing a little research can help you make an informed decision that will positively impact you for years to come.

Fee-Free Banking is Here

Looking for a financial institution that doesn’t nickel and dime you? If you live or work in Texas, join Amplify!

2. Choose the right account for you.

Next, explore your account options. You already know that you want a checking account, but you may have several options to choose from within that category. Some institutions offer different tiers of checking accounts. Others will give you everything you need with one checking account option.

Regardless, it’s important to explore all offerings to make sure you’re opening the account that’s right for you and your intended uses.

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. Open an account online (or visit a branch).

Most financial institutions these days will allow you to open an account online—this is especially important if you’d like a modern, digital experience. Your checking account should be an easy, convenient tool—and being able to access it online is a critical option for most.

There may be a circumstance where you have to call their support line or even visit a branch to open an account. This experience can also help confirm the level of support available to you; talking to a customer service representative will reveal their overall helpfulness and available support.

4. Provide required documents and make your initial deposit.

You’ll need to provide some basic information and a form of ID to open your account, as well as an initial deposit. We’ll talk more about what you’ll need in the next section.

What do you need to open a checking account?

Basic informationTo open a checking account, you’ll need to provide basic information like:NameBirth dateContact info such as mailing address and phone numberTaxpayer identification number or Social Security numberYour choice of FI should have information about what they require for account openings on their website. If they don’t, contact support.
Valid IDYou’ll need to provide a valid, government-issued photo ID such as a:PassportDriver’s licenseState-issued IDMilitary IDIf you do not have one of the mentioned forms of identification, your bank may accept alternatives.
Initial depositMany 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.

Additional items

If you’re under 18 or plan on opening a joint account with another person, you may need to bring a few extra items.

If you’re not sure about some of the requirements, it’s always best to contact the organization directly and ask for more help. 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.

Opening a Checking Account at Amplify

Opening a checking account at Amplify Credit Union is easy. Our checking and savings account are fee-free—you won’t pay overdraft fees, maintenance fees, or any other fees! Members can apply online or in-person, making opening a checking account a piece of cake.

Checking Account Best Practices

So you opened a checking account— what now? Here are a few ways to use it wisely.

1. Know how your debit card works.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of your checking account is access to a debit card. A debit card looks and feels like a credit card, but each time you swipe it, money will come directly from your checking account. This can make both online and in-person transactions a breeze and can prevent you from slipping into debt.

Before using your debit card, make sure you fully understand:

  • How it works
  • Penalties you might incur for overdrawing your account
  • What to do if you lose your card or it gets stolen

Like a credit card, debit cards can be misused. It’s up to you to use them responsibly!

2. Take advantage of its budgeting power.

One way to use your debit card responsibly is to use it as a budgeting tool. We talk about different methods to use in our article “Budgeting Methods with the Right Debit Card“. Try them to find which works best for you!

3. Embrace online and mobile banking.

Another pro of checking accounts? You get access to online and mobile banking, which open up a whole new world of convenience. You can track your spending in real time, make money transfers, and use other banking services easily wherever you go.

4. Use automation to your advantage.

Checking accounts are great for automating your bills, ensuring you never make a late payment again. When you open your new account, enroll your utilities, subscriptions, and more in automatic withdrawals to streamline your financial management.

Open a Checking Account Today

A checking account may be your next move towards financial security. It’s easy and free (when you’re with the right credit union) so there’s no reason to wait! Learn more about checking accounts at Amplify Credit Union today.

Become an Amplify Member

Every Amplify account holder enjoys fee-free banking. That means no overdraft, maintenance, or other banking fees cutting into your pocket.

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Katie Duncan

Katie Duncan is a financial writer based in Austin, Texas. Her articles include financial advice for freelancers, homebuyers, and more. When she’s not writing, Katie loves traveling and exploring the outdoors with her friends and her dog, Poe.