There are thousands of banks to choose from in the U.S., and for many, deciding on the right one to join can come down to how easy the institution makes it to do so. Online accessibility and minimal requirements to sign up are the main attributes of a bank that makes it simple to become a member. That said, everyone’s situation (and location) comes into play.
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“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question since a lot depends on where you live and your financial situation,” said Andrew Latham, director of content at SuperMoney. “However, if you’re looking for banks you can join online, don’t require a minimum opening deposit, and offer second chance checking accounts for people with a checkered banking history, consider banks such as TD Bank, Chime, United Bank and Synchrony.”
Here’s a look at what Chime, TD, United and Synchrony ask of incoming members.
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Chime1 is probably the easiest to join. New members can head online and simply enter their basic details — first and last name, email and Social Security number — and voila, that’s all!
To sign up with TD, users can go online and enter their basic information, including a driver’s license number or state ID. They’ll also need to have a previously existing bank account open to transfer funds over.
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United Bank has the same requirements as TD. You need your basic info to open an account online, as well as your driver’s license or state ID. You’ll also need an opening deposit of just $50.
In addition to providing their basic information online, Synchrony asks its prospective members for an opening deposit of $100.
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The key reason these banks are the easiest to join in Latham’s view is because they allow you to open an account online with little or no opening minimum deposit. If there’s no opening deposit, that means you don’t need a pre-existing bank account to move funds from, making the process quicker.
“Also, they either offer second chance checking accounts or they don’t look at ChexSystems reports before opening an account. Most will do a soft credit pull but past banking missteps won’t typically disqualify you from opening an account.”
Latham explained that when Congress authorized the coronavirus relief package in December 2020, it was banks like TD, Chime, United and Synchrony that allowed people who previously didn’t have an account to open one and fund it with an Economic Impact Payment.
“The sign-up process varies slightly by bank, but they all require your first and last name, Social Security number and email,” Latham said. “In some cases, such as Chime, that is all the information you need to provide to open an account.”
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These four banks above aren’t the only ones that are considered easy to join by financial insiders. As Saqib Iqbal, editor of the finance site SafeTradeBinaryOption sees it, four other banks have an even simpler sign-on process. Iqbal points to Chase, Axos Bank, Ally and Wells Fargo as being the easiest to join.
Chase asks users to provide their basic info, two forms of photo ID and a utility bill with current address information. Minimum deposits (and whether you even have to give one) depend on the bank. Iqbal ranks this bank as an easy one because of the abundance of branches and the fact that it is the largest of all the U.S financial institutions.
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A totally online bank with not a single brick-and-mortar location, Axos asks for all the basic information as well as a $250 opening deposit. This is certainly a more “expensive” account to open, if you will, but its online-only nature makes it super compatible with the wants of digital natives.
Proclaiming that you’ll need less than five minutes to open an account, Ally asks for all that fun basic info you surely know by heart now and no opening deposit, which makes it a standout choice for those just starting out.
In addition to the basic info, Wells Fargo requires new members to make an opening deposit of just $25.
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Online Features Make Everything Simpler
All of the banks that make the easiest-to-join list tout online banking features. Enhanced digital and mobile accessibility are major selling points for today’s consumer, especially since the pandemic has escalated the desire for and adoption of online banking.
“The pandemic did not create a demand for online-only banking but it certainly expedited the process in ways that transformed the way financial institutions interact with customers,” Latham said. “Previously, online banking was a nice-to-have feature. Social distancing, stay-at-home orders and health concerns made it a necessity. Digital banking was already mainstream, particularly among younger account holders, but now people of all ages have made the move.”
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This article was updated on May 2, 2022 to include additional disclosures from Chime.
1Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.