How To Open a Bank Account Online: Everything You Need To Know

You'll need certain documents to open a bank account online.

A bank account is a helpful tool for managing your money, paying your bills and saving for your financial goals. Whether you choose to do business with a traditional brick and mortar bank or opt for the convenience of an online bank account, most banks will now let you open an account online.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to open a bank account online:

What Do You Need To Open a Bank Account Online?

Before you apply to open a bank account online, you’ll need to have some information available.

This includes your legal name and contact information (including a residential address), date of birth, Social Security number and government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.

You’ll also need to fund your new account. If you’re transferring money from another bank account, you’ll need the account number and routing number or debit card of the account the money is coming from.

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If you’re funding the account by direct deposit of your paycheck, check to see if your employer or payroll company will provide a form or if the bank will ask you to use its form.

JOINT ACCOUNT TIP

If you’re applying for a joint bank account with your spouse or a business partner, both of you will need to supply identification information. The USA Patriot Act requires banks to verify the identity of each person who wants to open an account.

 

Learn More: 69% of Americans Have Less than $1,000 in Savings

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How Do You Open a Bank Account Online?

Although you may find some variations in the application process, you can open most bank accounts online in a few steps.

1. Decide What Type of Account You Want

Several kinds of bank accounts are generally available; you can choose the one that best meets your needs:

  • Checking accounts let you deposit your paycheck and pay your monthly bills, so you don’t have to carry cash. Some checking accounts also earn interest, so your money earns money.
  • Savings accounts are a good place to put money into every month as you save for a goal or a large purchase. Not only does it keep your money safe and earn interest, but a savings account also keeps the money you’re saving separate from the money you use to pay your bills.
  • Money market accounts usually offer a higher interest rate than checking or savings accounts, but they still give you access to your money through an ATM, debit card or checks.
  • Certificates of deposit offer a way to save money that you don’t need to access immediately. They work like savings accounts, but they hold a fixed amount of money for a fixed time period, such as one year. At the end of the specified time period, you receive your initial deposit back, plus the interest earned.

Read More: The Facts on High-Yield Savings Accounts

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2. Choose a Bank

Think about how you prefer to bank and what you expect to get out of your accounts. If you do all your banking through a mobile app, a completely online bank may meet your needs.

If you prefer the convenience of walking into a local branch, consider a brick-and-mortar bank that also offers online services. If you like to visit ATMs, consider the number of ATMs a bank has and the fees it charges for using them.

Find Out: How To Find No-Fee ATMs Near You

3. Go To the Bank’s Website

Before you enter your personal information, take a moment to verify the site.

Double-check the URL and look for the padlock symbol in the browser’s navigation bar.

4. Complete the Online Application

You’ll need the information that was listed earlier to completely fill in the form.

Many online banks offer a live chat feature or a phone number you can call if you have questions during the application process.

Some banks process the application immediately, while others may take a few days to review the documentation and issue a decision.

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See Next: Best New Bank Promotions and Bonuses

5. Fund Your Account

As soon as you receive approval for your account, the bank should send instructions for funding it.

In most cases, you can transfer money from another account or mail in a check or money order to make your initial deposit.

Find Out: How To Open a Wells Fargo Bank Account in 3 Steps

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What Banks Pay You To Open an Account?

One incentive banks offer to attract new business is a sign-up bonus or cash-back feature for new accounts.

You have to meet certain requirements that may include depositing a minimum amount of money into the new account, maintaining a certain balance or joining a rewards program.

See: Newest Bank Promotions, Offers, Coupons and Bonuses

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Can You Open a Bank Account If You Owe Another Bank?

Some banks use a consumer reporting agency, such as ChexSystems to review your banking history. They look at how you’ve used your previous accounts and may deny your application if you owe money to another bank.

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However, other banks — such as local banks, credit unions and some online banks — don’t rely on check reporting agencies when deciding to open new accounts.

SECOND CHANCE BANKING TIP

Even if you have credit problems or poor banking history, you may still qualify for what’s called a second-chance or opportunity account. These accounts typically have less-stringent requirements than traditional accounts, but may come with different fee structures and fewer perks.

 

Read More: 30 Things You Need To Know To Build Credit

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Questions To Ask Before Opening a Bank Account

As soon as you start researching bank accounts, you will notice how many options are available.

You can narrow your list by asking a few important questions about the accounts and find the one that’s best for you.

  • Is there a minimum amount of money I need to put in to open the account?
    Each bank has its own requirements for the initial deposit you need to open the account. For example, Suntrust’s Essential Savings account has no minimum opening deposit. Wells Fargo requires a minimum deposit of $25 for its Opportunity Checking account. Regions has a different minimum opening deposit requirement for accounts opened online and in a local branch.
  • Is there a minimum amount of money I need to keep in the account at all times?
    Some banks have minimum balance requirements. If the account balance falls below the minimum threshold, you typically have to pay a maintenance fee. Take, for example, Bank of America’s Advantage Plus checking account. If you do not have an average daily balance of at least $1,500, you pay a $12 monthly fee. The bank waives this fee if you have at least one qualifying direct deposit into the account or belong to its Preferred Rewards program.
  • Are there any fees?
    Fees can easily chip away at your savings, so it’s important to know what fees the bank charges so you can add them to your budget or avoid them. Some of the most common fees include those charged for overdrawing the account, receiving paper statements, failing to maintain the minimum required balance or using out-of-network ATMs. You may also pay fees for wire transfers and closing the account. Review the bank’s fee schedule carefully before you open an account.

Don’t Miss: 5 Best Banks With No Fees

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Why Should You Open a Bank Account Online?

Opening a bank account online can be a quick and easy way of getting one of the most useful tools in your financial toolkit.

Not only does it give you access to a place to store and manage your money, but you may also be able to apply for a credit card or loan and take advantage of financial advice.

Click through to read more on banks that give you free money.

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This article has been updated with additional reporting since its original publication.

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About the Author

Karen Doyle

Karen Doyle is a personal finance writer with over 20 years’ experience writing about investments, money management and financial planning. Her work has appeared on numerous news and finance
websites including GOBankingRates, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, USA Today, CNBC, Equifax.com, and more.

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