How to Open a Bank Account Online


Opening a bank account online is fast, easy and convenient. You might want to consider this option if you don’t want to visit a traditional brick-and-mortar branch.

Online banking is on the rise and there’s no sign of it slowing soon. The Federal Reserve has been tracking online banking usage since 2011. Each year the number of people who report using mobile devices to make payments on credit cards, access their bank account and even make financial decisions, increases.

If you’re wondering how to open a bank account online, it’s easier than ever — many financial institutions offer a wide range of mobile services designed to make banking more convenient. Keep reading to find out how you can open a bank account online.

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Growing Demand for Electronic Banking

In its latest survey, Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2016, the Federal Reserve reported that 43 percent of all people with mobile devices used online banking in the past 12 months — this figure rose from 39 percent in 2014 and 33 percent in 2013.

As demand grows, banks are adding mobile banking services that enable people to do business without having to set foot in an actual building. This includes free online banking that enables you to handle just about anything online that you can do in person at a bank.

This overview will familiarize you with the basics of opening a checking account or savings account remotely with a traditional bank or credit union — or an exclusively online bank.

How to Apply Online

If you want to open checking or savings accounts online, the process is similar for each type of financial institution. Brick-and-mortar banks, like Bank of America and Wells Fargo; credit unions, such as Navy Federal Credit Union, which is open to people who affiliated with the military; and online banks, such as Bank of Internet USA and Ally Bank, all require a completed application and initial deposit.

Credit unions that allow people to open a bank account online — like GTE Federal Credit Union in Tampa, Florida — typically require customers to first join their organizations, which in GTE’s case, you can also do online.

Fill Out the Application

The first step to open a bank account online is to fill out an application online; this should take only a few minutes, according to Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Once you finish your application and sign it electronically, you will know if you were approved.

Each type of financial institution mentioned above requires the following identification and contact information to open an account online:

  • Social Security number
  • Home address
  • Current email address
  • Co-applicant’s personal information, if pertinent

Wells Fargo, Navy Federal Credit Union, Ally Bank and Bank of Internet USA also require a driver’s license or government ID to apply for an account. Make sure you know what documents you need before you apply.

How to Make the First Deposit

To fund your new account, each of these banks — except for Bank of Internet USA and Ally Bank — offers the same options to make your initial deposit. The required deposit amount varies by bank. Wells Fargo, for example, requires a $25 minimum deposit.

You can use a credit or debit card, transfer money from another financial institution or mail in a check or money order. You can also bring a check or cash into a branch. Although these banks and credit unions do offer mobile check deposit, it’s not available for the initial account deposit.

Online banks operate a little differently, in part because they don’t have physical branches and rely solely on digital banking. This eliminates the option to bring in a deposit.

Because of this, both Ally and Bank of Internet USA give new customers 30 days to fund their accounts. You can make your first deposit via credit or debit card, ACH money transfer from another financial institution, wire transfer, direct deposit, mobile deposit or mailing a check. If you want to use mobile deposit or e-check, you have to download the app or scan the check into your computer.

Where You Can’t Open Accounts Online

If you want to open a checking account online, make sure that the bank you’re interested in offers that service — it isn’t available everywhere. For example, regional banks like TD Bank and Fifth Third won’t let you open an account if you don’t live in the area. The same goes for smaller credit unions: One Thirteen Credit Union in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for example, doesn’t offer online account applications.

Before you start the process of opening a new account, make sure you have a secure internet connection, enough battery life on your phone or computer to complete the application and all the required paperwork.