Opening a brand new bank account is a rite of passage for many Americans. If you’ve never had to apply for a bank account before, you might be intimidated by the idea. But knowing how to apply for a bank account is a lot easier than you’d think. We’ve put together an easy five-step guide that will help you determine your needs and open that account in no time at all.
- Decide on a type of account: Before you do anything else, you’ll need to decide what kind of account you want to open. You’ll need to decide between checking account and a savings account, or you may choose to open both. You’ll most likely want to fill out a checking account application if you’re simply looking for a way to pay your bills, write checks, or make regular purchases with a debit card. A savings account is an appropriate choice if you want to put money towards future goals (like a home, a car, etc.) or you need an emergency account. In simple terms, a checking account is money you need to access regularly — you can set up your paychecks to go there directly — while a savings account is money you put away (and earn interest on) for big expenses that you don’t touch unless necessary.
- Choose your bank: Once you’ve determined what kind of account(s) you want to open, you can compare financial institutions and decide on the one that works best for you. You’ll want to consider your top priorities here, like whether you’ll have ATM and/or mobile banking access, what the interest rates are like, if the bank charges overdraft or monthly fees, whether there’s a limit on transactions per month, and the quality of identity theft protection. Take your time making this decision and be sure to do your research. If in-person banking is important to you, make sure to visit a branch and get as much information as you can.
- Gather your materials: Now that you’ve chosen your financial institution, you can actually learn how to apply for a bank account. But before you can actually fill out an application for new bank accounts, you’ll need to gather certain documents and materials. You’ll likely need two forms of ID, such as your driver’s license, state ID, Social Security card, birth certificate, or passport. (If you’re applying online, you’ll need to provide your date of birth, Social Security number, and government-issued ID number.) You’ll also need to bring proof of address — you can bring a utility bill or copy of your lease with your name and address on it — and supply your phone number and email address.
- Fill out your application: Once you have everything your bank needs, you can apply for a checking account or savings account. You can do this by visiting a local branch or you may even be able to apply online. However, if you have limited credit history, are not a U.S. citizen, or have had financial troubles in the past, you may discover that an in-person visit is necessary. Fortunately, learning how to apply for a bank account is pretty straightforward. You’ll just need to fill out some personal and financial information (nothing too extreme!) and sign the paperwork.
- Start making deposits: Usually, part of knowing how to apply for a bank account includes making a minimum initial deposit. This amount can vary from $25 to $100, depending on your institution. After you’ve made that deposit with which to open your account, you’ll receive some welcome information and tools from your bank (like checks, a debit card, mobile banking info, and more). Then, you can start monitoring and using your account. You also may want to set up direct deposit at this time, if that’s something your job and bank offer. Make sure you understand your bank’s policies and that they’re available should you need assistance.
Once you know how to open a bank account, you’ll see it’s easy to build savings, make transactions, and keep track of your finances. To find out more, contact your local bank today.