How to Open a Bank Account
Opening a bank account requires an adequate amount of forethought to make sure that you get the account that you want. Banks have so many options and it is important that you do your homework to make sure you don’t get an account that costs more than you want or does not do what you want it to do.
Getting a new checking, savings or other bank account requires a bit of preparation and thought. One of the most important things that you must know is which type of account you want and how you plan to use it. The banking terminology can be kind of intimidating, but if you know a few banking basics, you’ll be well on your way to a productive banking experience.
These are a few things that you should know to give you a step-by-step plan to set up your first account.
First, make sure that you have what is required to open an account. Before going online or going to a branch office, it is wise to make sure that you meet all the criteria for opening an account. The following things are required to open an account:
- If you’re under 18, some banks might require your parents to sign some forms when you make your account.
- You’ll must provide valid identification and be willing to share basic information about yourself like your Social Security number.
- You’ll need to have at least the minimum amount of money required to open an account.
Banks will check to see if you are in ChexSystems to ensure that you are eligible to open an account.
Second, choose the best type of bank that meets your needs. It is important for you to know that not all banks are the same. They vary in many ways, include size, customer service, fees and other things that may be important to you. The clearest difference is between local and national banks. You get to choose, based on what’s important to you, which type of bank you’ll want.
Third, you’ll have to choose between a checking, savings or some other type of account. Obviously, you can choose more than one, but this is something that you should have in mind.
Fourth, do your research online, but visit a selected number of branches to make sure that you feel comfortable and that they offer you the services you desire.
Fifth, once you’ve visited the branches, ask important questions before finalizing the bank and account. We will supply this list of questions so that you can have them handy.
- Is there a monthly fee for maintaining this account? If so, what is it?
- Is there a minimum balance that I must keep within this account? If so, what is it? What sorts of fees apply if I go under that limit?
- What is the interest rate of my savings account? How often does interest generate?
- Is there a limit to the amount of transactions (deposits/withdrawals, check writing, ATM uses) I have per month?
- Where can I withdraw cash without paying any fees? What is the fee for using an ATM that doesn’t belong to this bank?
Sixth, provide the bank with the required information to create your account. The following is a full list of things that are required and we will provide this list for you to download:
- Proof that you are who you say you are: Have a government-issued ID with your photo on it with you (a driver’s license or a passport are best).
- Proof of address: A phone bill, driver’s license, or any other official document with your name and address will usually do.
- Proof you are a registered citizen: The bank will ask for your Social Security number, taxpayer identification number, or employer identification number to ensure that you are “on record” with the government. As long as you know this number, you don’t generally need to have your Social Security card, etc. with you.
Finally, keep all of your documents in a secure place to provide the bank with the required information to create your account. The following is a list of things that you will receive and we will provide this list in a downloadable PDF:
- Your four-digit PIN number: You need this to use your debit card for purchases.
- Your bank account number: You need this for financial tasks like setting up direct deposits
- Your Social Security number: You need this for various tax and financial tasks in the future
- If you believe your account information has fallen into the wrong hands, you can always contact your bank and request a “freeze” on your account to prevent unauthorized use.
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