What You Need To Open A Bank Account


Opening a new bank account? Your bank will need to see your ID, social security card, and proof of address. See what else you may need.

Opening a new bank account can be a simple and painless process — as long as you’re prepared. Most banks will ask for the same documents and information to open a new account. If you gather everything before walking up to a teller or applying online, you’ll have a much better experience.

Below, we’ll show you everything you’ll need to open a new checking or savings account.

What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account?

While every bank is different, most will require the same items to open a new account. You’ll want to bring these documents with you if you apply at a branch or have them handy if you’re applying online. Some banks might not require all of these documents, while others may ask for more information. It’s always best to check out the bank’s application process before you sign up. Here’s what you’ll need:

• Government-issued photo ID such as a passport, driver’s license, or military ID card

• Social security card or taxpayer-identification number

• Proof of address from a recent utility bill, credit card statement, or cell phone bill

• Your full contact information including your name, home address, and phone number

If you’re applying for a student bank account, you should also bring proof of enrollment. This could be your student ID card, an acceptance letter, or other official school document showing that you’re currently a student.

If you're still on the fence about what kind of bank you should choose, see these online banking pros and cons.

Which Bank Account Do You Need? Checking vs. Savings

Different types of accounts serve different purposes. You need to make sure the account you choose fits how you plan to use the money in that account.

Choose a Checking Account for Frequent Transactions

You can deposit and withdraw money from a checking account regularly without facing any penalties for too many transactions. You should go with a checking account if you plan to use it to pay your bills and handle your everyday spending.

Choose a checking account if…

• You want to use a debit card for your everyday purchases

• You need an account to pay your bills

• You’ll write checks regularly

What to look for in a checking account

• No account maintenance fees

• No opening deposit

• Low or no overdraft fees

• Convenient ATM access

• Waived or reimbursed ATM fees

Common checking account fees and requirements

• Monthly account fees — Many banks will charge you a monthly fee to have a checking account there. While some checking accounts will charge you no matter what, you may be able to avoid these fees by keeping a certain account balance or setting up a direct deposit to your account. However, enough banks have done away with monthly fees that you should be able to avoid them. See more on how to avoid monthly maintenance fees.

• Initial account deposit – Many banks may have you make a first deposit into your account. But in this day and age, you can open a bank account with no deposit.

• Overdraft fees — If you spend or withdraw more money than you have in your account, your bank could charge an overdraft fee. Many banks either decline overdraft payments automatically or give you a choice to either decline payment or pay a fee if you exceed your balance.

• Minimum deposit — Most banks require you to put money into a new account when you open it — usually between $25 and $100. You can bring either cash or a check to the bank when you apply in person or set up a transfer from your old bank to your new one when you apply online. But keep in mind that your old bank might charge you for the transfer.  

• Minimum balance — Your bank might require you to keep a minimum amount in your checking account. If you dip below this minimum balance, you could have to pay a fee. The specific amount varies from bank to bank.

Go with a Savings Account for a Safe Place to Stash Your Cash

Savings accounts are great for stashing money that you don’t plan to touch very often but still want to access easily if you need to. However, they aren’t great if you plan to move money in and out of the account frequently. The Federal Reserve limits how many times you can withdraw or transfer money out of a savings account to six each month.

Choose a savings account if…

• You need an account for your emergency fund

• You’re saving for a big purchase

• You’ll make fewer than six withdrawals each month

What to look for in a savings account

• A competitive interest rate — at least 0.1%

• No monthly fees

Common savings account fees and requirements

• Minimum balance requirements — Some banks require you to keep a minimum balance in your savings account. If you don’t, they could charge you a fee or penalty or even close your account (though that’s rare!).

• Rate tiers — Many savings accounts come with interest rate tiers. For example, you may earn 0.25% APY on your first $25,000 in your savings account, but only 0.01% on everything over that amount. You should understand these tiers before signing up for an account, especially if you’re saving for a big purchase like a house downpayment.

• Dormant account fees — If you let your account sit without depositing or withdrawing money for a long time, your bank could start charging you a monthly dormant account fee. The specific fee and dormant period will depend on your specific account’s terms of service. You can avoid this by either regularly using your account or closing it and transferring your money to a new one.

What to Expect When You Open a New Bank Account

If you have everything together, you can either go to a bank branch or apply online (if your bank allows it). First, you’ll fill out the application form and submit your documents to confirm your identity. Then, if your bank requires it, you’ll add your first deposit right away to officially open your account!

Once your account’s set up, you can start using it right away. You should set up any automatic deposits, bill pay, and subscriptions to your new account.

Finally, you should close any old accounts that you won’t need anymore. When you do, make sure to get a written statement from the bank confirming that the account is closed and won’t be reopened.

Open Your New Account Today

Once you’re prepared, you can open your new bank account in just a few minutes. In fact, Monorail makes it easy to apply without ever leaving your house. Monorail’s wishlist and checking accounts can help you do more with your money.

See what banking with Monorail looks like.

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