How to Open a Bank Account Online

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Updated on Thursday, February 27, 2020

Opening a bank account online will require specific personal information and an electronic signature. Before you can open an account, you should consider your unique financial needs and take note of the offered account features. Here’s what you need to know about how to open a bank account online.

What do you need to open a bank account online?

It’s easy to open a bank account online, but the process will go much faster if you have all your information on hand before you get started. Here’s our list of what you may need to open your bank account:

  • Legal name: You’ll need to provide the bank with your full legal name.
  • Date of birth: This will be verified by a government-issued ID, so be accurate.
  • Address: Your bank may offer you different rates or features depending on your location. Your address will be verified before you finish the application process.
  • Social Security number: If you don’t have a Social Security number, you’ll likely have to provide an alternative tax identification number or a foreign passport. You might have to do this in person at the branch.
  • Citizenship information: If you’re not a U.S. citizen, be prepared to indicate your citizenship or if you hold dual citizenship.
  • Contact information: You’ll typically need to provide your phone number and email address. Be sure to use a secure address that you check often.
  • Employment information: Depending on the account you open, your bank might ask for verification of your annual income.
  • Driver’s license or state ID: Not every bank will ask for a copy of your driver’s license, but some do. Be prepared to have a government-issued photo ID available.
  • Co-applicant’s information: If you want to open a joint bank account, you’ll need the same information listed above for your co-applicant.
  • Signature: You might be asked to sign a signature card so the bank has a copy of your signature on file.

What kind of bank account do you need?

Once you decide to open a bank account online, the next challenge will be deciding what kind of bank account is right for your needs. Here are some options you may consider:

  • Checking account: A checking account is a useful place to keep money that you will be spending for your daily or monthly needs. You’ll want to find a checking account with low or nonexistent monthly fees that doesn’t charge you to withdraw or deposit funds. Compare checking accounts on our site to find the right one for you.
  • Savings account: A savings account is a good place to keep funds that you might want to access in the near future, such as emergency savings. Look for an account with the lowest fees and highest interest rate possible. Shop on our site to compare rates.
  • Money market account: A money market account is an account that pays interest based on what the current market rates are. These accounts typically earn a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account, especially if you are depositing a large balance. You should compare money market accounts on our site before choosing one.
  • Cash management account: A cash management account is essentially a blend between a savings account and a checking account. It offers both high interest rates and accessibility. In fact, cash management accounts are often called hybrid accounts or hybrid checking accounts.
  • Certificate of deposit: A certificate of deposit (CD) is a high-interest account where you agree to keep your funds deposited for a set period of time. You should compare CD rates before choosing one.

How do you fund a bank account online?

One major question you might have when it comes to how to open a bank account online is how to actually get money into your account once it is open. When you open a bank account online you usually have to transfer funds from an existing account in order to fund it. To do this, you’ll need the routing number and account number of your original bank account. Depending on the bank, there might be a minimum deposit required to open your account.

If your bank has branch locations, you might be able to visit a branch and make a deposit into the account, which could be helpful if you don’t have an original account to transfer money from. Some banks might also allow you to fund your account by depositing a check through photo or by completing a wire transfer.

Challenges of opening a bank account online

Opening a bank account from the comfort of your own home is typically easy, but there are instances where it may be better to visit a bank branch in person:

  • If you need in-person help: A personal touch can be helpful when it comes to managing your money. If you have a question about which bank account is right for you, it might be smart to visit a local branch and discuss your options.
  • If you’re not a U.S. citizen: It’s possible to open a U.S. bank account if you aren’t a citizen, but you might need to show extra documentation beyond the fields of the online form. In this case, it could be helpful to visit a branch.
  • If you’ve had an adverse credit event: If your bank runs a ChexSystems report that reveals a negative credit event in your past, you might not get approved to open a bank account online and should visit a location.
  • If you have thin credit history: If you don’t have any credit history, it could be hard for the bank to automatically verify your identity online. In this case, you might have to visit a brick-and-mortar location to complete the process.
  • If you’re a minor: While some banks do allow minors who are attending college to apply for a bank account online with proof of enrollment, typically people under the age of 18 will need to visit a bank with their parent or guardian to apply for a bank account in person.

Do banks check your credit when opening an account online?

Not all banks check your credit before you open a bank account online, but some do. A credit check can show your bank how well you manage your money by revealing any adverse credit events in your past.

If this is part of your bank’s process, the bank will typically access a report from ChexSystems, a reporting system that shows previous checking account history from banks or credit unions that report. This does not show information reported by credit card, personal loan or mortgage lenders. Instead, it will reveal any unpaid overdrafts or suspicious activity on your prior checking accounts.

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