One of the first steps toward financial independence is opening a bank account. A checking account provides a safe place to store and manage your money. But it’s also the go-to way to access your everyday finances, so knowing how to open a checking account and what to look for is essential.
When opening a checking account online, you may need to provide the financial institution or credit union with specific documents or meet specific eligibility requirements.
Read on to learn more about how to open a checking account online.
What is a checking account?
A checking account, also known as a transactional account, is a type of bank account that allows you to deposit and withdraw money quickly.
Unlike savings accounts, checking accounts are intended to hold your money for the short term. Money stored in a checking account is typically used for everyday spending and expenses, like paying bills.
How to open a checking account online
Ready to open a checking account online? The steps below will walk you through the process, from researching financial institutions to opening an account.
1. Choose your financial institution
First, choose a bank through which you want to open your account. Consider the features, perks, fees, eligibility requirements, ATM locations, and products offered before opening an account. Research your options to find the best choice for you.
When researching financial institutions, look for one that is accredited by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) for banks or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for credit unions. Both insure deposits up to $250,000 per account, giving you peace of mind that your money is safe.
2. Pick the type of checking account you want
There are several types of checking accounts, including a traditional checking account, a premium checking account, a high-interest checking account, a student checking account, and a business checking account. Before opening an account, determine the type that best meets your needs.
- Traditional checking accounts typically issue account holders a debit card and checks, providing online bill pay services and overdraft protection. Many come with no fees, though conditions such as maintaining a minimum balance may exist.
- Premium checking accounts provide the same perks as traditional accounts, plus some extras like waived ATM fees, a free safe deposit box, and free checks and money orders. Account holders may be required to maintain a higher minimum balance or pay a fee.
- High-interest checking accounts work similarly to traditional ones but have a higher annual percentage yield (APY). Often, the APY will go up if you maintain a minimum balance or combine your checking account with investment accounts under the same financial institution.
- Student checking accounts are designed for students between 18 and 23. They often provide benefits like overdraft forgiveness and ATM fee reimbursement.
- Senior checking accounts are meant for adults over 55 or 60. They can offer perks for those living on a fixed income, such as ATM fee reimbursement and waived monthly maintenance fees.
- Business checking accounts are intended for business owners. They issue business checks and may allow you to receive debit and credit card payments.
3. Gather your documents
To open an online checking account, you’ll need documents that verify your identity and address. Consult a list of documents you need to open an account so you are prepared.
At the very least, you’ll need a government ID such as a driver’s license. The exact documents required may vary between financial institutions, so contact the online bank and ask if you’re unsure.
4. Complete an application
Go to the institution’s website and look for the online application page. For example, to open a free bank account with Chime, click “Get Started” on the homepage and follow the instructions.
After you submit your application, the financial institution will review it. They may check your banking history as part of the review process.
If approved, you’ll receive documents and account materials in the mail, such as a debit card and personalized checks.
5. Fund your account and set up direct deposit
Once your application is approved, you may need to provide funding. The minimum amount for the initial deposit varies between financial institutions but could be as little as $25 or as much as $100 or more.1 Some banks and credit unions allow you to open a bank account with no money.
You can set up direct deposit if you want your paycheck sent directly to your account. Not only is direct deposit an easy way to get paid, but it may also help you avoid monthly fees – some financial institutions waive fees for setting up direct deposit.
To set up direct deposit, give your employer your new account information and fill out a direct deposit form to get it started. Learn more about how to set up direct deposit.
Open an online checking account today
Once you know how to open a checking account online by following a few simple steps, you can start using your account.
Once your account is set up, find out how much money you should keep in your checking account to maintain financial stability.
How much money do I need to open an online bank account?
Many banks have minimum deposit requirements to open a new account. This minimum deposit will vary from one bank to the next and depends on the type of account you open.
However, you can open a bank account with no money. There’s no minimum deposit requirement when you open a Chime checking account, for instance, so you can put as little (or as much) in your account as you’d like.
How much does it cost to open an online bank account?
It doesn’t typically cost anything to open a checking or savings account. Still, a bank or financial institution might require a minimum deposit at or around the time of opening the account. Minimum deposits usually range from $25 to $100, depending on the account.1
Some financial institutions may charge bank fees, like a monthly maintenance fee, once you’ve opened an account. You may be able to avoid monthly fees if you meet specific requirements.
How long does it take to open a checking account online?
Opening a checking account online is a quick and easy process. In person, you might end up at a brick-and-mortar branch for an hour or so, going through the documents and application process. If you open a checking account entirely online, the process is quicker.
What are the benefits of opening an online checking account?
There are several benefits to opening a checking account, such as simplifying your everyday finances by automating deposits and payments. You can receive your money from a paycheck much faster by arranging direct deposits of your money into a checking account. And making transfers to other people with bank accounts is much easier when you have a checking account.
Can I open a free bank account online?
Many financial institutions allow you to open a free checking account online. You may need to make a small deposit to open the account, but that money belongs to you and is not a fee.
What is the easiest bank to open a checking account?
Many online banks have user-friendly online applications for checking accounts — including Chime.
To open a Chime checking account, you must provide your name, address, and Social Security number and set up a password. Once approved, you can use your account immediately.
Which banks allow you to open a bank account online?
Most banks today allow you to open an account online — whether they’re online-only banks or they have brick-and-mortar locations.