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Banking Basics

What do you need to open a bank account?

Skip the guesswork and figure out everything you need to open a bank account.

Melanie Lockert • May 19, 2021

In This Article

  1. First Things First: Pick Your Account
  2. Gather Everything You Need to Open Your Account
  3. Can You Open a Bank Account Online?
  4. Bottom line
  5. What You Need When Opening a Bank Account FAQs

Finally ready to open your own bank account? Or making the leap to open an account elsewhere? Figure out everything you need to make the process as seamless as possible.

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First Things First: Pick Your Account

The first step to opening a bank account is figuring out what kind of bank account you want. Checking account? Savings account? Both?

Checking accounts are usually pretty active. You also typically get a debit card to use when spending or making transactions at the ATM. Pay your bills, go shopping, get gas, it all comes out of your checking account. Savings accounts are usually less active and more about building up money over time. This is great for creating an emergency fund or rainy day stash. 

Some people benefit from both a spending and savings account. Spend, save, transfer funds – having both accounts lets you do that.

All of these things can make it easier to find the right bank for you, especially understanding the fees. You want to make sure you’re not getting nickeled and dimed for everything. Make sure to read the fine print and understand any fees, as well as the terms and conditions. This way you’ll avoid any surprises later on.

Gather Everything You Need to Open Your Account

Now that you’ve nailed down which account you’re applying for, it’s time to get everything together. While many banks have different requirements, they often need the same information. 

Here’s what you’ll need to open a bank account:

1. Government-Issued ID

Whether opening the account in person or online, you’ll likely need a government-issued IDUsually, people grab their driver’s license or passport. Some banks require at least 2 forms of ID, so check the requirements before you head in or log on.

 2. Social Security Card

Have your Social Security card handy when opening a bank account. You’ll have to provide your Social Security number to get it set up.

3. Proof of Address

This is one people often forget. To open your bank account, you’ll need to prove your address with something like a utility bill, lease, or billing statement. These are official pieces of mail that have your full name and your address on them.

4. Contact Information

In addition to your name and address, financial institutions may also ask for your phone number and email. This is to make sure they can contact you and you can access features like online banking.

5. Opening Deposit

Some banks require an opening deposit. This means you have to have a certain amount of money ready to deposit into the account right when you open it. If you’re worried about how much money you need to open a bank account, consider checking out Chime with no hidden fees² or minimum balances.

6. Other Documentation

Depending on the type of account, you might need to bring some other paperwork. For example, if you’re getting certain benefits as a student, make sure you have proof that you’re currently enrolled in school. 

Can You Open a Bank Account Online?

Short answer: Yes, you can open a bank account online. Long answer: It depends on where you’re opening the account, because some banks will make you go into a physical location to set things up. 

If opening an account online is important to you, there are options that allow you to open an account instantly. Head to their website, download their app, and start to apply. This speaks to people looking to complete the process right from the comfort of their own home. 

Once it’s complete, make sure you set up everything just the way you want it. Get your mobile banking up and running, set up things like transaction alerts, and enjoy the perks of direct deposit. If you choose Chime, these are just some of the features at your fingertips that to help you manage your money.

Bottom line

Whether opening an account in person, or getting it done online, you can be prepared. With an idea of what you’ll need, you can open your account quickly and without the extra stress.

What You Need When Opening a Bank Account FAQs

Check out some frequently asked questions about opening a bank account below.

What documents do I need to open a bank account?

In addition to an ID and Social Security number, you’ll want to bring proof of address. This could be a lease agreement, utility bill, or something similar. You might want to check with the financial institution to make sure you provide the right type of proof. 

How much money do you need to open a bank account?

Some places don’t require you to have any money when opening a bank account. Others can have a minimum opening deposit. This can range from $25 all the way up to hundreds of dollars. It’s best to check before you open the account to avoid any surprises. 

How old do you have to be to open a bank account?

Most banks and online banking platforms require you to be 18 years old to open an account. However, there are some institutions that offer banking geared toward young students and teens. They often have their own special requirements, such as having a parent on the account, too. 

How long does it take to open a bank account?

If you’re wondering how long it takes to open a bank account, it depends. In person, you might end up there for an hour while they go through your paperwork, enter everything into the computer, print out documents for you, etc. If you open it online, the process is usually a bit quicker. 

Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. The Chime Visa® Credit Builder Card and the Chime Visa® Cash Rewards Card are issued by Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. Please see back of your Card for its issuing bank.

While Chime doesn’t issue personal checkbooks to write checks, Chime Checkbook gives you the freedom to send checks to anyone, anytime, from anywhere. See your issuing bank’s Deposit Account Agreement for full Chime Checkbook details.

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Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank, N.A. and Stride Bank, N.A. (“Banks”). Banks are not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

1 Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each month and Visa debit card activation. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member's Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime's discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won't cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See terms and conditions.

2 Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven location or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM. Other fees such as third-party and cash deposit fees may apply.

3 Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.

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