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How do I open a checking account?

How do I open a checking account? Blog Image
Opening Youth Account Affinity FCU Blog
By: AffinityFCU

A checking account is the first banking account many of us will open. It’s a rite of passage as we start to manage our own finances. If you’ve never opened a checking account, here are the most common steps to open one.

Step 1: Gather Your Application Materials

To apply for a checking account, you’ll need:

  • Identification: Most financial institutions require two forms of ID. Examples include a Social Security card, driver’s license, birth certificate, passport or state ID. To open a checking account online, you must enter your Social Security number, date of birth, driver’s license information, and possibly other ID information. If you apply for a joint account, both account holders must provide the required forms of ID. Non-U.S. citizens may be able to open an account using their ID issued from their home country.
  • Proof of address: To open an account in person, bring a document that shows your name and current address. Examples include your most recent credit card statement, utility bill, cell phone bill or cable bill. Verify which documents your financial institution will accept before you visit.
  • Initial deposit: Most basic checking accounts require a small initial deposit of up to $100. This may need to be a cash deposit, so remember to bring enough cash. If you want to open a bank account online, you may be able to pay with a credit card or debit card or by transferring funds from another institution’s savings or checking account.

Step 2: Complete an Application

You can complete an application at a branch location or on the financial institution’s website. After you submit the application, the institution will review it and will check your past banking history to determine whether to approve your account. If approved, you should receive new account documents that show your new account number, routing number and other account information.

Step 3: Sign a Signature Card

This card captures your signature, and your financial institution will match your card’s signature with the signature on every check you deposit. If you choose an online-only institution, you’ll either sign your card electronically, or you may be required to mail or fax your signature card.

Step 4: Make Your Opening Deposit

Make sure to verify the minimum deposit needed to open your account and remember to bring at least that much cash with you. Also ask the institution how many days it will take for your funds to be available for withdrawals and purchases.

At this point, the financial institution should open your checking account. But wait, here are a few more things you should do:

  • Set up online access: Most financial institutions provide online banking and/or a mobile app. Make sure to take advantage of these services to simplify your account management.
  • Check your mail: A few days after you open the account, you should receive checks, deposit slips and an ATM/debit card. Make sure to activate the card before first use.
  • Set up direct deposit: Direct deposit of your paycheck to your checking account may be required to avoid monthly fees or to enjoy other account perks. Contact your employer’s payroll department for help setting up direct deposit.