How to open a savings account varies on the one you choose, but the process usually follows these steps.
1. Jot down your savings goals
Your savings goals can help you figure out what type of savings account to open. For instance, if your goal is to save a certain amount of money in a short time, you may want to get a savings account that automates your savings. If you want an incentive for saving more, then choose an account that rewards you with a higher interest rate or a cash bonus the more you save. And if you want a savings account that tracks your money, then look for one that includes a budgeting feature.
When considering your goals, also decide what type of account you want. For instance, are you opening the account for yourself, your child or with your partner?
2. Compare your savings account options
When looking for a savings account, you’ll first want to start at your current bank as it may be easier to keep all your accounts together. But if your bank doesn’t offer any high-yield savings options, you may want to look elsewhere and compare your savings account options.
Here are a few key features to compare.
- Interest rate
- Requirements to meet APY
- Minimum opening deposit
- Deposit and withdrawal options
3. Start the application process
Most banks have an online application option. But depending on the account, you may need to visit the branch. For instance, some kids’ accounts may require you to open the account in person.
If you’re opening a savings account online, check if there are any signup bonuses. If you find one, review the requirements and then sign up through the bonus offer.
4. Fill in the required information
Most savings account applications require you to include your personal information. These typically include your contact information, Social Security number, date of birth, and a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.
5. Review disclosures and account terms
During the signup process, the bank will provide all its account terms up front. Before accepting the disclosures, make sure you review all the fees and information provided. If you’re not sure about a particular fee or disclosure, contact the bank and ask them for clarification before proceeding with your application.
6. Fund the account
Some savings accounts require you to fund your account as soon as you open it. Others give you a certain number of days to fund it before they close your account or charge you a fee.
Depending on how you apply, you can deposit money into your new account by bank transfer or you can pay with a check or cash.
Banks can have varying eligibility and documentation requirements, but the general items on the following lists are a good baseline for opening most savings accounts.
You may need to meet the following eligibility requirements to apply.
- At least 18 years old
- US resident or citizen
You’ll need to have the following information ready before you apply.
- Name, birth date and contact information
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license or state identification card
- Personal information on co-applicant, if you’re opening a joint savings account
How old do I need to be to open a savings account?
You must be at least 18 years old to open a savings account. This is because opening a savings account is a form of contract with the bank. But if you’re opening a savings account for your child, you can open it as a joint savings account or a custodial account.
Yes, you can open most savings accounts online. If you find a savings account at an online-only bank, you have a better chance of earning a higher interest rate and other perks.
Opening a savings account won’t affect your credit score, because unlike a loan or credit card would, you’re not applying for credit.
The bank may pull a report from ChexSystems, which keeps tabs on your banking history. If you regularly overdraft your account, that information might show up on your ChexSystems report. A bank then can decide whether to accept you as a banking customer.
Other types of information that show up on your ChexSystems report include:
- Applying for multiple accounts at once
- Identity theft or fraud
- Account closures
- Unpaid fees
- Unpaid negative balances
You can open more than one savings account at the same financial institution or separate accounts spread around several financial institutions.
For example, Chase Total Checking allows you to open and name multiple savings accounts, so you can keep track of how much you’re saving in each. Other savings accounts like SmartyPig Savings offer goal tracking, allowing you to measure how far you are from your preset savings goal in a specific account.
The amount you need to open a savings account can vary between $0 to $100 or more. Some banks require this minimum deposit to open your savings account or to start earning interest.
Use this table to compare the minimum deposit required for savings accounts at six large banks.
|Bank of America Advantage Savings||$100|
|TD Bank Simple Savings||$0|
|US Bank Standard Savings||$25|
|Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings||$25|
If one of the following applies to you, it may be time to consider a savings account.
- You have a financial goal. A savings account can help you save for an emergency or for a major purchase, such as a car or the down payment on a house.
- You want to earn interest. Some checking accounts allow you to earn interest, but savings accounts almost always have better interest rates.
- You want to keep your money safe. Make sure you open an account that’s insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) so that your money is guaranteed by the federal government even if your bank goes bankrupt.
- You don’t want to spend all your money. Not only does a savings account keep your money in a separate account, but you can only make six transfers or withdrawals a month without paying a fee, which can help keep you from spending too much.
Opening a savings account can help you save for short- or long-term goals and help you build a nest egg for emergencies. But it’s important to compare accounts to make sure you’re getting the highest rates with the best account terms.
Can I open a joint savings account?
Yes. In addition to opening a joint account with your child, you can open a savings account with a spouse, family member or business partner.
Do I need a checking account to open a savings account?
No. But most online banks prefer that you use a bank transfer to fund your savings account. Typically, other options are available, but it may take a little longer for the funding to go through.
What if I need to make more than six withdrawals in a month?
Most savings accounts will penalize you with a fee or account closure for exceeding your maximum monthly transactions. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, some banks are waiving it. If you’re after an account that earns interest and has no withdrawal limits, consider a high-yield checking account instead.
How much does a savings account cost?
Many savings accounts are free. But it’s important to check your terms and conditions for monthly maintenance charges or minimum balance requirements that could end up penalizing you with a fee.