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How to open a bank account online

Skip the bank branch visit and sign up for a US bank account from your home.

Opening a US bank account online usually takes about five to 10 minutes, depending on whether you’re a new or existing customer. While it might take longer for specific account types that require additional documentation, such as a business bank account, the speed and convenience of skipping an in-person visit to your bank branch is priceless. Here’s a rundown of what to expect when you open a bank account online.

8 steps to open a bank account online

Follow these steps to open a bank account online.

Step 1: Compare accounts to find the right one

Shop around to find what bank account best fits your needs, including a checking or savings account, cash management account or a money market account. When weighing bank account types, you’ll want to consider what the purpose of the account is, such as to earn interest or for everyday spending.

Factor in the card type, minimum balance requirements, whether you can bank online or via an app, and any fees, including ATM withdrawal fees, monthly fees and potential account fee waivers. And then round out your research by considering its benefits and features, including overdraft protection and rewards.

Step 2: Decide if you want a single or joint bank account

If you open a single account, you’re the sole owner and no one else can access your money. But with a joint bank account, you share ownership with someone else, usually a family member, significant other or business partner. They have equal access to the account and can use the money however they wish.

Step 3: Review the deposit agreement

Be sure to read through the account’s terms and conditions, which generally cover its fees and how much of your money is insured by the FDIC. For regular bank accounts like checking and savings, the FDIC protects you up to $250,000. But for other accounts, such as cash management accounts, your banking institution can insure more — even up to $1 million.

Step 4: Apply for your account online

If you’re at least 18 years old, you can apply for most accounts online. Click Go to site and a new window will open, sending you to the account provider’s website, a secure online application and a checklist of things you should have with you before you apply. If you’re an existing customer of the bank, make sure you have your relevant customer ID or account number.

On the application, you’ll need to provide basic information about yourself such as your name, date of birth, address and social security number. Be careful not to leave your computer unattended for too long because the webpage can time out and you’ll need to restart the process.

After you complete an online application for a bank account, you’ll get an email from the account provider with information about what happens next. This email should come within a minute or two after you submit the application to the bank. It may also come with instructions on verifying your identity.

Step 5: Verify your identity

You’ll need to provide a government-issued ID before you’re approved for an account. Most banks will let you take a picture of your ID with your phone, though some banks require that you verify your identity in person. If you’re already a customer of the bank, you may be able to skip this step.

Step 6: Make a deposit

Most accounts will require you to make an opening deposit using a debit card or an account and routing number for an existing bank account. If this is your first bank account and you plan to make an opening deposit in cash, you’ll likely need to sign up for an account at a bank branch.

Step 7: Activate your debit card

If your account includes an ATM or debit card, you’ll need to sign the back and activate it online or over the phone so you can make withdrawals. The debit card and PIN may be sent to you separately for security reasons.

Step 8: Start using it!

Your account is ready to go. You’ll be able to make deposits and withdrawals, as well as use any other features associated with your account. To finish setting everything up:

  • Set up online banking. This lets you manage your money, view electronic statements and make payments to other accounts from your phone, computer or tablet. Go to the provider’s website or download its app and follow the on-screen instructions to set up this feature.
  • Switch your direct debits and automatic payments. If you signed up for a checking account, decide if you want to transfer all of your automatic payments to your new account. If so, you’ll need to sign into your existing accounts with your creditors and change your bank account information.
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Eligibility requirements

To open an account online, you’ll generally need to meet these requirements:

  • US resident with a US residential address
  • At least 18 years old — some banks will let minors open an account with a guardian
  • Provide a government-issued ID
  • Provide a Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN)

Read up on what are the requirements to open a bank account

3 things you need to open a bank account online

Have the following items ready to complete the application online:

1. Identification

Requiring ID helps banks protect you from fraud. If someone gets ahold of your Social Security number, they could apply for an account in your name to hide illegal money — or even open a line of credit. Banks verify your ID to make sure it’s really you opening the account, and not someone trying to steal your identity.

You may need to submit a photo of your government-issued ID card or input the details manually.

2. Personal information

The application requires personal details, including your full name, residential address, date of birth and Social Security number. Most accounts allow you to apply for a joint account with one or more people but each person will need to provide their personal info.

If you’re a current customer, you might already have all this information already saved in your account, which the application may pre-populate for your convenience. All you’ll need to do is verify your information is still accurate.

3. Deposit

Some institutions will let you open a bank account online with no deposit, but most times you’ll have to put a little money down. Minimum required deposits often increase with a higher interest rate or better features offered. If the account requires an opening deposit, you’ll need to input your banking info, such as account and routing number, from an external account to initiate a transfer.

Benefits of opening an account online

There’s no need to visit a branch to open a bank account anymore. You can open a bank account, deposit money and set up automatic payments all from the comfort of your home. Once you’ve applied, just wait for the card to be sent to you in the mail, activate the account and you’re good to go.

    • You can skip the bank queues.
    • The application forms are easy to use.
    • It usually takes less than 10 minutes.

What to watch out for when opening up a bank account online

You may have to visit a local branch to open a bank account if you run into any of these challenges.

  • No credit. Most banks verify your identity by doing a soft pull on your credit. If you haven’t built any credit yet, you may need to visit a local branch to verify your identity and complete your application process.
  • Chexsystems report. If you have a negative banking history because you’ve previously bounced checks or had insufficient funds, your application may be denied when you open an account online. But visiting a local branch could increase your chances of getting an approval.
  • A minor. Anyone under age 18 can’t open a bank account without a parent or legal guardian co-signing on the account. Most banks require you to visit a local branch to set up this type of account.
  • Non-US citizen. Nonresidents can still open accounts at some banks in the US, but there are extra hurdles to jump through. You may be required to bring your passport as well as your green card, work visa or student ID to a local branch to verify your identity and complete the application process.

Compare online bank accounts

Compare other products by fee, APY and minimum opening deposit. Click the tabs at the top of the table to compare other account types, depending on your needs.

Name Product Annual percentage yield (APY) Fee Minimum deposit to open
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Aspiration Spend & Save Account

1.00% on $0 to $10,000 but you’ll need to be enrolled in Aspiration Plus and make at least $1,000 in debit card purchases a month
$0 per month or $15 per month for Aspiration Plus ($12.50 per month if you pay annually)
$10
Deposits are fossil fuel-free and insured by the FDIC. Enjoy a spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and a $100 bonus when you spend $1,000 in your first 60 days.
Axos Bank High Yield Savings
Finder Rating: 4 / 5: ★★★★★
Axos Bank High Yield Savings

0.61% on $0 to $24,999
0.25% on $25,000 to $99,999
0.15% on $100,000+
$0
$250
No monthly maintenance fees. No minimum balance requirements. Interest compounded daily.
Chime Savings
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Chime Savings
0.50%
$0
$0
Grow your savings automatically with recurring transfers, round-ups on debit card purchases and 0.5% APY.
Discover Online Savings Account
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Discover Online Savings Account
0.40%
$0
$0
Take advantage of a high-interest online savings account with no fees, no minimums and more.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product APY Minimum deposit to open ATMs Out-of-network ATM fee
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Up to 1.00%
$10
55,000 free in-network ATMs
$0
Deposits are fossil fuel-free and insured by the FDIC. Enjoy a spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and a $100 bonus when you spend $1,000 in your first 60 days.
Chime Spending account
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
Chime Spending account
N/A
$0
60,000+ fee-free ATMs
$2.50
Get rid of fees with this financial app offering consumer-friendly accounts. Chime can also help you save easily and access your paycheck faster.
Current
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Current
N/A
$0
over 55,000 free in-network ATMs
$0
Current connects your money to friends, family, brands, and experiences that matter.
Chase Total Checking®
Finder Rating: 3 / 5: ★★★★★
Chase Total Checking®
N/A
$0
Access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches nationwide
$2.50
Chase Total Checking is easy to use and gives you access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches. It offers a $225 signup bonus to new Chase customers
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product 1-year APY 18-month APY 2-year APY 3-year APY 5-year APY
Quontic Bank CD
0.6%
0.75%
1%
1.11%
Lock in a high rate. Minimum of $500 required to open. Open your account in 3 minutes or less
Radius Bank CDs
0.5%
0.5%
0.5%
0.5%
0.5%
Enjoy a low minimum deposit of $500 and earn 0.5% APY on your balance. Apply online for 1 year, 18 month and 3 year terms.
CIT Bank Term CDs
0.3%
0.3%
0.4%
0.4%
0.5%
Choose from a range of terms with no maintenance fees and $1,000 minimum to open.
Discover CDs
0.5%
0.5%
0.5%
0.55%
0.6%
Start saving with $2,500 and enjoy flexible terms from 3 months to 10 years with no account fees.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

The days of spending an hour at the bank to open an account are gone, and you can open a new checking or savings account from your computer or phone in minutes. But don’t let the speed and convenience rush you into making a decision. Before getting started, compare savings accounts or checking accounts to find the one that’s right for you.

Image source: Getty Images

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