How To: Open Your Own Bank Account

If you’ve been putting off opening a bank account because the process seems too intimidating, worry not. Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to go about opening a bank account. Given that most credit unions and banks follow a similar process, you are not likely to face any unexpected hassles when opening your account as long as you follow these steps.

  1. Choose the type of financial institution: You can choose to open an account with a bank, a credit union, or an online bank/credit union. You may find that credit unions and online financial institutions offer you better interest rates. 
  2. Compare rates and fees: Before you zero in on a particular lender, it is a good idea to “shop around” and compare rates and fees charged by different banks. You’ll really need to read the fine print to know all the details.
  3. Keep your documents handy: Regardless of whether you will be visiting a bank branch to open an account or doing it online, you will need to keep certain documents handy. A few documents that you can expect your lender to ask for are:
    • Government-issued proof of identity
    • Mailing address
    • Social security number 
  1. Visit the branch or the website of the bank: Most banks and credit unions today offer prospective customers the option of opening an account through their websites. This is great because you don’t have to be physically present in the same location to open your account with a lender. Of course, you can also choose to directly visit the branch during their business hours to open an account. 
  2. Opt for a suitable product: Most lenders will have several types of accounts for you to choose from. Some unique account types include a basic checking account, savings account, interest-bearing checking account, money market account, and certificates of deposit (CDs). Read through the features of these accounts and pick one that is right for you. 
  3. Key in your information: The lender will require you to provide certain basic details about yourself to help them verify your identity. You’ll likely have to key in your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. You’ll also need to submit the documents required to open your account to the lender at this step.
  4. Agree to terms and sign: Before you sign any documents, ensure that you go through the lender’s terms and conditions. You may find certain important details in the fine print. If everything seems fine, go ahead and sign your document. If you are doing this online, you may be required to print the form, sign it, and mail it to your lender.
  5. Deposit money into your account: As the last step, some lenders may require you to fund your account before you start using it. You can either do a direct cash deposit, deposit a check, or transfer funds online. 

You’ve now opened a bank account! If you’ve opted for a checking account or savings account, you’ll also be receiving a debit card in the mail. 

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