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What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account?

How to Open A Bank Account
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Updated April 11, 2024

Having a bank account can make your financial life easier. When you need to open one, you've got options, including checking, savings, money market, and certificate of deposit (CD) accounts. You also have a choice of financial institutions, including a traditional brick-and-mortar bank or credit union or an online financial institution.. To set up any account you'll need to provide personal information to verify your identity. A minimum deposit amount to fund your new account is also often required.

Most banks will tell you on their website exactly what they need from you. Getting organized beforehand can make the account opening process easier.

4 Requirements to open a bank account

1. Identification

Banks have to be able to verify that you are who you say you are when opening a new account. This usually means providing some type of photo identification.

Examples of acceptable photo ID to open a bank account include:

  • Driver's license or state ID card.
  • Valid passport.
  • Military or veteran's ID.

Banks can also accept other forms of ID, including a Social Security card, birth certificate, employer ID, student ID, or pay stubs.

If you're not a U.S. citizen, you may be able to offer a U.S. employment authorization card or permanent resident card in place of a driver's license, state ID, or passport. All applicants should check with the bank to find out exactly which types of identification are accepted.

2. Social Security number

Banks may ask for your Social Security number to open a new account. If you haven't memorized it, you can find it printed on your physical Social Security card.

You can order a copy of this card online from the Social Security Administration if you have lost yours. You'll need to be able to verify your identity using a driver's license or state ID to request a new card.

It's possible to get a bank account without a Social Security number if you have an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). You can apply for one online through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

If you don't have a Social Security number or an ITIN, you'll need to check to see if the bank allows you to submit other forms of ID. For example, you might be able to use your passport or, if you’re a foreign citizen, a photo ID that was issued by your government..

3. Proof of address

Most banks require proof of residence to open a bank account. This takes the form of a document showing an address that matches up with what's listed on your ID.

The kinds of documents you can offer as proof of residence usually include:

  • Utility bills in your name.
  • Mortgage statements in your name.
  • Bank or credit card statements in your name.

If you rent, you might be able to show a copy of your rent or lease agreement as proof of residence.

4. Minimum deposit

Once you've verified your ID and address with the bank, the last step is making a minimum deposit. Requirements can vary by bank and the type of account. For example, you might need $1,000 to open a CD at a brick-and-mortar bank, but an online bank might allow you to open a high yield savings account with as little as $1. Sometimes there is no minimum opening deposit required.

If you're opening a new bank account that has no minimum deposit requirement, check the fine print. You might need to fund your account within a certain number of days to avoid having it closed.

How you make your minimum deposit can depend on how you're opening the account. For example, if you're opening a bank account in person, you may be able to deposit cash or a check.

If you're opening a bank account online, you could link an external account to deposit funds via ACH transfer. To do this your new bank will need the following information:

  • Routing number for the bank that holds the account.
  • Account number for the account from which you plan to transfer funds.

Some online banks may give you the option to mail in a check to make your first deposit or add money through remote check deposit. Either one may be preferable if you're opening a new account and have no other accounts you can link.

Where should I open a bank account?

Deciding where to open a bank account usually hinges on the features and benefits you want, as well as the kind of account access you prefer. You have two main choices: traditional brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions or online banks.

With the former you get the benefit of being able to bank in person. If you need to deposit cash, get a certified check, or ask a question, you can head to a local branch.

However, traditional banks and credit unions may charge more fees than online financial institutions, which also tend to offer higher interest rates on deposit accounts than the brick-and-mortar variety. This is a plus if you're looking for a high-yield savings, money market, or CD account. Online banks can also offer better checking account options, including interest checking and rewards checking.

Making a list of must-have and nice-to-have features and benefits can help you narrow down your choices.

TIME Stamp: When you're ready to open a bank account, it helps to be prepared

A bank account can make it easier to manage your money by serving as a vehicle for paying bills and getting cash when you need it, whether from a teller or at an ATM. An interest-bearing high-yield savings account, money market account, or CD can even help you get a step closer to your financial goals. Knowing what you'll need to open one can prevent you from hitting any snags when you're ready to get a new account up and running.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

How long does it take to open a bank account?

If you are opening a bank account online and have already gathered all of the documentation you'll need, then the account-opening process may take 10 minutes or less. Opening a bank account in person can take a little longer, especially if you need to wait for a banker to help you or don't have all of the documents required.

Can I open a bank account without ID papers?

Whether you can get a bank account without ID papers will depend on your situation and the bank's requirements. It's difficult to open a bank account without some form of ID, whether that be a driver's license, state ID, permanent resident card, or birth certificate. You may need to apply for an ITIN or look for a bank that has less stringent paperwork requirements for opening a new account.

What do you need to open a bank account if you’re under 18?

If you're under 18 and want to open a bank account, you’ll need the consent of an adult, usually a parent or legal guardian, and they will be the account owner. Once you turn 18 you can get a bank account in your own name by yourself..

How can I open a bank account without a Social Security number?

It's possible to open a bank account without a Social Security number if you have other forms of ID that a bank or credit union will accept. These can include an ITIN, a birth certificate, a valid passport, or a permanent resident card. Contact the bank and ask for confirmation of which forms of ID are accepted.

How much money do you have to have to start a bank account?

The minimum opening deposit for a new bank account depends on the bank. Traditional banks and credit unions may require $5, $25, $50, or even more to open a new checking or savings account. The amounts are generally higher for money market and CD accounts. Online banks may set the bar lower, asking as little as $1 to open a checking or savings account.

Some banks even have no minimum deposit on their accounts. However, many of these will peremptorily close an empty account after a certain time period.

Can you open a bank account without proof of income?

Proof of income usually isn't a requirement to open a bank account. The only time you might need to give your bank proof of income is if you're applying for a loan or line of credit. However, you may need to provide pay stubs or tax forms to establish and verify your identity if you don't have other forms of ID you can offer.

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