How to Open Your First Bank Account Online
Opening a bank account is a necessary first step in organizing your financial life and facilitating the payment of bills, enabling direct deposit for paychecks, and managing cash more efficiently.
About 95% of homes in America have at least one bank account, and most have far more than one. From checking accounts to savings accounts to money market accounts, there are options designed for teens, college students, families, and seniors as well as individuals and businesses.
With just a little bit of investigation, you will find the perfect online bank account for your needs.
Benefits of Opening Up a Bank Account Online
There are a lot of benefits to opening and maintaining an online bank account to manage your money rather than trying to manage everything with cash. Here are some of them:
Protect Your Cash
If you cash your paychecks and try to buy groceries and pay bills with cash only, you put your money at risk. Your cash could be lost or stolen, and once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.
When you have a bank account, however, if you lose your debit card, as long as you report it quickly and identify any purchases that you didn’t make, your money will be protected. Additionally, official banks and credit unions are insured for up to $250,000 by either the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
With an online bank account, you can log in any time and see how much you have, pending transactions, and where you’re spending your money. No more questions like, “Did I pay that bill yet?” or “Where did all my money go?” You will be able to see all your transactions online at any time.
Easy Access to Cash Without Carrying a Lot of Cash
When you have an online bank account, you get a debit card that you can use like a credit card to pay for things online or in stores, or to take out cash from an ATM. Instead of having to carry cash with you at all times and risk losing it, you will be able to carry your debit card, which is password-protected, so you still have access to cash when you need it.
Additionally, when you choose a Current account, your debit card allows you to withdraw from ATMs without incurring any fees.
Set a Strong Financial Foundation
When you open up a bank account, you open the door to access other financial products from loans to investment accounts and more. When your bank has a positive history of working with you and seeing how you manage your finances, it is easier for them to process your applications for loans and other financial accounts.
Choosing a Type of Online Bank Account
Online banks have lower costs than brick-and-mortar locations, and as a result, they pass the savings onto you. This means accounts that don’t have monthly fees, fee-free ATM withdrawals, and more freedom to withdraw and/or transfer your money between accounts.
At Current, the online financial options provide a number of additional perks as well, like faster access to your paycheck when you use direct deposits. Since Current is a financial technology company, not a bank, we make it even easier for our customers to do more online.
In most cases, you will want to open a checking account first. This will allow you to deposit money easily, often using direct deposit if available from your employer. You can withdraw as many times as you need to without limits on the number of withdrawals per month or the amounts.
You can also use your checking account to pay bills automatically — everything from a power bill to your credit cards.
It is often a good idea to open a savings account at the same time, especially if you might have a little bit of money left over at the end of the month. A savings account will give you a slightly higher interest rate than a checking account. That is, you will earn a little bit more on the money sitting in your account each month when it is in a savings account rather than a checking account.
For example, at Current, you will get one of the highest interest rates available in online savings options with a current rate of 4.00% APY. Not only can you access your money at any time without incurring fees in a Current savings vehicle, but it will also earn at a high rate.
Gather What You Need to Open an Online Bank Account
You will need to gather some documents to open up your bank account, whether you choose a checking account, a savings account, or both.
These documents include the following:
An ID That Was Issued by a Government Agency
You can use a military ID, a driver’s license, a state ID card, or a passport, but your identification should be issued by a government agency, be current and valid, and include a picture of you.
Another Official Form of ID
There is a little more room in terms of the type of ID you can choose for this one, but it should still be issued by an official business agency. It could be a Social Security card, a pay stub, or a tax return, but it does not need to have a picture on it.
You will need to fill out an application that will ask for different information, including your physical address, email address, birthdate, and more. You may also need to supply proof of your address. A bill mailed to your house that has your name as well as your address on it will work.
Information About Co-Applicants
If you are opening a joint account with someone else or giving someone else access to your account, they will also need to supply identifying information and picture ID.
Money to Put in the Account
Your initial deposit in your account needs to happen at the time you open the account. Some accounts will require a minimum amount, especially if it is an account that offers a high interest rate. Others may lower the minimum amount required to open the account if you sign up for direct deposit at the same time, either from your work or as an automatic deposit coming from another account, perhaps an account belonging to a co-applicant.
How to Sign Up for Your First Bank Account
Once you have all your documents in hand, it will take only minutes to sign up for an online account.
All you need to do is follow the prompts, fill in the information, and upload pictures or scans of the documents requested. You will then have your new online bank account all set up and ready to go in no time.
If you have any questions along the way, just ask customer support. At Current, you can submit your questions here at any time.
Put Your New Online Bank Account to Work for You
Once you have your bank account set up and ready to go, it’s time to make it work for you. Here’s how:
Set Up Direct Deposit for Your Paychecks
If your employer offers direct deposit as an option, set it up so your paychecks go directly into your account. When you do this with Current, you can even get access to that money days before it hits your account.
Request a Debit Card and Checks
If you did not do so during the process of setting up your account, make sure you have a debit card and checks on the way to your home. Choose a pin code to protect your debit card and bank account that you will easily remember but won’t be guessed by others. Avoid using dates that are well-known, like an anniversary or birthday.
Set Up Autopay for Your Credit Cards & Other Bills
If there is the option to do so, go into your bill accounts and set up automatic payments to come out during the month right after your paychecks are deposited. For credit cards, you can often set up an autopay that will match the minimum payment required or set it up for a flat amount. Setting up automatic payments should ensure you never miss a payment.
Set Up an Automatic Deposit Into Your Savings Account
If you have a savings account or an IRA, set it up so a flat amount is transferred from your checking to that account every month. Putting your savings on autopay, just like your bills, ensures that you are saving toward your bigger goals in an easy-to-manage way.
Ready to set up your first online account? Set it up on Current today.
How America Banks: Household Use of Banking and Financial Services. (December 2021). Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Deposits Are Safe in Federally Insured Credit Unions. (March 2020). National Credit Union Administration.
What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account? (February 2022). NerdWallet.
How to Set Up Direct Deposit. (February 2021). NerdWallet.
Current is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC.
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