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What I Need to Open a Bank Account

February 8th, 2010

You need different materials ready depending on how you open a bank account. All methods of opening an account require proof of age, address, and legal status. Opening a bank account can take up to half an hour so make sure you have enough time to open your account. If you’re opening a joint account you’ll need to have the other account holder there when opening your account.

You should first determine what type of bank account you want to open and which bank you’d like to open your account with. Most people open a checking account first so they have check writing capabilities. Some banks offer interest bearing checking accounts but usually require a minimum account balance for such accounts (usually around $1,000). If you want to earn a higher interest rate on your account and don’t need to write checks you should open a savings account.

If you travel around the country a lot you should consider banking with one of the major US banks. They offer more ATM and branch locations around the country which adds to your convenience. If you don’t travel around a lot then you have more options with local banks and credit unions.

Opening an account in person usually requires a driver’s license or passport, a utility bill to prove your address, a social security card or passport to prove your US citizenship, and of course your initial bank deposit. Make sure you know about any fees that come with your account before opening one and if the bank has online banking capabilities. Once you open a checking account you’ll be given a set of starter checks and your account information.

These days you can also open bank accounts over the phone or on the internet. You can either give your personal information over the phone or you may have to send copies of your crucial documents. When you setup an account this way your documents and checks are mailed to you.

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