Checking accounts give you the most flexible access to your funds of any deposit account. That means you can use a checking account to pay bills, make transfers, conduct debit card transactions, and more. But did you know you can open a checking account online in just a few minutes? Here’s how in three simple steps.
1. Shop and compare.
It’s fairly easy nowadays to hop online and compare different checking accounts at various banks. Sites like Bankrate.com can help you get a good idea of the checking account rates and features each bank has to offer. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, it’s time to dig a little deeper to make sure you choose a reputable bank and understand the terms of each account you consider.
Make sure all the banks you have on your list are FDIC members. That way you know your deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to the maximum amount allowed by law. Take note of things like overdraft protection, maintenance fees, and minimum balance requirements. And be sure to consider things like customer service ratings, how long the bank has been in business, and website usability.
Finally, don’t assume you can’t earn interest on your checking account balance. While it’s true that checking accounts aren’t known for their interest rates, it’s possible to find an interest checking account that pays — and every little adds up. Check the frequency of compounding interest, and compare APYs (annual percentage yield) to find the most competitive rates.
2. Gather your personal information.
Once you’ve decided on a checking account that checks all your boxes, gather your personal information, so it’s at your fingertips when you head online to fill out the application. Most checking accounts require:
- Full name
- Social Security number
- Date of birth (you must be 18 years of age)
- Residential street address
- Transfer information for your initial deposit
Additional information may vary by bank or credit union, especially if they have specific membership requirements.
3. Open the account and make an initial deposit.
Now you can visit the bank’s website and open your new account. If you’ve chosen an online bank, you can open your account any time, anywhere you have secure internet access. You should also expect a user-friendly process along with available real-time assistance via chat or phone.
Most banks allow you to make that first deposit in a variety of ways. For example, you usually can transfer funds from other accounts, wire money, use remote deposit capture, or mail a check. Once you receive your checks and debit card in the mail, you can make the most of your new online checking account.
One way to put your new checking account to work is to link it to your savings account. That way, you can set up recurring transfers from your checking to your savings to help make saving easier. Remember, unlike savings or money market accounts, there are no limits on withdrawals or transfers from checking accounts. And if your savings and checking accounts are at the same institution, you likely can make same-day balance transfers between those accounts (within federal transaction limits).