Popular Posts

How to Open a Checking Account Online

Written by C. Saint-Denys | Edited by Ali Cybulski | Published on 4/25/2024


Opening a checking account online can be easy if you know what to expect before you begin the process. You can open an account from the comfort of your home, maybe even saving yourself a trip to your local bank branch. It’s typically quick and convenient. 

If you’re hesitant to start an account online, take time to understand the steps for a seamless experience.

On this page:

1. Choose an online checking account  

First, select a checking account that meets your specific needs, preferences and goals. Ask yourself some questions to evaluate your priorities. Is the right account for you one that…

  • Charges no fees?
  • Sets no or low minimum balance requirements?
  • Allows you to manage your money entirely through your phone or computer?
  • Offers rewards checking that earns a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) or cash back?
  • Requires a large minimum balance but pays a high interest rate?

You’ve determined your priorities and compared costs, but you’re not finished yet. You’ll need to look a bit closer at account features to make sure you’re getting what you need. Before you open a checking account online, consider ATM access, overdraft protection, online bill pay and direct deposit — including early direct deposit.

Make sure the bank has a mobile app if that’s important to you or face-to-face customer service at a branch location if that’s your preference. 

Whatever type of account you choose, it should be insured by either the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The FDIC provides deposit insurance to protect your money if your bank were to fail; the NCUA does the same for credit unions. You can check coverage with the FDIC’s BankFind Suite or the NCUA’s Credit Union Locator.

2. Gather your information to open the account 

You’ll need documents to verify your identity and open the account. Check with your financial institution to know exactly what you’ll need because document requirements can vary.

Acceptable documents to verify your identity may include a valid government-issued photo ID or driver’s license; Social Security card or individual taxpayer ID number; passport; birth certificate; or proof of address, such as a current utility bill or bank statement. 

You may also need to provide your type of employment but not your income.

3. Complete an application 

Visit the bank’s website, find the link to open a checking account, click it, and begin the application. Simply follow the instructions for the application and then submit it when you are finished.

If you’re approved for an account, you will be mailed account materials, such as a debit card and checks.

4. Fund your account 

Some banks may require a minimum deposit once you’re approved for an account. The amount of an initial deposit varies but can range from $25 to $100 or more. You may be able to open an account with no deposit.

If you want to transition direct deposit for your paychecks to your new account, you will typically need to complete your employer’s direct deposit authorization form to make the switch. Keep your old account open until the direct deposits show up in the new one. 

5. Set up and start using your account

You’ve transferred funds to your new checking account from another bank account, and you’re waiting for your debit card to arrive. Meanwhile, you can set up your online account, including creating a username and password, and test it.

Don’t forget to arrange automatic payments for your bills and plan automatic deposits into your savings account. Activate your debit card when it arrives, and inspect your new checks to make sure they are accurate. Don’t forget to set alerts to monitor your finances and protect yourself from suspicious transactions. 

Tips for managing your new checking account online  

Even though your checking account is supported by your bank’s online bank platform, it’s your responsibility to manage it well. Make a plan. Here are some ways you stay on top of your finances online:

Read the rules. Know how your account works. Familiarize yourself with possible fees, balance requirements, overdraft policies, statement cycle dates and hold times for deposits.

Track your transactions. Use online or mobile banking tools for monitoring deposits and withdrawals and for managing spending and budgeting.

Monitor account activity often. Sign up for text or email alerts about a low balance — this can help you avoid overdraft fees — a large purchase or an ATM transaction. You’ll receive fraud alerts when your bank notices suspicious account activity.

Review your monthly statement. Read it as soon as it appears in your inbox to check expenses, inspect for accounting errors and look for fraudulent charges.

What to do if your application is rejected 

Your application for a checking account could have been rejected for a few reasons: negative banking history, suspected fraud or inability to verify your identity. The information in your ChexSystems report, which banks use to screen applicants, can reveal why you were turned down.

You are entitled to a free copy of your report, upon request, once every 12 months or when you are denied a bank account. Visit the ChexSystems website to request a copy of your report.

If your checking account application is rejected, you can take steps that may increase your chances of approval. After you get a copy of ChexSystems report, you can address negative information in it. Work to fix errors in your report, for example.

Another option is to consider opening a second-chance checking account. It’s designed for people whose banking history prevents them from opening a regular account. A second-chance banking account used responsibly can help you rebuild your banking history and still access some of the important features of a traditional checking account

Frequently asked questions

How old do you have to be to open a checking account? 

You must be 18 or older to open a checking account online. Teens and kids will typically need to open a checking account with a parent or guardian at a bank branch.  

Do you have to go into a bank to open an online checking account? 

In many cases, you may be able to set up an account without going into a bank branch. Minors may have to visit a branch with parents or guardians to establish an account.

Can you open a checking account online instantly? 

The process is relatively fast and can take just minutes. You’ll need to wait a few business days to receive your debit card and longer to receive checks.

The financial institution, product, and APY (Annual Percentage Yield) data displayed on this website is gathered from various sources and may not reflect all of the offers available in your region. Although we strive to provide the most accurate data possible, we cannot guarantee its accuracy. The content displayed is for general information purposes only; always verify account details and availability with the financial institution before opening an account. Contact [email protected] to report inaccurate info or to request offers be included in this website. We are not affiliated with the financial institutions included in this website.