Whether you're hiring a plumber or buying a new mailbox to spruce up your home's curb appeal, likely the first place you're going to start your search is with your good friend, the internet. In addition to finding a wide selection of options and a plethora of information if you want to educate yourself, you can also find a wide variety of reviews. It's only natural that you'd come here to find out how to open a checking account online. Good idea! Let's get started.
Can you open a checking account online?
Besides the fact that you can open a checking account online, you can do it in your pajamas at 2:30 in the morning if you feel like it — or if that's the only time you have available. Everyone's schedule is different and for you, doing business online simplifies your life.
And speaking of simplifying your life, you likely already know your current financial institution is not right for you if you're starting to compare checking accounts. Are you sick of the monthly maintenance fee? Or the fact that you can never speak to an actual person when you need one? Or you just want to find a financial institution that prioritizes you, your money, and your community? You may be shopping for a new bank and looking for a new personal checking account where you can open it, fund it, and use it without visiting a branch. That might be exactly what you want.
The process can be easy to get started, and it will require a little back and forth to make sure all the Ts are crossed and I’s get dotted, but it can absolutely be done on a timeline that works smoothly into your at-all-hours routine.
How do you open an account online?
All of the steps to open a new checking account (and a savings account if you want one of those, too) are the same as opening a bank account in person, but the processes of how you complete them will be different.
You will still need to show proof of identification — to prove you are really you — and verify your address, but again, these can be pajama-attire activities. Before getting into the procedures, you likely decided to search online to find the best checking account for you. Even more important, you should start by finding the bank or credit union that's right for you.
Simply because you know you want to do most of your money management through online banking doesn't mean you have to go with a megabank or a neobank. Many community banks and credit unions have stepped up their technology and you'll find links on their websites to open your account online. Start there when you've decided you're ready to open your new personal checking account at your new financial home.
Follow the steps through the online account opening link — it will be the same kind of questions you'll be asked if you were sitting across the desk in a branch with one big difference: you should know which account you want. The convenience you seek by opening an account online may mean you cannot bounce ideas off the customer service provider. Yes, many financial institutions offer chat bots, so you do have that option. A better plan when opening an account online? Read through the bank's or credit union's website. It is their marketing tool to describe for you all the details of each account. (Tip: Start by looking at any checking accounts that are free checking or rewards checking.)
What's different about opening a checking account online?
You're likely savvy enough that you know how to practice safe online activity to protect your identity. The bank or credit union is going to want to protect you, too. Be mindful, though, of where you enter your Social Security number. When the bank or credit union asks for your information, they will work with you to send the information securely. Don't email your personal data or a copy of your driver's license.
Most community banks or credit unions will use a secure service to transmit and verify your information. Keep in mind, this will likely happen after you've completed the initial application and the staff at your new bank or credit union reviews your application, but it shouldn't be more than a business day or two. If you don't receive a response in that time, don't think that means they aren't prioritizing you. Sometimes with the data entry process, numbers might get transposed and they simply require more information. Reach out and give them a call. If you’ve chosen a new financial institution, it's a good way to discover their level of customer service, too.
When you do send information, you may be asked to verify your identity by answering questions about previous bank accounts, vehicle loans, or even a credit card you may have opened in the past. Once your identity is confirmed, you will be able to provide documents securely, as well as sign your account agreement to open your account.
How do you fund your online checking account?
Part of the account opening process will be to put money into your new account. Yes, you can deposit cash with your debit card, but if that is being mailed to you, the turn around time might be longer than a day or two. Often you can use digital wallets to transfer money using your new routing number and account number. A third option is to set up your direct deposit from your employer. You can also swing by the drive-through on the weekend and make a quick deposit.
Keep in mind, if this is a new account and a new bank or credit union, you may not be able access your online banking or mobile banking until the bank account has money in it, so be sure you have an idea of which option works best for you. There will usually be a window of time when you can leave the account inactive until you make a deposit, even if you opted for an account that requires a minimum balance. Of course, if you selected an account that requires a minimum balance or a monthly service charge... well, why? This is your reminder to look for a free checking account and don't settle for an account that includes extra fees.
Start banking online right away
That's it? Yes. You're done. How long it takes for everyone will be a little different based on your personal financial needs, but once you've added money to your checking account, you are off and running.
Take time to set up the automated features, such as scheduled transfers if you're saving for a future purchase or an emergency fund. Use alerts to know when your direct deposit hits your account. Also, try out the mobile deposit and bill pay features so you have everything up and running when you need to use them.
Yet again, you and your good friend — the internet — have taken another step in improving your financial plan and preferences.
Discover more ways to be proud of your money in our previous blog post, "How to open a checking account."