How to Open a Bank Account Online

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These days, you don't necessarily need to visit a bank branch to open a bank account. Many banks now let you handle the process entirely online. This enables you to set up an account from the comfort of your home at any time of the day.

When opening a bank account online, you'll generally need to supply identification and other information about yourself just like you would at a brick-and-mortar bank branch. Once you finish the process, you'll normally enjoy benefits such as around-the-clock account access, automated bill-paying capabilities, speedy transfers and mobile check deposits.

Follow along to learn more about opening a bank account online.

What You Need to Open a Bank Account Online

Typically, you must be at least 18 years old and a legal resident of the U.S. to open a bank account online. You'll be asked to provide personal data when you're filling out an account application. The information or documents you might need include:

  • Contact information, such as name, address, phone number and email address
  • Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number
  • Valid government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, passport or military ID
  • Second form of ID, such as a Social Security card, a bill with your name and address on it or a birth certificate

You may also need money on hand to open the account, such as an initial deposit of $25 to $100. You could provide a bank account number or debit card number to make the initial deposit, or you might be able to provide a check or money order. Some banks don't require a minimum deposit.

Banks and Credit Unions That Let You Open an Account Online

A number of banks in the U.S. allow you to open a bank account entirely online. They include:

  • Axos Bank
  • Bank Five
  • Bank of America
  • Chase Bank
  • Citibank
  • Discover Bank
  • Green Dot Bank
  • Netspend
  • Synchrony Bank
  • TD Bank
  • U.S. Bank

Many credit unions also let you open an account online. They include:

  • Alliant Credit Union
  • American Airlines Federal Credit Union
  • Navy Federal Credit Union
  • PenFed Credit Union
  • Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union
  • San Diego Credit Union
  • Teachers Federal Credit Union
  • United Nations Federal Credit Union

Types of Bank Accounts

Among the types of bank accounts you might be able to open online are checking, savings and high-yield savings accounts. Here is what each type of account offers.

Checking Account

A checking account is geared toward making purchases and regularly depositing and withdrawing money. Checking accounts give you flexibility in terms of how to pay for goods and services. For instance, you may be able to pay via debit card, paper check, electronic billing or smartphone-based contactless payment. Also, you can take advantage of direct deposit of paychecks and other payments. Traditional checking accounts are normally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for up to $250,000.

Savings Account

A savings account is an interest-earning account at a bank, credit union or other financial institution. You typically cannot access money in a savings account as easily to make purchases, which is why many people have both a savings account and a checking account. This type of account enables you to stash cash separately from the checking account you use for everyday expenses. For instance, you might use a savings account as a financial safety net or for an emergency fund. Deposits in a savings account typically are also insured by the FDIC or NCUA up to $250,000.

High-Yield Savings Account

A high-yield savings account is an interest-generating account that offers a higher interest rate on your deposits than you'd find with a traditional savings account. As of September 2021, the typical annual percentage yield (APY) for a traditional savings account stood at 0.06%, according to the FDIC. By contrast, a high-yield savings account can come with an APY of 0.50% or more. Deposits in high-yield savings accounts are also FDIC- or NCUA-insured up to $250,000.

How to Compare Bank Accounts

When shopping for a place to put your money, be sure to check out the following factors:

  • Fees: Typical fees might include monthly maintenance fees, service fees and transaction fees.
  • Minimum balance requirements: A financial institution may require you to maintain a minimum balance to avoid or decrease fees.
  • Branch locations: If you want to conduct business in person, does the bank or credit union have branches you can conveniently visit?
  • ATM network: Does the bank or credit union provide access to ATMs near where you live or work? Does the bank or credit union charge ATM fees?
  • Interest rate: If the account earns interest, what is the APY?
  • Mobile app: Does the bank or credit union offer a mobile app so you can do banking on the go?
  • Insurance: Will your deposits be federally insured? Keep in mind that deposits at some financial institutions aren't federally insured.

The Bottom Line

When you're looking at where to open a checking or savings account online, make sure you've got the required documents on hand and you've reviewed what a financial institution does (and does not) offer in terms of products and services. You might even consider establishing an account at an online-only bank, which often charges fewer fees than its traditional counterparts and frequently provides attractive interest rates.

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