How To Open A Bank Account in Five Easy Steps

Author:     Thursday, December 19, 2013 12:00 AM

In the days before banks, people buried cash in the backyard, hid it in the flour jar and shoved it under the mattress. Thanks to a variety of banking options, you can simply open a bank account today and store your money safely, access it with ease and send it across the world with a touch of a button.

Determine the Type of Account You Want

Banks offer several different types of accounts. Decide which one you want before you choose a specific bank.

  • Checking accounts let you write checks, use an ATM card and receive direct deposit.
  • Savings accounts offer interest on the balance.
  • Holiday accounts require regular deposits and accrue interest for a future holiday celebration or vacation.
  • Certificates of Deposit earn interest in money invested for one to three years.

Choose an Institution

Now that you've decided which type of account you want to open, decide which bank you'll use. If you prefer talking with a real live person when you deposit or withdraw money, select a local bank or an online bank that offers 24-hour customer service. If you value the ability to manage your account from your phone or computer, choose a bank that offers these options.

Next, only open an account with a bank that's FDIC-insured. This guarantee means up to $100,000 of your money is protected.

Finally, think about fees. Some banks charge fees if you don't sign up for direct deposit, write too many checks or use the ATMs of other banks. Some banks offer free accounts but require you to maintain a minimum balance. Compare fees with a service like before you make a final bank selection.

Provide the Required Information

A bank must follow federal regulations and obtain certain information about you before an account can be opened. Assemble this information before you visit a local branch during regular business hours or access the online bank's website. Typically, you must show a valid government ID like a driver’s license or passport, prove your name and birth date, provide your social security number and make an initial deposit.

Agree to the Terms

Every bank account includes applicable terms, account rules and responsibilities. Read these terms carefully so that you understand details about your account like when your deposits are available for withdraw and what the bank does to keep your money safe. Sign the form if you're opening a local bank account or click on the "I Agree" button and print, sign and mail a paper copy of the agreement to finalize your online bank account.

Finalize Your Account

Now that all the paperwork is completed, you're ready to set up direct deposit, write your first check or break in your ATM card. Your money is now safe, accessible and ready to be sent anywhere around the world. Happy banking!

Source: BFI