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How Long Does It Take to Open a Bank Account?

Many of us have a lot on our plates. Besides our demanding jobs, there may be dishes to wash, children to feed and errands to run. If we have to do something outside of our normal routine, we often wonder how long it’ll take. For instance, if you need a new checking or savings account you may wonder, how long does it take to open a bank account? We’ll answer that question and explain what to do if a bank denies your request.

What to Do Before Opening a Bank Account

There are several steps you’ll need to take before trying to open a bank account. For example, you’ll need to think about the kind of account you’ll need. Do you need another checking account or a savings account? There’s a difference between the two.

Many banks offer multiple accounts. That means you’ll need to weigh your options and think about the benefits and features that matter most to you.

You may also need to consider opening an account at a different bank (or a credit union). For example, if you’re looking for an account with a high interest rate, you can compare savings accounts and find a bank with good returns for savers.

If you find an account you like, you’ll need to dig deeper. Is there a minimum balance requirement? How much will the bank charge if you bounce a check or overdraw your account? What’s the protocol if there’s fraud or theft? Taking these kinds of factors into account is necessary if you’re trying to find an account that’s a good fit for you.

How to Open a Bank Account

How Long Does It Take to Open a Bank Account?

Ready to open a bank account? You may not have to speak with someone face-to-face. Tons of banks and credit unions allow you to open an account online and over the phone.

You may need to look at the bank’s website (or make a phone call) to find out what it requires. When it comes to funding your new account, for example, the bank may have specific guidelines regarding your payment method and deposit amount.

Different financial institutions have various rules and policies. But generally, you’re expected to provide certain information when you open a bank account, including your date of birth, email, address and phone number. You’ll need some form of ID as well (whether that’s a passport, Social Security card and/or driver’s license. If you’ll be making a deposit by transferring money from another bank account, be prepared to share that account number.

Don’t forget to set up any automatic features that may make your life easier, like direct deposit. Automatic bill pay may also be worth setting up, especially if it reduces your interest rate on a loan you have through the bank.

How Long It Takes to Open a Bank Account

How long does it take to open a bank account? It depends.

If you’re opening an account online and you’ve gathered all your materials beforehand, you may be able to complete an application within 10 to 15 minutes (or less). Processing your application and issuing your account number could take a day or two. And you may have to wait seven to 10 business days to receive a debit card and some account information in the mail.

If you’d prefer to open an account in-person, the process may take much longer (i.e. 30 minutes to an hour or more). You may have to wait a while unless you book an appointment in advance. On the bright side, you may receive your new ATM or debit card on the spot.

If you opened an account online or over the phone and you can’t wait a week or two to receive your account materials, you could try visiting a bank branch. Someone may be able to print your documents and your debit or ATM card.

What to Do If You Can’t Open a Bank Account

How Long Does It Take to Open a Bank Account?

When a bank processes your application for a new account, it checks your identity. Many financial institutions also check a consumer reporting database to assess your banking habits. Most banks that do so use a service known as ChexSystems. If it wants to know your credit score, a bank may pull your credit report, too.

A bank could reject your application for a new account if you have a history of making bad banking decisions (like bouncing checks or failing to pay fees). What’s more, a bad credit score could potentially keep you from opening a new account.

If a bank says you can’t open a new account, you’ll need to be proactive. It’s a good idea ask the bank why it denied your request. To go a step further, you can get a copy of your report from ChexSystems (or whatever screening service the bank uses) to see if there are any problems you can address.

If that doesn’t help, you can look into getting a second chance checking account. These kinds of accounts are geared toward consumers who’ve made poor financial choices in the past. In exchange for opening a second chance checking account, you may owe additional fees and face other restrictions.

Bottom Line

Opening a bank account usually doesn’t take that long, especially if you apply online. Filling out an application may take minutes and receiving all the documents you need could take up to 10 business days. If you’re in a rush, it’s best to prepare for the application process by pulling out all the documents you need ahead of time.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/YinYang, ©iStock.com/Geber86, ©iStock.com/FatCamera

Amanda Dixon Amanda Dixon is a personal finance writer and editor with an expertise in taxes and banking. She studied journalism and sociology at the University of Georgia. Her work has been featured in Business Insider, AOL, Bankrate, The Huffington Post, Fox Business News, Mashable and CBS News. Born and raised in metro Atlanta, Amanda currently lives in Brooklyn.
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