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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? The answer is going to depend on your bank and the method you use to open your account, but it can be anywhere from minutes to a couple of days. You may want to talk to a financial advisor first if you’re looking to save money for specific purposes.

How Long It Takes to Open a Bank Account

How long does it take to open a bank account? Unfortunately, the answer is “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. Opening a bank account online can be the easiest way to do so but it isn’t likely to be the fastest.

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. This is the preferred method of opening a bank account if you have cash that needs to be deposited, and if all your paperwork is lined up then your account will be fully operational within minutes.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Debit Card? 

The length of time it takes to get a debit card is going to depend on a number of things, from where you live to what bank you’re using. The standard for what many banks will tell you when your bank account is open is that your card will arrive in the mail within 7 – 10 business days. Many debit cards will come quicker than this because so many rely on debit cards to use their bank account at all, which has made getting them out as fast as possible a priority for banks.

Some banks might even issue a debit card to you on the spot if you’re able to go to a branch and open your account in person. This will be a temporary card and you’ll still receive your more permanent card, with your name on it, within the 7 – 10 day window.

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? The differences between the two could help you decide, depending on what your goals are.

Many banks also offer multiple types of checking accounts. That means you’ll need to weigh your options and think about the benefits and features that matter most to you before pulling the trigger.

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 or over the phone.

You may need to look at the bank’s website (or make a phone call) to find out what your desired bank 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
  • Phone number.
  • Some form of ID (passport, social security card, 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.

What to Do If You Can’t 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 to 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

How Long Does It Take to Open a Bank Account?

Opening a bank account usually doesn’t take that long, regardless of whether you apply online or in-person. Filling out an application may take minutes and receiving all the documents you need could take up to 10 business days, but your account will be open and operational either the same day or within two 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.

Tips For Saving Money

  • If you’re opening a second checking account, or a savings account to help put some money away for the future, then a financial advisor might be able to help you with your goals. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • A savings account is a great tool to use in addition to a normal checking account. You can save money for a rainy day that is accessible when you need it. Plus, while you’re waiting to use it that money can actually be earning a little bit that it wouldn’t be if you had it stashed in a checking account. Check out the top savings accounts right now.

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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