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open a bank account online

If you want to open a bank account, you no longer need to visit a branch in person. With digital banking becoming more common, you can open and manage everything from saving accounts to mortgages, through online banking. In fact, there are now online banks that don’t have physical locations outside of their ATMs. But you can likely open a bank account online even if you’re working with a small, local bank or credit union. Here’s a look at the information you’ll need to open a bank account online.

Types of Accounts You Can Open Online

You can commonly open savings and checking accounts online. This includes money market accounts (MMAs) and individual retirement accounts (IRAs).

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are often available online, but it isn’t uncommon that a bank requires you to visit in person or call to open a CD. This is particularly common if you want to open a CD term that doesn’t currently offer a special rate.

Beyond standard bank accounts, you can also apply for a credit card or a debit card online. At some banks, especially larger and national banks, you can also apply for a variety of loans online.

Which Banks Allow You to Open an Account Online

While many banks today allow you to open a bank account online, not all banks do. Banks like Ally and Capital One, whose accounts are only available online, will certainly allow you to open an account online. Large national banks like Chase or Bank of America will also give you the option to open accounts online. Mid-size banks with a large presence in one state or across a few states will probably give you the online option.

The banks that do not allow customers to create accounts online are often smaller, local banks without many branches. However, some small banks have built out their online services while some larger banks haven’t. You should simply check your bank’s website to see if it gives you the option to open an account.

It’s also worth mentioning that some banks won’t allow new customers to apply for certain accounts online, but they will allow existing customers to apply through the online banking platform.

Step by Step: How to Open a Bank Account Online

open a bank account online

Choose a Bank and Start an Application

The first step of opening a bank account online is deciding which bank you want an account with and what type of account you need. Consider how you intend to use money in the account. Will you use it to pay your bills each month or are you simply looking to build your savings?

When you’ve decided where to open an account, visit the bank’s website. There should be a menu on the page that gives you the option of either opening a new account or of visiting a page with more information on the specific account you want to open. Once you’ve found the button or link to open an account, you will need to fill out an application.

Personal and Contact Information

The application will require you to provide personal information including your name, date of birth and Social Security number. (Anytime a website requests your Social Security number, make sure you have a secure connection. It’s a simple way to help protect your identity online.) The application will also ask you about your citizenship status and whether or not you have dual citizenship.

You will need to provide contact information such as your address, phone number and email address. Keep in mind that some larger banks don’t operate in every state. A bank shouldn’t allow you to create an account if it doesn’t serve residents of your state, but it’s still a good idea to make sure the bank operates near you.

Employment Information

The bank will require you to add information on your employment. That could include your employment status (e.g. employed, self-employed, unemployed or retired). If you’re employed, you may need to provide the name of your current employer and your job title. If you aren’t employed but you still have income, you may need to provide the primary source of your income.

There will also be a question about your annual income. Some banks may allow you to choose your from a range (e.g. $50,000 – $100,000) while others may request a more exact income value.

Finish and Submit Application

If you are opening a joint account, you will need to add the same information as above for your co-applicant.

Once you have entered all this information, the bank will probably have some user agreements that you need to read through and accept before you can submit your application. These forms are long, but it’s a good idea to read through them so you know exactly what you’re signing. At the very least, save these agreements (you can usually save them as PDFs) so that you can refer back to them in the future if necessary.

When you submit your application, part of what you’re agreeing to is that you authorize the bank to obtain your credit report. This is something the bank does as part of its standard background check. Within the agreements the bank provides, you will be able to find which credit bureau the bank uses for the report.

After submitting your application, larger banks will tell you within a few minutes whether or not your application has been approved. Smaller banks may require more time so that someone at the bank can actually read through your application.

Fund Your Account

Once the bank approves your application, the final step is to fund your account. Minimum deposits vary by bank and by account. For example, Capital One  360 accounts do not have a balance requirement. That means you do not actually have to fund your account right away. However, most banks require you to deposit $25, $100 or more before you can actually open your account.

The Takeaway

open a bank account online

Most banks allow you to open savings and checking accounts online. This could include MMAs and CDs as well. Additionally, you can apply for most credit cards and many loans online. If you are already a customer of the bank, it may be easier for you to open new accounts through the online banking system. When you apply, you’ll need to provide some personal information, including your Social Security number and citizenship status. You will also need to answer questions about your employment status and how you earn your income (if you have income).

Tips to Help You Bank Better

  • Choosing the right bank account can go a long way toward helping you build savings. However, not every bank offers the best rates for savings accounts. No matter where you live, make sure you do a bit a research to find the best savings accounts.
  • It isn’t always easy to figure out which accounts will help you to best meet your financial goals, whether that’s saving for retirement, putting money away for a child’s college education or finding the perfect home. That’s why it’s useful to talk with a financial advisor. An advisor is an expert who can look over your whole situation and work with you to create an action plan for meeting your goals. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool will simplify your search by pairing you with up to three advisors in your area.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/jacoblund, ©iStock.com/NicoElNino, ©iStock.com/SanyaSM

Derek Silva, CEPF® Derek Silva is determined to make personal finance accessible to everyone. He writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, serving as a retirement and credit card expert. Derek is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®). He has a degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has spent time as an English language teacher in the Portuguese autonomous region of the Azores. The message Derek hopes people take away from his writing is, “Don’t forget that money is just a tool to help you reach your goals and live the lifestyle you want.”
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