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How To Open A Checking Account [Step-By-Step Guide]

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Posted in Checking

When you’re ready to open a checking account, you’ll have several steps to follow. Thankfully, the process is relatively simple as long as you have your documentation in order and follow the directions as provided.

Once you know how to open a checking account, you’ll be on the road to setting yourself up with the account you need to best manage your financial affairs.

5 Steps For Opening A Checking Account

There are a few simple steps to take from beginning to end when you’re ready to open a checking account.

While the process outlined below include the common steps, different banks and credit unions will have varying requirements. The steps might be a bit out of order or require more or less information. You want to confirm the application process and requirements before getting started.

1. Choose a bank or credit union

Before opening a checking account, you want to determine whether it should be with a bank or credit union. Even though both are viable options, the credit union often stands out as a better place to open a checking account for many reasons.

  • They are known for providing better customer service.
  • They generally offer higher interest rates/dividends on checking accounts.
  • They usually charge lower fees.
  • They have more flexible eligibility requirements.
  • They offer the same technology and access to your money as banks.

2. Gather your documentation

You will need to provide specific information on your checking account application from the documents listed below and/or copies of the documents to verify your identity and address.

Although different banks and credit unions have varying requirements, in general, you should have these ready for your application:

  • Government identification in the form of your driver’s license, military ID, or passport
  • Social security number
  • Date of birth

3. Submit your application

Most banks and credit unions have online applications to open a checking account. You can also visit a local branch to complete the process. Whichever you choose, your application should only take a few minutes. 

You will need to provide your personal identification information such as your name, birthday, social security number, and address. This is why having your documentation ready in advance makes it easier for you to complete your application. 

4. Set up an initial deposit

If your checking account requires a minimum opening deposit, you will need to set that up next. Some checking accounts don’t require an initial deposit or only require a small amount. At Baton Rouge Telco, we have 3 checking account options that only require a $5 minimum deposit.

Your deposit can be made from an internal account if you’re already banking with the financial institution or from an external account. Either way, you will need to provide all relevant account information and authorize the transfer.

5. Sign documentation

The final step in opening a checking account is to sign your application agreeing to all terms and conditions and confirming that the information you provide is accurate.

If you’re submitting an online application, this can usually be done online, though some banks and credit unions will require that you mail in the signature page for their records.

Your checking account will not be active until all necessary documentation is signed and received.

How To Open A Checking Account Frequently Asked Questions

While the information outlined above provides a general overview of how to open a checking account, there are often additional questions about how the process works. Here are some frequently asked questions about opening a checking account.

What if I need to move my money from another bank or credit union?

If you need to move your money from another bank or credit union, you want to set up your checking account initially. Once that’s done, you can schedule a transfer of funds into your new account. Then you can decide whether you want to keep your other account other or close it. 

What if I need to close my other checking account?

If you decide to close your other checking account, there are some additional considerations to keep in mind. You likely have various automatic transactions happening in your account that you want to take care of.

Direct deposit

If your direct deposit goes into an account you plan to close, update your account information with your employer and don’t close the account until the changes have taken place.

Automatic payments

If you have automatic bill payments set up, you want to update all payment information with your new account. It’s helpful to review your account statements over the last few months so you don’t forget any of the accounts. Then you can keep your account open for one additional billing cycle after you’ve made all the necessary changes just to ensure that you didn’t miss any.

Recurring transfers

If automatic transfers are coming in or going out of your account you can cancel those recurring transfers and update the information with your current account.

Until all of these changes have taken effect, don’t close your account. You want to wait until everything is in place because if you close prematurely, it can cause unnecessary financial troubles.

How do I get the most from my checking account?

To get the most out of your checking account you want to make yourself aware of all features associated with the account.

Can you get overdraft protection? Do you earn dividends on your balance? Can you enroll in eStatements? Take advantage of all of the beneficial features available so you can get the most from your checking account.

Now that you know how to open a checking account, do you know why you should have one?

Why Open a Checking Account