What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account? (2024)

Money Management

Six percent of Americans don’t have a bank account according to recent data from the Federal Reserve.1 But opening one — or adding a supplemental account — can be an important step toward enhancing money management and creating a secure way to access money, make transactions, and save.

In this guide, explore some of the essential documents needed to open a bank account in the US and learn how to navigate the process.

What documents are needed to open a bank account?

Since bank accounts are tied to one’s identity and secure people’s money, sensitive personal information is typically required. Specific requirements may vary depending on the financial institution, but some documents generally needed to open a bank account are:

  • Personal identification:Accepted documents may include a valid driver’s license, passport, state-issued ID card, birth certificate, employee ID card, and US military identification card, among others.
  • Social Security Card or individual taxpayer identification number: Depending on the account, financial institutions may request either a valid Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). Individuals can apply for an ITIN before going to a bank to open an account.
  • Proof of address:Accepted documents may include a utility bill (e.g., water, electricity, gas), rental agreement or lease, mortgage statement, bank statement (from another bank), or credit card statement.

How to open a bank account

The process of opening a bank account is often relatively straightforward. Here is a general look at how it may work:

  1. Choose a bank:Research and select a bank or credit union. Consider factors such as location, fees, account types, and available services.
  2. Gather required documents:Collect the necessary documents and information, which typically includes two forms of identification and proof of address.
  3. Confirm eligibility requirements:Besides collecting the required documents, confirm the bank or credit union’s eligibility and age requirements.
  4. Visit a branch or apply online:Apply for the account in person at a bank branch or online through a bank's website. Many banks offer online account opening services for added convenience. Availability may vary depending on provider.
  5. Complete application:Fill out a bank's account application form and select the type of account, whether a checking account, savings account, or other type.
  6. Review and agree: Carefully review the terms and conditions, account fees, and any other agreements related to the account.
  7. Make an initial deposit:If required by the bank, provide an initial deposit to fund the new account. The minimum deposit amount may vary depending on the bank and the type of account.

Types of bank accounts

From checking to savings accounts, there are several types of bank account options in the US. Here are some examples:

  • Checking account:A checking account is designed for everyday financial transactions, allowing individuals to deposit and withdraw funds frequently, often with the convenience of adebit cardand check-writing capabilities.
  • Savings account:A savings account is intended for individuals to save money over time, typically offering interest on the account balance and often restricting the number of withdrawals per month to encourage saving. Some banks and other financial platforms offer high-yield savings accounts — such asPayPal Savings— that offer higher interest applied to funds held in the account.
  • Joint account:A joint account is shared by two or more individuals, allowing all account holders equal access to funds, making it useful for couples or family members.
  • Minor's account:A minor's account is typically opened for individuals under 18, often by a parent or guardian, with adult oversight and control until the minor reaches a certain age.
  • Online-only accounts: Online-only accounts are operated by digital banks with no physical branches, designed for flexibility and convenience.

Does it cost money to open a bank account?

While some bank accounts may not require any money to open the account, there may potentially be required deposits or ongoing costs that apply. The costs associated with opening and managing a bank account may vary depending on the bank and the type of account selected.

Potential expenses associated with bank accounts include:

  • Initial deposit requirements when opening an account
  • Monthly maintenance fees
  • Charges related to overdrafts, ATM usage outside the bank's network, or ordering checks and debit cards

Learn about managing money with PayPal.

Opening a bank account FAQ

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What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account? (2024)
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