inner-banner

Find a local financial professional tailored to your business needs

How to Open Your First Checking Account

How to Open Your First Checking Account

You should find opening a first checking account at a credit union or community bank an easy task. These days, the financial institution may even let you apply online. If you've never opened an account before, you may want to stop by a convenient branch to let a personal banker help you choose the right options for your needs.

A Guide to Opening Your First Checking Account

These simple steps should help you open a checking account with ease:

Gather Documentation

You will need some documentation to present to the bank or credit union if you visit in person:

  • Identity proof: To prove your identity, you should have at least your drivers license or other official identification card. The banker may ask for a second identification document. This could include your social security card, birth certificate, or passport. The bank may also accept a credit or debit card or check from another financial institution as well.
  • Address proof: Some banks may ask for a bill with your name and address on it to verify your address. If you're a student, you may be able to use a bill in your parents' name.
  • Social security number: You will need to supply your social security number. If you're not an American citizen, the bank or credit union may accept alternate identification from your home country.

Note that if you decide to apply online, you might only need to supply your social security number, driver's license number, and home address.

Bring an Initial Deposit

You can open some checking accounts with as little as $25 to $50. If you visit the bank, you can make this deposit in cash, with a credit or debit card, an online transfer, or with a check from another bank. If your parents are helping you open your first college checking account, they can write you a check.

Create the Account

You will need to complete a quick application. If you visit a branch, a banker will help you. The process should only take a few minutes of your time.

After the bank accepts your application, you will need to sign a signature card. If you apply online, some financial institutions may accept your online signature or ask you to fax or email a scanned signature card. You can always visit a branch to complete this last step.

Get Your Account Materials

Even though you just setup a checking account, some financial institutions will just offer you a debit card with your basic account. These days, you can pay most bills with a debit card. They may give you a small packet of paper checks and deposit slips, or you may have to request them as an option.

Make sure you know where to find your account and routing number because you will need them to send electronic checks. The number on your debit card isn't the same as your checking account number. You can find the account and routing number on checks, deposit slips, and on your online account.

You should also get access to an website where you can manage your account. From there, you can check your balance, view payments, and electronically receive or send money. You can also get your employer to setup direct deposit.

Why Setup a Checking Account?

Most people don't write checks very often these days. Instead, they use their debit card. Even if you plan to mostly use your debit card, you will need a checking account to pay bills and receive payments electronically. If you hope to apply for some kinds of credit or loans in the future, the lender may want to see that you have established a checking account too.