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.
These simple steps should help you open a checking account with ease:
You will need some documentation to present to the bank or credit union if you visit in person:
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.
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.