Opening a Bank Account Online
Everything you need to know to get started.
People do nearly everything online these days—including big things like applying for jobs, making large purchases and booking travel. But when it comes to the question of how to open a bank account online, is it really as easy as a few clicks or will you end up having to do it in person?
Good news: Setting up a checking or savings account online can be quite simple and take mere minutes. Some people even find that opening a bank account is faster than registering with an online shopping site or app like Uber.1 So how does it work, and what can you expect? How do you know if you’ll even get approved?
First things first: Who can open a bank account online?
As long as you have proof of identity and some credit history, you should be able to open an account. If you’ve had a few bounced checks or have a limited or negative credit history, there’s a chance you’ll have to go into the bank to set up your account in person. Banks need to be able to verify your credit online when you fill out an application, so a limited history might not give them enough information to get you approved.
If you’re concerned about bad credit, there are "second chance" bank accounts in all 50 states, some available online.2 However, they may require a balance or charge fees. Before getting started, it may not hurt to check your credit score with a service like CreditWise. It’s free and could be a good habit to adopt as it alerts you to changes in your score and even possible threats to your identity.
Can you open a bank account online for free?
There are free online bank accounts–both checking and savings–that require no deposit. Some banks will require you to put a little money in your account when you create it. This is called a minimum opening deposit, and it can vary based on the type of account you choose. To put that first deposit in your account, you could use a blank check, transfer money from another account or use a credit or debit card.
What does it take to open a bank account online?
Once you’ve decided which bank you want to use, it’s time to fill out your application online. If you’re under 18, you may need a guardian to co-sign the account. The application process will vary from bank to bank, but it’s helpful to have the following things handy:
- Your driver’s license, passport or other government-issued ID card
- Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
- A blank check, debit card or credit card to make that first deposit
And you’ll usually need an email address, mailing address and a phone number. Once you have that ready, here’s how to open a bank account online:
Go to the bank’s website. Stay safe! Any time you’re entering personal information online, take extra care. Always look for a lock symbol (or https://) next to the URL so you know your connection is safe and secure before entering your info.3 Find the link to "open an account." (Scroll down the homepage to the site map if you’re having trouble finding the link.)
Choose the type of account you want. Most banks let you compare different kinds of accounts to help you decide. Do you want an individual account or do you want to open a joint account online? Do you want things like overdraft protection and the ability to earn interest? From checking and savings accounts to CDs and IRAs, there are many types of accounts you can open online.
Fill out an application. Next, you’ll enter all of your personal information. You might also set up your username and password and create security questions to help protect your account.
Agree to let the bank collect some information. Sometimes, submitting your application will automatically begin the credit check process, but some banks might ask you to review disclosures and privacy policies first. In some cases you’ll have to answer a few legal questions then check a box that lets the bank collect information about you and your credit.
The approval process. Some banks will tell you if you’re approved right away, while others might take a bit longer. You can always log in later to check on the status of your application or call the bank if you have questions. If you’re not approved, you might have to go into the branch to finish the process.
Make your first deposit. Once you’re approved, you’ll want to put some money in your new account. You can do this from another account online or over the phone. If it’s your first account, you may need to do this step in person with cash or a check.
With your account set up, you’re all ready to begin banking online! Depending on the account and its features, you may be able to write checks, pay bills with your bank account online, set up direct deposit and more right away. And remember: Always keep your login and password in a safe place where no one can find it.
Down the road, you may wonder "Can I close a bank account online?" You can, but each bank handles it a bit differently. Sometimes, all it takes is sending a secure message to your bank once you’re logged in.4 Or you may have to call customer service or mail in a form.4 Check your bank’s policy on its website, or stop by if you’d prefer to discuss it in person.
Banking today brings lots of choices, including the ability to get a whole lot done from the comfort of your home. From opening an account to paying bills, online banking was built for convenience–yours.
Of course, there will always be hoops to jump through, but making things simpler while safeguarding your money is what online banking is all about.
This site is for educational purposes. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.
Sriniva, V. First impressions count. Improving the account opening process for Millennials and digital banking customers. (Sept 6, 2017) Retrieved from: https://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/industry/financial-services/improving-account-opening-process-in-retail-banking.html
Tierney, S. (April 10, 2018) Second Chance Checking Accounts Across the U.S. https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/second-chance-checking/
Lazarony, L. 4 Tips for better internet safety. (Dec 16, 2016) Retrieved from: https://www.credit.com/personal-finance/4-tips-for-better-internet-safety/
Perez, L. (Oct 1, 2018) How to close a bank account. Retrieved from: https://smartasset.com/checking-account/how-to-close-a-bank-account